Stories about burqa

5 things I learnt after moving to Pakistan

When I made the decision to move to the notorious land called Pakistan, because of my husband’s job, there were mixed reactions from the community (to say the least). My non-Pakistani and non-Muslim friends were terrified for my safety and were keen on reminding me of the short list of communities; their concerns involved my husband’s salary, the tough humidity, and the eternal inconvenience of load-shedding.  Ignoring all concerns, I decided to take on the adventure and assured my friends that I was happy and ready for anything. Boy did I lie. I was terrified – but very much in love. I had ...

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How can we stop our children from being radicalised by extremists?

I ask this question because all around me, our kids are being brainwashed by adults who are scared that Islam will disappear from the world if the younger generation is not trained to kill for the sake of religion. “Dada, you will not go to heaven if you do not keep a beard, Mehroze Khan Chacha told me”. “Nana, you should wear shalwar kameez when you go to the mosque, not jeans and T-shirt, Akmal driver Chacha says so.” “Dadi, you should not watch TV, Allah will punish you for it, our Quran teacher told us.” “Mummy, why don’t you wear a burqa, our Islamiat teacher says your prayers ...

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The line between ‘expression’ and ‘hate’

Undeniably, it’s everywhere; you’ll find some Charlie Hebdos at your dinner table – some who never want to be Charlie, and then some who, like me, are stuck in the sticky web of internal debate. Since Charlie Hebdo and its counterparts made headlines, my mind has been whizzing with questions of determining where I stand on the issue. It’s clear that I appreciate the limitless power of the pen but I’m certain I also respect the sentiments of those who read my words. The question I have stopped dead at is plain: is the freedom to write whatever I want my right or a ...

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Slapping Gauhar Khan with the ‘Muslim’ card

It was interesting to read the incident about Gauhar Khan, the Muslim Bollywood actress, who was slapped during her attendance as a presenter at the reality show ‘India’s Raw Star’ on Sunday. The matter is thought provoking because Akil Malik, the 24-year-old man who slapped her, claimed that he did so because being a Muslim, she was wearing an inappropriately short and revealing dress. After the incident, Malik did not resist arrest, indicating that he was in no way ashamed of what he had done. Malik’s reason for the slap changes the entire context of the story, taking it out of the boundaries of ...

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The kinds of people you will definitely encounter at Sunday Bazaar!

For those of you who are not from Karachi, Pakistan, and who do not know what Sunday Bazaar is, it is a huge open thrift market in the posh locality of Defence Phase 8. You will find anything and everything – bolts of luxurious fabrics, original oil paintings, fruits and vegetables, wicker baskets, leather jackets, second-hand books of all genres, used shoes and bags, disposed-off toys and electronics among many other things my brain refuses to do an inventory for. Essentially, it is a wholesale-cum-flea market which takes place on, you guessed it, Sundays only. And for those of ...

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Is having ‘brown’ skin, in Australia, a crime?

Ali, 26, was lying unconscious on the concrete footpath outside a busy train station on King’s Street, Sydney. His mouth was bleeding profusely and his eyes were bruised and swollen, while his friends made frantic phone calls to the police and emergency services. Within 10 minutes, the police and paramedics were at the scene, applying first aid. As he regained consciousness and looked around, he realised that his attacker had fled the scene and he was surrounded by the emergency staff. Before this incident happened that day, Ali was partying with friends on a Friday night on King’s Street – the party hub of ...

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A plea to India

Being a Pakistani with ties to India has put me in some difficult positions. For years I have tried to remove misconceptions and disprove stagnant theories on both side of the border. One thing that I had to talk about at length was the freedoms and societal positions of minorities in each country. Most of the people I interacted with did not have first-hand experience and would base their arguments on ‘official’ texts and school curriculum, which were heavily slated against the side. It’s a different situation now; the media is more open than it was in my teenage years ...

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Why the French burqa ban upsets me as a secular feminist

The European Court of Human Rights has weighed in on the face veil ban in France and, in a flagrant exhibition of institutionalised bigotry, has upheld the government’s decision. As goes France, so goes Europe. The verdict breathes fresh air into an old debate, in which the opposing sides had begun to take comfort in the thought of this restriction being a French anomaly, not representative of the general European psyche. But we’ve faced disappointments before. We’ve been led to believe that we may choose either one of the two positions: – Burqa is benign, and must be allowed – Burqa is a harmful, patriarchal icon, ...

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Just a maasi

This piece is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The child looked at me with utter guilt on her face while I smiled at her. She had spilt water all around the toilet. She felt bad about me having to clean it up. It had been a long time since someone sympathised with me. So I smiled at her to put her at ease. She flashed a shy smile towards me and hurried out, leaving me all alone in the three cubicle restroom. I looked at my cell phone to check the time. It was 3pm and ...

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In Italy, I was asked why I was not wearing a Burqa

It was our last day in Rome. My friend and I decided to spend it at our two favourite places in the city – Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fontana. It was almost noon on a pleasant day with the brilliant autumn sunshine warming the cobble-stoned square and illuminating the magnificent Roman sculptures in the centre of the piazza (city square in Italian). It was as if both of us wanted to take a part of Rome away with us in our hearts as we sat quietly on the stone bench simply absorbing the relaxed Italian life around us. I had my camera ...

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