Stories about xenophobia

Because extremists don’t criticise extremists

Human emotions are really weird sometimes; well most of the time, to be honest. We hate everything we don’t like, fear everything we don’t understand, and blindly love everything we identify with. We let our feelings cloud our understanding of the world, and we unfortunately could not continue thinking rationally even if we wanted to. Before anyone decides to deride my tongue-in-cheek critique of human emotions, I do wish to categorically state that our emotions are a part of us and are essential to our existence. They are what make us human after all. However, our use of our emotional ...

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I lost my cousin Sabika Sheikh to a mass shooting – gun violence is the new ‘terrorism’ and it’s very real

On March 14, 2019 I gathered with hundreds of students in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC. These students had walked out of their classes to join the National School Walkout demanding decisive action against the epidemic of gun violence in the US. A few hours later, a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and shot dead at least 50 worshippers and injured 47 more while live-streaming the massacre. Pakistani exchange student and my cousin, Sabika Sheikh, was killed when a gunman entered her classroom and killed her and nine others at the Santa Fe School in ...

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How travelling to Baku restored my faith in humanity

One major reason as to why the travel bug constantly tugs at my heartstrings, even more than the wonderment of places, is the diversity of the people I get to meet. It is amazing how social, cultural, geographic, religious and political factors concoct such diversity in human beings, giving them a distinction in disposition, aura, colour and character. And then, people’s individual quirks and personalities make these encounters even more insightful, enriching, and sometimes life changing. A few months ago, when I announced to my parents that I planned to travel to Baku, Azerbaijan, for the very first time, they became ...

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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 ...

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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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How the two-faceted mindset of moderate Muslims ends up aiding militancy and terrorism

In recent years, there have been growing concerns that Islam’s major problem, as well as the world’s, is Islamic radicalisation, since Islam is one of the major and fastest growing religions of the world. These concerns are being voiced in various countries and have yielded various reactions ranging from apologetic defence (whereby some of the western liberals interpret it as a ‘reaction’ to the US hegemony) to outright xenophobia. Radicalisation is a major problem and there is no question about its lethal potential to inflict harm in the form of religious extremism and terrorism. However, though present, it is not as widespread in the Islamic world as is ...

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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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Can we blame the West for thinking of Muslims as they do?

In recent times, religiously motivated terrorism incidents have taken place in the West, from Brussels to New York. Due to these barbaric acts perpetuated by extremists, ordinary Muslims are also facing excessive backlash in Europe as well as in the United States. We, as Muslims, are correct to complain that it is unfair to bracket ordinary Muslims with the extremists, but at the same time we need to understand that our negative reputation is not merely due to organisations like ISIS but also because of our behaviour in general. I am not trying to equate extremist organisations like ISIS with normal and moderate Muslims here, ...

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Why is Pakistan silent about the San Bernardino shooting?

A flurry of recent incidents involving Islamic extremists – the latest being the shooting in California involving a couple of Pakistani descent – has put Muslims under the critical spotlight in much of the developed world. Such incidents, due to their visibility and shock value, often end up getting a tremendous amount of negative media attention. This has resulted in xenophobic reactions from some political and media quarters. Many do not understand that Islam is not a monolithic faith and not every Muslim is identical. To view the entire Muslim world through the prism of extremist organisations like Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ...

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Remembering the legacy of Nelson Mandela on his 98th birthday

As the world burns along the shores of the Mediterranean to the heart of Africa and from the valleys of Tigris and Jordan Rivers to the Dnieper River in Ukraine, one wonders how Nelson Mandela would be celebrated on his birthday on July 18th this year. Madiba (as he was called by the proud South Africans) held his ‘Long walk to Freedom’ covering six decades of struggle to rid the Black Africans of the ruthless Apartheid rule and give them a sense of dignity. The tall Xhosa and his simple soul were too strong for the white apartheid regimes of Southern Africa. His strong resolve ...

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