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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To stand validated in Trump’s America, you have to be Caucasian and Christian

It was just last summer when my buddies and I – three from the Jewish faith, one Afro-American Christian and one agnostic (that’s the closest I can describe myself in terms of a ‘belief system’) – were having a conversation (not trash talking like Donald Trump)  in a squash club’s locker room. To my disbelief, the oldest of us who had experienced the dreadful times when Jews were blatantly discriminated against, emphatically announced, “Come November, if Trump becomes the president, everyone in this room should prepare themselves to kiss goodbye to their civil liberties and peaceful lives.” At that time, Trump didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell to succeed. There was more going ...

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Who is the real winner in Af-Pak tensions?

Recently, when Pakistan decided to move heavy artillery towards the Afghan border, many wondered if a full-scale war was about to be initiated between the two countries. Surprisingly, Kabul refrained from retaliating when Pakistani forces shelled terror camps on the other side of the border. It was hard to fathom such an action as Afghanistan has always been considered “a brotherly neighbour”. Where India has always remained our nemesis, Afghanistan now might well be pilfering the former’s title of being our “arch rival”. So how did we end up in this mess where brothers have turned into fierce rivals? Firstly, since 2001, both the countries have fuelled a never-ending cycle of blame game. This ...

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I was 16 when I was forced to marry a stranger and move to Canada

When I was a kid, my only goal was to get a good education. I dreamt of attending Harvard or Stanford, and planned to become a doctor one day. I was the eldest of four daughters in a Pakistani Muslim family. We lived in Ruwais, a small town in the United Arab Emirates, where my father worked in an oil plant and my mother was a teacher. At school, I always stood out among the girls in my class—I was brash, clever, outspoken. I took pride in acing every test. When I brought home top marks, my father would ...

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An American Muslim veteran reflects on resisting the Muslim Ban

I am an American Muslim veteran. I was raised in America, and I joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) while in college. I followed in the footsteps of generations of men in my family who have served proudly and with distinctions in the military. Many of my family members served in the Pakistani military and were immensely proud of me when I commissioned for the US Air Force. Loyalty to one’s country and respect for the armed forces is a part of my family’s heritage. Upon joining the military, I was proud to fight under the flag of ...

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ATMs in India are running dry, so why is the government still touting successful demonitisation?

Three months down the line, and India is still sifting through the mess created by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden announcement that he was pulling currency from the Indian economy. While the government promised that stability would return in 50 days and asked the people to support the authorities, things still seem shaky. The government has been touting the success of demonetisation as ATM’s run dry and weak economic indicators are being reported. According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), money is still being counted and the picture is still a bit hazy as to how much of the returned money ...

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Monsieur Trudeau and Trump played their cards well

Monsieur Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada and Mr Donald Trump, president of the United States of America, met face-to-face in Washington on February 13, 2017. This meeting affirmed that their nations’ bilateral relationship would be unaffected by different policy positions. President Trump said: “America is deeply fortunate to have a neighbour like Canada.” Prime Minister Trudeau confidently stated: “No neighbours in the entire world are as fundamentally linked as we are.” Monsieur Trudeau publicly declared the steadiness of the Anglosphere applecart club which comprises of the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Club rules recognise complete domestic sovereignty with “fundamentally” interlinked, interdependent foreign policies led, though not dictated, by the United States. Common ...

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Russia will never sabotage its alliance with Iran for Donald Trump

As I write these lines, Washington is abuzz with the news of Donald Trump’s top security advisor, Michael Flynn’s resignation. The White House is trying to clean up the mess Flynn’s rather over-zealously erratic act created, ending up in critics looking at the election victory in a whole new light.  Ironically, Trump saw in Flynn the capability to penetrate the Russian iron curtain by virtue of his connections with Moscow. Ironically also, it was Flynn who had put Iran on an unexplained and unelaborated ‘notice’ early February – an ill-conceived, rhetoric ridden, flash in the pan type of a half-step that really just reiterated Washington’s unsavoury ...

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