Category Archives: Breaking News

Trump rumored to add more countries to ban list, including Pakistan, Egypt, and Afghanistan

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Hearing through the grapevine (the immigration lawyer grapevine, to be exact) that there is a draft of an executive order which adds the following countries to the current ban:

  • Egypt
  • Lebanon
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Southern Philippines
  • Trans-Sahara (Mali)
  • Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral

Rumor is that this executive order is to be given tomorrow. It is uncertain whether this will affect green-card holders (as in, permanent residents who have already been extremely vetted) and dual citizens. The last executive order did/does not apply to dual citizens who hold US citizenship, but no word on whether this one will be the same. (This is of particular importance to my family and me, as most of us are dual citizens of the United States and Pakistan.)

Note that a few of these are not Muslim-majority areas (the Southern Phillipines do have a sizeable Muslim population, however). I’m not sure whether this is specifically designed to make it seem as though this is not targeting Muslims, but Rudy Giuliani has already confirmed for us that a ban on Muslims has always been Trump and his administration’s intent. There is also the fact that the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv has assured Israel that its (Jewish) citizens holding dual nationality with one of the banned countries would be exempt.

I hope these rumors are mistaken. But as my fiancé just noted, “it’s starting to feel like Trump just executed Order 66.”

White American present at Boston, Paris, & Brussels attacks… and he’s not a suspect

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Having finally obtained a degree in Journalism & Media Studies (and having worked at multiple news outlets along the way), I can’t emphasize enough how manipulative news outlets can be in affecting our perceptions of current events.

While treading through late-night Twitter looking for commentary to retweet onto my woefully ignored feed, I came across a few tweets pointing out an insane double standard in coverage of the recent tragedy in Brussels. The tweets linked to an article entitled “Mormon Missionaries From Utah Among Belgian Bombing Survivors”. The article talks about three Mormon Elders who were injured in the attacks.

Here’s an excerpt about one of the missionaries, 19-year-old Mason Wells who is having surgery for damage to his foot, that makes it more interesting:

This was not Wells’ first brush with terror. He was in Boston to watch his mother run the marathon in 2013 when two Chechen immigrant brothers set off shrapnel-filled bombs that killed three and wounded scores more, his family said.

Wells was also in Paris this past November when the French capital was attacked by Belgium-based terrorists, the family said.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 2.15.06 ق.د.

Mason Wells, 19-year-old American present at Boston, Paris, & Brussels attacks.

What the hell, NBC? You get a hold of a guy who was present at three recent terror attacks that completely dominated headlines, and you choose to make the story about how three missionaries were hurt?? Talk about burying the lede!

But that’s just it. This wasn’t the lede. These two paragraphs were so nonchalantly nestled in the middle of the article that it would be easy for readers to miss them. Imagine if this man was Muslim instead of Mormon, or even just of a Middle Eastern, South Asian, Eastern European, or African background.

What would be the headline then?

Speaking as a journalist, as someone who’s studied media and criticized the hell out of it, as someone who constantly consumes it, this is the kind of story that media outlets thrive on. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, social media took to identifying suspects simply from video of the bombings (and news outlets predictably followed suit in reporting on these). These misidentifications led to multiple people fearing for their safety. Most infamous was Sunil Tripathi, an Indian-American student who had been missing for a month prior to the bombings and became a “stand out suspect” after social media users, most notably on Reddit and Twitter, posted about it. Sunil was found dead days later, and his family could have done without having to deal with these baseless accusations on top of his disappearance.

When people like Sunil and his family are subjected to the witch hunts like this, how is it that a man who was present at three different attacks is barely given notice?

I’m not saying he should be subjected to a witch hunt too (because he shouldn’t), but the difference is striking. I do see a few articles covering the story from this angle, but how is it that a major news outlet like NBC is not? A post on the front page of Imgur makes light of the situation, whereas if the man were of a non-white background, they’d be expressing suspicion instead (as with Boston). Even moving on from news outlets and social media, why isn’t any government looking into this?

I’m not being a conspiracy theorist here (although conspiracies do exist and go read a book about the CIA if you think otherwise). I assure you that, were this man not a white American, I would still say this needs to be looked into. I’m also not saying he’s definitely involved, so don’t be like the Redditors who screwed it up with the Boston bombings. I’m just saying you need to pay attention to how biased your news outlets and your governments are. And you need to demand that they change.

The Problem with #MuslimLivesMatter

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Maybe not enough people realized this during the uproar over Ferguson. Nearly everyone who uses the hashtag means well. But #AllLivesMatter is a problematic hashtag, full stop. And in the same line, so is #MuslimLivesMatter.

Hashtags matter. They’re not only a way to bring attention to a specific issue or current event, but they are now also used as political statements.

Saying #AllLivesMatter is inappropriate in that it ignores the message that #BlackLivesMatter is conveying. It’s a hashtag that is a reminder— a reminder that black lives matter, because the lives of white people are never in question. Saying “All lives matter!” assumes that everyone is equally targeted, everyone in as much need of protection.

Now, of course, Muslim lives are also very much under threat in this country. Those of us who have been hollering about Fox News, the Republican Party, Bill Maher, Zionists and co. inciting violence against Muslims have been proved horribly right. But by using the #MuslimLivesMatter hashtag, we are appropriating the black struggle, the movement against police brutality towards black men and women. That is not to say that Muslim lives don’t matter, of course. We simply need to recognize that while our struggle is similar, we do have our own and we cannot co-opts others’.

