robertogreco + islam   50

MIA en Instagram: “Jesus SA D ! I'm called Mathangi. I studied the deity made an L.p. and came close to understanding Hinduism as much as it's in my DNA my…”
"Jesus SA D !
I'm called Mathangi. I studied the deity made an L.p. and came close to understanding Hinduism as much as it's in my DNA my signature for MIA is a Hindu ohm🕉 and to speak truth Jesus is real.

Sri Lanka has banned social media.
Social media is a tool.
Everything stems from how we use our tool. If u do the devil's work you will spread darkness, if you do gods work you will spread light. The religion u believe doesn't matter. Both sides exist

Some people say God can't be proven so They exist on worldly plain and deal with life and times within those parameters and live a social exsistance and put belief in modernization and science .This exsistance is always changing so we have to be more fluid in adapting.

This changing society is getting faster and faster because of technology. Our human minds are trying to keep up because
we 've never had change at this rate. We as society experience growing pains. Simultaneously the tools of change can be used by those in religious exsistance good or bad. The people in the middle will be caught in the middle. Hense confusion.

Thoughts on religions.

I always say religion is like a car on a road.
It doesn't matter the car or the road it's about the fact you are heading to the same place. On this road you can start pointing fingers and laugh at other people's car or complain someone is using too much fule or emmision or someone is on a bike even . Some drive cars they chose for safety some drive ones they choose for speed , but really it's about your car and what gets you there. Path to God is a road that comes from any direction depending on where the person is coming from. The closer you get , when your about 100 miles to God you realise everyone's car is the same in that epicentre. No matter what religion , no matter if you are a monk ,a yogi, a priest ,you all are led by the same energy. This is God. God is in everyone. If you are enlightened which just means you've learnt to cut out lots of carp, you will see Jesus meet Buddha and see Shiva energy they know each other . All of these people at some point came at different times to bring you the message and passage . But it's to the same place."

[Previously:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BwhM5Q-BGXW/

"Trying to stay in the light today. "Inner peace inner peace inner peace .... " quote from kungfupanda ●○ .

I wanted to put a picture of Sri Lanka up but I don't wanna give them what they want.
I wanted to say pary for Sri Lankan but I didn't want to normalise us responding like that.
Events like this just makes me want independent journalism to be more effective in our society and not just an ecco chamber of establishment voices with Google cutting traffic to certain sites.

Jesus is a prophet in Islam too let's not jump to conclusions . May the souls who left today go somewhere greater."

and

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwkZ4kHBNKq/

"#earthday🌍. We are our biggest threat. Stayin connected to the source in solitude.

If u destroy places of worship then know everywhere is a place of worship to worship . What are u gonna do send in your warships to destroy the whole planet? Fuck off.
Keeping an eye on the bigger picture staying humble in the days of the rumble.
Living in the days of the prophercy I don't wanna be no body's property.

Staying naturally #natural #sustainably grateful to God for this amazing universe."]
mia  srilanka  2019  society  religion  christianity  islam  god  buddha  buddhism  christ  shiva  hinduism  change  confusion  socialmedia  earthday  sustainability  universe 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Poems of Muslim Faith and Islamic Culture | Poetry Foundation
"A collection of poems, prose, and audio and video recordings that explore Islamic culture.


These poems and features examine Muslim faith and Islamic culture and address important events, holidays, and occasions such as Ramadan. These poets explore a range of spiritual, literary, and political concerns from the 6th century to the present day. Some poets’ voices emerge from the East (Mahmoud Darwish and Saadi Youssef), others from the West (June Jordan and Thomas Merton). Most turn to poetry as the ideal forum to complicate simplistic East-West divisions—learning, questioning, sparking cultural conversation, and speaking from what Nomi Stone calls “[t]his quiet voice that is borrowed or my own.”"
islam  poetry  poems  prose  audio  video 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
M.I.A. and the Defense of Nuance | Affidavit
"Cancelling people is exhilarating, especially when it’s done by marginalized folks, those who so often experience the world through white supremacy—sometimes as a soft and subtle barrage, other times through vicious and terrifying means. The ability to dictate someone’s fate, when you’ve long been in the shadows, is a kind of victory. Like saying “Fuck You” from underneath the very heavy sole of a very old shoe. But while outrage culture has its merits, nuance has evaporated. So often it involves reducing someone to their mistakes, their greatest hits collection of fuck-ups.

In her song “Best Life,” Cardi B raps:

“That’s when they came for me on Twitter with the backlash/ "#CardiBIsSoProblematic" is the hashtag/ I can't believe they wanna see me lose that bad...”

This is her response to being cancelled for a now-infamous Twitter thread detailing her colorism, orientalism, and transphobia. Most recently, after her song “Girls” with Rita Ora was also deemed problematic, she made a statement: “I know I have use words before that I wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community. I apologize for that. Not everybody knows the correct ‘terms’ to use. I learned and I stopped using it.”

Cardi brings up something that I keep coming back to: How accessibility to political language is a certain kind of privilege. What I believe Maya is trying to say is that American issues have become global. What she lacks the language to say is: how do we also care about the many millions of people around the world who are dying, right now? Why does American news, American trauma, American death, always take center-stage?

There are things we need to agree on, like the permutations of white supremacy, but are we, societally, equipped for social media being our judge, jury and executioner? I started to realize that the schadenfreude of cancelling was its own beast. It erases people of their humanity, of their ability to learn from experience.

This brings up the politics of disposability. How helpful is distilling someone into an immovable misstep, seeing them not as a person but as interloper who fucked up, and therefore deserves no redemption? How helpful is to interrogate a conversation, but not continue it? Is telling someone to die, and sending them death threats, or telling them they’re stupid or cancelled the way to do it? Who, and what, are we willing to lose in the fire?

M.I.A. and Cardi are similarly unwilling to conform to polite expectation. They both know that relatability is part of their charm. They are attractive women who speak their mind. This, in essence, is privilege, too—which then requires responsibility. The difference is that Cardi apologized."



"“Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters?”

In 2016, when Maya made these comments in an ES Magazine interview, I remember being frustrated that she only accentuated the divide between non-black people of color and black folks, partially because so often we (Asians) say dumb shit.

The dumb shit I’m referring to w/r/t Maya is not only her tunnel vision when it comes to the complexity of race (plus the void and difference between black and brown folks’ experience) but also the incapacity—or stunted unwillingness—to further self-reflect on her positioning.

Because of her insolence, I had considered Maya undeserving of my alliance. Her lack of inclusivity and disregard of the complexity of political identity, especially in North America, was abominable. As a woman who had found success within the black mediums of rap and hip-hop, her smug disregard felt brash. It felt lazy.

But, as I watched the documentary on her life, I also began to see her complexity. One thing that strikes me about Maya is her personal perseverance. Her family went through hell to get the U.K. Her father’s political affiliations forced them to flee Sri Lanka. Arular was a revolutionary, and thus deemed a terrorist. He was absent her whole childhood. At one point in the film she describes riding on a bus in Sri Lanka with her mom. When the bus jerks forward, the policemen standing alongside casually sexually assault them in broad daylight. Her mother, Mala, warns Maya to stay silent, lest they both be killed. Her reality—of physical threats, of early loss—is stark. As she recalls the details in her candid, detached drawl, you imagine her grappling with the past like a lucid dream.

Herein lies Maya’s dissonance. She is the first refugee popstar, which allows her to subsume a state of Du Bois’ double consciousness. She is neither this nor that, she is a mixture of both East and West. Her experience seeps into her music like a trance, and these definitions are vital to understanding her.

She is agonized by the realities of war, of being an unwanted immigrant who fled from genocide into the frenzied hells of London, only to be pushed into a mostly-white housing estate system, replete with Nazi skinheads. “A tough life needs a tough language,” Jeanette Winterson writes in Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, her memoir about her abusive stepmother. As I watch the documentary, I wonder, again, if what Maya lacks most is language.

In the current political climate, where Syrian refugees are denied entry into the U.S., and the Muslim Ban, or “Travel Ban,” is an attack on the very notion of being different in America, I began to understand this other part of Maya. How angry she might be for the lack of articulation when it came to refugees, when it’s still very much an issue. She came to music to survive. Art was a way to dislocate from the trauma, to inoculate herself from the past, and provide a new, vivid reality that was both about transcending where she came from, whilst also creating a platform to speak to her roots, to her lineage, to her people.

Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world. The people that speak it are, right now, being wiped out.

Her understanding of race comes from the victim’s perspective. She not only experienced white supremacy in her work, but was forced out of the country where she was born. Someone like her was never supposed to succeed. But, whether it’s Bill Maher mocking her “cockney accent” as she talks about the Tamil genocide, or the New York Times’ Lynn Hirschberg claiming her agitprop is fake because she dare munch on truffle fries (which were ordered by Hirschberg), Maya has been torn apart by (white) cultural institutions and commentators. You can see how these experiences have made her suspicious in general, but also particularly suspicious of me, a journalist.

Thing is, she’s been burnt by us too—by South Asians. So many of us walked away, attacking her instead of building a dialogue. Her compassion, therefore, is partially suspended. It’s as if she’s decided, vehemently—because she’s deemed herself to not be racist, or anti-black—that the conversation ends. She feels misheard, misrepresented. For her, it’s not about black life mattering or not mattering. It’s about prioritizing human life, about acknowledging human death. But, in America, that gets lost.

You can understand Maya’s perspective without agreeing with her, but I had another question. How do you hold someone you love accountable?

*

The talk itself was many things: awkward, eye-opening, disarming. When I asked about her alleged anti-blackness, she brought up Mark Zuckerberg as evidence that she was set up... by the internet. That her online fans should know that she’s not racist, so that perhaps her one-time friendship with Julian Assange was why she was being attacked online. Her incomprehension that people could be upset by her remarks reflected her naivety about how the internet kills its darlings. Two weeks prior to our meeting, Stephon Clark was murdered, shot twenty times in the back by two police officers. To this she responded: “Yeah, well no-one remembers the kid in Syria who is being shot right now either. Or the kid that’s dying in Somalia.” It made me wonder if she was unwell, not on a Kanye level, but just enough to lack the mechanisms it takes to understand perspective.

Backstage after the talk, she said, “I don’t know why you asked me those questions.” I told her that I thought critique, when done with care, was an empowering act of love. I needed clarity for our community’s sake—many of whom felt isolated by her, a cherished South Asian icon. We need answers from her because we are all trying to grapple with our love and frustration with her.

I don’t want to absolve Maya. What I’m more interested in is how we can say “problematic fave” while acknowledging that we are all problematic to someone. Is there compassion here? Is there space to grow?

*

In They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib writes, “There are people we need so much we can’t imagine turning away from them. People we’ve built entire homes inside of ourselves for, that cannot stand empty. People we still find a way to make magic with, even when the lights flicker, and the love runs entirely out.”

In the recent months, I’ve re-examined Maya with sad enthusiasm. The beginning riff of “Bad Girls”: a women in full niqab racing a car through side swept dunes. Without question, it’s an aching kind of visibility, but the tenor is different. Listening to her now it feels weighted, changed.

Laconic and aloof, I remind Maya on stage that anti-blackness is not an American issue, it’s universal. Perhaps it’s ego, or shameful anger, but I know she cares. Before she begins to speak I realize that you have to build empathy when someone fails you. That they’re not yours to own. You have to try your best to talk to them, and that it’s never helpful to reduce them to a punchline. I believe in Maya’s possibility to grow. I believe in the possibility of change. Maybe that’s my own naivety, but it’s also my political stance. It’s not about … [more]
mia  fariharóisín  2018  privilege  language  cancelling  marginalization  colorism  transphobia  orientlism  cardib  socialmedia  disposability  whitesupremacy  race  racism  apologies  learning  power  islamophobia  islam  socialjustice  noamchomsky  modelminorities  modelminority  nuance  complexity  perseverance  srilanka  silence  refugees  politics  tamil  victims  compassion  blacklivesmatter  julianassange  yourfaveisproblematic  us  australia  anti-blackness  growth  care  caring  dialog  conversation  listening  ego  shame  anger  change  naivety  howwechange  howwelearn  hanifabdurraqib  visibility  internet  problemematicfaves 
july 2018 by robertogreco
My Grandmother’s Shroud - The New York Times
"When my grandmother, my mother’s mother, died in late June in Nigeria, I was in Italy, at a conference. I wasn’t with her when she slipped into a coma or, three days later, when she died. When my brother told me the news, I called my mother and other members of my family to commiserate with them. She was buried the day of her death, in keeping with Muslim custom, and I couldn’t attend her funeral. My mother, visiting friends in Houston, would also miss the funeral.

