Stories published in November, 2016

Islam does NOT stop a transgender person from performing religious duties

About a month ago, a violent video was circulated on social media which showed a gang of men in Pakistan viciously flogging a transgender as a ‘punishment for her bad habits’. While many people belonging to various sectors of Pakistani society condemned the series of human rights violations of transgender people on a local front, there comes yet another news that is sad and terrifying; this time a global one. Saudi Arabia has formally banned transgender people from even visiting the country. It doesn’t end there – they have also been banned from performing the religious pilgrimage, Umrah. The pilgrimage can be performed ...

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What is the fate of Muslims in America after the Ohio shooting?

Another campus shooting. Another troubled individual venting his frustrations on the innocent. But this time, it wasn’t a lone shooter or bullied teenager. The attacker, identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was a young Muslim man of Somalian descent. He said in a Facebook post shortly before the attack that he was fed up of “American interference” in Muslim countries. Taking a butcher knife, he started stabbing people indiscriminately close to Ohio University. Eleven people were injured with one in a critical condition. These are tense times for Muslims in America. Not only are they vilified for their beliefs but their President-elect, ...

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Pakistan’s new army chief: A reality check

To many in Pakistan, Qamar Javed Bajwa is an unknown soldier. Yet yesterday, he became arguably the country’s most powerful person when he swore in as its next army chief. Testimonials about Bajwa are overwhelmingly positive. Those who know him say he’s a proponent of strong civil-military relations – the main reason, according to one account, why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a man who has often sparred with the army, selected Bajwa for the job. He’s not seen as reflexively hostile to India, and he once served under an eventual Indian Army chief while on a United Nations mission in Congo. He’s regarded as low-key and camera-shy, yet also ...

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Força Chapecoense!

The Brazilian plane crash in Colombia yesterday has virtually left many in shock and tears. A sports fanatic myself, the news was terribly heart wrenching, considering an entire football team simply stopped existing, in a flash. The ill fated chartered carrier had 81 people on board, which included twenty two members of a Brazilian football club, Chapecoense Real. The team was supposed to play against the Medellin team Atlético Nacional in the first leg of the final of the Copa Sudamericana, the South American counterpart of Europe’s Europa League. The latest reports suggest that only six passengers survived the crash, including ...

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Silence: Watch, drool, absorb, repeat

Woah! Just woah! Am I crazy if I just keep on watching something on loop ad infinitum? The trailer of Martin Scorsese’s much awaited passion project ‘Silence’ has finally dropped, and boy am I stunned speechless. Scorsese’s adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s novel was definitely at the top of my most anticipated list for a long while now, and we finally get a peek into what’s actually in store for us. Silence book cover. Photo: Wikipedia For nearly three decades, the celebrated filmmaker has been planning to adapt Silence, and I will be honest, the premise of two Jesuit ...

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Our first transgender model and other milestones for Pakistan

As Indian activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi stomped the runway at the Lakme Fashion Week, US athlete Chris Mosier appeared in a Nike advertisement, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shared an iftar meal with a transgender celebrity, a change has been brewing globally this year. But there’s still so much activism, action and inertia that is still needed in Pakistan. Let’s recount some of the trailblazing moments that shook the Pakistani society, empowering the notions surrounding transgender persons: June 2009 In order to ensure their rights, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the first census for transgender people to take place. However, ...

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I was sexually abused as a child. But I moved on.

As each day passes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to come to terms with my dark past. It amazes me how some individuals blatantly cry out, “my life is a mess” or “I can’t get over a relationship”. Those are not incidents to contemplate over for long. They are not worth your happiness. I had always been outgoing. When I was younger, I was the chirpy child, the boy who always had a smile plastered across his face – but that changed one day. I lived in a small neighbourhood in Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU). I was always becoming acquainted with people through my ...

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Volunteering at KVTC helped me more than I helped them

I spend all my days and nights looking for a purpose in life and though I might be 20, I feel the burden of not giving back to life after everything I’ve been blessed with. It might sound clichéd when I say that I can’t imagine a life without purpose but I kid you not when I say I have trouble sleeping at night on the days I feel I took more from life than I gave back to it. With the recent exponential growth in negativity around the world, I found myself soaking in negativity and breathing it out, both ...

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Is child sexual assault or rape, in this day and age, still excusable?

Right across the Turkish capital, Istanbul, countless people are huddled together clutching boards and posters in a form of protest. Turkey has been struggling with a number of political problems and most of them are associated with the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in neighbouring war-torn Syria. But this time, unlike the others, this problem doesn’t have anything to do with ISIS but is triggered by troubling issues inside the country. A new Turkish bill has been proposed which pardons men from crime and punishment if they marry the victim they raped. Thousands of women were outraged. Human rights groups were ...

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Part II: Three films from the Film Festival Cologne 2016 that you must watch

The Film Festival Cologne 2016 was held in the city of Cologne, Germany, showcasing numerous foreign language films and the finest in filmmaking from across the world. This is the second part of the two-part review on the films at the Film Festival Cologne 2016.  Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World  Lo and Behold is yet another documentary by the legendary German filmmaker, Werner Herzog, who explores the birth, influence and quite possibly, extinction of the internet and the human race. It’s Only the End of the World  After 12 years of absence, a writer goes back to his home town, ...

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