Tag Archives: muslims

No Nazar: South Asian weddings and podcast debuts

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No Nazar: South Asian weddings and podcast debuts

I feel like I’m constantly falling in love with new people. Not romantic love; don’t be weird. But that kind of “oh my god I love your style/intellect/skills/what you have to say” love.

I recently met a woman named Zainab. From a Pakistani family, Zainab hails from Toronto, but her accent gives away the fact that she’s also got roots in the UK. She reached out in a Facebook group, looking for South Asian women (or non-binary/trans folks) to share their stories for a podcast she was starting called No Nazar. “Nazar” is the Urdu/Hindu word for evil eye, a concept that exists in nearly every culture… but has a very special place in ours.

The funny thing is that I had literally been scrolling through iTunes for the past few days, looking for podcasts by and about desi women. I had found a couple, but none with the same radical political/social beliefs as me (I’m sure they’re out there, I just couldn’t find them). After a few seconds of self-doubt and staring at her post in awe, I pushed myself to reach out to Zainab about my then-recently published article about South Asian weddings on The Tempest. I was honestly more excited to find out more about her project and when I could listen, but I figured, desis love weddings. My article and the discussion around desi wedding culture might be a perfect fit for her show.

Turns out, she’d actually already read it… a cousin had sent it to her. She invited me onto the show, and I spoke with her via Skype audio.

The podcast was fun as hell. Talking to Zainab about her vision for the show got me so hyped that I was eagerly awaiting this debut before I even found out I’d be the guest featured in it.

I’ve posted the episode above. Please do give it a listen, and share on social media where you can. It’s on Soundcloud for now, but I’ll update once it’s finally up on iTunes as well.

[Update: You can find the iTunes version here. Or just find No Nazar in your Podcasts app.]

I always fall in love when I meet a Pakistani woman who is unafraid to talk about the things that need to be said.  No Nazar is one-woman show, and that one woman is absolutely someone worth following. Put this on your list of “Podcasts to Watch”. Zainab did a fantastic job with every aspect of the show, and she is such an insightful, intelligent, and creative person that it’s only going to get better from here.

Nazar na lag jaye.

 

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Making America racist again (even though it never really wasn’t)

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Trump’s Muslim ban is having consequences for more than visa and green card-holders from the seven listed countries. My best friend and cousin, Faiza, was returning from her honeymoon in Belize Saturday evening, when she was held for hours at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. I caught sight of her husband’s Facebook post while at a birthday party (her brother’s 40th, incidentally):

I saw the post not long after he put it up, so my jaw dropped when I saw how widely it had spread the next day. What amazed me even further was how many people in the comments were accusing Javad of lying. I know the people involved personally… Indeed, very closely. I can assure you that they are both U.S. citizens; Javad was born here and Faiza lived here her entire life (the only reason she wasn’t born in the US is because her mother was visiting family at the time of her birth). Both of their families are from Pakistan, a country that is not even part of the executive order.

I’m not sure what part of this does not “add up,” as I saw multiple people on the post claim. Muslims and people of Arab and/or South Asian descent have been harassed and intimidated at airports consistently for the past 15 years (yours truly included). What happened to Javad and Faiza isn’t surprising to me in the least, but it’s alarming all the same. While speaking with Javad, he pointed out how the customs personnel did the maximum they possibly could to harass these two and get away with it. The CBP kept Javad and Faiza long enough to cause them distress, but not long enough for them to miss their flight. Had they missed it, the airline or airport would have been forced to accommodate them for a new flight as well as lodging, which would have required a report as to why they had been held so long (the reason being none).

While my cousin did make her flight in the end, this isn’t something to be brushed off. Children were detained at these airports, and I can’t tell you how many petitions I’ve seen for international students being kept from returning to complete their studies (many of them on scholarships). Even if your country of origin (or your family’s) is not on the list, what’s to stop Trump from adding them overnight? What’s to stop him from adding all Muslims, regardless of nationality overnight? Honestly, what’s to stop them from escalating it to camps? A Trump crony did mention the Japanese-American internment camps as precedent back in November.

Just as an executive order like this emboldened those customs personnel to harass my cousin, the executive order— indeed, Trump’s election itself— has emboldened bigots all over to harass, intimidate, and even attack Muslims. Take the shooting at a Quebec City mosque last night. Richard Spencer, despite being punched in the face twice already, had this to say in response to that tragedy:

Don’t kid yourself by thinking that Spencer or those who shot up the mosque are outliers. The fact is that they’re not not, and that there’s a reason the alt-right movement is taking so much power. You need to take that power back (yes, you). Figure out how to contact your representatives and tell them about your concerns. Demand they take action. Here are a couple different scripts you can try if you’re stuck on what to say (along with some good ideas from Laura Silverman’s Twitter feed):

It’ll only take a few minutes of your time, but it could affect us all for far longer.

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