I opened my computer and began to search my folders for pictures of my grandmother. On each yearly trip to Nigeria for the past several years, I went to see her in Sagamu, a town an hour northeast of Lagos, where she was born and where she lived for most of her life. On these visits, she would say: ‘‘Sit next to me. I want to feel your hands in mine. Be close to me. I want your skin touching mine.’’ I was always happy to sit with her and to hold hands with her. Afterward, I took photos. I have photos now of her alone, in selfies with me, in the company of my mother and my aunts. In these photos, she has surprisingly smooth skin, hardly any gray hair and, in most of them, a trace of amusement. In one, especially touching photo, my wife, Karen, applies polish to her nails.

To remain close to our dead, we cherish images of them. We’ve done so for millenniums. Think of the Fayum portraits, which show us the faces of Egyptians during the Imperial Roman era with stunning immediacy. Images — paintings, sculptures, photographs — remind us how our loved ones looked in life. But in most places and at most times, portraiture was available only to society’s elites. Photography changed that. Almost everyone is now captured in photographs — and outlived by them. Photographs are there when people pass away. They serve as reservoirs of memory and as talismans for mourning.

My grandmother was born in 1928. Her given name was Abusatu, but we called her Mama. Mama’s father, Yusuf, was a stern imam in Sagamu, and Yusuf’s father, Salako, was said to have been even more severe. But Mama herself was serene and good-natured, kind and tolerant. She was deeply consoled by her religion but not doctrinaire. Of her five daughters, two (including her firstborn, my mother) married Christians and converted to Christianity. It made no difference to Mama. The family had Muslims, Christians and some, like myself, who drifted away from religion entirely. Mama loved us all. An example of her unobtrusive kindness: While I was a college student in the United States, she sent me a white hand-woven cotton blanket. I never knew why and didn’t ask. But it is to this day the most precious piece of cloth I own.

I was leaving Rome when I received the sad news of Mama’s death. She was approaching 89. The end came swiftly, and she was surrounded by family. You could say it was a good death. But why couldn’t she have lived to 99, or to 109, or forever? Death makes us protest the fact of death. It makes us wish for the impossible. I could objectively understand that it was unusual to have had a grandmother in my 40s, and that my 67-year-old mother was equally fortunate in having had a mother so long. My father was 5 when his mother died, and he has been mourning her for longer than my mother has been alive. But the grieving heart does not care for logic, and it refuses comparisons. I mourned Mama as I left Italy for New York.

I mourned her but did not, or was not able to, weep. I arrived in New York in the late afternoon, perhaps at the very moment Mama was being interred. My mother had forwarded a couple of photos taken by my cousin Adedoyin to my wife’s WhatsApp. Karen reached for her phone and showed me the pictures. They were a shock. One was of Mama, dead on her hospital bed, wearing a flowery nightdress and draped in a second flowery cloth, the oxygen tube still taped to her nostrils. Her right arm was limp at her side, and she was not quite like someone asleep but rather like someone passed out, open and vulnerable. The other photograph, which seemed to have been cropped, showed a figure wrapped in a shroud, tied up with white twine, set out on a bed in front of a framed portrait: a white bundle in vaguely human shape where my grandmother used to be. I burst into sudden hot tears.

What did these photographs open? Imagination can be delicate, imposing a protective decorum. A photograph insists on raw fact and confronts us with what we were perhaps avoiding. There she is, my dear Mama, helpless on the hospital bed, and I cannot help her. Days later, I would find out from my mother that in this first photograph, Mama was still in a coma and not dead yet. But looking at the second photograph, the one in which she is incontrovertibly dead, my thoughts raced through a grim logic. I thought: Why have they wrapped her face up? Then I thought: It must be stifling under that thing, she won’t be able to breathe! Then I thought: She’s dead and will never breathe again. Then my tears flowed.

Mama’s life was hard. An itinerant trader of kola nut and later the owner of a small provisions shop, she was one of my late grandfather’s five wives and by no means the best treated. She never went to school, and the only word she could write was her name, sometimes with the ‘‘s’’ reversed. But when Baba died more than 20 years ago, Mama moved out of his house and lived in the two-story house that my mother built her. She was a women’s leader, a kind of deaconess, at the local mosque. She went to parties, to market and to evening prayers. She lived in the security of her own house, in the company of her widowed second daughter, my aunt. In those later years, life became easier.

‘‘She has a single obsession,’’ my mother used to say, ‘‘and that’s her burial rites.’’ Mama insisted that she be buried the same day she died. ‘‘She’ll say, ‘And I must not be buried at the house,’ ’’ my mother said, ‘‘ ‘Because what’s rotten must be thrown out. And for seven days, food must be cooked and taken to the mosque and served to the poor.’ ’’ And most important, my mother said, Mama would reiterate that in a cupboard in the room next to the meeting room in her house was her robe, the one she must be buried in. It was of utmost importance to her to meet her maker wearing the robe with which she approached the Kaaba, the holiest shrine in Islam.

The hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, which she undertook in 1996, when she was 68, transfigured my grandmother. Through that journey, through her accomplishment of one of the central tenets of Islam, she sloughed off her old life and took on a new one, one that put her into a precise relationship with eternity. The year of her journey, thousands of Nigerian pilgrims were turned back, because of meningitis and cholera outbreaks. My grandmother was one of a few hundred who got through. When she returned from Mecca, many of her townspeople took to calling her ‘‘Alhaja Lucky.’’ And as though to fit the name, she wore the serene mien of someone who was under special protection.

My mother, an Anglican Christian, financed the journey, knowing what it would mean to her mother to fulfill this final pillar of the faith. But possibly, she had no idea how much it would mean. She anticipated the social satisfaction Mama would get from it but had not counted on the serious existential confirmation it provided.

In the last few years, I often thought of Mama’s pilgrimage robe. I thought about how fortunate she was to have something in her possession so sacred to her, something of such surpassing worth, that she wished to have it on when she met God. And she had her wish: Beneath the plain white shroud in which she was sheathed after she died was that simple pilgrimage robe.

I look at the various photographs from Alhaja Lucky’s last years on my computer. None of them really satisfy me. Many are blurry, most are banal. I really like only the ones of her hands: They remind me of her wish to have her hands touched by mine. But the photograph I cannot stop thinking about is the one Adedoyin took, of Mama in her funeral shroud. The image reminds me of newspaper photos of funerals in troubled zones in the Middle East: an angry crowd, a shrouded body held aloft. But Mama was not a victim of violence. She died peacefully, well past the age of 88, surrounded by family.

Nevertheless, the custom is connected. It is a reminder that the word ‘‘Muslim’’ — so much a part of current American political argument, and so often meant as a slur — is not and has never been an abstraction, not for me, and certainly not for millions of Americans for whom it is a lived reality or a fact of family. A lead headline in The New York Times just a few days after Mama’s burial read: ‘‘Travel Ban Says Grandparents Don’t Count as ‘Close Family.’ ’’ The headline was about travel restrictions on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Nigeria was not on the list, but the cruelty and absurdity of the policy was vivid. It felt personal.

On the night of Mama’s burial, I lay down to sleep in my apartment in Brooklyn. I couldn’t shake the image of my cousin’s photograph. I went into the closet and took out the white cotton blanket Mama sent me all those years ago. It was a hot night, high summer. I draped the blanket over my body. In the darkness, I pulled the blanket slowly past my shoulders, past my chin, over my face, until I was entirely covered by it, until I was covered by Mama."
2017  tejucole  photography  death  memory  nigeria  aging  relationships  hajj  islam  purpose  grief  mourning  grieving  customs  objects  textiles  immigration  us  policy  connection  families  tolerance  religion  acceptance  mecca  eternity  belief  spirituality  burial  life  living  change  transformation  talismans 
july 2017 by robertogreco
teachartwiki - Shirin Neshat, Women of Allah Series
"Shirin Neshat’s Women of Allah series (1993-97) is comprised of four photographs. Each of these photographs depicts an image of a veiled, tattooed, and armed Muslim woman. The cropped images of women’s body parts adorned with organic forms while holding weapons seem to cause confusion with viewers. The persistent and repetitive use of visual elements that demonstrate the stereotype of the Middle Eastern woman as violent and old-fashioned, help portray the women as inferior. Neshat started her art career with photography in the early 1990s, and her photo-series Women of Allah (1993-97) became particularly famous. In that series she explores the notion of femininity in relation to male authority and Islamic fundamentalism in her home country. The images are portraits of women that are overlaid by Persian calligraphy and they refer to the contrast she experienced between the traditional society she was raised in and the modern society evolving after the Iranian Revolution. In her art, she resists stereotypes – of both women and representations of Islam. Instead, her works explores all the complex social forces shaping Muslim women’s identity. Many of her photographs are actually mixed-media pieces of silver gelatin with ink. The calligraphy is Persian poetry about themes such as exile, identity, femininity and martyrdom. Neshat’s work revolves around concept, she has always been inspired by photojournalism and she feels that photography works best with her topics, conveying realism, immediacy, and a sense of drama.

Neshat’s Women of Allah series was the artistic result of her visit to a country transformed by Islamic fundamentalism. Although Neshat claims that her Women of Allah series is not about her, she admits that “it has evolved around my personal interest in coming to terms with the ‘new’ Iran, to understand ideas, behind Islamic fundamentalism, and to reconnect with my lost past.” (Bertucci,1997, p. 84-87.) The photographs in this series enables Neshat to emulate the Iranian Muslim women who during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war became important elements of propaganda and the moral aids in support of the country’s resistance against foreign assault and continue to serve as such in remembrances of that war. This series was made after Neshat’s visit to Iran in 1990, includes self-portraits of the artist, and all female subjects are clad in chador, hold guns and rifles, and feature bodies adorned with calligraphy in the Farsi language. Neshat’s photographs of the Iranian women pertain to the emergence of a new era in Iranian history following the end of the Pahlavi dynasty, an era marked by an emphasis on the distinction between the self and other, and the culture, sexual, and physical division brought by an Islamic government (Graham-Brown, 1988, p.1925).

Within these images, four distinctive and incongruent elements occupy the limited space, and they combine within the framework to create a threatening message: the softness of the veil’s fabric, the rigidity of the gun’s metal, the fluidity of the black ink, and the young women’s flesh appear to coexist amidst physical and material differences. The written calligraphy invokes the Iranian woman’s silence and her inability to have a voice. Because Neshat’s residence in the West allows her the freedom of expression, she covers the entire visible surface of her female figure with her chosen words. However, Neshat’s chosen words are in total compliance with the militancy of the veiled Iranian women in that they are poetic words supporting Iranian martyrs of the Iran-Iraq war. "

[See also:
http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/486834
http://unframed.lacma.org/2012/04/24/new-acquisition-shirin-neshat-speechless

https://www.eyeartcollective.com/women-of-allah-series/
"She states: “In 1993-97, I produced my first body of work, a series of stark black-and-white photographs entitled Women of Allah, conceptual narratives on the subject of female warriors during the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979. On each photograph, I inscribed calligraphic Farsi text on the female body (eyes, face, hands, feet, and chest); the text is poetry by contemporary Iranian women poets who had written on the subject of martyrdom and the role of women in the Revolution. As the artist, I took on the role of performer, posing for the photographs. These photographs became iconic portraits of willfully armed Muslim women. Yet every image, every women’s submissive gaze, suggests a far more complex and paradoxical reality behind the surface.”"

http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.act2080.0038.207
https://www.artsy.net/artwork/shirin-neshat-rebellious-silence-from-women-of-allah-series
"Internationally acclaimed artist Shirin Neshat takes on loaded themes in photography, film, and video works that delve into issues of gender, identity, and politics in Muslim countries, and the relationship between the personal and political. Her film Women without Men (2009), which won the prestigious Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, follows four women—including a political activist, a prostitute, and a would-be mother—set in the context of 1950s Iran and featuring surreal elements to convey the psychological states of her characters. More recently Neshat has collaborated with American artist Larry Barns, taking portrait photographs of elderly, low-income Egyptian workers, including mechanics, street peddlers, teachers, grandmothers, and housewives, exploring the hardship experienced by individuals living under tumultuous regimes. “Today, again in the comfort of my sanctuary in New York, I look back and wonder how they are,” she says. “What is the future for Egypt? Is there any hope for return of that revolutionary fervor which seemed so pure, beautiful, and powerful?” Neshat has also collaborated with composer Philip Glass and the singer-songwriter Sussan Deyhim."

