Stories about terrorist attacks

Stronger: Jake Gyllenhaal gives us an insightful view of the Boston Bombings

Remember those years when we as a collective used to root for Leonardo DiCaprio to win his first ever Oscar. Well guess what, we have got another cinematic bandwagon to jump on to. Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you, Jake Gyllenhaal, the powerhouse performer who after DiCaprio’s academy win is now the best actor to not have earned the accolade. Ever since his iconic portrayal of a psychologically troubled teenager in the cult classic Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal has gone from strength to strength. Between Prisoner, Nightcrawler and Nocturnal Animals, the 36-year-old is truly at the peak of his craft. But surprisingly, he’s been nominated for the Oscar on just one ...

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After all, Kabul is no Manchester, and the media and world’s reaction proved it

At some level, I do understand why no Facebook profile picture filters appeared or why no hashtags dominated the social media landscape after a bombing in Kabul or Baghdad. It is assumed that cities like these must be acclimatised to the reign of terror; to towering plumes of smoke; to children’s blood being spilled on the city’s pavements; and to mangled corpses strewn on the dirty streets. It is assumed that they must be used to mothers wailing in a strange cacophony; to rundown ambulances whirring past shocked onlookers, who in turn are used to their unacknowledged existence; and used to the ...

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“The media has needed Trump like a crack addict needs a hit!”

Remember the time when Donald Trump’s chances of winning the elections were as promising as minorities in Pakistan gaining equal rights? A year ago, no one could have imagined that Trump would win the 2016 Presidential Elections. But win he did and I believe the media, in its quest for ratings, played a crucial part in mainstreaming him. I used to be an avid reader of  The New York Times, and during election season, all I would see were stories either covering one of his many erroneous claims (in a bid for ratings), or magnanimous praises for Hillary Clinton’s “pragmatic” politics over the “idealised” politics of Bernie Sanders. Bernie was ...

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Trump’s #MuslimBan: A realist’s take

Recently, the UAE foreign minister defended Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, claiming that it’s not Islamophobic. The unconvincing statement, perhaps given in relief or gratitude for the UAE having avoided the ban itself, only goes to highlight the unscrupulous foundations of the ban. Rich, influential Muslim countries that are financial or strategic allies like the Gulf States and Pakistan have been spared, whereas those with little utility to the US have conveniently been scapegoated to appease Trump’s right-wing populism. Perhaps Abdullah Bin Zayed’s words have some truth to them after all. Perhaps the ban isn’t merely a coup against Muslim countries, but ...

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What is Afghanistan’s problem?

On Monday, the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, once again blamed Pakistan for the terrorist attacks in his country. The blame stemmed from a presidential statement following the Kabul terrorist attacks when Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, called President Ghani. Despite the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff’s offer to share intelligence and cooperation with Afghanistan, in order to curb terrorism in the region, the president blamed Pakistan for the terrorism in his country claiming that the terrorists were trained in Pakistan. Afghanistan has been going through a period of transition since the United States’ (US) invasion post 9/11, when the US and its allies ousted the ...

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Why is it unacceptable for an American seventh grader to learn about Islam?

I can sit at my computer and read the news about what is happening in a remote shipping village in Australia, or find out about the latest political gaffe in Brazil or discover the new ‘Pineapple Pen’ phenomenon sweeping Japan, all at the convenient click of a button.  Globalisation and the overreaching powers of the internet have made all this possible and stuffed us with information overload. The ability to learn about new cultures, inventions and policies is boundless and never-ending. However, the ability to soak all this knowledge must be matched by a desire to learn. If ignorance, hatred ...

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Change begins at home: Stop blaming France for the Burkini ban

When I lived in Saudi Arabia, religious policing of women’s bodies was the norm. I remember a time when my mother and I were casually strolling down Suwaiket street – one of the most busiest and populated areas in downtown Al-Khobar – when we suddenly witnessed the religious police, most commonly referred to as ‘mutawa’ (or mutaween for plural) approach a young woman, and angrily demanded that she cover up, as she wore the abaya (full Islamic body covering), with the scarf resting loosely around her shoulders, her face and hair bare. When the woman, who was too shocked to speak or didn’t comply right away, ...

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The World Wide Web of terrorist infrastructure

The past 12 months have been a difficult period for many around the world. If before it was possible to believe that terrorist attacks were rare and isolated incidents aimed specifically at those Western powers that intervene militarily in troubled majority Muslim territories, that theory no longer stacks up. The wave of attacks over the past year has been thick, fast and brutal and it has targeted countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia for reasons wider than simple military revenge. Since the start of August alone, there have been three vicious attacks in countries outside the western states ...

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The terrorist label: When does an attack become a ‘terrorist’ attack?

Last week, Zakaria Bulhan, a British Somalian teenager, armed with a knife, allegedly killed one person and injured four others in a central London square as passers-by were out enjoying the evening. An ordinary scene of urban serenity was disrupted and panic ensued. However, the British authorities have so far refused to label the incident as a terrorist attack stating that the attack was “spontaneous” and triggered by mental health issues. The labelling of a “terrorist” is a delicate task. It is a deliberate decision taken by those in positions of authority rather than induced by the observations of members ...

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Why schools, colleges and universities?

As I am watching the attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda unfold on live television, I am forced to relive the horror of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Army Public School (APS) attack which took place approximately a year ago. For the millions of Pakistanis who witnessed that attack on live television, APS is a scar that is not going to heal. I can only pray for the students at Bacha Khan and their families. Vehement protest, which perhaps is the best emotion to represent our feelings, will fall on deaf ears like the hundreds of similar protests across Pakistan following other ...

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