Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

A dying granny tells her granddaughter: 

"I want to leave you my farm. That includes the villa, the tractor, and other equipment, the farmhouse, and £22,398,750 in cash." 

The granddaughter, absolutely stunned says: 

"Oh Granny, you are SO generous! I didn't even know you had a farm. Where is it?" 

With her last breath, Granny whispered: 


I always hate growing older. Why can't I just be goofy and stupid like these two?

But then again I'd probably end up working at a pizza place for the rest of my life. Thats life for ya. Meh.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 and the Georgetown University event.

So 10 years ago from today two planes crashed into the World Trade Center and completely changed (re: screwed) the course of history forever. I had just spent my first year in Saudi Arabia and I was just about to turn 17 later that month when I turned on my TV and saw all hell break loose. I still remember my reaction: bewilderment, mixed feelings, not sure what to make of it. I guess I would have had a much stronger reaction had I actually still been living in the US. The reports came out that the attacks were carried out by so called "islamic" terrorists from Al Qaeda. Now things had gotten even more twisted. Because I was also "islamic". But I was also an american. Two sides of a coin that is still flipping in mid-air to this day. Little did I know this dichotomy would eventually define me as an american who happened to be muslim and a muslim who happened to be american.

Well the 10th anniversary was a fairly quiet affair as was the rest of the day, typical for a Sunday. While nothing particularly interesting happened that day, more interesting things occurred three days prior. On Thursday September 8th I had the opportunity to visit Georgetown University's Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding for an event called "Religion and the American-Muslim Community Post 9/11". The speakers were John Esposito, Linda Moreno, Arsalan Iftikhar, and the keynote speaker was Karen Armstrong.

Here's some pics from the event.

Before going into the event hall.

The speakers.

Me and Professor John Esposito

You can view more pictures right here

Here's a video clip of me speaking with Professor John Esposito. Check it out!

Check out the other videos from the event on my youtube channel.

The event itself was good however I wasn't completely sure if doing so would really affect any immediate change to the current islamophobic environment prevalent in parts of the US media and unfortunately, the government as well. I was also a bit disappointed by the lack of media coverage the event received. However in general it was a fairly eye-opening event, particularly the talk given by Linda Moreno. You can see her video right here


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Eid Mubarak!

Ok ok first off.....wishing everyone Eid Mubarak! Even though i'm like almost 2 weeks late....ya know...cuz thats how I roll.  My eid was pretty uneventful, I basically went down to Fairfax in virginia to pray Salat al-Eid at my uncle's masjid then just hung out at his place for a while. This is of course just days after Maryland was struck with Hurricane Irene which hit the northeast coast of the USA. So what did you guys do for Eid?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rumble in London (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

Now that we've looked at what exactly happened in London we need to ask ourselves an obvious yet crucial question. Why did this happen? As The Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded aptly puts it "Our only hope, our only peace is to understand it. To understand the why. Why is the only source of power. Without it you are powerless." 

Ok charming french accents aside we must understand why these riots took place, and I think thats where things get a little bit interesting. I need to make something clear, the riots have nothing to do with "race" or a "liberal agenda" contrary to what some right wing conservative outlets would have us believe. The rioters came from diverse backgrounds and I highly doubt that their political beliefs spurred them to loot stores and set cars on fire. So while it wasn't about liberalism or race, it however had everything to do with class. And when I mean class I'm talking about the Upper class, Middle class, and the Working class. What we're seeing is young members of the Working Class rising up and rioting against the economic imbalance that is prevalent in the UK as in many other countries as well. The unavailability of jobs and general unemployment rates are a major factor at play here as it was in the protests in Greece. In fact, things aren't looking so good here in the USA either according to the recent Gallup polls despite a moderate improvement in job conditions just last month. In the UK its not just the working class that are struggling to find jobs but it seems the middle class isn't having a great time either. And many of these people who DO have a job however are finding it increasingly difficult to afford their standard of living. Costs are going up but salaries and wages on the other hand aren't. In fact in most cases they're even going down.

Now what we know from Police reports coming out of the UK is that the vast majority of the rioters arrested were young working class people, many of whom were teenagers (born in the 1990s). Now get this, according to the BBC the highest employment rates between 6.0 - 7.9 % were prevalent in the largest urban cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, etc etc. Well guess what? These are the same exact areas which were hit by riots.

*cue dramatic music*

I think we have a significant correlation here, Ladies & Gentlemen. Quick someone phone Prime Minister Cameron about this! More statistics can be found here at the Office of National Statistics and on their youtube channel.

What the UK government needs to do is come up with a viable economic solution, not harsher police measure as was ranted by the PM David Cameron. In fact whats happening in London is symptomatic of a greater economic problem across Europe and in the USA in general. You have to be completely nuts to give tax cuts to the insanely rich while increasing taxes for the not so rich. As long as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer these problems will continue. Now I'm not saying that this excuses the actions of the idiots who went out and looted shops and stores in London, however at the same time we also cannot ignore the economic situation in the UK which is no doubt the underlying factor behind these riots.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rumble in London (Part 1)

Ahlan wa sahlan.