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/global-contemporary/a/neshat-rebellious ]
shirinneshat  art  photography  gender  film  video  violence  iran  egypt  islam  philipglass  sussandeyhim  politics  larryburns 
july 2017 by robertogreco
'Ramadan In L.A.' Seeks To Combat Islamophobia With A Month Of Interfaith Iftar Celebrations: LAist
"It should come as no surprise that the most diverse metropolis in America is also home to an incredibly diverse Muslim community. "The Muslim community [here in Los Angeles] is the most diverse in terms of their ethnic backgrounds in the United States," Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, told KPCC in 2015. "So they come from all continents, all places." There are an estimated 500,000 Muslims living in the region, making the greater Los Angeles area home to the second largest concentration of Muslims in the nation, according to the New York Times.

Amidst a climate of increased Islamophobia and hate, Southern California's vibrant Muslim community is preparing to celebrate Ramadan, a holy month of fasting that begins on Friday evening. Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims, who commemorate it by fasting everyday from sunrise to sunset. The daily Ramadan fast (observation of which is considered one of the five pillars—or duties—of Islam) is broken each evening with Iftar, a celebratory meal that's often eaten with other members of the community.

Last year, shortly after the San Bernardino shooting and the subsequent rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, two organizers joined together to address the climate of fear and hate. Communications consultant Marium Mohiuddin had already left her job at the Muslim Public Affairs Council to start her own business, but she remained active in the interfaith world when she was approached by Karen Mack, the executive director at LA Commons, a local community-based arts nonprofit. Mack and her organization wanted to do something to combat Islamophobia, but she wasn't sure of the how or what. The two met for a coffee, and after a single cup they'd come up with the idea for what would become Ramadan in L.A.

Ramadan in L.A., which launched last June at the start of Ramadan 2016, is a series of community Iftars where individuals of all faiths can break bread and engage in dialogue and fellowship during the holy month.

"We're really trying to really target Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and see what can we do change the conversation," Mohiuddin told LAist. "With everything going on recently, I think there's so much misinformation about Muslims and Islam, generally. And people come together around food."

"It's not a place for lectures and speeches," Mohiuddin said. "It's about art and poetry and music, and it's a way for non-Muslims to go into a space where they can learn about Islam and Muslims and feel empowered to take part in any of these dinners throughout the month."

"A lot of people are really wanting to come together and to partner—it's not just a mosque here or a mosque there," she explained. The series has more than 20 sponsors, including non-Muslim faith groups, humanitarian and professional organizations, and LGBT groups. The County of Los Angeles Commission on Human Relations is also co-sponsoring this year's Ramadan in L.A.

Dinners will be held throughout the L.A. area, and the idea, according to Mohiuddin, is that "people from across L.A. County are welcome to attend any, and are encouraged to participate."

Mohiuddin explained that Iftar is about far more than just breaking a fast. "To me, it's a time when I know I'm going to see everybody. It's a time of people coming together and it's a time of reverence—not just for the community and friendships and people, but also what you're doing and committing to [with the fasting]. You're committing to a kind of state of being, because fasting almost like a state of meditation," she said.

Ramadan in L.A. will kick off on Friday at Barnsdall Park with an interfaith Iftar from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Events will continue throughout the month, spearheaded by different organizations and in locations across the L.A. area. Most are free, though some require tickets and have a small fee.

The Inland Valley Interfaith Working Group for Mideast Peace and Temple Beth Israel will be hosting their community Iftar on June 5 at Temple Beth Israel in Pomona. Admission is free, though RSVPs are requested.

On June 7, NewGround, a Muslim-Jewish partnership, will be holding their community Iftar at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Koreatown. Tickets, which include dinner, start at $40.

More of the events can be found on Ramadan in L.A.'s website. [https://www.ramadaninla.com/ ]"
ramadan  losangeles  2017  religion  food  islam  iftar 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Prison Dispatches From the War on Terror: American Explains What Drove Him to Extremism
"Because jihadists are aware that most Muslims are against their ideology, they believe that the only chance for them to succeed is by making the world hostile and inhospitable for all Muslims. If that happens, they believe Muslims will unite behind them in an apocalyptic fight against what they say is a modern-day crusade against Muslims. The jihadists like telling Muslims that non-Muslims will never be their friends. Unfortunately, the present political rhetoric is confirming their words in significant ways. Today in America, many Muslims feel that they are one major terrorist attack away from mass deportation or an internment camp. It seems like it doesn’t matter whether American Muslims share the ideology of jihadists or not, they are still guilty by association."



"Jihadists often don’t realize that the reason other Muslims are rejecting them is not because of a fear of the authorities, coercion, or lack of religious devotion — it’s because their ideology and tactics are in fact reprehensible to most Muslims. These young people who are susceptible to extremism need to know the real reasons that others are shunning them. They also need to hear narratives that address reality and the real problems that exist in the world. But this requires treating them as humans who are open to dialogue and not simply monsters. It also means that Muslim communities must be treated as partners by governments and not as enemies, so that young people can speak about political topics without fear of spying and intrusive surveillance. When a young would-be jihadist sees other young people rejecting extremism as a response to problems, but at the same time not shunning politics altogether, it will make them start to doubt their position."



"The way terrorism has been approached by the government and society has also helped the jihadists in their strategy. Ironically, a group can become legitimatized when a world superpower acknowledges them by publicly declaring a war against them. Another foolish strategy is the excessive use of “targeted” killings, and then announcing these killings as though they are a form of trophy hunting. For an ideology that thrives on immortalizing its martyrs, those announcements are damaging. It’s better to make such deaths look like they are the result of a power struggle within a terrorist organization. Finally, a big problem is that in America we tend to celebrate infamy and gangsterism in our media culture. When our coverage of terrorism is sensational, we end up depicting these terrorists the way that they want: as mysterious, enigmatic, and scary figures. We should portray them instead as misguided people who are being fooled and taken advantage of, to take away the cool factor. Once our “terrorism experts” realize that they are mostly dealing with young and misguided human beings, they will be more effective."
jihadists  muslims  islam  religion  extremism  extremists  2017  murtazahussain 
march 2017 by robertogreco
The world's oldest library is in Morocco—and it was started by a woman — Quartz
"Founded by a Muslim woman, the University of Al Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morroco, opened its doors in 859. Its library has been restored during the last three years by another woman, Canadian-Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni. A wing will be open to the general public later this year.

The library houses a collection of 4,000 rare books and ancient arabic manuscripts written by renowned scholars of the region. According to the AP, the manuscripts include a 9th century version of the Quran and a manuscript on Islamic jurisprudence written by philosopher Averroes.

The University complex was founded as a mosque by Fatima Al-Fihri, who inherited her merchant father’s fortunes after the family moved from Al Qayrawan, or modern day Tunisia. In “The golden age of Islam,” (French, video [https://vimeo.com/115488225 ]) a documentary that aired on France 5 Channel, Al-Fihri was described as a young woman fascinated by knowledge and curious about the world. She oversaw the construction of the mosque, and until her later years, attended lectures by reputed scholars who travelled to teach at the mosque school.

It is still considered a leading religious and education institution in the Muslim world. Today, the University of Al Qarawiyyin has moved away to another part of Fez, but the mosque and the library remain at the ancient complex.

Chaouni, originally from Fez, says she had not heard of the library before she was enlisted by the Moroccan Culture Ministry in 2012 to take charge of its restoration, which suffered from the climate and humidity over the years. “Throughout the years, the library underwent many rehabilitations, but it still suffered from major structural problems, a lack of insulation, and infrastructural deficiencies like a blocked drainage system, broken tiles, cracked wood beams, exposed electric wires, and so on,” says Chaouni on TED.com. [http://ideas.ted.com/restoring-the-worlds-oldest-library/ ]

The restoration equipped the library with solar panels, a new gutter system, digital locks to the rare books room and air conditioning that will help control humidity and protect books in the library. The library was previously open only to scholars and researchers. It now will have a wing open to the general public, which includes an exhibition room and a small café."
libraries  morocco  859  fez  azizachaouni  fatimaal-fihri  architecture  islam  history  mosques 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Daily Show Highlights How Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Harms Sikh-Americans
"MINHAJ: Why don't you just go, "hey, I'm not Muslim?"

GUEST: It's just not an option for us to throw another community under the bus. Even if it means things are harder for us, we believe it's the right thing to do.

GUEST #4: Like, we need to be better than that as Americans and that's what our Sikh values teach as well.

[...]

MINHAJ: Come on, even Barack Obama was like, "hey, I'm not Muslim." Look, I can't hide it. If I were you, I would throw me under the bus so fast.

AHLUWALIA: That's not the way I was raised. That's why I wear this turban. As a reminder to myself to treat humanity with care and kindness. So that's -- so I'm not here to point fingers."

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RskvZgc_s9g ]
sikhism  sikhs  islam  islamophobia  us  politics  xenophobia  2016  selflessness  humanism 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Nigerians are writing steamy romance novels to escape religious violence | Public Radio International
"The books shift between morality tales and classic pulp romance. Often written by hand in small composition books, the stories find a wider audience after they are transcribed and published online.

People also buy the books in crowded marketplaces, where you can buy thousands of different titles for a dollar or two. They're called littattafan soyayya, which roughly translates to “love literature."

The littattafan soyayya industry is the subject of photographer Glenna Gordon’s new photo book, "Diagram of the Heart."

The stories are mostly written by women, for women. And amid Nigeria's political turmoil, they provide an escape of sorts.

The chaos in Nigeria became much more widely reported after the terrorist organization Boko Haram kidnapped 276 school girls from their dorm in 2014, but the group has been around since 2002. At the same time, the government faces huge amounts of corruption and the country is split because of religious tension.

Gordon says escaping the stress of that instability is one of the reasons women turn to romance novels. But it's certainly not the only reason.

Gordon first heard about the genre after a friend suggested she read a book called “Sin Is a Puppy That Follows you Home,” which describes itself as an Islamic soap opera.

The book has a pretty complicated plot.

First a man brings home a second wife. That second wife turns out to be a prostitute. The first wife ends up separating from him, and is kicked out of the house along with the couple’s children. After time, she opens a restaurant and builds a new life. Meanwhile, the husband loses everything he has in a fire and his second wife leaves him.

At the end of the book, the original couple gets back together. But their power dynamic has shifted.

“Even though it doesn’t really look like a traditional feminist text in the way I might think of one, there has been a significant change in the course of the book,” Gordon says.

Gordon says most people don’t know about Nigeria’s thriving publishing industry and culture of literature because of a language barrier. Books are often written in Hausa, and while the language is extremely popular — it’s one of the most widely spoken languages in Africa — the books are rarely translated into other languages.

They're also controversial.

Some local governments in Northern Nigeria censor the books, and in 2007, the minister of education publicly burned many books that he said were corrupting young people and encouraging moral indecency.

Today, authors are forced to register with the Hisbah, the morality police, as well as government officials. Gordon says at this point many authors self-censor to avoid the hassle. But their books used to be much more risqué.

There are people who don’t register and publish anyway, she says. Also the government is somewhat irregular in how it enforces the rules.

“So some things get through and some things don’t,” she says."
nigeria  literature  feminism  2016  bokoharam  books  hausa  morality  islam  women  publishing  photography  glennagordon 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Islamic art inspires stretchy, switchable materials - BBC News
"A new set of "metamaterials" has been created based on intricate, repeating patterns found in Islamic art.

Metamaterials are engineered to have properties that don't occur naturally, such as getting wider when stretched instead of just longer and thinner.

These perforated rubber sheets made by a Canadian team do just that - and then remain stable in their expanded state until they are squeezed back again.

Such designs could help make expandable stents or spacecraft components.

"In conventional materials, when you pull in one direction it will contract in other directions," said Dr Ahmad Rafsanjani, from McGill University in Montreal.

"But with 'auxetic' materials, due to their internal architecture, when you pull in one direction they expand in the lateral direction."

He was speaking to journalists at the American Physical Society's March Meeting, where the research will be presented on Wednesday.

