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April 30, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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Editing the first dance

Emotional day today. I finally downloaded Final Cut Pro X (it looks nothing like Final Cut Pro 7) and although, after editing 3 films, cutting footage is as natural to me as brushing my teeth, it’s been hard not to know where to find the blade or how to add a cross dissolve. Oy vey. Lots of googling of course, and wonderful online discussion groups where generous people share their tricks and fixes.

Our last shoot was a ballet sequence choreographed by Mariko, performed by María, and filmed by Rajesh. I started with that footage. It’s filled with glorious light, spilling out of tall windows with incredible abandon, and Maria’s exquisite arabesques and pirouettes. Mariko chose Handel’s ‘Ombra mai fu’ as a base for the dance, so I cut the footage to it. Shot with such poetry by Rajesh, as he follows Maria round and round in circles, sometimes losing her briefly until she settles on the edge of the frame, other times following her graceful arms only to rest on her extended fingers. I teared up when I looked at the first cut. So many people have to come together just so to make this magic happen. Nothing gives me more pleasure than this work.

Photograph by Rajesh, for The Injured Body: A Film about Racism in America

April 29, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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Manzoor Pashteen on Pakistani media

Asim Rafiqui: Those we often consider ‘illiterate’ or ‘un-modern’ or ‘in need of education’ or ‘unaware of how the world works’ or any number of denigrating, racist, and reductive generalisations that are often used against anyone Pashtun, are often the most lucid, clear and theoretically strong about understanding the operations of power, and its allies.

To crudely paraphrase Manzoor Pashteen’s statement:

“This is a media that chases Taliban commanders through mountains to offer them their microphones and their cameras. This is a media that has always-whether for the authorities or for violent men–acted as an enabler of war and a promoter of war. I pray that this media some day be free. This is a media that did not even bother to cover the torn, dismembered bodies of our children. But it ran to cover the story of a cat in Karachi.”

This state, this society, our privileged elite, our numbed middle class, cannot fathom this language. It cannot hear these truths. It cannot bear to face its complicity in false wars, in real deaths and mass slaughter.

April 29, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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Elections in the World’s Largest Democracy Are Being Boycotted in One Embattled Province

american activist friends, pls learn about kashmir.

AS HUNDREDS OF millions of Indians take part in the largest democratic election in the world, residents of the northern province of Kashmir are engaging in what appears to be a historic boycott of the vote. The current Indian prime ministerial election, which runs over the course of a month, pits the incumbent Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, against Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress. For the residents of Kashmir who find themselves trapped in the middle of a decadeslong rivalry between India and neighboring Pakistan, their lives are unlikely to change regardless of the election’s outcome.

[…] Military control over the province has intensified, with even pro-India Kashmiri leaders saying that the province of 11 million is becoming “an open-air prison.” In such an environment, nationwide elections seem to offer little hope. More here.

April 28, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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Saudi Arabia executes 37 people

so grotesque it feels unreal.

Sarah Abdallah: Imagine the nonstop global outrage if Russia, #Syria or #Venezuela beheaded 37 people in one day, and publicly pinned two of the headless bodies to a pole. Not so much though when it comes to Saudi Arabia, which just did exactly that to its Shia minority.

April 27, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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mimouna at my house

with the terrible news of another attack on a synagogue and the news a couple of days ago that an army vet deliberately drove into a south asian family thinking they were muslim, it can be hard to breathe sometimes.

this evening we celebrated mimouna at my house, a north african tradition according to which muslim neighbors bring bread and desserts to their jewish friends and celebrate the end of passover together. so we american jews and muslims decided to get together. we shared poems and ideas. we ate a lot of bread and sweets. we should have had moroccan mint tea but had chai instead – a pakistani addition 🙂

solidarity is the only place we can ever feel safe.

April 25, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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On empathy and other liberal Zionist canards

Yoav Litvin: The ultimate propaganda goal of any nationalistic apparatus is to fuse the perception of “self” with that of “nation” into a cohesive identity that is loyal to the ruling class. Critique of the state becomes an existential threat that warrants defensive responses aimed at ensuring the survival of both personal and collective psyches.

Zionism has been a modern white supremacist movement since its inception. Zionists coopted aspects of Judaism and Liberalism, repackaging them as appeals to identities and propaganda tools to bolster colonial expansion.

The state of Israel is built on the fallacy, enshrined in a Basic Law, that it is simultaneously Jewish and democratic. However, Israel is not a democratic state, as demonstrated by the long list of anti-Palestinian measures including the recent Jewish nation-state law. Nor is it a Jewish state, as exemplified by Israel’s consistent targeting of anti-Zionist Jews and prejudice against Sephardi, Mizrahi and African Jews, as well as its ongoing collaboration with anti-Semitic forces which aim for global apartheid.

The artificial connection between Zionism and Judaism thwarts resistance by deeming critique of Zionism and Israeli policies towards Palestinians as an attack on all Jews, ie anti-Semitic. Further, it fragments anti-colonial resistance by reframing a political struggle over land and resources between an occupying force and an occupied people as a “conflict” among two relatively equal parties.

The Liberal flank of Zionism functions to sanitise and revise the reactionary, settler-colonialist and white supremacist essence of the movement and obscure its motivations – expansionism and apartheid. Duplicitously, it presents Zionism as compatible with democratic and progressive values and human rights, possessing a true desire for peace, justice and complete integration into the Middle East. More here.

April 24, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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appending ‘istan’ to make a point

to all well-meaning ‘liberals’: pls stop attaching ‘istan’ to ur own messed up countries/states/cities in order to make a point about misogyny or violence. pakistan and afghanistan, countries that u drone and brutalize, are not available for light-hearted banter involving otherization. and central asian countries, such as kazakhstan or uzbekistan, don’t exist to be ur lame punch lines. get over yourselves pls. thank u.

April 23, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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Lessons of the Hour: a review

My review of Lessons of the Hour, a video installation by British artist Isaac Julien, inspired by the life of Frederick Douglass, on view at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester until May 12th.

‘Although I agree that photographs of brutalized bodies, especially when they belong to oppressed communities, dehumanize and normalize further violence, prioritizing sanitized visuals over rougher, less agreeable sounds and images can also be tricky. It takes away a lot of the discomfort that real talk might induce in an audience. It makes art easier to digest, but one has to question its message, its gloss, its commercial invincibility.’ More here.

April 23, 2019
by mara.ahmed
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Selective heartbreak

Dalel Benbabaali: Sad to see what happened to Notre Dame. Here’s another UNESCO world heritage site that has been recently destroyed. It’s called Sanaa and it’s in Yemen. There’s no international outpouring of emotion and Macron will not call for contributions to rebuild it because he’s actually helping its destruction with French weapons.

Traditional architecture in Sanaa at sunrise Yemen. Inhabited for more than 2.500 years at an altitude of 2.200 m the Old City of Sanaa is a UNESCO World Heritage City
Displaced in Sana’a’s Old City