Why Turkey’s referendum is important

Turkey is one of the most beautiful countries of the world. Besides physical beauty of its architectural heritage and breath-taking landscapes, Turkey also captures the imagination because it is a crossroad of Asia and Europe, and consequently a lovely mix between tradition and modernisation. But what makes Turkey truly fascinating for me is that since the 1920s, it has been a secular as well as a moderate Muslim majority country. Whenever someone wants to prove that a Muslim country can be secular and moderate, they use Turkey as their example.  Turkey was cited by Reza Aslan as an example to counter ...

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How to get away with murder in India? Blame a man for eating beef

A year and half after the horrific Dadri incident, Hindu vigilantes continue to “cry beef” and hunt for Mohammad Akhlaqs. The manager of a Jaipur hotel faced a similar hungry mob on Sunday night (March 19) that stormed the place over rumours of serving beef. According to a report in The Indian Express, the owner of Hotel Hayat Rabbani, Naeem Rabbani, has alleged that after taking his manager into custody, police brought him back among the cow vigilantes “to calm them down”. He was also slapped around and manhandled in police presence. Rabbani, who held a press conference with his staff a ...

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Why would India elect Yogi Adityanath as CM of Uttar Pradesh?

Is the expanding dominance of Narendra Modi on a national political landscape a reassuring sign for India as a nation? Can we, Indians, rest assured that the country is in the hands of an enlightened leadership who will strengthen the idea of India? The answer is a big no. Despite the electoral dominance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Modi’s overarching presence in Indian politics today, the plural democracy has never looked as vulnerable in independent India as it looks today. How will one explain the anointment of Yogi Adityanath, a rabid sectarian figure, as the chief minister (CM) of Uttar ...

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Thank you, Modi, for proving that partition saved the subcontinent’s Muslims from extinction

Dear Mr Narendra Modi, I was not at all surprised that your party, Bharatiya Janata Party (the BJP), swept the recent Uttar Pradesh (UP) elections. You ran your campaign on an anti-Muslim platform, you convinced most of the UP Hindus that Muslims in their state are Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agents and that Muslims would not vote for your party, therefore they voted en masse for BJP. In fact, to appear anti-Muslim, you did not field a single Muslim candidate despite the notion that there are more than 40 million Muslims in UP! So, in spite of the Muslim population of UP being over 20% of the total population, the ...

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Calling leaders in Western Europe remnants of Nazism will not gain Erdogan any friends

A unique diplomatic war is stirring between two prominent players in the European arena, the Dutch and the Turks. The drama started when the Dutch denied entry to two prominent members of the Turkish cabinet into their country. These members were to address the Turkish expatriates in the Netherlands over the upcoming referendum citing security concerns. The two sides do not appear to be interested in toning down the rhetoric or working towards normalcy. Turkish strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan upped the ante with the following remarks: “I have said that I had thought Nazism was over, but that I ...

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The Modi brand is here to stay

The man is bigger than his party. This is the crux of the results of five assembly elections in India, especially the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) that sends 80 MPs to Parliament. After these polls, there is no denying that Narendra Modi’s popularity overshadows not only the opposition but also his own party, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). There was similar support for our first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, as was there for his daughter Indira Gandhi during her regime. Modi is no Nehru and is also quite different from Indira; the background of the ‘chaiwala’ has ...

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Trump’s past, just like the Baku hotel deal, will keep haunting him

Donald Trump has taken the US by storm; given a whole new meaning to the word ‘lie’; upped the deceit and trickery standards, raised the immorality bar, trashed government institutions and functionaries and consistently put to shame the entire country that he’s supposedly the leader of. Thus, it is hardly a matter of surprise when the press comes out with a news story or a scandal that involves him or his associates. To be honest, the day I received an email alert from The New Yorker regarding Adam Davidson’s ‘Donald Trump’s Worst Deal’, I simply pushed the delete button and moved on with my day. You can ...

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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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I am a Muslim parent in the US and I chose to send my children to a Catholic school

My wonderful nani (maternal grandmother), Jamila Khatoon, was an advocate for missionary schools and hospitals in Pakistan. She would famously say, “Schools and hospitals are best run by the mission.” Resultantly, my mother and her siblings went to missionary schools in Karachi, as did my siblings and I. Why is it that parents, belonging to other faiths, sometimes consciously make a choice to send their kids to a Catholic school? Is it because they feel that faith-based education, regardless of what faith the school believes in, imparts spirituality at a young age that leaves an impact through adult life? I remember putting the ...

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As a young British Muslim, I’ve been told to stay away from Google – why do I feel like a terrorist?

A few days ago, a German school announced that it had banned Muslim students from using prayer mats in order to stop them from displaying their religion “in a provocative manner”. I read this with a sad sense of familiarity; it reminds me of the sense of fear and anxiety that I myself feel as a young British Muslim in 2017. On a day-to-day basis, I am hyperconscious about where I am sitting in a café or a park, when I do my daily Quran reading — who around me might see the Arabic writing on my laptop screen or mobile phone app and feel threatened ...

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