Dr Rafsanjani's search for new designs to create such "auxeticity" found inspiration in the stonework of two 1,000-year-old tomb towers in Iran.

"When you look at Islamic motifs, there is a huge library of geometries," he said.

"On the walls of these two towers, you can find about 70 different architectures: tessellations and curlicue patterns."

Two of those patterns in particular yielded an unusual combination of properties, when Dr Rafsanjani recreated them in a simplified form using a laser cutter and rubber sheets. Not only were these sheets auxetic - expanding in all directions when stretched - but they could snap easily back and forth between stretched and unstretched states.

Rotating units

Such "bistability" is unusual in these materials, Dr Rafsanjani explained. Only a few other examples have been described, and they mostly use origami-like folding techniques.

"These designs are easier to fabricate; all you need is a laser cutter. Depending on the resolution of the laser you could downscale your samples, probably to the micro scale.

"Or you could upscale it for larger components like satellites or solar panels."

He and his colleagues also found they could tweak the properties of the sheets by, for example, changing the basis of the patterns from straight lines to curved ones.

At the heart of the materials' reversible change are small sections of the sheet that rotate as the rubber is stretched.

Rotating units like this - highlighted with colours in the images and video above - have formed the basis of many previous auxetic materials. But Dr Rafsanjani's sheets are unique in the way they snap between configurations.

"We wanted to find structures for these rotating auxetic materials, [such] that when we deform it and it expands, it keeps its deformed shape," he said."
2016  art  islam  islamicart  materials  flexibility  ahmadrafsanjani  metamaterials  auxeticity  patterns  bistability 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Here's Why Uniqlo Is Poised To Nail The Muslim Fashion Market
"Japanese basics magnate Uniqlo is releasing a line of "modest fashion," including hijabs, in American stores later this month.

The line is a collaboration with Japanese-British-Muslim designer Hana Tajima, who successfully launched a similar line of modest Uniqlo garments in Southeast Asia last year.

Uniqlo x Hana Tajima will officially launch on Feb. 26, and is affordably priced from $10 to $60. It includes traditional Islamic garments like the hijab, kebaya, and jubbah, but also loose-fitting Western items like skirts and long-sleeve tops.

Tajima told The Huffington Post she wanted to provide a variety of garments because "modesty varies from person to person -- it's not just about hijabs, it’s about finding looser silhouettes, more coverage, longer hems and sleeves."

Uniqlo will be the latest brand to target Muslim women, following the footsteps of Dolce & Gabbana's line of abayas and DKNY and Mango's "Ramadan collections." But its effort seems like the best one yet, for several reasons.

For one thing, its designer is actually Muslim. Tajima, who is 29, converted to Islam when she was 18. Her father is Japanese and her mom is English, and this cosmopolitan background may inform her conception of the Muslim world as a diverse population, rather than a monolith.

That's why the Uniqlo line includes so many different options for "modest wear." There are three different head-covering options: a traditional scarf-like hijab, a form-fitting "inner hijab" to be worn inside looser garments, and an "inner headband" that is like a cap for keeping hair covered and in place. That's an attention to useful detail that's practically unforeseen in mainstream Muslim fashion offerings.

The collaboration also capitalizes on the signature strengths of each partner: Uniqlo is known for its high-performance technical fabrics, and the hijabs and headbands are made from "Airism," a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric designed specially for the collection. You can imagine the practical implications of a high-performance headscarf in places like the Gulf countries, where hijabi women often contend with 100-degree-plus temperatures.

"Uniqlo's fabric expertise was literally the first thing I thought of when they approached me for the collection," said Tajima. "Since Muslim fashion tends to involve more fabric, it’s especially important that those fabrics are breathable."

Plus, Uniqlo's advertising campaign includes both Muslim and non-Muslim women, unlike Dolce & Gabbana's glossy campaign, which featured only white models, as HuffPost has written previously. The model Yuna is Malaysian Muslim, while the other model is not, Tajima told HuffPost.

Finally, at risk of stating the obvious, it's a feat for a collection of "modest fashion" to be both modest and fashionable. Although the offerings are diverse, they do have options to cover ankles, neck, hair -- or not. But a Muslim woman could find suitably modest clothes anywhere; the reason to try Uniqlo's is that they're actually chic. They're made in a lush palette of marigold, taupe and avocado-green; the skirts and dresses are elegantly draped; and the patterns are subtle and wearable.

It took the fashion world a few tries, but we're going to go out on a limb and say Uniqlo just showed the fashion world what a Muslim fashion collection should look like in 2016."
uniqlo  fashion  2016  design  religion  islam  muslims  hanatajima  hijab 
february 2016 by robertogreco
5 Women Quashing Preconceptions About Islam on Social Media | WIRED
"YOU KNOW YOU’VE reached peak Islamophobia when a presidential candidate says he’d be uncomfortable with a Muslim in the White House. In response to Ben Carson, Twitter user (and Libyan-American Muslim woman) Hend Amry pointed and laughed, launching the hashtag #HowToStopAMuslimPresident. (First idea: all-bacon White House.) She’s one of a growing number of Muslim women who are using social media (and a healthy dose of humor) to speak truth to preconceptions.

Sana Saeed | @sanasaeed
A producer at AJ+, Al Jazeera’s all-digital, Facebook-centric channel, she coined the term “faithwashing”: when people say conflicts like Israel and Palestine’s are merely religious. Social media, she says, “allows all of us Muslim women—who veil, don’t veil, veil sometimes, veil everything, veil very little—to critique popular representations.”

Tanzila Ahmed and Zahra Noorbakhsh | #GoodMuslim-BadMuslim podcast
“There are so many things I didn’t know about being Muslim until the media told me about it,” quips Noorbakhsh on this podcast. Ahmed is most proud of how many younger women they reach with their chatty format: “We speak to them in a way that no one has before.”

Zainab Bint Younus | The Salafi Feminist blog
Responding to the concerns that women in niqabs need rescuing, this Canadian blogger—who wears the face covering—collected selfies from others like her. The results? Pretty boring … if you think covered ladies playing street hockey and riding Jet Skis are boring.

Hend Amry | @libyaliberty
When Bill Maher claimed that ISIS fighters aren’t outliers in their violence, she tweeted, “Five of the last 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners were Muslim. So according to Bill Maher, we’re all Peace Prize winners!” It was retweeted more than 7,800 times. But her best joke was that Princess Leia is a headscarf short of being “sharia-compliant.”
islamophobia  islam  socialmedia  omarmouallem  sanasaeed  tanzilaahmed  zahranoorbakhsh  zainabbintyounus  hendamry  women  muslims  faithwashing  twitter  blogging 
december 2015 by robertogreco
World's first combined mosque-synagogue-church to be built in Berlin - The Express Tribune
"A church which was built in the middle of Berlin in the 13th century and destroyed in World War II, is likely to be rebuilt as the world’s first all-in-one church-mosque-synagogue, called the House of One.

Though the property belongs to the church, authorities hope to build a sacred spaces for Jews, Muslims, and Christians, rather than just a chapel.

“They had to face the question of what do we do with this ground, and what do we want to give back to the city — what do we need in this time?” says Frithjof Timm, a theological speaker for the House of One.

According to Tim, the idea behind the project was to bring the people of the area together, regardless of their religion.

“The minister had the vision that there could be a table on this former parking lot,” he said. “People from different religions could sit together, and eat together, and be together.”

In order to include as many people as possible in the project, the minister, along with a rabbi and an imam decided to launch a competition to design a building that would simultaneously include sacred spaces for people belonging to all three religions.

Further, the way Tim explained it, the project seemed like a practical decision for several reasons. Berlin, a place where not many religious people exist, the speaker said “We don’t have that much money to keep a new church alive. We don’t have so many Christian people to fill up a new church.”

However, he added, House of One will also serve as a symbol of what Berlin is currently – a city where once Adolf Hitler signed death warrants for 6 million Jews, has now become a city with the fastest-growing Jewish population in the world. Further, he claimed, with the increased number of refugees coming to Germany, it also serves as a home for Muslims.

According to the design of the building, everyone will enter through the same front door and while there is a central common space, there will be three equally sized (but differently shaped) spaces for each religion.

“We have only one entrance in the building,” Timm said. “So everyone who is going to pray—whether Jewish or Muslim or Christian—has to use this one entrance. The entrance leads to the common room, and from the common room there’s a stair going up to the second floor and then you decide which way you go.”

Reports suggest that while some individuals from the Muslim community have opposed the idea, majority of them are in favour of it. A reason for this may be that according to the plan, each of the assigned spaces respects orthodox practices, with a given place to perform ablution in the mosque, Muslims will also have separate spaces for men and women to offer prayers in the synagogue.

“Being in the building doesn’t mean anyone has to change anything about their own faith, Tim said while adding, “If you’re not afraid to look around and see what are the other religions are doing, it can enrich your life and your faith.”

The organisation began collecting funds last year and have so far only raised about €1 million out of €43 million needed (a basic version of the design would cost €10 million).

“We hope this will shine out in the world—that this will go out to the world and be a sign to bring more peace between people,” Timm said. “Especially at this time when war comes from Islamic State, and after what happened in Paris.”"

[Also here: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3054043/berlin-is-trying-to-build-the-worlds-first-combined-mosque-synagogue-church ]
religion  judaism  islam  2015  christianity 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Orion Magazine | Thoughts in the Presence of Fear
"I. The time will soon come when we will not be able to remember the horrors of September 11 without remembering also the unquestioning technological and economic optimism that ended on that day.

II. This optimism rested on the proposition that we were living in a “new world order” and a “new economy” that would “grow” on and on, bringing a prosperity of which every new increment would be “unprecedented”.

III. The dominant politicians, corporate officers, and investors who believed this proposition did not acknowledge that the prosperity was limited to a tiny percent of the world’s people, and to an ever smaller number of people even in the United States; that it was founded upon the oppressive labor of poor people all over the world; and that its ecological costs increasingly threatened all life, including the lives of the supposedly prosperous.

IV. The “developed” nations had given to the “free market” the status of a god, and were sacrificing to it their farmers, farmlands, and communities, their forests, wetlands, and prairies, their ecosystems and watersheds. They had accepted universal pollution and global warming as normal costs of doing business.

V. There was, as a consequence, a growing worldwide effort on behalf of economic decentralization, economic justice, and ecological responsibility. We must recognize that the events of September 11 make this effort more necessary than ever. We citizens of the industrial countries must continue the labor of self-criticism and self-correction. We must recognize our mistakes.

VI. The paramount doctrine of the economic and technological euphoria of recent decades has been that everything depends on innovation. It was understood as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on from one technological innovation to the next, which would cause the economy to “grow” and make everything better and better. This of course implied at every point a hatred of the past, of all things inherited and free. All things superseded in our progress of innovations, whatever their value might have been, were discounted as of no value at all.

VII. We did not anticipate anything like what has now happened. We did not foresee that all our sequence of innovations might be at once overridden by a greater one: the invention of a new kind of war that would turn our previous innovations against us, discovering and exploiting the debits and the dangers that we had ignored. We never considered the possibility that we might be trapped in the webwork of communication and transport that was supposed to make us free.

VIII. Nor did we foresee that the weaponry and the war science that we marketed and taught to the world would become available, not just to recognized national governments, which possess so uncannily the power to legitimate large-scale violence, but also to “rogue nations”, dissident or fanatical groups and individuals – whose violence, though never worse than that of nations, is judged by the nations to be illegitimate.

IX. We had accepted uncritically the belief that technology is only good; that it cannot serve evil as well as good; that it cannot serve our enemies as well as ourselves; that it cannot be used to destroy what is good, including our homelands and our lives.

X. We had accepted too the corollary belief that an economy (either as a money economy or as a life-support system) that is global in extent, technologically complex, and centralized is invulnerable to terrorism, sabotage, or war, and that it is protectable by “national defense”

XI. We now have a clear, inescapable choice that we must make. We can continue to promote a global economic system of unlimited “free trade” among corporations, held together by long and highly vulnerable lines of communication and supply, but now recognizing that such a system will have to be protected by a hugely expensive police force that will be worldwide, whether maintained by one nation or several or all, and that such a police force will be effective precisely to the extent that it oversways the freedom and privacy of the citizens of every nation.

XII. Or we can promote a decentralized world economy which would have the aim of assuring to every nation and region a local self-sufficiency in life-supporting goods. This would not eliminate international trade, but it would tend toward a trade in surpluses after local needs had been met.

