Early in 2014, Isis released one of its first videos. Largely unseen in Europe, it had neither the slick, cutting-edge professionalism of its later execution tapes nor the haunting “nasheed” music that accompanies most of its propaganda. Instead, a hand-held camera showed a bulldozer pushing down a rampart of sand that had marked the border between Iraq and Syria. As the machine destroyed the dirt revetment, the camera panned down to a handwritten poster lying in the sand. “End of Sykes-Picot”, it said.
Like many hundreds of thousands of Arabs in the Middle East, for whom Sykes-Picot was an almost cancerous expression, I watched this early Isis video in Beirut. The bloody repercussions of the borders that the British and French diplomats, Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot, drew in secret during the First World War – originally giving Syria, Mount Lebanon and northern Iraq to the French, and Palestine, Transjordan and the rest of Iraq to the British – are known to every Arab, Christian and Muslim and, indeed, every Jew in the region. They eviscerated the governorates of the old dying Ottoman empire and created artificial nations in which borders, watchtowers and hills of sand separated tribes, families and peoples. They were an Anglo-French colonial production. Continue reading →
Around four months ago, 12-year-old Armaan Singh Sarai and his parents moved to a suburb in Dallas, Texas and they enrolled him into the local school. They were especially worried about his future, as he had a condition that had already required three open heart surgeries.
Last Friday, another child at school made a joke about Armaan concealing a bomb. The school immediately called the police without even questioning him. They in turn put him in a juvenile facility without informing his parents, who only found out after he was late that evening and called the school. Their child spent three days in the facility. Continue reading →
Before its failed occupation of Afghanistan, the Soviet Union discovered that the country was rich in natural resources. In the 1980s, Soviet mining experts drafted maps and collected data that would lay dormant in the Afghan Geological Survey in Kabul until the rise of the Taliban. These charts documented a vast amount of iron, copper, gold, cobalt, rare earth metals, and lithium.
Fearing what the Taliban might do with this wealth, a tiny group of Afghan geologists hid the maps in their homes until the arrival of American forces in 2001. By 2007, the US Geological Survey had undertaken the most comprehensive study of the mineral deposits below the country’s surface. An internal Pentagon memo claimed that Afghanistan could develop into the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” referring to the mineral that is an integral component of laptop and smartphone batteries. Continue reading →
AFTER the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, a real estate mogul and television host with nature-defying hair used the moment to publicly muse about registration databases and even special identification cards for American Muslims. For the sake of efficiency, I created a card myself, listing my skin tone as “Caramel Mocha,” my ethnicity as “Bollywood” and my religion as “Sunny-Side Sunni.”
On Monday afternoon, Donald J. Trump, that mogul turned leading Republican presidential candidate, said that this country should bar all Muslims from entry until we can “understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses.” He used the horrific attack in San Bernardino, Calif., which claimed the lives of 14 and wounded 21, to cast suspicion on roughly 1.6 billion people worldwide. Continue reading →
What have Muslims ever done for America? If your sole source of information were Donald Trump, you’d think that the answer was not much – apart from murdering its citizens and trying to destroy its values. The Republican presidential hopeful has called for a halt to Muslims entering the US until American authorities “can figure out” Muslim attitudes to the US in the wake of last week’s killings in San Bernardino. If only, you might well think, Scotland had had the same thought about Trump before he was allowed in to blight Aberdeenshire with another of his golf resorts.
What Trump doesn’t seem to grasp is his own country’s history, and how many American achievements worth celebrating are the work of the kind of people – Muslims – he wants to keep out.
Here, then, is a guide to some of the things Muslims have done for the US. It’s not an exhaustive list – but it’s still more impressive than what Trump has done for his homeland. Continue reading →
The “counter-jihad” movement in the UK is expanding rapidly, according to new analysis showing that 24 different far-right groups are currently attempting to whip up hatred towards Muslims and provoke a cultural civil war.
The most comprehensive report yet into the alliance of international counter-jihad organisations warns that Islamophobic groups in Britain are capitalising on public concerns following the Paris attacks and ongoing refugee crisis.
Next month, the former leader of the English Defence League, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, often known by the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, will make his political comeback by fronting the relaunch of the UK arm of Pegida, the German anti-Islam organisation whose provocative rhetoric has prompted attacks on refugees. Continue reading →
These Pranksters Read Bible Passages to People, Telling Them It Was the Qur’an; They Were Shocked
A lot of conservative Christians like to argue, as do atheists, that the Qur’an is full of barbarism and misogyny. Unlike the atheists, though, they forget that their own Bible is also full of horrific verses.
So the Dutch pranksters at Dit Is Normaal ran an experiment. They bought a Bible, but changed the cover to say it’s the Qur’an. Then they asked people to read passages and give their thoughts.