Stories about Saudi Arabia

Dear Saudi, their only crime was being born transgender, and that’s not a crime at all

Amna, a 35-year-old from the Mingora part of Swat and 26-year-old Meeno from Peshawar were killed in Saudi Arabia this week in police custody. The death of any prisoner at the hands of law enforcement is already disturbing as it is, but these two were allegedly tortured to death. Alongside 33 others, they were arrested, placed inside sacks, and beaten, and beaten, and then beaten some more until the two succumbed to their injuries. Imagine being helpless, alone, inside a dark claustrophobic sack, and struck on the body and head with canes and kicks until dying painfully. There is very ...

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Is Islam the most feminist religion?

I’ve been reading about Australian youth activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied (we appeared on an Australian show once together) and her words to Jacqui Lambie on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television show that Islam is (to her) the most feminist religion. Yassmin got pilloried in the Australian press for this statement. With the state of affairs for women in many Muslim countries today, it’s easy to see how it might not sit well with a cynical and non-Muslim-friendly audience. It would have gone down great with an audience full of Muslims, but we should probably unpack the statement a little bit to come somewhere between the optimism of Yassmin’s assertion and the rest of ...

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Are the voices of the world enough to end the absurdity behind the #MuslimBan?

The media went on overdrive when Donald Trump, immediately after inauguration, followed through on his promise for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims”. The New York Times reported:  “The president’s order… suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.” When The Express Tribune asked if I wanted to write a blog on the Muslim ban, I started taking notes, and by the time I finished a draft, ...

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Lessons from Islamic history: The Mutazila and Ibn Hanbal

By the time the ninth century began, the Abbasid Caliphate had completed its construction of the new capital Baghdad. Within a few decades, the city became a major centre for science, art, and agriculture. The works of Plato and Aristotle were translated into Arabic and local philosophers built on Greek thought to become the foremost exponents of discipline in the world. Within the hospitals that served both the rich and poor were separate wards for the mentally ill that utilised talk therapy, music, and art as treatment modalities. Within the clergy, a movement known as the Mutazila (literally translated as “withdrawers”) ...

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Donald Trump’s Eisenhower moment on Islamism

As President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet takes shape, critics charge that his administration would be the most anti-Muslim and anti-Iranian. Meanwhile, in Europe, Islamist terrorism continues to escalate: the assassination of Russia’s ambassador by a Turkish man who pledged allegiance to jihad in Arabic during the killing in Ankara, Turkey; a deadly attack at a Berlin Christmas market and the shootings targeting a Muslim prayer centre in Zurich. This is Islamism at work — the indiscriminate targeting of civilians to paralyse secular liberal democracies. As an observant Muslim woman who repudiates Islamism, I believe the Trump administration, rather than being anti-Muslim, ...

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Time magazine’s Person of the Year could also be an American president for the Muslim world

President-elect Trump represents invigorating new possibilities for the Muslim world after two Obama administrations characterised by an extraordinary degree of United States (US) withdrawal and disengagement from the Muslim majority world. This was a result of multiple events such as turning a blind eye during the 2009 Velvet Revolution, becoming a first passive and later impotent bystander during the 2011 Arab Spring, engaging hasty relations with Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt revealing the US administrations inability to distinguish Islam from Islamism, and the fin de siècle, the paralysis at the mounting power of Daesh, the complete disinterest in the ...

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It’s the 21st century, don’t expect a pat on the back for allowing women to drive, Saudi Arabia

Having lived in Saudi Arabia and seen first-hand the difficulties of women not being allowed to drive, it was such a relief to see a member of the Saudi royalty adding some common sense to an already absurd situation. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a quagmire of sorts in an ultra-conservative kingdom, tweeted that it was time to let women drive. Economic necessity demanded it. According to the prince, it was too costly to keep drivers and too inefficient to let men leave their offices to drive women round. كفى نقاش: حان وقت قيادة المرأة للسيارةhttps://t.co/BBgyF8i1Gs Stop the debate: Time for women to drivehttps://t.co/6KAniFa4BT — الوليد بن طلال ...

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An open letter to Asra Nomani

Dear Ms Asra, I am a student who has been living in the United States of America (USA) for the past five years. I did my Masters from here and right now I am in my third year of PhD. As someone deeply interested in politics (my degree is in Political Science) I have read your previous work. I have also seen you on TV and deeply respect your liberal values and understanding regarding what plagues the Muslim world. However, I was surprised when I read your letter justifying your rationale for voting Trump. That letter is being shared by many who have voted for Trump as ...

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Why God, why am I a woman?

Sexual violence towards women have reached epidemic proportions worldwide. It doesn’t matter if you’re covered in a shuttlecock burqa or strutting your stuff in a bikini, our existence as females is under continuous attack. As women, we are supposed to be pliant, obedient, great chefs, honourable, sexually available and constantly blamed for the ills of society including the misdemeanours of men.  Having lived in the West and East, my perspectives and observations are unique. I can honestly say that things on both sides of the world don’t look good for women. Being born and raised in Saudi Arabia, one of the ...

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The onus to end the Syrian crisis now lies on Russia and the US

The Syrian crisis is becoming increasingly complex and intractable due to the civil war – which was triggered by a repressive government led by Bashar al Assad – who let loose a reign of terror on protesters fighting for civil liberties and democratic reforms. Eventually it escalated into an armed conflict, one that was subsequently upstaged by two powerful superpowers – Russia and the United States. The whole narrative of the civil war changed when Russia helped out their ally, Assad, (who was facing defeat at the hands of the rebels) by supplying him with artillery, tanks and strike aircraft. Iran, on the other hand, sent Hezbollah fighters to augment the Syrian ...

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