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un cahier perlé

December 3, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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on my way to standing rock!

am leaving for standing rock tomorrow along with rochester activist friends.

we will be driving straight to north dakota, for 23 hours, and hope to be there on monday dec 5, the day the camp is supposed to be forcibly broken up and evacuated. thousands of veterans plan on joining the camp on dec 4, in order to shield water protectors and their allies.

am taking beautiful verses from the quran with me, as this indigenous-led movement for clean water, respect for the earth and for the sanctity of life, is completely non-violent and deeply prayerful. hope to contribute however we can, support the camp against a possible shutdown, learn as much as possible from the standing rock sioux and other indigenous elders, and be back later in the week.

pls keep us in ur prayers and donate, support, help the movement in any way u can. more info here.

#NoDAPL #WaterIsLife #StandWithStandingRock

December 2, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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White People Are A Little Too Damn Happy About Trevor Noah vs Tomi Lahren

an important take on the noah-lahren interview. sometimes we yearn so much for civility and respectful engagement that we forget the content of what’s being debated. something to keep in mind, as overt racism and islamophobia become more and more normalized and increasingly approached with an “open mind.”

David Dennis, Jr: Lahren and Noah didn’t just have a debate with an equal exchange of ideas. They weren’t debating how to increase GDP or who’s the best team in the NFC. They debated topics that are literally life-threatening to people who look like Trevor Noah and me. Tomi Lahren spouted violent propaganda on national television while Noah tried to get her to value his black life. That’s not a healthy debate. That type of conversation shouldn’t be celebrated. And it damn sure isn’t Trevor Noah’s job to convince a white person why he shouldn’t die.
Tomi Lahren, in the course of 26 minutes, argued that black people are 18 times more likely to kill police (this statistic is nowhere to be found). That a liberation movement in America is tantamount to a group of people who murdered countless people over the course of the 20th century. That the same liberation movement has advocated for and succeeded in murdering police officers. All of these statements are literally life-threatening to black people. She’s saying things that contribute to the deaths of black folks across America. This is not just two people arguing political beliefs. This is one person defending his right to live on national television while a person with a dedicated following spouts lies about why he is a threat to society. More here.

December 2, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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The Starvation of Yemen Continues

Glenn Greenwald: The US-backed-and-armed Saudi war on Yemen is now causing *mass starvation* – war is barely ever mentioned in the US.

The starvation of Yemen’s civilian population is one of the greatest man-made disasters of this century, and it has been brought about in large part by US-backed clients. More here.

December 2, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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From the always wonderful Ajay Bhardwaj

Many thanks to Karthik Venkatesh, I came to know about Haroon Khalid’s book, “Walking with Nanak,” whose ‘lifelong fascination with Guru Nanak was reignited when he came upon Baburbani, a poem written by the saint.’

There is a lot of serious work going on in West Punjab in excavating remnants of Sikhs and Hindus presence without making much noise. Iqbal Qaiser published a book “Historical Sikh Shrines in Pakistan” which traced the present state of close to 200 historical Gurdwaras in Pakistan. There is fascinating ongoing work by Baba Ji (Shahid Shabbir) available on his FB page Khalsa Raj Foot Steps in Pakistan that I would warmly recommend to Punjab lovers.

My salutes to all such individuals who are standing up against the wilful erasure of our pasts by nation states.
It is time someone took up the task of excavating Punjabi Muslims sacred sites, practices, presences and memories scattered across East Punjab. Art historian Dr. Subhash Parihar has done pioneering work in this direction. His latest book “Islamic Architecture of Punjab: 1206-1707” came out last year.

sikhism in pakistan

December 1, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Syrian artist Mohammad Zaza

Syrian artist Mohammad Zaza was born in Riyadh in 1987, to Syrian parents. After completing high school in Saudi Arabia, he moved to Syria to study art at Aleppo University. He held his first solo exhibition in 2008. In his work, Zaza focuses on the movement that lies behind fixed scenes. These works are from 2016 and 2014 respectively.

Mohammad Zaza - A Date with the Creator

Mohammad Zaza – A Date with the Creator

Mohammad Zaza - Human I

Mohammad Zaza – Human I

December 1, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy

Moira Weigel: This idea – that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use – is trending globally right now. Britain’s rightwing tabloids issue frequent denunciations of “political correctness gone mad” and rail against the smug hypocrisy of the “metropolitan elite”. In Germany, conservative journalists and politicians are making similar complaints: after the assaults on women in Cologne last New Year’s Eve, for instance, the chief of police Rainer Wendt said that leftists pressuring officers to be politisch korrekt had prevented them from doing their jobs. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Front National has condemned more traditional conservatives as “paralysed by their fear of confronting political correctness”.

