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Before we even think of expanding Heathrow …

Indigo Jo Blogs - 26 October, 2017 - 13:54

A group of people in yellow flourescent jackets standing in a circle in an open space marked for parking spaces, with cargo sheds behind them with some large vehicles in front of themSo, Heathrow expansion is in the news again, with another round of consultations being by the government this week and a report, the Airports National Policy Statement, being released which, according to the Daily Telegraph, “takes into account updated noise analysis and a new air quality plan as well as policy changes since the independent Airports Commission backed the Heathrow project in 2016”. The report also claims that “updated international evidence on vehicle emission forecasts was published at the end of September last year and this had to be considered in terms of the expansion’s potential compliance with emissions legislation” and that a north-western runway scheme could be carried out without “impacting the UK’s compliance of air quality limits”. The north-western runway would require the demolition of three villages, namely Longford, Harmondsworth and Sipson, and cause massive noise impacts on other neighbourhoods under the flight path, particularly to the east, such as Harlington and Cranford.

I’m against Heathrow expansion on principle; on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions alone, even the current volume of aviation, and the pumping of CO2 straight into the upper atmosphere, is unsustainable. And make no mistake: any new runway will attract more planes until it is used to capacity, as are the current two runways. All the assurances about noise mitigation, night flights and so on will be chipped away once the runway is opened, because airlines will still threaten to desert the UK for Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or wherever if their demands are not met, and our leaving the EU, making us less attractive as a hub for European destinations to begin with, makes that even more likely.

What nobody has mentioned so far is the airport’s creaking cargo infrastructure. As a truck driver in the west London area, I have to visit the cargo terminals quite often and the inefficiency is staggering. Not all of it is the fault of the airport or the cargo handlers, but a large part of it is. It is not uncommon for drivers picking up or dropping cargo at the terminals, particularly on Shoreham Road (known as the Horseshoe) to have to wait several hours to get onto a bay. There are only a limited number of bays that can accommodate an articulated lorry, and none within view of at least one of the buildings, and you need a view of it because it’s where the counter is that tells you when it’s your turn. There is in theory a 4-hour waiting time limit, but on Monday evening I had to wait well over that time to get a bay, and much of it was spent standing resting on a railing because my truck was too far up to see, and other vehicles were parked in the way; when I did get the cargo, only half of it had been brought landside and a second truck had to be sent the following day to get the remaining boxes.

Part of the problem is sheer lack of space, even though many operators have their own cargo terminals both inside and outside the airport perimeter (particularly Virgin and DNATA, the Dubai-owned handler which serves a number of airlines, which have big depots along the Stanwell Road). But there is also inefficiency. They mostly operate in the pre-mobile phone era; rather than take drivers’ numbers and ring them when it’s their turn, they expect us to sit in our trucks (or stand in the street, even if it’s raining) watching their counter (which does not count in order, and gives no indication as to how long you will be waiting, which is essential as truck drivers have maximum working times), and when you tell the guy behind the counter that you can’t see the counter from where you’re parked, they say it’s not their business. It’s possible to pay the airline or their agent for quicker service, but this only prolongs the wait for other drivers. It would be much more efficient to require everyone with a vehicle over, say, 3.5 tonnes to book in, but really, they need to move it all out of the Horseshoe. It’s just too small and the delays caused by trucks reversing or parked on the road for lack of a bay often stretch out onto the main Perimeter Road.

We cannot add more runway capacity, and thus more planes bringing more cargo, until these infrastructure problems have been fixed. There is plenty of land around the airport and we can spare one or two fields so that cargo can be handled efficiently and drivers are not working 15-hour days (as happened to me on Monday) just because of waiting around on the Horseshoe.

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Lancashire council to vote on non-stunned halal meat ban

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 October, 2017 - 12:21

Controversy surrounds vote as Lancashire Council of Mosques accuses council leader of leading ‘crusade’ on issue

An English council will vote on whether to ban schools from serving halal meat from animals that are not stunned before slaughter.

The proposal was brought by Geoff Driver, the Conservative leader of Lancashire county council, who argues it is “abhorrent” and “really, really cruel” to slaughter animals without stunning them first.

