Stories about South Asia

The past, present and future of European Muslims – Part I

This article is the first in a two part series which explores the history, current status and future of Muslims in Europe. Read Part II here. ~ Is Muslim integration in secular European societies possible? This question is of importance as Islam is growing and thriving in European cities and towns, mainly through migration but also through higher birth rates among European Muslims. However, Islamist terror attacks in recent years have increased concerns about Islam and the future of European Muslims among the European populace. Growing frictions between the already present European Muslim minority and the host community is evident from the rise ...

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In conversation with Pervez Hoodbhoy – Part 2: Pakistan’s language conundrum

This conversation with Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers Pakistan’s education system. Part 2 discusses Pakistan’s language conundrum . Part 3 includes a conversation regarding South Asian politics and culture. ~ Pakistan’s Language Conundrum Hassan Mirza (HM): The English language continues to dominate South Asia in many spheres of life, and its authority is almost unchallenged by many of the local languages. Will Urdu (also Hindi in India) fade away in a century’s time and be replaced by English completely in Pakistan (and in India)? What is the future of Urdu and Hindi? Pervez Hoodbhoy (PH): Urdu is certainly not fading ...

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In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 3: Pakistan, India, religion, and climate change

This conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers American culture and politics. Part 2 covers media, intellectuals and imperialism, along with science, language and human nature. Part 3 includes a conversation regarding religion and spirituality, alongside a discussion about the Indian subcontinent, climate change and the migration crisis. ~ Religion and spirituality Hassan Mirza (HM): Did religion have any big influence on you when you were growing up? Were your family members religious? Noam Chomsky (NC): Judaism did, religion didn’t. My parents were not religious in the usual sense. Deeply rooted in Jewish/Hebraic culture, somewhat observant. HM: What do ...

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How significant will Manmohan Singh’s Kartarpur visit be?

History teaches us that an absence of dialogue leads to war. The Kartarpur corridor is an attempt at dialogue at a time when the relationship between India and Pakistan is at an all time low. Therefore, the timing of former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kartarpur, as part of a group of pilgrims, acts as a coolant during this tense atmosphere. It is not important whether Singh has accepted Pakistan’s invitation or whether he is going on the invitation of the Chief Minister of Indian Punjab. What matters is what his visit represents. Happy to meet former Prime ...

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India and Pakistan need to win peace, not arguments

Following the scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian constitution by the Indian government on Monday, there is a sense of déjà vu among the ruling party, a strong section of the majoritarian community and a section of the media. They are rejoicing that the ‘Kashmir problem,’ a legacy of history, has been ‘resolved’ once and for all by discarding the legislature since it was a hindrance in the final integration of Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK). The problem with this argument is that it disregards history, ignores the larger reality of geo-politics and completely discards the political aspirations of the people of Kashmir. Can ...

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It’s not Jadhav who is in prison; the subcontinent is the prisoner of paranoia

If anyone thought that India and Pakistan’s reaction would have been different had the verdict in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case been different than what it is, then they are being delusional about the postmodern history of the Indian subcontinent. We are now conditioned to react without thinking. Both of us derive pleasure in humiliating each other – be it on the sports field or in the arena of politics. Newspapers on both sides of the border painted their pages with the titles that suited their national interests. Indian media celebrated the verdict in the same way they did when Prime Minister Narendra Modi ...

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Raw and poignant, A Place for Us beautifully sheds light on familial love

It had been some time since I cried while reading a book. And A Place for Us changed that. Fatima Farheen Mirza’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of a South Asian Muslim family living in America. The family members find themselves torn between discovering their individual selves, while also grappling with their respective roles within the family. As a result of living in a deeply polarised American society, the characters in the novel are in a constant battle with themselves, their family and the world around them, each looking to find relevance, liberty and peace. Interestingly, one of the main talking ...

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Nusrat Rafi is to Bangladesh what Jyoti Singh was to India – a rude awakening

Nineteen-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi should be doing what any other average teenager does in their day: sitting their exams, stressing about their results, surrounding themselves with piles of books, and spending time with their friends. Instead, 19-year-old Nusrat is being mourned by her distraught family after she was doused in kerosene and set on fire. Her crime? She filed a police complaint against the headmaster of her madrassa who sexually harassed her. In Bangladesh, like many other conservative countries, sexual harassment is a taboo subject and women are reluctant to speak out against those who harass them, for fear of ...

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Divided by borders, united by Bushra Ansari: Why Humsaye Maa Jaye should be an Indo-Pak anthem

Amidst skirmishes along the Line of Control (LoC) and a threat of further military escalation between Pakistan and India that could lead to the menace of nuclear conflict in South Asia, a flicker of hope appears in the form of a satirical rap song by the dynamic sister duo, Bushra Ansari and Asma Abbas. Illustrating the harsh realities and craving for amity, the song Humsaye Maa Jaye has gone viral on various social media platforms and is immensely appreciated by Pakistanis and Indians alike. The Punjabi song is written by Ansari and Abbas’ elder sister and poetess, Neelum Ahmed Bashir. It ...

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Why is the US making a mountain out of the Masood Azhar molehill?

The United States has introduced a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to blacklist Masood Azhar as an international terrorist. Azhar is the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (banned in Pakistan since 2002) and has been blamed by India for masterminding February’s Pulwama incident, even though no evidence has been produced which links Azhar to the incident. China has refused to list Azhar as an international terrorist after careful consideration of the definition of international terrorism according to international law. China has made this position absolutely clear and as such, it would appear that the US is looking to transform the UNSC ...

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