The family and friends of Yusor, Deah, and Razan have adopted the hashtag, #OurThreeWinners, taken from their Facebook page of the same name. We should show our love and support for them, and our respect for the Black Lives Matter movement, by doing the same.

I apologize if my argument isn’t making sense. I’ve been in a daze since the night it happened, a daze that has only overwhelmed me more and more since. This hits home. It hit home when I saw that it occurred in a town not far from my father’s, in a university that some of my relatives attended. It hit home when I saw a couple relatives post about knowing the victims or their families. It hit home when I spent the day with friends wearing hijabs, worry for them spinning in the back of my mind where it should never have to be. It hit home because it could have been any of us, it could become any of us. Unless we refuse to stay silent.

Our Three WinnersAlways,

Syjil

P.S. Here are a couple links to explain the problem with co-opting the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/12/whats-wrong-with-all-lives-matter/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julia-craven/please-stop-telling-me-th_b_6223072.html

Obama comes out (no pun intended)

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I’ve always heard people going on and on about finding themselves in college, discovering who they really are and their purpose in life, and exploring their options, and always thought it was complete and utter bull.

Then came freshman year, and that’s exactly what I found happening to me.

I know it’s been only two semesters, but I have a knack of figuring things out quick, and my freshman year saw me figuring out myself further not only academically and career-wise, but also realizing things about my past and who I am and why. It’s been an interesting why and it scares/excites me to see what’s going to happen in the next three years. Stay tuned; I have a strong feeling we’ll be seeing some life-changing events.

But since I’m no celebrity (yet), my life is not of much interest, so let’s move on. Today became one of the biggest news days of the year, and most probably history, with President Obama coming out (no pun intended) with his support for same-sex marriage.

Like President Obama, I guess you could say I’ve been evolving on the issue too.  I’ve had friends who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and I’ve always hated when they’ve been met with ridicule or cruelty.  It’s never once turned me away from them or made me think of them any differently… Unless, of course, they did something that I wouldn’t like to see coming from a heterosexual friend either.

But at the same time, I am a practicing Muslim.  To me, no matter how anyone spins it, homosexuality is forbidden in Islam… But as my uncle reminded me the other day, it is the act that is forbidden, not the preference itself. In Islam, we are taught to learn to discipline ourselves and obey God no matter what.  In my own interpretation, homosexuality seems to be a challenge for people and is something for them to figure out, between themselves and God if they believe in Him.

But that brings us back to the fact that the United States of America was founded as a secular nation.  As a practicing Muslim, I cannot condone homosexuality and say that gay marriage is okay.  But (as my uncle again pointed out) as a Muslim in the U.S., I am bound by the laws of my country and its Constitution.  The Constitution clearly states that all people are to be given equal rights and that religion shall not play a factor in our country’s governance.

One thing I have to say, however, is that I feel that on both sides of the argument, there has been quite a bit of disrespect.  My moral and religious upbringing has also taught me tolerance.  Not only am I disgusted at those who call homosexuals names and treat them as subhuman or criminals, but I also cannot help but be disappointed at the lack of respect many people in our society have come to have for religion.  Yes, it is wrong for someone to persecute another just because of their sexual orientation, but if they are not doing so, I think it is equally wrong for someone to disparage someone else for the simple belief that something is wrong due to their religion.  While I see the similarities this has to interracial marriage and rights for women, blacks and immigrants, I still also see the difference.  Many religions, including the most prevalent ones in our society, teach us that homosexuality is a sin.  The fact is undeniable, and far too many times, I see people simplifying the issue.  Just because someone believes in a set of religious teachings, it does not mean they are a bigot.  And just because someone doesn’t, it does not mean they are immoral.

In the end, same-sex marriage is an inevitability for the United States.  But I don’t see why this has to be such a disaster for those who are religious.  As a friend of mine pointed out to me a few weeks back, same-sex marriage has been legal for years in Europe, because state marriage and religious marriage are kept completely separate.  Much of the battle in the U.S. is because here, the priest, rabbi, imam or whomever has to sign the legal document when they marry a couple.  While Americans need to respect the rights of all citizens, the government needs to respect the rights of religious institutions.  If a religious leader or institution does not wish to perform same-sex marriages, they should not be forced to do so.  While we are protected from becoming a religious nation, our religions are also protected from becoming secular institutions.

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil

Side note: Yesterday, author Maurice Sendak passed away at age 83.  I still haven’t seen the movie for Where the Wild Things Are but I bought my little brother the book around the time it came out, and I absolutely love it as well as the novelization of the screenplay by Dave Eggers.  You can find his 2-part interview with Stephen Colbert earlier this year on the Colbert Report here and here.  Worth watching.

“Oh, please don’t go– we’ll eat you up– we love you so!” –Where the Wild Things Are
R.I.P.

–S.

Deoccupying Wall Street?

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News is breaking that Zuccotti Park is getting cleared out by NYPD… Story so far here.

According to Bloomberg’s Twitter, this is just temporary and the protestors may return once tents and such have been dismantled… But does this really mean Occupy Wall Street will be allowed to continue? Sounds a bit weird to me… and I’m wondering how the protestors are reacting right about now.

I guess we’ll be waiting and seeing.

And yes, I’m aware that many of my articles are linked to the BBC, but really… check out any other news source online and they either are just full of useless information and news (Time, Newsweek, etc) or, as much as I love them, have a bit of a confusing template to navigate (Al-Jazeera). Can we get some more good news sources up in here?

Also, I’ve had a horrible day today. Anyone know how to become a full-time professional blogger and whether or not that may be more fulfilling than a career as a physician?

 

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil

As always: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15732661