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The House of Saud is still in denial | Nesrine Malik

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 October, 2017 - 19:27
Despite crown prince Mohammed’s pledge of reform there is no honest acknowledgement yet of what lies behind Saudi Arabia’s malaise

Something is definitely afoot in Saudi Arabia this time. For decades, the Saud ruling family has followed a policy of promise but never deliver. They make the right noises in an attempt to polish the country’s much-tarnished global image – and yet when it comes down to it, they rarely come up with the goods.

Related: I will return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam, says crown prince

Low oil prices and an undiversified economy has taught the ruling family that the state can not sustain their patronage

Related: Saudi society is rigid, its youth restless. The prince’s reforms need to succeed

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Lack Of Sexual Intimacy In A Marriage : Raising Awareness In The Muslim Community

Muslim Matters - 25 October, 2017 - 05:00

By Umm Ayoob

It is any woman’s worst nightmare to find out that her husband is not attracted to her. It so happens that I am that woman. I am in an intimacy-starved marriage with my Muslim husband and have stayed in the marriage for 10 years. To be “intimacy-starved” means that we as a couple lack intimacy in terms of touch (something my husband dislikes), kissing (which does not  appeal to him), and sex.

The Husband 

From my description, you may understandably assume that my husband is a loner who is shy and asocial. However, quite the contrary is true. He is a charming, charismatic person, active in the Muslim community, and widely respected both at work and among his brethren for his integrity, hard work, and vision. I am very proud of him.

The Wife 

With this, people may assume a number of things about my appearance and personality or situation. I will be brief by saying that everyone has personal preferences regarding looks. However, my husband chose me for marriage, knowing how I look and I didn’t feel that he was being charitable in asking for my hand. I have a postgraduate degree, speak several languages and I would describe myself as flawed as anyone, but not generally unappealing.

How did we get here? 

We were young when we got married and this was the first relationship for both of us. We were (and still are) best friends. We laugh and have similar world views and goals. I love him and I have no doubts that he loves me. Our cultures encourage spouses to remain married, so divorce wasn’t an option I had initially considered. And why would I leave him? I loved him intensely and still do. However, intimate moments steadily declined. I initially blamed it on the stress of living independently and his long working hours. Weeks turned into months and I tried reasoning with him. I asked him what was wrong and if I could change something; he eventually opened up about superficial matters. I took care of them, but that changed nothing. I explained women’s needs for feeling loved. I cited studies and explained chemicals released during the interaction that promote good feelings, but to no effect. I tried to seduce him and was rejected. I encouraged him to come with me to couples counseling without success. And when all else failed, I made dua’a.

Months turned into years and the problem persisted. I started to blame myself. I wasn’t beautiful enough, thin enough, appealing enough. All of my insecurities were at full throttle. My self-esteem tapered off until nothing was left. Who would want me anyway? I stayed in a dead end job because, although I had a postgraduate degree, I wasn’t smart enough to move ahead in a career. My depression, a diagnosis that had previously been mild, became severe. I was sick all the time. I had thoughts of killing myself. My husband and I still enjoyed each other’s company but I was noticeably miserable. My husband became upset at me for being miserable, and asked me to cheer up. I was lacking in everything including social upkeep, home upkeep, exercise routines, career moves, you name it. I threatened to leave him over this issue and formally asked for a divorce once. I went back on my own word however because I couldn’t imagine my life without him; I loved him deeply and couldn’t let go of the connection.

I was in the process of grieving and I didn’t know it. I grieved the life I wish I had. I grieved at my own inadequacy of not being enough for him. My heart was broken and to a large extent, still is.

Why am I telling this story? 

You may experience a difficulty and not realize how much it is affecting your life. The well-known sources of grief and difficulty in our communities include, among others: death, child concerns, handicap, financial worries and health problems. It is, to a large extent, societally acceptable to discuss these matters and highlight their hardship. However, I have never seen a sheikh, or a learned religious person publicly speak about my experience or the idea that gender stereotypes aren’t always accurate. Lack of intimacy is an intensely private matter and likewise, an intense source of grief.

Difficulties and Stereotypes 

I have written this article in the hopes that others may realize the enormity of this issue and identify how harmful it is. I also wish that we would realize that stereotypes of any gender, including the sexuality of men aren’t always true.

In my case, believing the stereotype that all men are extremely sexually inclined damaged me extensively because I expected my husband to display those tendencies, and when he didn’t, I believed that something was wrong with me. I cannot lie and say that I feel adequate, even 10 years later. I haven’t figured out my way yet.