XIII. One of the gravest dangers to us now, second only to further terrorist attacks against our people, is that we will attempt to go on as before with the corporate program of global “free trade”, whatever the cost in freedom and civil rights, without self-questioning or self-criticism or public debate.

XIV. This is why the substitution of rhetoric for thought, always a temptation in a national crisis, must be resisted by officials and citizens alike. It is hard for ordinary citizens to know what is actually happening in Washington in a time of such great trouble; for all we know, serious and difficult thought may be taking place there. But the talk that we are hearing from politicians, bureaucrats, and commentators has so far tended to reduce the complex problems now facing us to issues of unity, security, normality, and retaliation.

XV. National self-righteousness, like personal self-righteousness, is a mistake. It is misleading. It is a sign of weakness. Any war that we may make now against terrorism will come as a new installment in a history of war in which we have fully participated. We are not innocent of making war against civilian populations. The modern doctrine of such warfare was set forth and enacted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, who held that a civilian population could be declared guilty and rightly subjected to military punishment. We have never repudiated that doctrine.

XVI. It is a mistake also – as events since September 11 have shown – to suppose that a government can promote and participate in a global economy and at the same time act exclusively in its own interest by abrogating its international treaties and standing apart from international cooperation on moral issues.

XVII. And surely, in our country, under our Constitution, it is a fundamental error to suppose that any crisis or emergency can justify any form of political oppression. Since September 11, far too many public voices have presumed to “speak for us” in saying that Americans will gladly accept a reduction of freedom in exchange for greater “security”. Some would, maybe. But some others would accept a reduction in security (and in global trade) far more willingly than they would accept any abridgement of our Constitutional rights.

XVIII. In a time such as this, when we have been seriously and most cruelly hurt by those who hate us, and when we must consider ourselves to be gravely threatened by those same people, it is hard to speak of the ways of peace and to remember that Christ enjoined us to love our enemies, but this is no less necessary for being difficult.

XIX. Even now we dare not forget that since the attack of Pearl Harbor – to which the present attack has been often and not usefully compared – we humans have suffered an almost uninterrupted sequence of wars, none of which has brought peace or made us more peaceable.

XX. The aim and result of war necessarily is not peace but victory, and any victory won by violence necessarily justifies the violence that won it and leads to further violence. If we are serious about innovation, must we not conclude that we need something new to replace our perpetual “war to end war?”

XXI. What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being. We should recognize that while we have extravagantly subsidized the means of war, we have almost totally neglected the ways of peaceableness. We have, for example, several national military academies, but not one peace academy. We have ignored the teachings and the examples of Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other peaceable leaders. And here we have an inescapable duty to notice also that war is profitable, whereas the means of peaceableness, being cheap or free, make no money.

XXII. The key to peaceableness is continuous practice. It is wrong to suppose that we can exploit and impoverish the poorer countries, while arming them and instructing them in the newest means of war, and then reasonably expect them to be peaceable.

XXIII. We must not again allow public emotion or the public media to caricature our enemies. If our enemies are now to be some nations of Islam, then we should undertake to know those enemies. Our schools should begin to teach the histories, cultures, arts, and language of the Islamic nations. And our leaders should have the humility and the wisdom to ask the reasons some of those people have for hating us.

XXIV. Starting with the economies of food and farming, we should promote at home, and encourage abroad, the ideal of local self-sufficiency. We should recognize that this is the surest, the safest, and the cheapest way for the world to live. We should not countenance the loss or destruction of any local capacity to produce necessary goods.

XXV. We should reconsider and renew and extend our efforts to protect the natural foundations of the human economy: soil, water, and air. We should protect every intact ecosystem and watershed that we have left, and begin restoration of those that have been damaged.

XXVI. The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It’s proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or “accessing” what we now … [more]
via:anne  education  capitalism  economics  wendellberry  peace  war  terrorism  consumerism  food  farming  sustainability  9/11  violence  humanism  environment  children  parenting  responsibility  military  self-sufficiency  technology  technosolutionism  progress  innovation  nature  decentralization  newworldorder  growth  degrowth  prosperity  labor  work  poverty  freemarket  business  corporatism  freetrade  vulnerability  freedom  civilrights  government  security  peaceableness  islam  soil  air  water  thrift  care  caring  saving  conservation  agriculture 
november 2015 by robertogreco
#BlackMuslimRamadan Shows How An Underrepresented Community Celebrates The Holiday
“My #BlackMuslimRamadan is about bean pie, not baklava.”

"#BlackMuslimRamadan is a hashtag started this Wednesday by Donna Auston, a doctoral candidate in Anthropology. Auston told BuzzFeed she started the hashtag in order to increase visibility and exert a greater level of control over the American Muslim narrative, where Black Muslims are rarely included.



The Pew Forum reported in 2009 that the Middle East and North Africa made up 20% of the world Muslim population.
Auston also said she launched the hashtag because “celebrating the beauty and richness of black life and cultural expression is absolutely essential,” in light of #blacklivesmatter and attacks on black religious centers in Charleston and elsewhere.



Many on Twitter took the opportunity to discuss microaggressions and misconceptions within the Muslim community.



Others revealed the struggle of fasting while poor or homeless.



There were many tributes to the lasting influence Black Muslim elders have had on the civil rights struggle in America.



Some pointed out that Black Muslims have been in America as early as slavery.



Of course, it was also an opportunity to show off Ramadan swag.



There were lots of excellent tweets about the amazing food Black Muslims are well-known for.



Like the delicious bean pie. 😍😍😍



“No filter. Just fasting.”"
ramadan  islam  muslims  blackmuslimramadan  race  us  2915  racism  diversity  food  eid  donnaauston  history 
july 2015 by robertogreco
ARTLOG — ArtPrize Winner Anila Quayyum Agha [[MORE]] While...
"While Grand Rapids, Michigan might sound like a far cry from the bustling art world, over a thousand artists infiltrate the city every fall to participate in the unique international competition ArtPrize. This independently organized event proclaims radicalism through their unabashedly open call for artists and venues – anyone over 18 can participate and any space in the district can host. They also award prizes based on a public vote and juried selections.

This completely free event, lasting for 19 days, transforms downtown Grand Rapids into an arts playground where connoisseurs and novices bask in the beauty of visual creativity while participating in a larger conversation about art and why it matters.

The 2014 iteration of this competition came to a close a few weeks ago with Anila Quayyum Agha winning both the Jury and Public Grand Prize Awards for her scintillating work Intersections, which wasinstalled at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Her seemingly simple creation, a laser-cut wooden box with a light source, fills the entire gallery with intricate shadowed patterns.

Similar to pioneers working in the expanded sculptural field, Agha blurs the boundaries between object and art begging the viewers to question what constitutes the artwork – the shadows or the carved box. The shadows are reminiscent of the patterning prevalent in Islamic culture. They turn the gallery space into an experiential portal to Middle Eastern cultures while the manipulated box recalls the history of embroidery, a predominantly female activity, weighted with historical connotations.

Pakistani born Agha situates her practice on “the deeply entwined political relationships between gender, culture, religion, labor, and social codes.” (As articulated in her online artist statement.) Intersections manages to touch on these highly charged issues in a poetic manner that underscores the necessity for cross cultural exchange and discussion especially when dealing with poignant, controversial themes.

After sweeping both the juried and public prizes Anila Quayyum Agha will be an artist to watch over the following years. I, personally, cannot wait to see her practice evolve and flourish both visually and theoretically."
anilaquayyumagha  2014  art  light  shadows  islam 
july 2015 by robertogreco
My hijab has nothing to do with oppression. It's a feminist statement – video | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Hanna Yusuf asks why a simple piece of clothing is seen as the very epitome of oppression. She says many women find empowerment in rejecting the idea that women can be reduced to their sexual allure – and we should not assume that every women who wears the hijab has been forced into it"
hannayusuf  hijab  islam  modesty  women  gender  capitalism  2015  sexuality  liberation  feminism  religion  france  femen  oppression  empowerment 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Schools monitoring pupils' web use with 'anti-radicalisation software' | UK news | The Guardian
"Software flags up trigger words and phrases such as ‘jihadi bride’, ‘jihobbyist’ and ‘you only die once’"



"Schools are being sold software to monitor pupils’ internet activity for extremism-related language such as “jihadi bride” and “YODO”, short for you only die once.

Several companies are producing “anti-radicalisation” software to monitor pupils’ internet activity ahead of the introduction of a legal requirement on schools to consider issues of terrorism and extremism among children.

Under the Counter-terrorism and Security Act 2015, which comes into force on 1 July, there is a requirement that schools “have due regard to the need to prevent pupils being drawn into terrorism”.

One company, Impero, has launched a pilot of its software in 16 locations in the UK as well as five in the US. Teachers can store screenshots of anything of concern that is flagged up by the software. Other companies offering anti-radicalisation software products to schools include Future Digital and Securus.

Impero has produced a glossary of trigger words such as “jihobbyist” (someone who sympathises with jihadi organisations but is not an active member) and “Message to America” (an Islamic State propaganda video series).

Schools involved with the Impero pilot already have contracts to buy or rent other software from the company, and are trialling the anti-radicalisation software at no extra charge. They are in areas including London, County Durham, Essex, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Yorkshire and Staffordshire.

A spokeswoman for Impero said: “The Counter-terrorism and Security Act places a duty on schools to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Since the introduction of the act at the beginning of the year we have had a lot of schools approach us requesting a keyword-detection policy focused on radicalisation.

“The system may help teachers confirm identification of vulnerable children, or act as an early warning system to help identify children that may be at risk in future. It also provides evidence for teachers and child protection officers to use in order to intervene and support a child in a timely and appropriate manner."
2015  edtech  education  children  islam  islamophobia  jihad  internet  software  monitoring  terrorism  extremism  schools  uk 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The Desert Blues
"In 2001, two unlikely friends created a music festival in Mali that drew the likes of Bono and Robert Plant.

Then radical Islam tore them apart."
mali  africa  music  joshuahammer  desertblues  islam  tinariwen  sambatouré  nouramintseymali  superonze  lo'jo  terakaft  khairaarby  religion  2015  mohamedalyansar  development  iyadagghali  mayeagmohamed  bamako  salifkeita  alifarkatouré 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Two sentences that perfectly capture what it means to be privileged in America today - Vox
"Giridharadas's point is particularly salient now, as Robert Putnam's book about the growing fissure between upper- and lower-class America is a hot topic in political circles. Toward the end of his talk (around the 16-minute mark), he hammers home the point that there are two Americas, and that many people who reside firmly in the more privileged version don't even realize it.

"Don't console yourself that you are the 99 percent," he says. "If you live near a Whole Foods; if no one in your family serves in the military; if you are paid by the year, not the hour; if most people you know finished college; if no one you know uses meth; if you married once and remain married; if you're not one of 65 million Americans with a criminal record — if any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that actually, you may not know what's going on, and you may be part of the problem."

Harsh as that sounds, Giridharadas gets at an important point that Putnam also echoed in a recent interview with Vox: as the highest and lowest incomes in the US move further apart, well-off and low-income Americans also know less and less about each other and what it truly means to be from another social class. Indeed, only 1 percent of Americans consider themselves upper-class. As economic segregation grows, it plays a part in keeping people from climbing up the social ladder."

[YouTube link for Anand Giridharadas's talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i-pNVj5KMw ]

[Response from Connor Kilpatrick:
“Let Them Eat Privilege: Focusing on privilege diverts attention away from the real villains.”
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/04/1-99-percent-class-inequality/

"By forcing the middle class to divert their attention downward (and within) instead of at the real power players above, Vox and Giridharadas are playing into the Right’s hands. It’s an attempt to shame the middle class — those with some wealth but, relative to the top one or one-tenth of one percent, mere crumbs — to make them shut up about the rich and super rich and, instead, look at those below as a reminder that it could all be much worse.

[…]

Even when the income of the one percent (mostly the bottom half of that select group) is derived primarily from high salaries (as opposed to returns on investment) it’s far more likely to be reinvested in shares, bonds, and real estate — and of course elite educations and other opportunities for their children — than the income of the middle 40 percent, who have hardly anything left once the bills are paid.

That means that even with nothing more than a killer W-2, the salaried lower half of the one percent still have the means to consolidate themselves as an elite class while the rest of us are immiserated.

