Religion

Refugee Voices Matter – Nothing about Us, Without Us

Over the past two years, the global refugee response has been tested. The world is being rocked by the greatest pandemic in over a century, while waves of refugees have fled from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Belarus, and Tigray. So, where do we go from here? Next week, the international community will convene to take stock of the successes and shortcomings of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), a unique multilateral mechanism built to ensure the protection of one of the most vulnerable populations. This marquee Compact is up for review, but unlike other review processes, the participation of the people whose lives are shaped by the decisions to be made in the review process will be marginal. Unfortunately, only 1 in 50 of the invited attendees at the UNHCR High-Level Official’s Meeting (HLOM) to discuss the GCR are refugees.

Time for Public Conversation, Justice after ‘Blasphemy’ killing in Pakistan, say Rights Activists

Mukhtiar’s heart sank when he saw the grisly incident of lynching of a man in the industrial city of Sialkot, in Punjab province.

When Love is Called as a Conspiracy: The ‘Love Jihad’ Bogey Targeting Interfaith Couples in India

When Ali (name changed) proposed to his best friend, little did he know that her parents would take six years to agree to their alliance because he was born into a Muslim family, and they were Hindus.

Twenty Years After September 11, 2001: Institutions on Decline, But Religion Rising?

Described as the “worst terrorist attack ever in the United States”, September 11, 2001 is a moment which has led to multiple transformations, cascading around our world.

Afghanistan’s Girls Need our Unwavering Support in Education

The Taliban takeover of government in Kabul is just days old, and the eyes of Afghans and the world are cautiously watching and hopeful to see them stand by their word and ensure that girls’ education be promoted and protected.

Afghanistan: A Swedish Officer’s Point of View

Like most of us, I rely on news media to find an explanation to tragedies I watch on TV. Neverthelss, some of my opinions about the Afghan tragedy have furthermore been influenced by talks I once had with my friend Bernth Dagerklint. We had for some years been working as teachers at a high school, though this was not Bernth’s main occupation. Most of the time, he served as an officer during international, armed campaigns supported by the Swedish government. He had been to former Yugoslavia, the West Bank and not the least in Afghanistan, where he since 2003 on several occasions worked as ”instructor” for Afghan officers.

The Taliban Win: The Aftermath in Afghanistan and in the World

Some years ago, on a piece on the Afghan crisis I had written that Mullah Omar’s face bore no resemblance to that of the impossibly beautiful, albeit mythical, Helen of Troy. Yet it too had caused the launch of a thousand ships (airships to be more precise), just as Helen’s had done in Homer’s epic tale, the Iliad. Like Troy in that ancient narrative, Afghanistan of the present times was swarmed with invaders who could also be seen as the counterparts of those Greeks- the Americans and their NATO allies. This war lasted for double the time of the Trojan episode, twenty years instead of ten. At its end it led to a reverse situation, victory of the Trojans, in this case, of the Taliban. Though the Greeks destroyed Troy by the ruse of a gift of the Wooden Horse, eventually a Trojan warrior, Aeneid, sailed to southern Mediterranean and laid the foundation of the Rome and its empire. The Greek epoch ultimately yielded to the Roman age, and the annals of geopolitics of that time took a completely new turn. Will the impact of the Afghan war be the same? Shall we see a power transformation in a new paradigm from what we have at the present time? Will American predominance make way for a risen China, now or in the future?

Honour Killings – Religion or Culture?

There is nothing honourable about murder. And murdering someone of your own family, your own child - a daughter, someone you held in your arms and rocked to sleep when they were babies? This is such a horrifying crime that there are no words to describe it – certainly not the word Honour. And yet it happens! It happens in Pakistan and to the shame of all of us in the diaspora, it has been brought to Italy.

‘Sulli Deals’: Muslim Women in India Being Put Up for Sale

Ongoing online sexual harassment of Muslim women through ‘Sulli Deals’, an auctioning app hosted by GitHub, has been reported to the authorities – but not before it called untold trauma to the targeted women.

A Film Challenging Religious Norms

When Turkish- Norwegian writer and filmmaker Nefise Ozkal Lorentzen heard about Seyran Ates’ mixed gender mosque in Berlin, Germany, she immediately decided to make a film on Seyran’s life. It took three years to produce the film, ‘Seyran Ates: Sex Revolution and Islam’ a portrait of a female Imam and her struggles in activating revolution within Islam.