Trump’s incessant repetition of the phrase has led many writers since the election to argue that the secret to his victory was a backlash against excessive “political correctness”.

…The right had been waging a campaign against liberal academics for more than a decade. Starting in the mid-1970s, a handful of conservative donors had funded the creation of dozens of new thinktanks and “training institutes” offering programmes in everything from “leadership” to broadcast journalism to direct-mail fundraising.

…Starting in the late 1980s, this well-funded conservative movement entered the mainstream with a series of improbable bestsellers that took aim at American higher education.

…These books did not emphasise the phrase “political correctness”, and only D’Souza used the phrase directly. But all three came to be regularly cited in the flood of anti-PC articles that appeared in venues such as the New York Times and Newsweek. When they did, the authors were cited as neutral authorities. Countless articles uncritically repeated their arguments.

…In truth, these crusaders against political correctness were every bit as political as their opponents. As Jane Mayer documents in her book, Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Bloom and D’Souza were funded by networks of conservative donors – particularly the Koch, Olin and Scaife families – who had spent the 1980s building programmes that they hoped would create a new “counter-intelligentsia”.

…PC was a useful invention for the Republican right because it helped the movement to drive a wedge between working-class people and the Democrats who claimed to speak for them. “Political correctness” became a term used to drum into the public imagination the idea that there was a deep divide between the “ordinary people” and the “liberal elite”, who sought to control the speech and thoughts of regular folk. Opposition to political correctness also became a way to rebrand racism in ways that were politically acceptable in the post-civil-rights era.

…As Trump prepares to enter the White House, many pundits have concluded that “political correctness” fuelled the populist backlash sweeping Europe and the US. The leaders of that backlash may say so. But the truth is the opposite: those leaders understood the power that anti-political-correctness has to rally a class of voters, largely white, who are disaffected with the status quo and resentful of shifting cultural and social norms. They were not reacting to the tyranny of political correctness, nor were they returning America to a previous phase of its history. They were not taking anything back. They were wielding anti-political-correctness as a weapon, using it to forge a new political landscape and a frightening future. More here.

November 30, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Go to Standing Rock if you can

Ashley Smith: Follow the lead of veterans standing up against Obama’s state. Go to Standing Rock if you can. Don’t listen to the liberal guilt trippers. Solidarity is the only way to win. The more people the better for the struggle. And if you can’t go, donate. As the Water Protectors have made clear we all must stand together or the corporations, the two capitalist parties, and the state will divide and conquer us.

November 30, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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#StandWithStandingRock #NoDAPL #WaterIsLife

from my dearest friend Isabelle Bartter, who’s at standing rock right now. pls help, support, donate in any way u can. this is an important moment in history.

I am alive and well here at Standing Rock. I had my medic orientation on Monday and have been going nonstop.

My comrades and I built a cabin for our use while we are here and we have worked out a deal with the medics that when it’s not in use it will be emergency shelter for folks who have had tents destroyed by the weather. Tomorrow we will be putting up a community solar charging station.

So far, comrades and I have put in nearly every waking hour to working for the camp. Winter came very fast and the camp has been a buzz winterizing and getting ready to receive 1500-3000 veterans this weekend.

There is so much need here at camp as far as people power goes. If you are a builder, a doctor or nurse, an IT person, or someone with the motivation to get up every morning and wash dishes or cook for thousands of water protectors, and you have a week or more to spare, come here. Come with a mind set on waking up early and working all day. Come with a mind to listen to the elders and permanent residents when they tell you what needs to be done. Come with needed supplies. Come with others who have the same mindset.

Or don’t come. Donate to the camp directly. Send supplies. Don’t send your old broken flashlights though cause I had to sort through like 100 of those today and it wasn’t fun…

Anyway, sorry for the stream of consciousness here. Hope to find signal soon to fill y’all in more.

#NoDAPL
#KillTheBlackSnake
#WaterIsLife
#MniWiconi

cabin at standing rock

cabin at standing rock

November 30, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Growing Far-Right Nationalistic Movements are Dangerously Anti-Muslim – and Pro-Israel

Glenn Greenwald: The scapegoating mentality against minority groups on which this movement centrally depends and is unleashing could easily be re-directed toward Jews even if the original targets are Muslims and others. And there is ample debate and division, both among Jewish groups and some factions in Israel, over whether these parties ought to be embraced by virtue of their pro-Israel posture.