When a cut in capital gains taxes is paid for by hiking state tuition and slashing social services, the one percent benefits while the vast majority of the 99 percent loses. When a new law is passed making it harder to organize a union or wages are squeezed to ring out higher and higher corporate profits, it’s the one percent — and their investment portfolios — that benefits and the majority of the 99 percent who loses.

It’s real winners and losers — not a state of mind and not a “culture.” And it works like this:

[chart]

What’s bad for you economically is probably good for them. That’s why the rest of us will have to come in conflict with this tiny elite and its institutions if we’re going win a more just and egalitarian future for ourselves.

By substituting class relations for an arbitrary list of “privileges,” Vox is attempting to paint a picture of an immiserated America with no villain. It’s an America without a ruling class that directly and materially benefits from everyone else’s hard times. And this omission isn’t just incorrect — it robs us of any meaningful oppositional politics that could change it all.

It’s a conclusion that, despite Vox’s endorsement, plays into conservatives’ hands. Like the journalist Robert Fitch once wrote, it is the aim of the Right “to restrict the scope of class conflict — to bring it down to as low a level as possible. The smaller and more local the political unit, the easier it is to run it oligarchically.”

So why turn inward? Why argue over who’s got the sweeter deal and how we’re all responsible for the gross inequity of society when it’s not that much more than a tiny sliver of millionaires and billionaires at Davos sipping wine and rubbing shoulders with politicians?

Let’s try worrying more about knowing thy enemy — and building solidarity from that recognition. “Check your privilege?” Sure. But for once, let’s try checking it against the average hedge fund manager instead of a random Whole Foods shopper."]
anandgiridharadas  inequality  privilege  2015  race  military  employment  work  labor  drugs  addiction  poverty  education  marriage  class  robertputnam  politics  secondchances  religion  islam  mercy  forgiveness  grace  us  humanism  segregation  lifeexpectancy  healthcare  faith  civics  law  legal  capitalpunishment  deathpenalty  raisuddinbhuiyan  markstroman  connorkilpatrick 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Everything You Believe About East African Women Is Wrong
"East African womanhood is a minefield between the region’s war zones and too-simple Western understanding thereof. The experiences of women from Ethiopia and Somalia serve largely as a barometer of the nations’ violence. But our foremothers taught us resistance long before we had a name for it. Their stories alchemize the violence that forced them out of the arms of their families and toward countries that don’t recognize their strength. Spinning blood into honey and bone into gold, they transformed their pain into our power.

In the parts of East Africa our ancestors are from, warfare and political and religious tension prevent women from cultivating connections across borders. But in America, our experiences overlap in ways that illuminate our shared history. To be from East Africa is to bear the mark of our region’s hurt and pain. We’re called upon to explain famine and female genital mutilation, veils and victimhood. Our foremothers taught us that these scripts don’t define us, even when prepackaged stereotypes offer us convenient roles to slip into. Their stories complicate the Western feminism that paints them as objects of rescue rather than subjects with agency."



"We write overlapping stories today but grew up worlds apart from each other — one an Ethiopian girl under California sun, the other a Somali girl enduring Minneapolis winters that refused to cooperate with her. But our experiences as young East African women in America are imbued with the same sense of danger (violence at the hands of men) and uncertainty (economic and otherwise) that our foremothers understood on the other side of the world. After all, Shukri and Aida did not inherit prosperity when they came to America. They got a mixed bag of opportunity and dismay: With every hurdle leap toward the American dream, there was the kickback of dust and debt.

As black, immigrant women in a country that penalizes all three, we carry cumulative burdens and find ways to dance underneath the weight. The revelry has come slowly, through sharing stories with one another, first on Twitter and later in the spaces where we live and write.

Aida showed us that words can make magic. She makes phone calls as she cooks, cleans, categorizes, catches, contorts. Her voice is soothing, full of warmth. To receive a phone call from her is to know you are loved — wherever you may be — part of her patchwork, and she wants you to know your beauty completes the whole. Relatives everywhere from Canada to Ethiopia sense the honey in her “hello,” and in the Ethiopian proverbs that roll gently off her tongue, even when she’s scolding. The one she repeats most often is simple. Translated into English, it highlights the beauty of the collectivism she and the women around her model: “For one person, 50 lemons is a burden. But for 50 people, those same 50 lemons are simply decorations.”

Indebted to ancestry that forms the mosaic of our identities, we are composites of the women who came before us. We are the products of their survival, resilience, creativity, and collective brilliance. Rejecting submission while caring deeply for one another, they forged a kind of feminism that found its power in the collective. They carried each other, sometimes literally, across borders and milestones. With the maps our foremothers have passed down to us, we’re creating a promised land for ourselves and for the women whose names have been forgotten."
eastafrica  africa  somalia  ethiopia  yemen  islam  resistance  gender  women  agency  2015  hannahgiorgis  safy-hallanfarah  survival  resilience 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Disease of Being Busy | On Being
"In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch."

[via: http://plsj.tumblr.com/post/110573566543/how-is-the-state-of-your-heart-today ]
islam  being  doing  omidsafi  busyness  2015  ratrace  slow  well-being  idleness  onbeing 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Media coverage of Charlie Hebdo and the Baga massacre: a study in contrasts
"There are many reasons why the attacks on targets in Paris have received vastly more media attention than the attacks in Baga.

Paris is a highly connected global city with thousands of working journalists, while Baga is isolated, difficult and dangerous to reach. The attacks on Charlie Hebdo targeted journalists, and it’s understandable that journalists would cover the death of their comrades. The attacks in Paris were a shock and a surprise, while deaths at the hands of Boko Haram have become distressingly common in an insurgency that has claimed over 10,000 lives since 2009.

The details of the Baga attacks, where civilians fled a marauding army into the swamps of Lake Chad, where they faced attacks from hippos, are almost impossible for audiences in developed nations to empathize with.

By contrast it’s tragically easy for most North Americans and Europeans to imagine terrorists striking in their cities.

The net effect: the attacks in Baga and Maiduguri seem impossibly distant, while the attacks in Paris seem local, relevant and pressing even to people equidistant from the two situations.

In part, it’s hard to imagine events in Nigeria because we encounter so little African news in general.

Dearth of African news impacts public debate

Media Cloud, a tool developed at MIT’s Center for Civic Media and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society measures comparative attention to topics and locations in different segments of the news media.

A study we conducted in April 2014 suggests that media outlets publish three to ten times as many stories about France than about Nigeria. This disparity is striking as Nigeria’s population (estimated at 173 million) is almost three times the size of France’s population (66 million).

There’s bad news for those hoping online media will change existing patterns of media attention: while broadcast news outlets ran 3.2 times as many stories about France as about Nigeria, online media outlets published more than ten times as many French as Nigerian stories (10.4 to be precise).

We tend to read about countries like Nigeria only when they are in crisis, from terrorist attack or epidemics like Ebola. Despite the shocking magnitude of the attacks in Baga, the story can feel predictable, as the news we get from Nigeria is generally bad news.

If the attacks in Nigeria feel like they are happening somewhere incomprehensibly far away, those in Paris feel close to home, and many commentators have reflected on the tragedy in Paris as a result."



"Most victims of Islamic terrorism are Muslim: between 82 and 97%, according to a study from the US National Counter Terrorism Center.

Attacks like the one on Paris are shocking, visible and rare, while attacks on Baga are common (though the scale of the Baga attack is unprecedented.)

When we understand extremist violence as attacks on urban, developed, symbolic targets, we’re missing a much broader, messier picture, where religious extremism blends with political struggles and where the victims are usually anonymous, uncelebrated and forgotten.

We miss the point that Islamic extremists are at war with other Muslims, that the source of terror is not a religion of 1.6 billion people, but a perverse, political interpretation held by a disenchanted few.

It’s right to mourn those killed in Paris, to celebrate the city’s resilience and to honor the heroes. But if we fail to mourn and to understand Baga as well, we see a picture of terrorism that’s simple, clear and deeply inaccurate."
ethanzuckerman  2015  bokoharam  media  charliehebdo  paris  france  nigeria  terrorism  protest  protests  islam  islamophobia  journalism  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Charlie Hebdo attacks show that not all blasphemies are equal
"After the murder of Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists, pundits have tried to suss out where blasphemy fits into the social life of the West. Is it a necessary project for shocking Bronze Age fanatics into modernity? Is it a way of defending a free-wheeling liberal culture from the censorship of violent men? Or is it abusively uncivil? When directed at a minority religion, is it racist? Is it an abuse of freedom of speech, the equivalent of a constant harassment that invites a punch in the nose?

We have been told that Charlie Hebdo is an "equal opportunity offender." And in one sense that is obviously true. It drew unflattering pictures of Jesus, of Jews, and of the Prophet Muhammad. The spirit of the magazine was anarchic, atheistic, and left-wing. As Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry points out, it was a very French thing, anti-clerical and Rabelaisian.

But not all blasphemies are equal, because religions are not analogous. A gesture aimed at one can cause an eruption of outrage, but when offered to another it produces a shrug. The intensity of reaction may be determined by the religion's comfort with modernity, or by the history of its adherents. Western Christians are raised in pluralist, tolerant, and diverse cultures, and in powerful nations. Muslims experience the bad side of discrimination as immigrants, and come from cultures that have been humiliated by colonialism, autocracy, and Western incursion. But that doesn't explain all of it.

Pissing on a Bible is similar to pissing on a Koran only as a chemical reaction of urea and pulp. As gestures of desecration they mean entirely different things. The challah bread eaten in Jewish homes on the Sabbath and the Catholic Eucharist both have a symbolic relation to the manna from heaven in the book of Exodus, but trampling on one is not the same as the other, and would inspire very different reactions. Likewise, Charlie Hebdo's images are offered from an anarchic and particularly French anti-clerical spirit, but they are received entirely differently as blasphemies by Christianity and Islam.

After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I tried to think of what kind of blasphemy aimed at my own faith would bring out illiberal reactions in me. The infamous Piss Christ of Andres Serrano barely raises my pulse. Although the pictured crucifix reminds me of one I would kiss in worship on Good Friday, I agree with the artist Maureen Mullarkey that it is trivially easy to avoid taking the publicity-and-money-and-status-generating offense it so desperately sought.

But a Black Mass — a satanic parody of the Catholic Mass, in which a consecrated host stolen from a Catholic Church is ritually desecrated — would touch something else in me. I followed the news about proposed Black Masses at Harvard and Oklahoma City intensely in 2014. I monitored the reactions of local bishops. And I thought more highly of Tulsa's Bishop Slattery for his tougher posture. I admired even more the renegade Traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which organized a march and produced a beautiful video explaining the offense of a Black Mass, and why Catholics would seek to make reparation before God for the offense given by others.

Freddie deBoer says that those defending the practice of blasphemy are arguing against a shadow and doing brave poses against a null threat: "None of them think that, in response to this attack, we or France or any other industrialized nation is going to pass a bill declaring criticism of Islam illegal."

Not only does this ignore the chilling effect violence has on free speech, it is also just wrong. In 2006, the British government of Tony Blair asked for a vote on a law "against incitement to religious hatred." It was a law whose political support came overwhelmingly from Muslims.

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood argued that one of the virtues of the law was that it would have allowed the government to edit Salman Rushdie's work. Luckily, the House of Lords insisted on a revision that would exempt "discussion, criticism, or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult, or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents" from the law, rendering it toothless.

But if I thought about it, I understood the MP's reaction. He hoped that a law against incitement could function as a de facto blasphemy law. I hoped last year that laws against the petty theft of "bread" from a Church could be enforced to prevent the Black Masses.

It often seems the debate over the value of blasphemy is determined by what people fear the most. Do they fear the growth of an Islamic sub-culture within the West that threatens the gains of secularism, religious toleration, feminism, and gay rights? Then blast away. Or do they fear that the majority culture, like Western imperialism itself, is driving Muslims into poverty, despair, and a cultural isolation that encourages fundamentalism? Well, then be careful, circumspect, and polite.

Last week, I suggested that Europe's secularism was aimed at Christianity, and that in some respects secularism was a kind of genetic mutation within the body of Christendom. Charlie Hebdo's kind of blasphemy was a Christian kind of blasphemy. Christianity makes icons, and Hebdo draws mustaches and testicles across them. It pokes at the pretension of religious leaders. This is a kind of blasphemy that Matt Taibbi identifies with "our way of life."