Postscript

If you are a woman finding yourself in my situation, let me reassure you: what is happening to you is not exclusive to you. Many women have struggled silently with this issue. Shame has prevented many from speaking out or even seeking counsel from others.

It is most assuredly a difficult test, and with difficulties, shaitaan is ever present. You will be tempted. If you have not decided where your relationship is headed and are “waiting it out” several things may happen. You may want to start looking more attractive when you go out. You may look things up on the internet to satisfy your urges, or even look for sexual outlets such as an affair. I am suggesting that this could happen to the most pious and proper of people.

Therefore, I advise you, my sister, to make a decision about your relationship for the sake of your deen. You have two options. Either you will decide to leave the relationship, or like me (for now), decide to stay.

In either case, I strongly suggest that you seek religious and psychological counselling. Counselling will help you deal with your emotions. It will also help you in identifying what intimacy actually means to you, and help you decide (with guidance) if it is something that you can live without.

From personal experience, your counsellor does not need to be a Muslim to be able to help you. If your husband is willing to come with you, I would strongly suggest couples’ counselling.  From a religious point-of-view, know that if you decide to leave, this circumstance warrants the rights to a divorce, or a khula’. Consult with the imam of your community to arrange this.

If you choose to stay, you are certainly not alone in your decision. In this situation, it is essential that you continuously nurture your connection with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Remind yourself that this life is temporary. Live your life solely for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and He will help you throughout your difficulties. Become active in other areas of your life and do your best to excel in them. This will give your life meaning as well as give your self-esteem a boost. I ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to strengthen you as He strengthened Ayoob 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in his intense difficulties.

Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the Most Merciful, and verily with hardship there is relief.

فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا

Quebec softens face-covering ban amid criticism it targets Muslims

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 October, 2017 - 21:39

Officials seek to clarify who law would affect and how it will be enforced: ‘We do not have the intention of setting up an uncovered-face police’

Amid criticism from across Canada over a new law that bans face coverings for those giving or receiving public services, Quebec’s government has toned down its interpretation of the legislation as it sought to clarify who the law would affect and how it would be enforced.

“No one will be thrown off public transit, denied emergency healthcare or be chased out of a public library,” Quebec’s justice minister, Stéphanie Vallée, told reporters on Tuesday. “We do not have the intention of setting up an uncovered-face police.”

Related: Trudeau on Quebec face-cover ban: not our business to tell women what to wear

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BBC’s Gunpowder tells torture like it is | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 October, 2017 - 18:45
The brutality of the torture and executions in the drama Gunpowder have a role to play, argue Guardian readers

I see no reason why readers should object to the scenes of torture in Gunpowder (Viewers complain of ‘hideously violent’ BBC1 drama Gunpowder, 23 October), as they are essential to understanding the fear that (often innocent) people had of being arrested and executed. My only criticism is that these extreme methods were usually only for those convicted of high treason. Those of Roman Catholic beliefs were generally burnt at the stake as heretics. Women were not hung, drawn and quartered as it involved nudity, so it’s highly unlikely that the old woman was stripped naked before being crushed to death. This is an excellent drama that deserves praise despite the horrific but necessary acts of violence which sum up the brutal age that our ancestors had to endure.
Lorraine Haldane
Hove, East Sussex

• While the brutality of the torture and executions may have a role in explaining the motivation of the plotters to blow up parliament, it also has a role in demonstrating that Christianity is not historically the warm cuddly religion that people believe it to be. Islam is depicted as a brutal religion because in some parts of the world similar acts (some not quite as gruesome) are carried out in its name. Rory Stewart, on behalf of our government, argues for the assassination of our citizens who fight for them (Kill British Isis fighters in Syria, says minister, 23 October). However, violence and repression have traditionally been used by religions to deal with political opponents, whether within or between states.

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‘Azīmah – Having The Resolve Of Prophets

Muslim Matters - 24 October, 2017 - 05:05

We live in challenging times with rapid developments and ever changing terrain. We’re faced with a plethora of issues that we need to be able to navigate in a way that is pleasing to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). We’re tested and tried in our personal lives, in our family units, our social circles and within our societies. Sometimes, events that occur in the world or scandals much closer to home can shake us to the core if we’re not built of strong stuff. We somehow need to build our resolve and courage so that we can always have our feet firmly planted, no matter what winds try to blow us off course.