My first reaction on Saturday evening! As if the nonsense in Syria wasn't insane enough now we have riots breaking out in London too? Latest news reports coming in speak of riots, looting, violence, and arson spreading out from London to other major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, and Gloucester.

So how did this all get started? Lets rewind the clock back to Thursday August 4th, when 29 year alleged drug dealer Mark Duggan was shot dead in a police operation during an attempted arrest in Tottenham, an area in the London borough of Haringey. His death and the circumstances surrounding his fatal shooting were questioned by his family and friends during a peaceful protest in front of a Tottenham police station on Saturday August 6th. However things soon changed when reports of a police assault on a 16 year old girl began to surface, subsequently sparking off a violent riot by several youth gangs. Attacks were carried out in Tottenham late into the night on police cars, a double decker bus, local businesses, and homes. Several assaults on police officers and looting of stores were reported as well. 

By sunday and monday the violent riots had spread into other areas of London with even more looting and vandalism of shops and police cars. Due to the local police force being overwhelmed, local turkish and kurdish shopkeepers were forced to protect themselves by forming vigilante 'units'. On monday reports starting coming out that there was also sporadic incidents of violence being experienced in cities outside of London, notably in Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Nottingham. Cars were set alight and even incidents of news reporters being assaulted by teenage gangs began to surface.

The violence and vandalism peaked all through yesterday (Tuesday) and early today. Several fires were started in parts of London such as Barking, Clapham Junction, Ealing, and Croydon as well as the looting of several major retail stores and banks in East Ham. A 26 year old man was shot dead in Croydon as well. The police were able to make over 500 arrests in London and 100 arrests in Brimingham.

However the worst was yet to come.

Due to the preoccupation of the police force in trying to fend off rioters (as if thats an excuse) many shopkeepers and business owners were left to fend for themselves and their neighborhoods, most notably amongst the turkish, kurdish, and south asian desi communities. However standing in the line of fire has its risks. In the city of Birmingham early this morning three british pakistani men (two of whom were brothers) were mowed down in an apparent hit and run while trying to protect local businesses and a mosque from looters and rioters. The three victims were 21 year-old Haroon Jahan and brothers Abdul Musavir, 31, and Shazad Ali, 30. All three subsequently died from their injuries.

To be continued in Part 2 Inshallah

Related links


Park 51 NYChildren UPDATE

Ahlan wa Sahlan

So apparently theres been a breakthrough with the donations for Park 51's NYChildren project. Someone pledged $20,000 raising the amount of donations to $64, 237 which is just under $6000 short of the required $70,000! Mashallah! Unfortunately today is also the last day for donations (Aug 10). I tried my best to help raise awareness about the issue by handing out flyers at my local mosque and in M street in Washington DC as well as posting on facebook & twitter. I don't even know if  it made a significant difference to be honest. I'm beginning to think I have a OCD hero complex or something. I always find myself having to do something about anything that nobody is doing anything about. Maybe I'm just a sucker....

Anyways today IS the last day to raise donations for this project. If theres anything you can do to help (donate, hand out flyers, facebook, twitter, youtube, etc) and if you believe you can make a difference, today is the day to do it Inshallah! Never lose hope.


NYChildren link

Park 51 link

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Abu Dhabi Gallup Center event in DC

Ahlan wa Sahlan

Okaaaaay... I know I should have finished this at least by yesterday, but what can I tell ya...I gotta work too ya know. So if you haven't already figured it out, I attended the "Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, & Future" event by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center this past Tuesday (Aug 2nd) in Washington DC. 
For all extents and purposes I thought it was going to be a literal snooze fest. I had woken up later than I had planned and anticipating intense traffic on my drive into Washington DC, I wasn't particularly in the best of moods. But Alhamdulillah I was wrong. The traffic was relatively light and I managed to step into the glittering lobby of The National Press Club with ten minutes to spare on the clock before the event kicked off at the scheduled 10:00 am (he shoots, he scores!). 

Shortly before the event

The event started with a brief introduction by PBS Newshour's distinguished senior correspondent Ray Suarez followed by opening remarks by Dr. Jocelyn Cesari, a research fellow in Political Science and Director of "Islam in West" program at Harvard. You can view both of them on my Youtube channel here and here.

However the real meat and potatoes of the whole event came next with Senior analyst of the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, Mohamed Younis's presentation of the in depth study of the Gallup surveys conducted throughout 2010. 

Mohamed Younis

Among the key findings presented were:  

  • Though most major religious groups rate their lives better now than in 2008, Muslim Americans' life evaluation ratings have increased the most. Sixty percent are thriving in 2011, up substantially from 2008.

