Category: Refugees

London Stands Against Trump in Solidarity with Iranian Director


All (well, a lot of) eyes were on Hollywood a-listers and the Oscars last night, particularly in the aftermath of envelope-gate.

But in London, thousands gathered at Trafalgar Square in the freezing cold for a special open-air screening of The Salesman, in solidarity with Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who boycotted the Oscars due to Donald Trump’s travel ban.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan organised the event to tell the world that London is open (and seemingly to give Trump London’s middle finger). In a speech, the UK capital’s first Muslim mayor noted that Trump would “not silence” him and that we must mobilise to oppose the US president, not simply by protesting, but by organising events that celebrate our diversity, whether we’re from “Lebanon or London.” (See part of his speech in the video below. You’ll also get to hear me cheering Khan on. #SorrynotSorry). Continue reading

AlJazeera English Q&A With Lebanese Poet Zeina Hashem Beck

I put together this neat little interview with Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck for AlJazeera English when I was back home a couple of weeks ago. I adore Zeina’s poetry, and am convinced her career will continue to flourish, so this was a real treat for me (we had a fantastic discussion — thank you, Zeina). I’ve pasted the entire interview below, but you can see it as it appeared on AlJazeera English here.

Beirut – To say Zeina Hashem Beck is an emerging poet would be an understatement. At 35, the Lebanese writer has already clinched multiple awards. To Live in Autumn, her first collection, won the 2013 Backwaters Prize.

This year, Hashem Beck won the Rattle Chapbook Prize for 3arabi Song, which fuses her passion for Middle Eastern culture with the destabilising forces of war and displacement in the region. She has also been praised by UK Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.

Rattle describes 3arabi Song as “a tribute to the Arab world and Arab singers, to refugees and refusal, to hope and home, to sorrow and song”, adding, “like no other collection we’ve read, these poems feel absolutely necessary”. Continue reading

The Middle East Has Lost a True Friend in Jo Cox

To so many people across the United Kingdom and indeed the world, the disturbing, tragic murder of Jo Cox still seems utterly incomprehensible.

This was a woman who very visibly cared deeply for others and whose altruism has been described by many as unblemished. Indeed, the more one learns about Jo Cox, the more one realises just how tremendous her compassion was.

Cox was a champion for the less fortunate; for the socially ostracised; for immigrants; for refugees; for women; and for diversity. She was also a genuine friend of the Middle East and the UK’s Muslim community. Continue reading

Aleppo is Burning: Join the Worldwide RED Protest for Syria


On Tuesday, May 3, protestors in London will gather to demand action be taken for the innocent civilians of Aleppo, who are being crushed by the brutal Syrian regime.

If you live in the UK, join the Student Union of King’s College London at the Quad, Strand Campus, from 6 p.m. BST. For more details, visit the Facebook Event Page.

We’ll be there, and we’ll be wearing red.

Global protest destinations include NYC (in front of the UN, May 1), Beirut (also May 1),  Berlin (May 2) and Geneva (May 4). A demonstration was held in Paris today. Continue reading

British Red Cross Launches Postcards For Syria Auction


Postcards For Syria, a stunning collection of works by artists, refugees, celebrities, and schoolchildren commissioned by the #BritishRedCross and designed along the themes of home, hope and humanity, will go on auction from 7 p.m. (London time) today.

“Why postcards? When you send a postcard to somebody, you do so because you want to send them a message. It’s a simple act that shows you are thinking about them,” the British Red Cross, which will contribute the proceeds of the auction to its #SyriaCrisisAppeal, says on its website. “As the crisis reaches its five-year point, the aim of this project is to show solidarity with Syrians while raising funds.”
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No, Refugees Aren’t Sexually Depraved Muslim Predators

(Adds Daoud’s decision to quit journalism. To jump to the update, click here).

Kamel Daoud’s op-ed, “The Sexual Misery of the Arab World,” has been trending on the New York Times since it was published on February 12. The piece — which is replete with tired, orientalist cliches — has been lauded by some for pointing out the obvious: that women in the Arab world face an enduring oppression problem, and that sexuality in the region is, as a result, warped.*
Continue reading

‘We Just Want to Go to England Please’

In less than 12 months, Calais — the tiny port-city in the north of France — has become synonymous with the plight of refugees worldwide.

Situated just across the English Tunnel, the makeshift migrant camp has frequently been referred to in international media outlets as a “jungle” or a “slum.”

Thousands of refugees — mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea —  struggle to survive on charity handouts at the camp, with many planning to embark on a desperate, often fateful journey by way of lorries and trains to the United Kingdom.

At the same time, coverage of these asylum seekers has either been muted or xenophobic. Continue reading

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