In the Qur’an, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions to us the stories of a number of prophets and messengers. These stories are for us to draw lessons from and apply them to our situations. From these prophets, Allah praises five and honours them with the title of ‘ulul ‘azm’, or the ones of high resolve and determination. These five prophets are Nūḥ, Ibrāhīm, Mūsā, ‘Īsā and our prophet, Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon all of them.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the final verse of Sūrah al-Aqāf,

“So be patient [O Muhammad], as were those of determination among the messengers…”[1]

These prophets were given this honorific title due to the many tests they faced of every kind, and how they overcame each one, and how each one served to bring them closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Yet how do we develop this same level of resolve and courage to face our tests head on? What are the characteristics needed?

In Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) informs us of what builds resolve and strength. At the end of verse 186, in the context of speaking about the lessons from the battles of Badr and Uḥud, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

“But if you are patient and fear Allah – indeed, that is of the matters of determination [‘azm].”[2]

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is telling us we need patience and piety. Patience is mentioned before piety because it’s needed in every type of test. It requires patience in times of adversity to not lose hope and patience in times of felicity to not become arrogant or complacent. At the beginning of verse 186, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us why we need patience,

“You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse.” Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) then concludes with, “But if you are patient and fear Allah – indeed, that is of the matters of determination [‘azm].”

You will be tested in all manners. Nūḥ’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) son was a disbeliever. Ibrāhīm’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) father was a disbeliever. Mūsā 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) flees Egypt fearing for his life. ‘Īsā’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) mother is accused of being unchaste. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) lost his wife and a number of children. We are all tested in personal ways.  A business deal goes bad, we’re having marriage problems, our children are becoming distanced from us, we’re developing health issues, and the list goes on.

Not only are you tested, but part and parcel of the test is the abuse. You hear the rumours, the slander, and the derogatory remarks. Nūḥ 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was ridiculed for building an ark in the middle of the desert. Mūsā 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was mocked for having a speech impediment. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was called crazy, labelled as a sorcerer and a soothsayer and dismissed as a poet. His followers were called weak, poor and considered to be social outcasts.

Through all of this, these great prophets displayed patience. They maintained their belief in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and trust in His decree. They never lost hope in His mercy and remembered the ultimate reward. They understood what would later be told to us by the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “A Muslim is not afflicted with difficulty or fatigue, grief or sorrow, harm or worry, not even a thorn that pricks him, except that Allah will use it as a means to expiate his sins.”[3]

Patience makes your grounded. It keeps you balanced and not reactionary to every small turn of events. Patience reminds you to play the long game and keep the greater vision of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in mind. It helps you to put things into perspective and focus on what will help you and benefit you. It gives you the space and time to turn to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), remember Him and raise your hands in supplication towards Him.

Piety or fearing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the second part of the formula mentioned in the Qur’an. It’s to be conscious of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) at all times, remembering that He hears, sees and knows all. It’s to work in this life in a way that will maximise your reward and distance you as much as possible from the Fire. It’s to remember that life is short and temporary, soon to end and that the true existence is the life of the Hereafter. However, before that eternal bliss, there is an accounting and judgement that we must pass, by Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy.

This part of the equation, i.e. piety is mentioned in the previous verse, 185. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

“Every soul shall taste death, and you will only be given your compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has succeeded. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.”[4]

When you have your eye on the prize, tests and challenges bring you closer to Allah. They help you to excel and be better in times of adversity. Trials through patience and piety make you stronger. Not only do they bring you closer to Allah, elevate your ranks and expiate your sins, but they also bring the respect of others.

Nūḥ 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) displayed patience and piety through nine hundred and fifty years of da’wah and with only a few followers. Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) showed patience and piety when being disowned by his own father, being exiled from his land and leaving his baby son in a desert. Mūsā 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) had patience and piety whilst dealing with the greatest tyrant to ever live; Pharaoh. ‘Īsā 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) demonstrated patience and piety when faced with the rejection of those who refused to believe in him, and our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the pinnacle of patience and piety throughout his twenty-three years of prophethood.

Not only does this bring them Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) praise and caused their stories to be immortalised in the Qur’an, but it also brought the respect of the people. On the Day of Judgement, when people will stand in a state of terror, it is these five prophets who will be approached by the mankind, begging them to intercede before Allah for judgement to commence. Mankind will recognise them and their resolve and courage.