  • Muslim Americans are among the most critical of the institutions and interventions associated with counterterrorism. They are the most likely among major American religious groups to see U.S. actions, not misinformation, as causing unfavorable views of the U.S. in majority-Muslim countries.

  • Nearly all Muslim Americans (92%) say Muslims living in the U.S. have no sympathy for al Qaeda.

  • Muslim Americans' political and social views are often closest to those of Jewish Americans, who are more likely than other major religious groups (at 70%) to believe Muslim Americans have no sympathy for al Qaeda. Jewish Americans also view U.S. Muslims as loyal to America (80%) and are more likely than Muslims Americans themselves to say that there is prejudice toward U.S. Muslims (66% vs. 60%). Additionally Jewish Americans and Muslim Americans show similar levels of support for a future in which an independent Palestinian state would coexist alongside of Israel (78% and 81%, respectively).

  • Muslim Americans have high levels of confidence in many American civic institutions. Fifty-seven percent say they have confidence in the honesty of elections, the highest percentage of all major U.S. religious groups studied.

  • Muslim Americans are as likely as other major faith communities to have confidence in the country's judicial system and in the quality and integrity of the U.S. media.

  • Muslim Americans (83%) are the most likely of all major U.S. religious groups to say the Iraq war was a mistake.

  • The part which particularly piqued my interest was the fact that 57% of american muslims say they have confidence in the honesty of elections. Saay whaaat?! I totally expected that number to be lower! You can watch portions of that presentation here and here. You can also see some of the slides here in my yfrog page. And if you're just too damn lazy to do all of that you can read Mohamed Younis's article about the Gallup study findings right here or watch him talk about it in this segment of PBS Newshour.

    After the presentation, a panel discussion was held with the following panelists: 


    Mohamed Younis
    Senior Analyst of the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center  

    Rabbi Saperstein
    Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

    Imam Mohamed Magid
    President, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

    Ray Suarez (Mediator) 

    D. Paul Monteiro
    Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement

    They were joined by Dr. Jocelyn Cesari for the Q&A session directly after the panel discussion.

    You can view portions of the panel discussion here, here, and here.

    Overall I was fairly impressed by the study itself. It was very thorough and managed to hit on important and significant points across the board. I liked the fact that the report also gave a series of recommendations for government and civic leaders.To quote Mohamed Younis: 

    "The report provides a snapshot of the Muslim American community as we see it today," said Younis. "As we look toward the next 10 years, it is vital to consider what actions can be taken to positively impact the U.S. Muslim community."

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Imam Mohamed Magid & Yours Truly
    On another note, besides taking this kodak moment with Imam Mohamed Magid, I also managed to bump into activist extraordinaire Raquel Evita Saraswati who was also present at the event. And here I was thinking I was the only tweep who managed to get out of bed to show up!


    Related links:
    My Event Pictures
    My Event Videos
    PBS Newshour

    Tuesday, August 02, 2011

    Rumble in Syria

    What do you get when you mix 1 part dictatorship and 2 parts brutal family legacy? A syria killer! Get it? Astaghfirallah I can't believe I'm even joking about this. While most of us were celebrating the advent of this year's month of Ramadan, others elsewhere where picking up pieces of their friends and family....literally. An apparent crack down on anti-government protesters in Syria has turned into something so bloody that its no doubt re-opened very very old scars. In an ill-advised attempt to reassert his authority, Bashar Al-Assad sent in state military forces comprising of tanks, snipers, and militiamen on July 31st on the eve of Ramadan into the central syrian city of Hama killing at least 50 people. The ensuing carnage continued unabated all through yesterday raising the death toll to at least 100. Eerily reminiscent of a similar episode in the very same city in 1982 when Bashar's father Hafez al-Assad ordered a similar attack to crush an anti-Ba'ath uprising that left a horrific trail of 10,000 dead victims.
    Surely his son wouldn't be so foolish as to follow in his footsteps. Well...surprise surprise...apparently he is. Before the assault on Hama, I had a tremendous amount of respect for Bashar al-Assad, perhaps naively so. Yes he might be a dictator, but at least he was one of the better dictators, paling in comparison to many of the other regimes around Syria. Well mannered, well spoken, well educated and with a professional and humble demeanor to boot.  I admired the fact that he was able to maintain Syria economically without having to cow down and bow his head to the interests of the USA and/or Israel. Syria, home to Damascus, the oldest continually inhabited settlement on earth with its diverse religious identities and long rich history is indeed a marvel to behold. But what does any of that mean when you're killing your own country's civilian population in a desperate attempt to quell potential opposition? These are not the actions of a civilized individual. It seems I was wrong about you Mr. al-Assad. Did you really think that your political tighthold in Syria would last forever? Nothing lasts forever in this world. In the end you really are no different from any of the other despotic egomaniacs running their own little side-shows in the middle east. And it also seems you are no different from your father.

    Like father, like son.

    The old adage seems most fitting, wouldn't you agree?

    Related links: