Stories about equality

Pakistan’s treatment of its minorities measures its achievement in decency

The conflict between forcible conversions and an Islamic Republic flits on borderline blasphemy or heresy. Although the three Abrahamic religions forbid forcible conversions, their followers do carry a blemished record. Christians might reveal lingering cases of coercion and enticement and the single, tiny Jewish state constantly squirming in the limelight dare not add to its troubles. That leaves Muslims and their minorities in Pakistan living under the banner of an Islamic Republic. The deviant practice of forcibly converting and marrying non-Muslim minority members in Pakistan has finally been acknowledged in a laudable parliamentary announcement. On October 5, 2016, The Express ...

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A Muslim man stood blindfolded asking for hugs in Paris and this is what happened

Following the attacks in Paris that left 129 people dead and hundreds more injured, the city’s inhabitants have found myriad ways to stand together and show the world that they won’t be divided by terrorism and fear. The latest heart-warming example is this video courtesy of NBC Nightly News. A Muslim man stands blindfolded with open arms at the Place de la République (an area of Paris that has been used for vigils and memorials since the attack) asking for free hugs. His sign reads: “I’m a Muslim and I’m told I’m a terrorist. I trust you. Do you trust me? If yes, hug me.” And one after another, ...

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Why Christine Craig should not face disciplinary action for her anti-Muslim cartoon

Uncertainty breeds insular thinking and bigotry, a theme as old as time, and as true. Therefore, it is of no surprise to find, in this brave new world of globalisation, economic changes and environmental threats, a surge in discriminatory behaviour and values. This surge is not limited to the US, but it is seen as being more prominent, mainly because of America’s stance as a moral watchdog of the world. The land of the free, the land of opportunity, comes into the limelight every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, or a member of a public school board shares a ...

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‘Sharing’ rape

The plight of women in Pakistan is a grotesque reality; so shameful that even in today’s day and age most aspects of their suppressed lives are considered taboo for public debate. One such area is the crime of rape, and marital rape in particular, where the latter is still not considered an offence or a wrong-doing in this land of the pure. The Sughra Imam Report which was recently presented before the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice revealed that there has been a zero conviction rate for rape in the past five years and the main reason behind this is the ...

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Do we need a ‘females-only’ mosque?

January 30, 2015, was a defining day for Muslim women in the United States. Close to 150 women gathered at the Interfaith Pico-Union Project, in Los Angeles, at a mosque to offer their Friday prayers. However, that wasn’t the unique aspect. What was unique was that while there are many mosques in the US which accommodate women, this particular mosque was built just for them. For the first time in the US, we were introduced to the idea of a females-only mosque, which is managed and administered by women alone. After the prayers were offered, the women gathered around the khateeba (one who delivers sermons) who ...

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#OscarSoWhite: The dark truth of a white Academy

Many in Hollywood and on social media were deeply offended by the lack of racial diversity present in this year’s Oscar nominees. This is the first time since 1998 that no person of colour, Hispanic or Asian, was nominated for the Academy Awards in the acting categories. This comes across as a surprise considering both the country’s president and the president of the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences are African-American. While it is important to note that, in the past two decades, a large number of African-American, Hispanic and Asian actors and directors have been recognised by the ...

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The confused case of a ‘liberal’ Pakistani

As the claws of fanaticism have dug deeper in our skin during the last one decade, a parallel phenomenon has taken place among some sections of Pakistan’s urban youth – a shift towards liberalism. In the simplest of terms, the components of liberalism fly the flag of equality and freedom. The whole concept revolves around civil liberties and rights. To a huge chunk sick of conservatism, liberals provide a platform that enables social change and political reform. Not a bad idea looking at the current state of bomb-wrapped, blood-spluttering affairs in Pakistan. What is the problem then? The problem is the foundation of ...

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Let your children be Emma Watson, let them be Malala

I recently watched the impassioned speech that Emma Watson made for launching the UN’s ‘HeForShe’ campaign. It was a sincere appeal for a better understanding of the ‘feminist’ movement and its singular goal to establish equal rights and freedoms for both men and women. Now, in total honesty, I have grown up with a very different interpretation of what ‘feminism’ is! In fact, while I have always been taught by my family and have believed in equal rights for boys and girls, I have not really associated this with the ‘feminist movement.’ Maybe it is the word itself…why was it ever called a ‘feminist’ ...

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Will #HeForShe work for me, a man?

The recent HeForShe campaign by Emma Watson, the UN Women goodwill ambassador, has gained significant repertoire, with many men posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook with placards, articulating their support for the campaign. The campaign speaks against gender violence and inequality. It is particularly a feminist movement and although it realises the bias against men, it does little beyond recognition. Emma herself stated that: “The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.” There is indeed a need for gender equality, and abuse against either should be equally condemned. Women are mostly ...

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Can’t a woman ask for her property share?

A few days ago, I was at a get together with friends and the usual small talk somehow turned to the ‘controversial’ topic of women and their property rights. One of them dramatically sighed and told her sympathisers how her ‘atrocious’ sister-in-law had the audacity to ask for her share of the family’s property. That opened up a Pandora’s Box as she was joined in by the other women who started sharing anecdotes of girls who had the audacity to ask for their share of their family’s property. I did not, and could not, understand what was so reprehensible about a ...

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