Patience and piety through good and hard times brings you the reward of your Creator and the respect of your peers.

[1] 46:35.

[2] 3:186.

[3] Al-Bukhari.

[4] 3:185.

Who is Anila Daulatzai? Students Urge Boycott of Southwest Demanding Justice For Muslim Professor

Muslim Matters - 23 October, 2017 - 19:59

A video of Professor Anila Daulatzai being forcefully removed from her flight by law enforcement personnel, who were called in by Southwest Airlines employees, recently went viral. Professor Daulatzai, who is a Pakistani American Muslim, is pregnant and was hospitalized after her traumatic experience. She said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she was mistreated after she told the crew on a Sept. 26 flight to Los Angeles that she was allergic to dogs in the cabin.

She said the crew initially agreed she could sit far away from the dogs, but later told her they were concerned about her being on the plane. Southwest Airlines said Daulatzai told flight attendants she had a life-threatening allergy. Daulatzai denies this and has filed a lawsuit. Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA) charged her with disorderly conduct. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and signatories from several national organizations have called for changes in policy and practice on the part of Southwest Airlines and the MDTA. The letter stated, “Ms. Daulatzai’s mistreatment by Southwest Airlines is part of a pattern and practice of profiling. Between 2015 and 2016, over a period of just six months, several Muslim, Arab, and South Asian passengers reported incidents of being rebooked for their appearance, removed from a flight for speaking in Arabic in a private phone conversation or simply for asking to switch seats. SAALT terminated its 7-year relationship with Southwest and gave back $10,000 in grant funding. 

This following post was written by Amara Majeed, a student at Brown University, and a former student of Professor Anila Daulatzai, who created the Boycott Southwest Campaign.

– Editor

This past spring, as I took “Towards a Critical Muslim Studies” taught by Professor Daulatzai, one of the myriad of topics that we learned about was institutionalized racism and Islamophobia and the ways in which Muslims have been racialized and criminalized during the War on Terror, and prior.

Watching a pregnant Anila being grabbed from her seat by her belt loop, so violently that her pants had been completely ripped open, was heartbreaking and painfully emblematic of the systems of oppression that Anila teaches her pupils to critically understand.

Arguably even more painful was Southwest’s shameful, disgusting cover-up. The incident was never about Professor Daulatzai’s nonexistent “life-threatening pet allergy.” Anila is a person often racialized as of a Middle Eastern descent; one of the very few images of her that existed on the internet was of her wearing a hijab. In other words, this was never about a fictitious allergy: this was about profiling, racism, and Islamophobia.

For Southwest to flip the narrative so completely, to paint Anila as a crazy, “combative” passenger and themselves as the kind-hearted organization that simply wanted to save her from a life-threatening allergy is absolutely disgusting, deceptive, and is reflective of the orientalist tropes about Muslims that the airline espouses.

The news has been saturated with stories of this particular incident – but I think it’s important for the world to know the answer to the question: who is Anila Daulatzai?

Professor Daulatzai isn’t just any professor. She is undoubtedly one of the most influential and remarkable individuals in my life.

I remember feeling extremely impressed when I first heard about Professor Daulatzai’s qualifications. She did three Master’s degrees: in Public Health, Anthropology, and Islamic Studies, and then, a PhD in Anthropology. Finally, she did five years of fieldwork in Afghanistan.

As I walked into her office, I remember feeling slightly intimidated. I didn’t even have a specific question to ask her – I felt that I was likely taking away from the schlew of other important appointments she needed to have, papers that she needed to grade, books that she needed to write.

Professor Daulatzai spent three and a half hours with me that day. Three and a half hours of helping me explore my Muslim identity, of making me feel that I had a safe space as a visible Muslim woman in Trump’s America. This is just one anecdote. This is just one, singular narrative that is emblematic of the type of professor- not even, the type of person that Anila Daulatzai is. The type of character and ethics that she has is truly remarkable, and I can honestly and without doubt say that I have met very few people that I admire as much as her. I’m not sure if this seems a little exaggeratory or superfluous, but I can only say that she is someone that you need to know to believe.