Dalit and Muslim Indian Women Leading Change in South Sudan

Two Indian women, one Muslim and the other Dalit (former untouchables), separated by culture and geography, have found common ground in leading change in conflict-torn South Sudan.

France Needs More Civil Liberties and Less Hypo-Securitization of Religion

In 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans for tougher laws to tackle what he called, “Islamist Separatism”, and a crackdown on “radical Islamists” in France, which he said were materializing through repeated deviations from the Republic’s values. To counter this, President Macron announced his plans to create a “French Islam”, a practise of the faith which would be regulated by the state.

COVID-19 as Instigator of Bigotry, Chauvinism and Megalomania

By the end of April 2019, a government campaign to vaccinate more than 40 million children under five against polio in Pakistan was suspended after a series of attacks on health workers and police. On 23 April, a police officer protecting polio workers was gunned down in Bannu, the same day a polio worker was in Lahore seriously wounded by a father “protecting his child from vaccination”, these incidents were followed by the murder of another police and a health worker under his protection. Health workers were also seriously wounded in the districts of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries where polio remains, in all other nations of the world vaccination campaigns have eliminated the disease. In April this year, three female polio vaccine providers were killed in Afghanistan.

Canada Must Acknowledge its Problematic Bill 21

The June 5th attack on the Muslim family in London, Ontaria, has left many in Canada in a state of shock. A driver intentionally struck the Afzaal family while they were out for a stroll, killing four, because of their Islamic faith. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the killing, “a terrorist attack and a brazen act of violence.”

Apocalypse Now? Christian Fundamentalists and COVID-19

 
Getting hard to breathe hard to believe in anything at all, but fear. Peter Gabriel, Mother of Violence
Like most male Swedes of my age I had to enter obligatory military service for almost a year. In my barrack was a “born-again-Christian” who when he became angry shouted “Now you mock me, but when the Last Judgement has come I will sit in heaven and smile down at you while you burn in Hell!” Since then I have wondered about the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. It was written by a frustrated Christian man who by the end of 100 CE by Roman authorities had been deported to an isolated island where he wrote a long letter to Christian congregations in Asia Minor.

Britain Must Fix Its Anti-Muslim Sentiment Problem

In 2015, When Rabina Khan was running as an independent candidate in the Tower Hamlets’ mayoral elections in London, a male voter asked her what colour her hair was under her veil. Rabina replied and said, it was pink. This small interaction is what got Rabina inspired to write her book, My Hair is Pink Under This Veil.

Indian Muslim Minority Targeted During COVID-19 Pandemic

A Muslim call centre operator at a COVID-19 ‘war room’, who once saw himself a COVID-warrior, is now unemployed after being falsely branded by a top politician as a key member of a bed-for-bribe scam. He is a victim of the rise in Islamophobia in India as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic – with scant evidence of condemnation from the authorities, say activists.

The Killings in Gaza and Two Jewish Philosophers’ Hope for a Better World

I hear about casualties and numbers, but cannot perceive the faces, the human beings behind them. A week ago, eleven days of havoc ended after at least 243 people, including more than 100 women and children, had been killed in the Gaza Strip and 12 people, including two children, in Israel. An open, gravely infected wound which continuous to bleed, causing never ending human suffering.

Not Without My Hijab: Why Representation in Sports Matter

In 2016, when Bosnian-American professional basketball player, Indira Kaljo got in touch with Asma Elbadawi because she had been forced to give up playing basketball after she started wearing the hijab, they decided to take it up with the International Federation of Basketball (FIBA), the sports governing body to change its rules on headgear.

Dr Aqsa Sheikh: Transgender Doctor Injecting Hope During COVID Pandemic

When Dr Aqsa Sheikh Tweeted and asked if she was the only transgender person to head a vaccination centre, it seemed extraordinary that in a country with 1.3 billion people, that this could be true.

Sacred Words


 
Forgive me,
is all that you can't say.
Years gone by and still
words don't come easily,
like forgive me, forgive me.
              Tracy Chapman
The World Press Freedom Day on the 3rd of May is an occasion for celebrating humanity. Language enables us to transmit our thoughts in sound – a means of communication developed through our unique brain, combined with our capacity to control lips, tongue and other components of the vocal apparatus. Over time, humans have also acquired skills to commit our language to writing.

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