Stories about Islamophobia

No, you may not call me a ‘Paki’

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 ...

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With blatant hatemongering like ‘Punish a Muslim Day’, Brexit has changed Britain for the worse

Ever since Britain’s exasperated populace announced its wish to leave the European Union (EU), there seems to have been a blanket approval given to racists to harass, intimidate and scare Muslims and other ethnic minorities in an attempt to put ‘Britain first’. A sizeable increase in attacks against Muslims was reported soon after Brexit occurred, and this increase seems to show no signs of abating anytime soon.  The latest hate-fuelled incident involves a highly offensive and problematic letter put through the letterboxes of individuals in various communities of the country, calling for a “Punish a Muslim Day”. The main ethos of the letter is to instil fear ...

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Islamophobia is an undeniable fact in the West, but Muslim Americans can’t jump the gun and label every act as hate crime

It is true that Islamophobia is a real phenomenon; Muslims have been and continue to be targeted because of their faith, principles and values. There are segments of societies in the western world that stereotype Muslims as gangsters, thugs and terrorists, want them barred from ever entering their countries, and it is highly unlikely that this hostile attitude towards Muslims will simmer down anytime soon. The President of the United States, Donald Trump, is a racist bigot who hates Muslims (but not his rich Arab friends) and will continue to incite violence against law-abiding Muslims wherever and whenever he can. Having said that, and in the light of recent developments ...

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As history proves, presidents will come and go, but Pakistan’s relationship with the US will always hang by a thread

The relationship between the US and Pakistan today is the diplomatic equivalent of a miserable marriage, where neither partner is ready to divorce the other, yet there is persistent bickering. Can’t live with each other, can’t live without each other either. Earlier this year, Islamabad watched with anxiety and horror as President Donald Trump called on India to deepen its influence in Afghanistan in his speech outlining the Afghan policy. India’s presence in Afghanistan has been a long time worry for Pakistan, and Trump’s speech earlier this year only reinforced that fear. By pitting two arched enemies against each other, President Trump aimed to ...

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When a white “terrorist” is awarded a privilege 1.8 billion Muslims are denied

If the world can largely agree on one thing, it is the need to defeat terrorism. However, the frequency of unity seen when condemning terror does not echo beyond that, for every state of the world is employing its own methods (or lack thereof) of tackling this daunting, multi-faceted predicament, and hence achieving varying degrees of success. The first and probably most pivotal step in the fight against terrorism is to clearly define what constitutes as terror and who is actually a terrorist. Failure to reach a singular consensus on this starting point will invariably lead to utter confusion amongst the ...

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Making Pakistan (un)proud: Too consumed by domestic issues to care about overseas Pakistanis, Khwaja Asif?

Blunt and evasive are two adjectives that best describe Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s recent conversation with the Asia Society. It was held in union with the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Asif, a vocal critic of Donald Trump’s version of American foreign policy, admitted that Trump’s position on the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AfPak) region was an “utter disappointment”. However, I personally felt that his elusive response to the question regarding Pakistani-Americans was an utter disappointment. The interviewer, a world-renowned journalist and author, Steve Coll, mentioned the increasingly polarising nature of the American society, which the foreign minister sharply labelled as a bad sign for the future. Coll also referred to the ...

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I applaud Trump for inspiring such great progressive moments in the US

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 ...

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Oh Canada…

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 ...

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Trump’s #MuslimBan: A realist’s take

Recently, the UAE foreign minister defended Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, claiming that it’s not Islamophobic. The unconvincing statement, perhaps given in relief or gratitude for the UAE having avoided the ban itself, only goes to highlight the unscrupulous foundations of the ban. Rich, influential Muslim countries that are financial or strategic allies like the Gulf States and Pakistan have been spared, whereas those with little utility to the US have conveniently been scapegoated to appease Trump’s right-wing populism. Perhaps Abdullah Bin Zayed’s words have some truth to them after all. Perhaps the ban isn’t merely a coup against Muslim countries, but ...

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It’s time we stopped turning a blind eye to the racism and xenophobia that exists in Canada

I consider myself a very proud Canadian. I do. I love Canada with all my heart and soul, as utterly clichéd as that may sound. When my parents were thinking of immigrating ‘abroad’ – we lived in Saudi Arabia at that time – they kept insisting that we move to Canada. And they didn’t have a valid reason for it either; they just wanted us to move here, because everyone else they knew was immigrating in flocks to the United States. I guess they knew, in their hearts, that Canada was the better option. And it was; well, for ...

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