Sabeer.Lodhi

Sabeer Lodhi

The author is studying at Monash University, Melbourne. He is a student and supporter of human rights with a focus on gender equality, minority rights and feminism. He tweets as @sabeerlodhi (twitter.com/sabeerlodhi)

Pauline Hanson’s burqa ban proves she is an isolationist and the female version of Donald Trump – but only worse

The Australian senate witnessed unusual scenes yesterday when a woman walked in wearing a burqa for the first time in its history. The footage shows gasps of ‘what on earth!’ from senators as the woman revealed herself to be Pauline Hanson, a senator from Queensland and the head of the One Nation Party. Revelling in the attention, she bared her smug face to advocate a ban on burqas in Australia and its parliament. She called it oppressive, un-Australian and a threat to security and western society, and asked the leader in the senate, Attorney General George Brandis, whether he will work to ban ...

Read Full Post

Is religion more important than unity in Australia?

During my school days, students would queue in the main ground and proudly sing Pakistan’s national anthem during the morning assembly. Singing the national anthem brought everyone together, nurturing inclusiveness and a sense of unity. The school had students from different religious backgrounds, although the majority was Sunni Muslims. Singing the anthem instilled love for Pakistan from an early age and brought everyone together in solidarity. Those were the only times when Jinnah’s Pakistan twinkled in the eyes of everyone and reminded us of his quote, “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other ...

Read Full Post

Setting the record straight: 6 stereotypes overseas Pakistanis face

A Pakistani living abroad has to battle with numerous stereotypes. It has been a year since I moved to Australia and I still get heckled by people’s pre-conceived notions about where I’m from. It is not just because I am from Pakistan, a country plagued by terrorism and corrupt regressive regimes, but also because Pakistan is considered to be a religiously extremist country. There is a distinct need to set the record straight and inform the international community that Pakistan is a lot more than what they have assumed it to be. I want to address some of the questions that were ...

Read Full Post

And the award for the most ridiculous fatwa goes to…

Allegedly, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al Sheikh, recently issued a fatwa that allows starving men to eat their spouses to save their own lives. This will be considered an act of obedience by the wife and her willingness to be one with the husband’s flesh. My initial reaction was laughter at the mufti’s idea to feed starving husbands. It was then followed by disgust at his misogyny and sexism, among other things. Fortunately, now we see reports of a rebuttal. Saudi media is attributing the source of this misreporting to the Iranian media. However, this is not ...

Read Full Post

#IStandWithMariam but if you don’t love Pakistan, leave!

Mariam, mother of two, is an Afghan refugee in Pakistan. She sought refuge even before the Afghan War started and has been proudly calling herself a Pakistani since then. Pakistan provided her the liberty to do what she wants without any fear or prejudice. Her children take advantage of an education system unavailable in her home country and she herself is a trained lawyer, an opportunity that is a dream for women in Afghanistan. But Mariam recently took offence when a famous departmental store sold shirts that read, “If you don’t love it, leave,” with a Pakistan flag printed on it. This was ...

Read Full Post

#IllRideWithYou in Sydney and Pakistan

Australia woke up to one of the worst terrorist attacks in its contemporary history yesterday. A gun-toting extremist, Man Haron Moris, took people hostage at Lindt Café in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District. Visuals of hostages pressed against windows holding black placards that read ‘There is no God but Allah (SWT) and Muhammad (PBUH) is his prophet’ were plastered all over TV channels and news sites. A black flag with white Arabic writing is held up in the window of the Lindt cafe in this still image taken from video from Australia’s Seven Network. Photo: ...

Read Full Post

I’m Sunni and I went to the 10th Muharram procession in Melbourne!

Pakistan, home to 180 million people, saw another deadly Muharram this year when 57 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Lahore. Each time, short term administrative solutions are followed to bandage the plague of ideological intolerance that has infected us for years. Cities are put under curfew, statements of condemnation floated, promises of fool-proof security made and cellular services blocked for as long the government deems fit. Nothing much has changed since last year, when Raja Bazar in Rawalpindi was gripped by sectarian violence. This religious intolerance and administrative failure is in stark contrast to what I recently experienced in a foreign land. I come from a ...

Read Full Post

Should Malala be blamed for Gaza too?

Consider this: Pakistan is in the midst of a war on terror. Swat is in control of Maulana Fazlullah, who is now the chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Radio is banned, schools have been forced shut and a barbaric (read: Taliban’s) Sharia law has been imposed. In all this, a brave 12-year-old risks her life to tell the world what girls like her are going through. Fast forward two years. Her blogs on BBC and activism for the cause of education infuriates perpetrators of terrorism who attempt to assassinate her. She survives against all odds, and has now won many accolades and awards for her work and ...

Read Full Post

Do impaired individuals deserve to be made fun of?

He has had speech impairment for as long as I can remember. Each word uttered has to be a deliberate effort for him. His sentences spoken are often unclear and difficult to comprehend. Perhaps, he also faced bullying whilst growing up but that never shattered his confidence, for his career demands him to interact with large crowds and be a public speaker. Despite the lisped sentences, his statements hold clout and his opinions are always sought. People make fun of him and glances are exchanged around him, yet he only fumbles, never stumbles. He is the 14th prime minister of Pakistan, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. ...

Read Full Post

Is Pakistan ready to pay the cost of a complete ban on smoking?

The Pakistan Paediatric Association estimates that about 12,000 adolescents become addicted to smoking every day. If this seems like another passable statistic, let me confess that I smoked my first cigarette when I was only eight-years-old. Most of my childhood was spent in an environment clouded by thick smoke of the cancer sticks, yet I was always taught that smoking was bad. The mind of a child can never grasp why something his male relatives indulge in so often can be harmful and I was no different. Not until I took up smoking in my late teens and observed examples of smokers ...

Read Full Post