And I know that I am not the only student that feels this way. Many of Professor Daulatzai’s students, myself included, have fought their universities for her to secure a more permanent position. At Brown, we wrote letters to the administration, saturated with our individual experiences with Anila. We scheduled meetings with university officials while we were all swamped with exams during the pinnacle of finals week – to express how crucial of a role Professor Daulatzai played in our collegiate experience, to let them know how much pain it caused for us to see her go. And that’s the thing about Anila Daulatzai: there’s just something exceptional about her. Something so exceptional that her students are more than willing to spend their time and energies fighting for her, because we know that ultimately, the bodies of knowledge and understandings that she has imparted on us are things that we could never repay her for.

And we will not stop fighting for her: not then, not now.

During one of my last conversations with Professor Daulatzai, I remember her telling me that we people of color should not get too comfortable in this country. That at the end of the day, we mean nothing to this nation, this government, this institutionalized system. How our blood is too cheap, our bodies are too worthless – they will easily and without hesitation be discarded.

How heartbreakingly ironic this conversation seems now, as I rewatch her body, which officials knew to be one carrying a baby, being violently grabbed, thrown, and dragged around.

Southwest Airlines prides itself for its cheap national flights, which are especially appealing to students. Southwest, here is what I want you to know: we are not interested in cheap flights if that entails that the bodies of people of color and Muslims are also so cheap.

If our bodies are able to be yanked out of our seats so violently, if even the mention of pregnancy is not enough for undue violence to be used against us, if our narratives are erased and subject to whitewashed cover-ups: then we do not care for your cheap flights.

We do not care for your so-called Southern hospitality (which is either fictitious, or only applicable to a certain kind of people).

We do not care for your service.

We demand that Southwest Airlines issue an official apology, not some staged cover-up, to Anila Daulatzai, acknowledging the racist and Islamophobic roots of this horrible incident.

We demand that Southwest Airlines condemn police brutality.
We demand that Southwest Airlines implement anti-racism, anti-Islamophobia, and implicit biases trainings for all of its employees working on its aircrafts.

We demand justice for Anila Daulatzai. We demand justice for passengers of color, Muslim passengers, and passengers racialized as Muslims that are subject to this form of institutionalized Islamophobia and racism.

Until these demands are met, we refuse to fly on an airline that treats people of color and Muslims in this way. We refuse to be profiled. We refuse to be complicit in and happy consumers of institutionalized Islamophobia and racism: systems of oppression that result in violence against black, person of color, and Muslim bodies.

Please sign onto the Boycott Southwest campaign that I have made for her.  Amara Majeed can be reached at amara_majeed@brown.edu.

A modern mosque without minarets stirs controversy in Tehran

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 October, 2017 - 19:55

Iranian hardliners are refusing to recognise the new Vali-e-Asr mosque next to the City theatre as a place of worship

When the Tehran authorities commissioned the construction of a mosque near the City theatre – one of Iranian capital’s most distinctive buildings – it was always going to be a tricky balancing act for the architects to design something unique that did not eclipse the adjacent structure.

The theatre, which was built before the 1979 revolution, has a spectacular tiled circular structure with external pillars and is the largest exclusive space in Iran for performing arts. The new mosque next door is a modern building that sits in harmony with it, sweeping from the ground towards the Qibla (the direction of Mecca), allowing sunlight through windows embedded in a wave-like structure.

Related: Tehran's towers: how the Iranian capital embraced bold architecture

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I produced My Week As a Muslim. Its intention was to educate, not offend | Fozia Khan

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 October, 2017 - 13:27
Our use of ‘brownface’ is nothing to do with mockery – it’s about opening the eyes of someone who has misconceptions about Muslim life

The idea for making the documentary My Week As a Muslim came to me after I spent almost a year in Birmingham, filming a series for Channel 4 called Extremely British Muslims in and around Birmingham Central Mosque.

Towards the end of our time there, the Brexit vote happened. Almost immediately, there was an English Defence League demonstration outside a mosque in Birmingham, and the number of attacks on Muslims spiked dramatically. We only managed to capture a small part of this, but in the coming weeks there were reports seemingly every day about hate crime, and articles on Britain’s diverse but divided communities – living parallel lives but not integrating.