Moreover, it is certainly possible for a group or individual to be simultaneously pro-Israel and anti-Semitic. The cynical, grotesque alliance between pro-Israel Americans such as Joe Lieberman, and Jews-are-going-to-hell-once-the-Rapture-comes evangelicals such as the vehemently pro-Israel John Hagee, highlight that paradox. In the wake of the Bannon controversy, The Forward’s Naomi Zeveloff examined this increasingly common dynamic, arguing that “Breitbart News isn’t the only place where anti-Semitism and Zionism go hand in hand. Anti-Semitic attitudes abound in Poland, for example, even as Poland has a strong diplomatic relationship with Israel.” Some Israel defenders are willing to make common cause with potential or even clear-cut anti-semites if they are also – for geopolitical, religious or political reasons – pro-Israel.

But what is clear is that these far-right parties are embracing Israel, and are often being embraced back. And that’s not hard to understand. Any party driven by antipathy toward Muslims will obviously find common cause with an Israeli government that has spent decades occupying, bombing and denying basic political rights to Muslims. At least as important, the Israeli government itself is part of this far-right resurgence; several of Netanyahu’s ministers, including the next-generation ones who explicitly renounce a two-state solution, are so extremist that they actually make him look moderate. More here.

November 29, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Amalia Rodrigues – Solidao – 1969

Amália Rodrigues (1920-1999) was a Portuguese fadista (fado singer) and actress. She became one of the most important figures during the genre’s revival in the twentieth century and was a leading female fadista during her 50-year recording and stage career. As of 1999, she had sold over 30 million records worldwide. Amália remains the best-selling Portuguese artist of all times.

November 28, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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screening of “the muslims i know” at SJFC

got back home from NC after driving for 15 hours yesterday, dropping our son off to college on the way. but no time to slouch today. i screened half of The Muslims I Know for a class at st john fisher college and got to talk to students afterwards.

i was invited by the brilliant Roja Singh who’s been teaching her anthropology class about globalization, immigration, ethnocentrism and cultural relativism.

the discussion went well, with students asking about minor clarifications related to cultural and geographic specifics they had noticed in the film. there were also larger questions about both islam and american politics that i was happy to address.

as we were ending the class, a student asked me how i felt about what was going on in the country. he said: “u’ve made a very sensible film and provided a lot of information here, but it cannot be easy. how do muslims feel right now?” i had to be honest and tell him that in all our family conversations over the holidays we had shared ideas about relocating to other countries/parts of the world.

it’s particularly sad to have these discussions with our kids. it’s not something i had to contend with when i was growing up. i always felt i had choices – stay on and study in europe, remain in pakistan, settle in the US, etc without these choices being forced on me, on account of fear. what a privilege that was. it’s not so easy for most…

thank u to professors like dr Singh for creating the space necessary for this type of dialogue in smaller, predominantly white colleges and universities. it’s so very needed.

st john fisher college

st john fisher college

November 28, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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MSM’s recent concern with human rights

Zoe Lawlor on Fidel Castro’s “human rights record” being taken up so enthusiastically by mainstream media – she’s talking about Ireland but a million more things could be said about the US: “WHO KNEW human rights were so incredibly important to mainstream journalists and politicians? This concern has really fucking passed me by over the years….the 8th amendment, homelessness, direct provision, hundreds on trolleys, austerity, refugees drowning, Fortress Europe, war crimes, Shannon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo…and the rest. Who knew?”

November 26, 2016
by mara.ahmed
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Cuban medics in Haiti put the world to shame

Nina Lakhani: A third of Cuba’s 75,000 doctors, along with 10,000 other health workers, are currently working in 77 poor countries, including El Salvador, Mali and East Timor. This still leaves one doctor for every 220 people at home, one of the highest ratios in the world, compared with one for every 370 in England.

Wherever they are invited, Cubans implement their prevention-focused holistic model, visiting families at home, proactively monitoring maternal and child health. This has produced “stunning results” in parts of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, lowering infant and maternal mortality rates, reducing infectious diseases and leaving behind better trained local health workers, according to Professor Kirk’s research.

Medical training in Cuba lasts six years – a year longer than in the UK – after which every graduate works as a family doctor for three years minimum. Working alongside a nurse, the family doctor looks after 150 to 200 families in the community in which they live.

This model has helped Cuba to achieve some of the world’s most enviable health improvements, despite spending only $400 (£260) per person last year compared with $3,000 (£1,950) in the UK and $7,500 (£4,900) in the US, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development figures. More here.