India’s undeclared emergency: Dear BJP, arresting a citizen for calling you ‘fascist’ makes you… a fascist!
Dissent breathes life into a democracy, which is why when you stifle free speech, you strangle your democracy. Sadly, freedom of speech and democracy have never felt as suffocated in India as they feel today. The latest example of this is the detention of 28-year-old Lois Sofia at an airport in Tamil Nadu, for the crime of shouting a slogan against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The incident escalated because Sofia shouted in front of the Tamil Nadu BJP Chief Tamilisai Soundararajan, “Fascist BJP government down, down.” This is a normal way of expressing displeasure and discontent with the functioning of ...Read Full Post
There was a strange time when I was growing up, where I didn’t fully understand the dual identity I had as a Pakistani-Canadian. I thought I was just like everyone else, until I was nine-years-old. At school, a notice was given to students with information about how to keep hair clean to avoid lice. A young white boy scoffed at the notice, and announced that the only people who needed this reminder were the “Paki” kids. This was my first taste of prejudice, but it became all too familiar as I continued to grow up in a diverse, yet inharmonious society. Fast ...Read Full Post
Yes, Richard Spencer is a racist, but the US is still a democracy governed through a system of checks and balances
Richard Spencer, an American firebrand and a symbol of the alt-right movement in the US, recently delivered a speech at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida. Spencer’s prior claim to fame was leading the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That rally ended in violence leaving an outright clash between Spencer’s followers and counter protesters. Spencer is known as a champion of white supremacy. When he announced that he was coming to Gainesville to deliver a speech, the university panicked. Initially, they tried banning his speech. Spencer countered by threatening to sue the university. He argued that he was allowed ...Read Full Post
In the event of a terrorist attack, why are Muslims in the West forced to assure the world that they are “good” Muslims?
We witnessed yet another terrible and senseless attack against innocent people in London, in which seven people were been killed and some 50 injured. And it was only a week back when a suicide bomber of Libyan origin killed 23 innocent people at a concert in Manchester. Muslims from the local community are equally outraged and several joined hands with the local community to help. Muslim doctors at local hospitals worked side by side with other colleagues for long hours to assist incoming casualties. However, this is not enough. Whenever a terrorist strikes anywhere, but more so in a western capital, Muslims all over the world are asked to make ...Read Full Post
Post 9/11, the world became a very different place. However, no one could have predicted how the heinous acts of a few deranged individuals that September day in 2001 would affect the lives of more than a billion Muslims across the globe. On their part, Muslim Americans were naturally traumatised to witness the sudden thoughtless rise in islamophobia and hatred towards their community. So they internalised their fears and saw merit in distancing themselves from all national socio-political discourses. Barack Obama’s progressive policies did bring some relief for Muslim Americans. Unfortunately, his sincere efforts at instilling confidence within the marginalised Muslim ...Read Full Post
Fear is an unusual entity. More often than not, it is unwarranted and unreal. But it becomes the biggest reality some of us will ever experience. And if we aren’t careful, it becomes us. It becomes the people around us. A lot has already been said about Islamophobia. A lot has been spewed in the broad spectrum of bigotry, hate, prejudice, terrorism and intolerance. In Canada, in the wake of the recent racist attack on a Quebec mosque early this year, the Canadian government decided to pass an anti-Islamophobia motion known as M103. As per the bill, the government felt compelled to “recognise the need ...Read Full Post
Freedom of speech is defined as “the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint”. Seems simple enough but caught between the war between the liberals and conservatives in Pakistan – two words which mean entirely something else here – it is more about making a chutney out of it or a yoyo or rather a squishy ball that can be thrown at anyone’s face to win any argument. A certain TV show anchor/religious scholar/ Ghalib movie fan/ two-week PHD prodigy/ game show host/mango seller/actor was taken off air by PEMRA after numerous complaints were made. On his show, he ...Read Full Post
In what was a political paradigm dominated by plump dictators and disengaged philosophers, Fidel Castro and his accomplices gave new life to the left-wing. Their irresistible charisma, packed with unshakable ideological commitment and trademark physical appearances inspired an entire generation of revolutionaries. Although Fidel may have lost out to his fellow Che in the T-shirt revolution, in the larger historic-political context, Castro’s impact and significance far outweighs his former comrade. Escaping an estimated sum of 689 assassination attempts, the man built a communist state at the door step of the United States, sustaining it for almost six decades and out-lasting almost 11 American presidents. The ...Read Full Post
Right then. Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Tahirul Qadri and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and possibly the Lal Masjid folk as well, are scheduled to ‘lockdown’ the capital on November 2, 2016. Pakistan may be many things, but man oh man, politically boring is definitely not one of them. So here’s the deal: some of the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) kids had offshore companies in their name linked to properties held abroad – leaked by the hacks into Mossack-Fonseca. Imran Khan (the opposition) demanded the PM step down on moral grounds, and the PM didn’t. An investigation was supposed ...Read Full Post
The Supreme Court’s adjournment of Asia Bibi’s final hearing, the Lal Masjid warning of dire consequences of her release and Cyril Almeida, Dawn’s prominent columnist and purported inheritor of Ardeshir Cowasjee’s mantle, figuring on the Exit Control List, have all converged to test Pakistan’s status as a civil society based on the rule of law, equal protection of minorities, free speech and an independent press. The issue of Asia Bibi has no doubt inserted the government of Pakistan between a rock and a hard place, but it is precisely from where the present government can emerge with credibility or merely ...Read Full Post