When we met Katie, she had very strong views about Muslims: that she wouldn’t want to sit next to a Muslim on a bus

Related: Channel 4’s ‘brownface’ documentary is no way to portray Muslims | Radhika Sanghani

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On British Muslims and US racial politics

Indigo Jo Blogs - 22 October, 2017 - 18:56

A picture of a white woman with slightly darkened skin, wearing a pink headscarf with a white cap underneath, with pink lipstick.Recently I’ve noticed a trend among Muslims in the online community of associating Muslims and Islam with ‘brown-ness’ and in opposition to ‘whiteness’ as well as the uncritical parroting of dogmas which are in vogue in the US anti-racist or social justice community. I’ve also seen an increase in projects designed to highlight a particular racially-based group within the Muslim community, many of which strike me as unnecessary or divisive and which appeal to a sense of victimhood out of proportion to the situation. One of the major appeals of Islam going right back to the days of Malcolm X in the 1960s was that it broke down racial barriers and that nobody was superior to anyone else purely on the grounds of race or tribe, yet now there are people busy putting such barriers up in the name of activism or for cultural or artistic projects. Worst, we have people saying things which plainly put them outside of Islam while Muslims eagerly share and applaud their stance.

Two particular recent exchanges I saw on Facebook illustrate my points. In one, an Asian brother in London posted that a white woman in a Costa café asked that she not sit next to him for reasons unstated, and in the comments below, a white person said that “racism cuts both ways” and the brother responded that racism cannot be by a “person of colour” against a white person but only the other way round as people of colour were “low in the pecking order” and “racism is structural”. This definition is the accepted one in the USA but in the UK ‘racism’ as legally defined includes any act of discrimination based on race, whatever the race of the perpetrator and victim (see this letter by Linda Bellos in the Guardian last May). There are good reasons relevant to the Muslim community here why we should accept this definition and not the US one, but I will say that I have had a similar experience to this man’s; a man told me on a train one time that he did not want to sit next to me and had already moved once to get away from me. He didn’t say why although I have a beard and was carrying a rucksack. Both of us are/were white.

The second such exchange is one I saw last week, also on Facebook: people were discussing a Channel 4 programme in which a white woman, who had expressed prejudice against Muslims, agreed to ‘brown up’ (to appear Asian) and wear a hijab for a week to experience the world the way Asian Muslims do (they fitted her with a “more Asian looking prosthetic nose as well). I’ve said before ([1], [2]) that I think experiments in which people disguise themselves as members of a minority for a short time are unhelpful and do not give the participant a true picture of what a real life hijab wearer or wheelchair user (as disability is the other experience that people ‘try on’ in these exercises) experiences. However, the responses included the complaint that they did not simply ask a brown Muslim woman, rather than simply a Muslim woman, as if a white Muslim woman never experienced abuse for wearing hijab (those I’ve known have said they do) or that the ‘brown’ ones were the real Muslims, especially as they are from long-established Muslim families rather than converts, or children of converts.

This dogma that prejudice or discrimination is “not racist” unless it is perpetrated by a white person against a “person of colour” has some validity in the US context where there is a strong legacy of slavery and decades of legal discrimination and mob violence against African Americans and where expressions of frustration by Black victims of persistent racism are treated as being of equal offensiveness to the original racist aggression (this being a good example). The UK’s history is wholly different (there being no equivalent of the Confederacy and its legacy, for example, and in more recent times they have elected a demagogue who stood on an openly racist platform as their leader and we have not) but we are talking about the Muslim community here, not the general population, and the Muslim community is dominated by the South Asian community which has clung to its native languages and its particular cultural practices. The fruits of that domination have been amply discussed here and elsewhere, in fact long before this blog (or any blog) existed, in the pages of Q-News for example, but they include the fact that newcomers, whatever their colour, are often made to feel unwelcome as they cannot understand the conversations of people at the mosque or at social gatherings and are unable to find spouses as parents refuse marriage to ‘new’ Muslims (even if they are not all that new) for fear of cultural incompatibility, or some other such excuse. In my experience, opposition to mixed marriages has largely died down among whites in urban areas in this country — it no longer passes the “dinner party test” as Sayeeda Warsi put it — but it is still common among Asians in this country and whatever the excuse, the rejected person is still left with the impression that the family thought they were not good enough to marry their son or daughter. Whites have had to face up to their racist attitudes and change them in this country; Asians have not, and prejudice about the morality and modesty of white women and girls has been implicated in the multiple cases of organised child rape which are known of. Racist attitudes by minorities against the majority community, or elements within it, can have a devastating impact.

