Stories about racism

Donald Trump’s America is awfully racist and discriminatory, but is Pakistan any different?

Q: Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest racist of them all? A: The human race Recently, I came across a video which showed a young Palestinian-American Muslim mother talking about the struggle of handling her young daughters. This was in reference to race and religion in the current political climate raging in the US. Her talk made me ponder about the truth of raising my kids in the US. And for a moment, it made me second guess my decision of moving to the American shores some 20 years ago.  Welcome to the American world of Donald Trump. A world where race is an issue, where ...

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Dear Disney, casting Naomi Scott as Jasmine just because she’s brown highlights the Orientalist tendency of conflating all brown cultures

Disney recently announced their selections for the cast of the new live-action remake of the 1992 animated movie, Aladdin. The announcement, however, was met with widespread outrage. British actress Naomi Scott of Indian heritage was selected to play Jasmine, and people were furious at Disney’s failure to give the opportunity to someone who is actually Arab. Prior to this announcement, Disney had disclosed that they had been having difficulty selecting Middle Eastern actors for the part. “It can’t be easy to cast a Middle Eastern actor as a terrorist but difficult to cast the same people in a leading role,” the journalist Rawan Eewshah wrote for Allure on ...

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The London mosque incident was not only an attack against Muslims, but an attack against all of London

On Monday, as the clock struck midnight, Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old from Cardiff, drove a rented white van over innocent people outside Finsbury Park Mosque in London. Eleven innocent people were injured while one succumbed to injuries. Onlookers recalled Osborne shouting, “I want to kill all Muslims.” Why did he commit this act? What were his motives? What does he want? I suppose we will find out more over time, though one thing is for sure – as much as this attack is against Muslims, it is also an attack against London. I’m glad each and every political figure condemned this attack, regardless of the attacker’s ...

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Why is my brown skin, unapologetically bearded face, and big backpack a threat to you?

Reading about the developments from Finsbury Park, London, where Darren Osborne drove a van onto innocent civilians leaving a Mosque makes me sad, upset, and angry, but it is not shocking. We all know the media has been presenting an “us versus them” narrative when covering Muslims; that we reject western values and our way of life is out of tune with yours. But yours is mine, too. I use the tube to commute every day, like the rest of you. I use it to get to school, exhibitions, friend’s places, parties, just like you. Countless times, I’ve walked to the platform at Holborn ...

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Why do students in American high schools resort to humiliating Muslims and people who aren’t white?

When the student body president of a Northern California high school won his campaign after posting an Islamophobic joke, I was not surprised. It is part and parcel of American high schools to reward students for racism, particularly when the school administration isn’t interested in protecting vulnerable students for the sake of ‘keeping the peace’. By overlooking racist and toxic behaviour, schools inevitably normalise racism, misogyny, and heterosexism, all of which lend to bullying and cheapen the lives of many young people at these schools. And it’s not only the oppressed or the so-called victim who is negatively affected by this situation, but the oppressor as ...

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No, Imran Khan’s “phateechar” comment was not racist

Prejudice has flown through Pakistani society across generations. We have held open biases against ethnicities that aren’t our own, against women, against religious minorities, against those of a different sexual orientation, and of course, against people with darker skin tones. The latter is especially common, even today. For example, our film, advertising, and modelling industry features very few artists who don’t have light skin. In fact, there is so much pressure in Pakistan that skin whitening creams are advertised and sold to reinforce every other stupid potential mother-in-law’s view that their son, regardless of his skin tone, should marry ...

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Why is Imran Khan so racist?

Captain of a cricket world cup winning team, founding multiple cancer hospitals and a University – Imran Khan had enough credit to be welcomed as a hero anywhere he went in Pakistan but he seems to be on a one man mission to lose all the credit he has and then some. To paraphrase the quote from The Dark Knight, you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become Imran.  Imran has shown in the past that he is not averse to pulling any tactic to seize power – no antic is too shameful for ...

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Is Islam the most feminist religion?

I’ve been reading about Australian youth activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied (we appeared on an Australian show once together) and her words to Jacqui Lambie on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television show that Islam is (to her) the most feminist religion. Yassmin got pilloried in the Australian press for this statement. With the state of affairs for women in many Muslim countries today, it’s easy to see how it might not sit well with a cynical and non-Muslim-friendly audience. It would have gone down great with an audience full of Muslims, but we should probably unpack the statement a little bit to come somewhere between the optimism of Yassmin’s assertion and the rest of ...

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An American Muslim veteran reflects on resisting the Muslim Ban

I am an American Muslim veteran. I was raised in America, and I joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) while in college. I followed in the footsteps of generations of men in my family who have served proudly and with distinctions in the military. Many of my family members served in the Pakistani military and were immensely proud of me when I commissioned for the US Air Force. Loyalty to one’s country and respect for the armed forces is a part of my family’s heritage. Upon joining the military, I was proud to fight under the flag of ...

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Is there place for a Pakistani girl applying to universities in Trump’s America?

This election has been unprecedented and historic on all accounts, and I’m not talking about the obvious surface-level facts – Hillary Clinton being the first ever female nominee of a major party, or Donald Trump ascending to the office of the presidency with no political experience whatsoever. No, I’m talking about the rhetoric that has fuelled this campaign – the personal attacks, the hatred, the misogyny, the sexism, the lies, the scandal – which both, the right and left, agree on.  I could go into all the reasons – and there are many – of why this election turned out ...

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