The British press has been in a frenzy recently over nineteen-year-old Shamima Begum and her desire to return to the UK from the refugee camp in Syria where she currently resides. There are probably very few people in the UK who are unaware that Shamima travelled from the UK to ISIS territory in Syria at the age of fifteen, where she married an ISIS militant, conceived and lost two children before giving birth to a third (who also passed away) in the refugee camp in Syria she currently calls home.
“Since the news, little kids haven’t played outside, as if their moms are afraid someone might snatch them out of their yards and send them off to war.”
Kimberly Willis Holt, ‘When Zachary Beaver Came To Town’
In the early hours of 26th July, Satoshi Uematsu drove to a home for the disabled where he had previously worked and stabbed 19 residents to death and injured 26. Shortly before handing himself in, he tweeted “May there be peace in the world…Beautiful Japan!!!!” Once in custody, he said that ‘it is better that disabled people disappear’. Barely a week later and at a rally Donald Trump claimed to have seen video footage of $400 million being transferred to Iran by the US government as well as recounting the time he saw Muslims celebrating the devastation of 9/11. One of these stories received little attention while the other gathered headlines.
Trigger warnings: Female Genital Mutilation, Islamophobia, Homophobia, Torture
How does Islam actually fare in terms of human rights, and is it really any different from any other religion? The “religion of peace” has been getting a poor reputation in Western media over the issue for decades, with human rights abuses in Muslim countries often stretching from the major to the mundane.
Female genital mutilation, the stoning of homosexuals to death, the subjugation of women – the list goes on and on. Apostasy is frequently met with the death sentence in conservative states such as Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, individual liberties in these countries, such as speaking up against the state, are frequently curtailed on the pretext of actually insulting the religion itself. Just ask Raif Badawi, the Saudi activist and blogger who dared to criticize the Saudi regime and was sentenced up to 1,000 lashes from the theocratic state for his troubles.
Content warnings: xenophobia, racism, racial slurs
You’d think that after more than three decades of multiculturalism in the UK, racism should have, more or less, become a thing of the past. Yet bigotry has decided to rear its ugly head once more after the recent EU referendum, with many of those who voted for Brexit, in particular those from a working class background, feeling the result has given them the right, and indeed social acceptance, to begin verbally chasing out migrants, in some kind of vague collective bid to “get [their] country back”.
It’s been a pretty rough decade or so for Muslims. Since 9/11, negative images of the Islamic world have been relentlessly smeared all over the Western media, in a manner often mirroring the Orientalist perspective of Arabs as described by the historical anthropologist Edward Said. Ever since the Europeans first encountered Arabs during the time of the Crusades, Middle Easterners have been perpetually stereotyped as the social “Other”, known to act and appear completely differently from Westerners. Furthermore, the otherwise diverse Islamic world is frequently reduced to exclusively “exotic” stereotypes such as bearded mullahs, shady sheikhs in their groups of concubines, terrorists, Bedouin, belly dancers and harem maidens. Meanwhile, Muslim women are constantly portrayed as quiet, modest and uneducated, covered from head to toe and traveling several paces behind domineering males.
by Robyn Banks
Once upon a time, there was a period in history when everyone on the left was in agreement. In this time of solidarity many campaigns were fought and won and nobody within the movement felt excluded. The boundaries of race, gender and class were broken down, sectarianism was a distant memory and everybody held hands and formed the party of the glorious left.
by Kunal Chattopadhyay
Seldom has an incident in an Indian University received so much international coverage and solidarity as the ongoing confrontation in Jawaharlal Nehru University. 450 scholars, among who were names like Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar, as well as JNU alumni, signed a statement. 358 academics from Universities across California issued a letter in which they condemned the harassment of students for their political beliefs. The letter called the police crackdown on the students an “alibi for the incursion of an authoritarian regime onto the university campus”. Oxford University and the University of Chicago among others have sent in their support. Within India, solidarity actions developed in Delhi, Chennai, and various academic institutions, including notably Jadavpur University in Kolkata. And there have also been massive, unrelenting state and rightwing attacks, including physical violence.