But what if drawing a cartoon of Muhammad is not, theologically speaking, like drawing a parody of Jesus? What if it is more like desecrating the Eucharist, something I think Charlie Hebdo's editors would never do?

Obviously there are debates within Islam about what God demands from believers, unbelievers, and earthly authorities. Just as there are debates about what the Eucharist is within Christianity. And, yes, sometimes state pressure can effect a religious revolution. (Look to the Mormon church and the United States). But Western pressure seems to push Muslims away from liberality.

Fazlur Rahman and other Islamic scholars point out that when Islam was an ascendant and powerful world force it often found the intellectual resources to "Islamicize" the philosophies and cultures it encountered outside its Arabian cradle. But once Islam was humiliated and reduced on the geopolitical stage, these more daring and expansive medieval projects were abandoned. Other modernizing and liberal efforts of jurists like Muhammad Abduh have proven unpopular. Instead, the great modernist projects of Wahhabist and Salafist fundamentalism is what colors movements from the Taliban to the Islamic State.

When Westerners read the editorial from radical cleric Anjem Choudary, they are tempted to think he is stupid for asking why "why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims...?"

"That's not how it works here," we want to reply. But Choudary's view that the state authority is responsible for the moral and spiritual condition of the nation is quintessentially Islamic. It is a reflection of the fact that Islam's great debates are centered on jurisprudence, on the right order of the ummah. This is very different from Christianity where the primary debates center around orthodox faith and morals withing the Church. In an odd way, Choudary's complaint against France is a sign of assimilation. He expects France to assimilate to this vision of Islam. He offers France's leaders the same complaint radical Muslim reformers always offer to lax Sultans and Caliphs.

To ask Muslims to respond peacefully to Charlie Hebdo's provocations makes absolute sense to me, because I want to continue to live by the norms set by a detente between secularism and Christian churches. I suspect many (perhaps most) Muslims want the same. But those Muslims who are faithful to a religious tradition concerned primarily with restoring fidelity to sources from the first three centuries of Islam were not a party to the secularist bargain. And we ought to be aware that we are asking them to live as Christians, and to be insulted like them, too."
michaelbrendandougherty  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  charliehebdo  freedom  freespeech  2015  france  religion  freedomofspeech  racism  islamophobia  extremism  journalism  christianity  andresserrano  maureenmullakey  blackmass  freddiedeboer  blasphemy  islam  khalidmahmood  salmanrushdie  via:ayjay  secularism  fundamentalism  fazlurrahman  anjemchoudary  jurisprudence  assimilation  matttaibbi 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why I am not Charlie | a paper bird
"There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it. Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not the same as to become them. This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death. This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point. “We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates. What the hell does that mean? In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same. If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

Erasing differences that actually exist seems to be the purpose here: and it’s perhaps appropriate to the Charlie cartoons, which drew their force from a considered contempt for people with the temerity to be different. For the last 36 hours, everybody’s been quoting Voltaire. The same line is all over my several timelines: [image]

“Those 21 words circling the globe speak louder than gunfire and represent every pen being wielded by an outstretched arm,” an Australian news site says. (Never mind that Voltaire never wrote them; one of his biographers did.) But most people who mouth them don’t mean them. Instead, they’re subtly altering the Voltairean clarion cry: the message today is, I have to agree with what you say, in order to defend it. Why else the insistence that condemning the killings isn’t enough? No: we all have to endorse the cartoons, and not just that, but republish them ourselves. Thus Index on Censorship, a journal that used to oppose censorship but now is in the business of telling people what they can and cannot say, called for all newspapers to reprint the drawings: “We believe that only through solidarity – in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely – can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech.” But is repeating you the same as defending you? And is it really “solidarity” when, instead of engaging across our differences, I just mindlessly parrot what you say?

But no, if you don’t copy the cartoons, you’re colluding with the killers, you’re a coward. Thus the right-wing Daily Caller posted a list of craven media minions of jihad who oppose free speech by not doing as they’re ordered. Punish these censors, till they say what we tell them to!

[image]

If you don’t agree with what Charlie Hebdo said, the terrorists win.

[image]

You’re not just kowtowing to terrorists with your silence. According to Tarek Fatah, a Canadian columnist with an evident fascist streak, silence is terrorism.

[image]

Of course, any Muslim in the West would know that being called “our enemy” is a direct threat; you’ve drawn the go-to-GItmo card. But consider: This idiot thinks he is defending free speech. How? By telling people exactly what they have to say, and menacing the holdouts with treason. The Ministry of Truth has a new office in Toronto.

There’s a perfectly good reason not to republish the cartoons that has nothing to do with cowardice or caution. I refuse to post them because I think they’re racist and offensive. I can support your right to publish something, and still condemn what you publish. I can defend what you say, and still say it’s wrong — isn’t that the point of the quote (that wasn’t) from Voltaire? I can hold that governments shouldn’t imprison Holocaust deniers, but that doesn’t oblige me to deny the Holocaust myself.

It’s true, as Salman Rushdie says, that “Nobody has the right to not be offended.” You should not get to invoke the law to censor or shut down speech just because it insults you or strikes at your pet convictions. You certainly don’t get to kill because you heard something you don’t like. Yet, manhandled by these moments of mass outrage, this truism also morphs into a different kind of claim: That nobody has the right to be offended at all.

I am offended when those already oppressed in a society are deliberately insulted. I don’t want to participate. This crime in Paris does not suspend my political or ethical judgment, or persuade me that scatologically smearing a marginal minority’s identity and beliefs is a reasonable thing to do. Yet this means rejecting the only authorized reaction to the atrocity. Oddly, this peer pressure seems to gear up exclusively where Islam’s involved. When a racist bombed a chapter of a US civil rights organization this week, the media didn’t insist I give to the NAACP in solidarity. When a rabid Islamophobic rightist killed 77 Norwegians in 2011, most of them at a political party’s youth camp, I didn’t notice many #IAmNorway hashtags, or impassioned calls to join the Norwegian Labor Party. But Islam is there for us, it unites us against Islam. Only cowards or traitors turn down membership in the Charlie club.The demand to join, endorse, agree is all about crowding us into a herd where no one is permitted to cavil or condemn: an indifferent mob, where differing from one another is Thoughtcrime, while indifference to the pain of others beyond the pale is compulsory.

We’ve heard a lot about satire in the last couple of days. We’ve heard that satire shouldn’t cause offense because it’s a weapon of the weak: “Satire-writers always point out the foibles and fables of those higher up the food chain.” And we’ve heard that if the satire aims at everybody, those forays into racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism can be excused away. Charlie Hebdo “has been a continual celebration of the freedom to make fun of everyone and everything….it practiced a freewheeling, dyspeptic satire without clear ideological lines.” Of course, satire that attacks any and all targets is by definition not just targeting the top of the food chain. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges,” Anatole France wrote; satire that wounds both the powerful and the weak does so with different effect. Saying the President of the Republic is a randy satyr is not the same as accusing nameless Muslim immigrants of bestiality. What merely annoys the one may deepen the other’s systematic oppression. To defend satire because it’s indiscriminate is to admit that it discriminates against the defenseless."



"This insistence on contagious responsibility, collective guilt, is the flip side of #JeSuisCharlie. It’s #VousÊtesISIS; #VousÊtesAlQaeda. Our solidarity, our ability to melt into a warm mindless oneness and feel we’re doing something, is contingent on your involuntary solidarity, your losing who you claim to be in a menacing mass. We can’t stand together here unless we imagine you together over there in enmity. The antagonists are fake but they’re entangled, inevitable. The language hardens. Geert Wilders, the racist right-wing leader in the Netherlands, said the shootings mean it’s time to “de-Islamize our country.” Nigel Farage, his counterpart in the UK, called Muslims a “fifth column, holding our passports, that hate us.” Juan Cole writes that the Charlie Hebdo attack was “a strategic strike, aiming at polarizing the French and European public” — at “sharpening the contradictions.” The knives are sharpening too, on both sides.

We lose our ability to imagine political solutions when we stop thinking critically, when we let emotional identifications sweep us into factitious substitutes for solidarity and action. We lose our ability to respond to atrocity when we start seeing people not as individuals, but as symbols. Changing avatars on social media is a pathetic distraction from changing realities in society. To combat violence you must look unflinchingly at the concrete inequities and practices that breed it. You won’t stop it with acts of self-styled courage on your computer screen that neither risk nor alter anything. To protect expression that’s endangered you have to engage with the substance of what was said, not deny it. That means attempting dialogue with those who peacefully … [more]
censorship  france  islam  terrorism  charliehebdo  islamophobia  2015  scottlong  solidarity  freespeech  freedomofspeech  religion  violence  oppression  oneness  stereotypes  silence  satire  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Unmournable Bodies - The New Yorker
"A northern-Italian miller in the sixteenth century, known as Menocchio, literate but not a member of the literary élite, held a number of unconventional theological beliefs. He believed that the soul died with the body, that the world was created out of a chaotic substance, not ex nihilo, and that it was more important to love one’s neighbor than to love God. He found eccentric justification for these beliefs in the few books he read, among them the Decameron, the Bible, the Koran, and “The Travels of Sir John Mandeville,” all in translation. For his pains, Menocchio was dragged before the Inquisition several times, tortured, and, in 1599, burned at the stake. He was one of thousands who met such a fate.

Western societies are not, even now, the paradise of skepticism and rationalism that they believe themselves to be. The West is a variegated space, in which both freedom of thought and tightly regulated speech exist, and in which disavowals of deadly violence happen at the same time as clandestine torture. But, at moments when Western societies consider themselves under attack, the discourse is quickly dominated by an ahistorical fantasy of long-suffering serenity and fortitude in the face of provocation. Yet European and American history are so strongly marked by efforts to control speech that the persecution of rebellious thought must be considered among the foundational buttresses of these societies. Witch burnings, heresy trials, and the untiring work of the Inquisition shaped Europe, and these ideas extended into American history as well and took on American modes, from the breaking of slaves to the censuring of critics of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

More than a dozen people were killed by terrorists in Paris this week. The victims of these crimes are being mourned worldwide: they were human beings, beloved by their families and precious to their friends. On Wednesday, twelve of them were targeted by gunmen for their affiliation with the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Charlie has often been often aimed at Muslims, and it’s taken particular joy in flouting the Islamic ban on depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. It’s done more than that, including taking on political targets, as well as Christian and Jewish ones. The magazine depicted the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in a sexual threesome. Illustrations such as this have been cited as evidence of Charlie Hebdo’s willingness to offend everyone. But in recent years the magazine has gone specifically for racist and Islamophobic provocations, and its numerous anti-Islam images have been inventively perverse, featuring hook-nosed Arabs, bullet-ridden Korans, variations on the theme of sodomy, and mockery of the victims of a massacre. It is not always easy to see the difference between a certain witty dissent from religion and a bullyingly racist agenda, but it is necessary to try. Even Voltaire, a hero to many who extol free speech, got it wrong. His sparkling and courageous anti-clericalism can be a joy to read, but he was also a committed anti-Semite, whose criticisms of Judaism were accompanied by calumnies about the innate character of Jews.

This week’s events took place against the backdrop of France’s ugly colonial history, its sizable Muslim population, and the suppression, in the name of secularism, of some Islamic cultural expressions, such as the hijab. Blacks have hardly had it easier in Charlie Hebdo: one of the magazine’s cartoons depicts the Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, who is of Guianese origin, as a monkey (naturally, the defense is that a violently racist image was being used to satirize racism); another portrays Obama with the black-Sambo imagery familiar from Jim Crow-era illustrations.

On Thursday morning, the day after the massacre, I happened to be in Paris. The headline of Le Figaro was “LA LIBERTÉ ASSASSINÉE” Le Parisien and L’Humanité also used the word liberté in their headlines. Liberty was indeed under attack—as a writer, I cherish the right to offend, and I support that right in other writers—but what was being excluded in this framing? A tone of genuine puzzlement always seems to accompany terrorist attacks in the centers of Western power. Why have they visited violent horror on our peaceful societies? Why do they kill when we don’t? A widely shared illustration, by Lucille Clerc, of a broken pencil regenerating itself as two sharpened pencils, was typical. The message was clear, as it was with the “jesuischarlie” hashtag: that what is at stake is not merely the right of people to draw what they wish but that, in the wake of the murders, what they drew should be celebrated and disseminated. Accordingly, not only have many of Charlie Hebdo’s images been published and shared, but the magazine itself has received large sums of money in the wake of the attacks—a hundred thousand pounds from the Guardian Media Group and three hundred thousand dollars from Google.