Muslims of every colour are victims of stereotyping and suspicion in this country and some of it puts us in danger. Muslims of every race have been subjected to control orders, detained at airports for extended questionings for no reasons and missed their flights, and have been denied passports because of their charitable work; Muslims of every race were among the detainees at Guantanamo. Muslims, particularly women, of every colour have suffered abuse in the street by bigots, not all of them white (an Asian friend said he and his family had received more abuse targeted at their religion from Black people than White since 2005, and it is notable that at least one of the recent videoed incidents of harassment of Muslims on public transport involved a Black perpetrator). Muslims of all races have had to answer hostile questions from family members about terrorist acts they had nothing to do with, or been reminded “it’s a Christian country” or some such thing. Yet it has become fashionable to remind white Muslims that they could simply take off the hijab and abandon Islam and all their problems will go away, while a “person of colour” will always remain oppressed! And sometimes it’s Muslims saying this!

I saw a set of videos titled “Black and Muslim in Britain” featuring a group of about six or seven Black British Muslims talking about their experiences, and they included other Muslims presuming you must be either a convert or not a Muslim, difficulties and obstacles in finding a spouse if you are looking outside your ethnic group (which you might well be as a convert, as you are looking for someone who knows the religion better than you do) — things white converts have to deal with as well, although sometimes less severely. As an actual convert I find it quite insulting that a born Muslim is offended by being mistaken for one; this is exactly the sort of attitude that leads the “established” South Asian Muslim community to put up the barriers they complain about. And how inclusive is any visual project which claims to represent “Black British Muslims”? A large proportion of them in London and elsewhere are ‘salafis’ who do not allow photography, so no photographic exhibition is going to represent the whole of the “Black British Muslim community”, if there can even be said to be one.

A final point: apparently in the name of racial solidarity, some Muslims often no longer defend Muslim belief and even tawheed, i.e. the belief in One God. A few weeks ago a woman circulated on Facebook a picture of herself in a T-shirt with a “Black and Muslim” slogan on it in English and Arabic, adding in the caption below that what being “Black and Muslim” meant to her included “honouring the Orisha as parts of Allah” and “praying salah and pouring libations to the ancestors right after”, both statements of shirk or polytheism/idolatry. This is simply the number 1 sin in the entire body of Islamic law by absolute consensus, and they are clear examples, not something that is subject to interpretation. It’s astonishing that people were circulating this without criticism. I have also seen Muslims here who willingly associate with the notorious Amina Wadud, who has made open statements of kufr such as insulting a prophet by calling him a “deadbeat dad” (more on which here). Muslims should not be associating with people who speak like this.

There is, all in all, too much emphasis on race and colour in Muslim discourse in this country right now, while the threats from “on high” are aimed at all Muslims and not just Muslim “people of colour”. In places around the world where Muslims have been massacred or severely persecuted, the perpetrators are as likely to be people of colour as those who might be called white, either by their standards or ours: Indian Hindus, Black Central African Christians, Chinese in East Turkestan, native Buddhists in Burma (Myanmar). There is no link between being a “person of colour” and being a Muslim, so Muslims need to stop using this spurious term of identity and renew their solidarity with their fellow Believers, be they Black, Asian or white. It may seem trite, a bit “can’t we just get along?” but fostering unity and brotherhood amonst Muslims across racial boundaries is vital. I should add that this development of dogmatism over race and racial differences being emphasised by progressive elements in the Muslim community is a new thing; until and in the period after 9/11, race really did not make friendships between Muslims of different backgrounds all that difficult, at least not in my experience in south London. Nobody was calling others out over ‘privilege’ or some minor faux pas or other. We need to get back to that because in the present time, none of us is safe.

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Trudeau on Quebec face-cover ban: not our business to tell women what to wear

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 October, 2017 - 22:07

Canadian prime minister responds to province’s law obliging niqab or burqa wearers to unveil on public transit or while receiving government services

Justin Trudeau has said it is not the government’s business to tell a woman what or what not to wear after the Canadian province of Quebec passed a law – believed to be the first of its kind in North America – obliging women wearing the niqab or burqa to unveil when riding public transit or receiving government services.

On Wednesday, Quebec’s Liberal government flexed its majority to vote in a law banning face coverings for those offering or receiving services from government departments, as well as municipalities, school boards, public health services and transit authorities.

Related: Quebec passes law banning facial coverings in public

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