Stories published in January, 2016

Will Turkey and Syria be another Pakistan-Afghanistan?

When we were younger and played with matchsticks, our parents used to say ‘don’t play with fire, or your hands will get burned’. The January 12, 2016, suicide bombing in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district has certainly highlighted this predicament. The attack took the lives of 10 people, all of them German citizens and was swiftly, or rather conveniently, blamed on the Islamic State. As if Tuesday’s incident wasn’t enough, a car bomb went off outside a police headquarters in the predominantly Kurdish Cinar district, Diyarbakir province, killing six people and wounding at least 39. This attack has been blamed on the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) militants, who ...

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10 Alan Rickman moments I can never forget

Alan Rickman, the actor who played an array of eccentric roles in different cinematic visuals bid farewell to the world, and parted from his fans, on January 14, 2016. Rickman, who died at the age of 69, was suffering from cancer. The veteran actor was recently well-known for his role of the villain, Severus Snape in the films based on JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Today, however, I would like to remember him as Alan Rickman, on and off-screen. Here are my top 10 Alan Rickman moments:  10. Charity work and politics Alan Rickman was a supporter of multiple charities and ...

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Is Charlie Hebdo’s most recent Aylan Kurdi cartoon genuinely racist?

Outrage is a natural response to a magazine cover that seemingly mocks a deceased 3-year-old Syrian boy. Yet, there may be more to these cartoons than what meets the eye. Charlie Hebdo has produced another cartoon every bit as tasteless as that which we’ve learned to expect from this French magazine. It features the drowned Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, and suggests that if the refugee child had survived and grown up, he would have been sexually harassing women in Germany like the other immigrants. The cartoon refers to the wave of attacks carried out by immigrants in the German city of ...

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Anomalisa might quite possibly be the best film of 2015

Anomalisa (2015) is the long awaited return of Charlie Kaufman (co-directed with Duke Johnson) onto the big screen. This film proves once again that his voice is unique and more creative than most filmmakers in the industry.  The film is an introspective of a successful self-help author named Michael Stone (David Thewlis) who has the inability to connect to other people and longs for anything that’s “different” and then, along comes Lisa. Anomalisa is a very difficult film to describe without giving the plot away. But suffice to say, it is brilliant. Kaufman’s writing is absolutely fantastic with the seamless stop-motion ...

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Move over Ronaldo; Let Messi, the real champ, reign the field

If someone had said superstar Lionel Messi would be crowned ‘FIFA World Player of the Year’ in 2016 for a record fifth time, I’m pretty sure everyone would have considered that person as deluded. Why though? Simply because the Argentinian maestro was nowhere near the form which won him four successive ‘World Player of the Year’ awards from 2009 to 2012. Photo: AFP In fact, he had just endured the terrible ordeal of losing a World Cup final to Germany, a feat which has not only tested his physical strength but his mental endurance as well. The entire topic of discussion ahead of ...

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Drought or not, children are dying in Tharparkar, Qaim Ali Shah

Death is a regular visitor at the doors of Tharparkar’s mothers. Within the first 10 days of 2016, 17 children died in just the Mithi area of district Tharparkar in Sindh. Nothing new. Between December 2013 and early March 2014, at least 124 lives were lost in Tharparkar, 67 of them at the Civil Hospital Mithi alone. These are just some registered deaths in the most (relatively) developed area of the 20,000 sq km desert comprising the district. And once again, Sindh’s Chief Minister (CM) says these deaths are being exaggerated. This feels like Déjà vu. Part of the statement of ...

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They call it Taharrush gamea

Author’s note: Islam has nothing to do with taharrush gamea; the act contradicts the teachings of the religion. At the same time, there is no denying where the incidents are taking place, and who the perpetrators are. Denying this out of some misplaced sense of political correctness has only exacerbated the issue. Not surprisingly, the attacks are more sophisticated than a coordinated assault from a pack of hyenas. These are predators after all. The incidents usually take place in the cold black of the night at locations where women are more vulnerable; at the end of an alley, near a tunnel, in ...

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The Force is sound asleep (and snoring too!)

Every now and then I am asked to critique a movie and I am happy to oblige. Because good, bad or average, these films that I am asked to evaluate are nonetheless cinema. However when I was asked to review a Disney merchandise advertisement masquerading as a cinematic endeavour, I was a little perplexed. My first instinct was to politely refuse, considering I wasn’t being paid by Disney to write hack reviews. I mean, how else could you justify all the rave reviews that this seventh episode of the Star Wars franchise is garnering? Let’s get this clear right from the ...

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Germany sexual assault proves Europe’s liberal culture is destroying it

Liberal values require that wealthy democratic countries promote democracy in poor countries ruled by dictatorships. This has resulted in bombing countries to prepare the way for democracy, particularly if these dictatorships are located in oil rich regions and have anti-western foreign policies. Such appears to be the logic behind recent wars against Libya and Iraq and the overthrow of their decades old governments. The same effort has been made in Syria but has been inhibited owing to the Russian defence of the Syrian Assad regime. These wars for democracy have created more instability and terrorism and achieved the opposite of ...

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Series 2: “Checkmate” Part 4 Dark or bright, the past stays with us

The plane landed a few minutes after we arrived. We were both elated to see Ryna and Omer. Ryna was sporting a new layered hairdo. “Annie baji took me to her hairdresser friend,” Ryna told her Daddy. Noorul Ain, also known as Annie baji by Ryna, was her role model. She was the 24-year-old daughter of one of ammi ji’s neighbours in Los Angeles (LA). “Well it does suit you,” I told her, looking at her admiringly. Ryna loved compliments. Ali got busy quizzing Omer about whether he had finished the book report due the following week. Ryna was bursting with excitement over Annie’s upcoming wedding in June at dinner later that ...

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