But it is possible to defend the right to obscene and racist speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech. It is possible to approve of sacrilege without endorsing racism. And it is possible to consider Islamophobia immoral without wishing it illegal. Moments of grief neither rob us of our complexity nor absolve us of the responsibility of making distinctions. The A.C.L.U. got it right in defending a neo-Nazi group that, in 1978, sought to march through Skokie, Illinois. The extreme offensiveness of the marchers, absent a particular threat of violence, was not and should not be illegal. But no sensible person takes a defense of those First Amendment rights as a defense of Nazi beliefs. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were not mere gadflies, not simple martyrs to the right to offend: they were ideologues. Just because one condemns their brutal murders doesn’t mean one must condone their ideology.

Rather than posit that the Paris attacks are the moment of crisis in free speech—as so many commentators have done—it is necessary to understand that free speech and other expressions of liberté are already in crisis in Western societies; the crisis was not precipitated by three deranged gunmen. The U.S., for example, has consolidated its traditional monopoly on extreme violence, and, in the era of big data, has also hoarded information about its deployment of that violence. There are harsh consequences for those who interrogate this monopoly. The only person in prison for the C.I.A.’s abominable torture regime is John Kiriakou, the whistle-blower. Edward Snowden is a hunted man for divulging information about mass surveillance. Chelsea Manning is serving a thirty-five-year sentence for her role in WikiLeaks. They, too, are blasphemers, but they have not been universally valorized, as have the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo.

The killings in Paris were an appalling offence to human life and dignity. The enormity of these crimes will shock us all for a long time. But the suggestion that violence by self-proclaimed Jihadists is the only threat to liberty in Western societies ignores other, often more immediate and intimate, dangers. The U.S., the U.K., and France approach statecraft in different ways, but they are allies in a certain vision of the world, and one important thing they share is an expectation of proper respect for Western secular religion. Heresies against state power are monitored and punished. People have been arrested for making anti-military or anti-police comments on social media in the U.K. Mass surveillance has had a chilling effect on journalism and on the practice of the law in the U.S. Meanwhile, the armed forces and intelligence agencies in these countries demand, and generally receive, unwavering support from their citizens. When they commit torture or war crimes, no matter how illegal or depraved, there is little expectation of a full accounting or of the prosecution of the parties responsible.

The scale, intensity, and manner of the solidarity that we are seeing for the victims of the Paris killings, encouraging as it may be, indicates how easy it is in Western societies to focus on radical Islamism as the real, or the only, enemy. This focus is part of the consensus about mournable bodies, and it often keeps us from paying proper attention to other, ongoing, instances of horrific carnage around the world: abductions and killings in Mexico, hundreds of children (and more than a dozen journalists) killed in Gaza by Israel last year, internecine massacres in the Central African Republic, and so on. And even when we rightly condemn criminals who claim to act in the name of Islam, little of our grief is extended to the numerous Muslim victims of their attacks, whether in Yemen or Nigeria—in both of which there were deadly massacres this week—or in Saudi Arabia, where, among many violations of human rights, the punishment for journalists who “insult Islam” is flogging. We may not be able to attend to each outrage in every corner of the world, but we should at least pause to consider how it is that mainstream opinion so quickly decides that certain violent deaths are more meaningful, and more worthy of commemoration, than others.

France is in sorrow today, and will be for many weeks come. We mourn with France. We ought to. But it is also true that violence from “our” side continues unabated. By this time next month, in all likelihood, many more “young men of military age” and many others, neither young nor male, will have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere. If past strikes are anything to go by, many of these people will be innocent of wrongdoing. Their deaths will be considered as natural and incontestable as deaths like Menocchio’s, under the Inquisition. Those of us who are writers will not consider our pencils broken by such killings. But that incontestability, that unmournability, just as much as the massacre in Paris, is the clear and present danger to our collective libert… [more]
tejucole  2015  charliehebdo  politics  society  freedom  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  freespeech  freedomofspeech  islam  gravenimages  middleages  medieval  power  language  religion  racism  liberty  violence  inquision  spanishinquision  ideology  edwardsnowden  chelseamanning  johnkiriakou  cia  yemen  nigeria  mexico  centralafricanrepublic  suadiarabia  pakistan  us  drones  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Random thoughts on Charlie Hebdo | Snakes and Ladders
"1) I don’t think the most important question about what happened is “Do we support Charlie Hebdo?” I think the most important question is, “Do we support, and are we willing to fight for, a society in which people who make things like Charlie Hebdo can work in peace and sleep in their beds each night without fear?”

2) Freddie deBoer wrote,
Peter Beinart and Ross Douthat and Jon Chait and hundreds more will take the time in the week to come to beat their chests and declare themselves firmly committed to brave ideas like “murder is bad” and “free speech is good.” None of them, if pressed, would pretend that we are at risk of abandoning our commitment against murder or in favor of free speech. None of them think that, in response to this attack, we or France or any other industrialized nation is going to pass a bill declaring criticism of Islam illegal.


That last sentence is true enough, as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go nearly far enough. The measure of freedom of speech in a society is not simply a matter of what laws are or are not passed. We must also ask which existing laws are or are not enforced; and what self-censorship people perform out of fear that their societies will not or cannot protect them. Freddie writes as though freedom of speech can be adequately evaluated only by reference to the situation de jure; but there are de facto issues that must also be considered.

3) One of the more interesting comments on this whole affair is that of Giles Fraser:
In one sense an iconoclast is someone who refuses the established view of things, who kicks out against cherished beliefs and institutions. Which sounds pretty much like Charlie Hebdo. But the word iconoclast also describes those religious people who refuse and smash representational images, especially of the divine. The second of the Ten Commandments prohibits graven images – which is why there are no pictures of God in Judaism or Islam. And theologically speaking, the reason they are deeply suspicious of divine representation is because they fear that such representations of God might get confused for the real thing. The danger, they believe, is that we might end up overinvesting in a bad copy, something that looks a lot like what we might think of as god, but which, in reality, is just a human projection. So much better then to smash all representations of the divine.

And yet this, of course, is exactly what Charlie Hebdo was doing. In the bluntest, rudest, most scatological and offensive of terms, Charlie Hebdo has been insisting that the images people worship are just human creations – bad and dangerous human creations. And in taking the piss out of such images, they actually exist in a tradition of religious iconoclasts going back as far as Abraham taking a hammer to his father’s statues. Both are attacks on representations of the divine. Which is why the terrorists, as well as being murderers, are theologically mistaken in thinking Charlie Hebdo is the enemy. For if God is fundamentally unrepresentable, then any representation of God is necessarily less than God and thus deserves to be fully and fearlessly attacked. And what better way of doing this than through satire, like scribbling a little moustache on a grand statue of God.


I would love to agree with this, but can’t quite. All iconoclasm is not alike. Reading Fraser’s essay I found myself remembering Mikhail Bakhtin’s great essay “From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse,” in which he compares ancient and medieval parody with its modern equivalent.
Ancient parody was free of any nihilistic denial. It was not, after all, the heroes who were parodied, nor the Trojan War and its participants; what was parodied was only its epic heroization; not Hercules and his exploits but their tragic heroization. The genre itself, the style, the language are all put in cheerfully irreverent quotation marks, and they are perceived against a backdrop of contradictory reality that cannot be confined within their narrow frames. The direct and serious word was revealed, in all its limitations and insufficiency, only after it had become the laughing image of that word — but it was by no means discredited in the process.


By contrast, “in modem times the functions of parody are narrow and unproductive. Parody has grown sickly, its place in modem literature is insignificant. We live, write and speak today in a world of free and democratized language: the complex and multi-leveled hierarchy of discourses, forms, images, styles that used to permeate the entire system of official language and linguistic consciousness was swept away by the linguistic revolution of the Renaissance.” Parody for us is too often merely iconoclastic, breaking images out of juvenile delight in breaking, not out of commitment to a reality too heteroglot (Bakhtin’s term) to fit within the confines of standardized religious practices. I think Charlie Hebdo is juvenile in this way.

But feel free agree with that judgment or not — it’s not germane. As I said, the truly vital question here is not whether the magazine’s satire is worthwhile. The truly vital question is how badly — if at all — we want to live in a society where people who make such magazines can live without fear of losing their lives."
alanjacobs  charliehebdo  2015  satire  politics  gilesfraser  mikhailbakhtin  heroes  heroization  heteroglots  parody  society  freddiedeboer  freedom  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  freespeech  freedomofspeech  islam  gravenimages  middleages  medieval  renaissance  power  language  linguistics  religion  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Broug Ateliers: Islamic Geometric Design
"Geometrical design is one of the most distinctive aspects of Islamic art and architecture. Geometry can be seen everywhere in the Islamic world: on buildings, in books, on tiles, on wood, on metal. This website celebrates the diversity of Islamic geometrical designs as well as demonstrating how traditional craftsmen make their designs.

Anyone can learn how to create Islamic geometric designs. It does not require an aptitude or even enthusiasm for mathematics or geometry. Understanding how geometrical designs are constructed gives an artist the tools and insights that are needed to create geometrical designs. So, if you can understand how a design was made, you can put yourself in the shoes of the traditional craftsman and learn how to create designs in the way it has been done for centuries.

All that is required is the ability to draw circles and straight lines. Traditional Islamic geometrical design is based on connecting intersections between circles and lines. This website offers an extensive 'educational' section on the practical aspects of traditional design."
art  islam  architecture  design  geometry  ericbroug  patterns 
january 2015 by robertogreco
#JeSuisCharlieHebdo? | AL JAVIEERA
"I. It’s surprising to have to spell out these notions, but here goes…

One can condemn violence and at the same time sustain a critical stance against Charlie Hebdo.

One can condemn the “asymmetric warfare” of masked gunmen and also reject racism, tyranny, and hate.

One can denounce cold-blooded massacres while also unsubscribe from the horrible, orientalist titillation of Charlie Hebdo cartoons and the mental passivity of liberalism.

----------

II. It is imperative, at this frightening intersection, to resist the coercive call to stand behind a vacuous, hypocritical, shallow slogan about “free speech.” The response to the horrible tragedy in Paris already seems to become folded into the same previous mode of thinking that enabled the magazine to exist and thrive. It is a mode in which there is no deliberation of better or worse ideas; just a liberal “freedom” excuse to embrace hate (albeit hate selectively applied, despite liberal disclaimers otherwise).

Western culture is arbitrary in its principles; it is arrogant, self-centered, and self-deluded about its respect and care for the weak and oppressed. A glance at statistics about drone strikes tells the story. Ebola tells the story. Palestine tells the story. The migrant labor building imperial stadia for futbol and Olympics tell the story. The fact that a hashtag like #BlackLivesMatter exists. The deportations of millions and deaths on the high seas…

This is a frightening moment — a moment charged with reactionary simplifications and reductions. These reductionisms serve a purpose. Among other things, the point is to ignore the very complex circulations through which the killers were likely trained, funded, armed, and recruited. If we explored these circulations, more than the usual suspects that might be rounded up in the coming hours or days would be implicated.

Instead, political doctrinaires murmur slogans about an ancient religious cause behind the killings. They equate vast social processes with merely “terror,” nothing more; and none of it has anything to do with the actual, mediatized and quite modern ways in which the operation came about. These dimensions must remain unthought and unimagined.

Who identifies with “#JeSuisCharlieHebdo,” and who does not? It is exactly at these points where one should resist and explore ideas more critically and openly and generously, but this is politically dangerous for the neoliberal parties.

III. The cartoonists and reporters killed earlier cannot speak now, obviously. The voicelessness of death never dies. It lives on in martyrdom. We thus create Western martyrs, ventriloquizing with their corpses. Sadly, the victims themselves are appropriated. The dead suddenly appear solemn. They are actually being used as blunt tools against dissenting thought and radical ideas. The morbid fascination with the dead falsely assures the living that life isn’t meaningless. But ironically, it has been Charlie Hebdo and many more who have been complicit with precisely such a cheapening of life. The response pathetically shows exactly how we live in such terrible times; in societies of alienation. I would post the images of the covers, but it is not worth it to continue giving them more views.

To work in collective and common ways against alienation requires critical thought and analysis. But huge forces exist to force closure, such as #JeSuisCharlieHebdo. The massive public spectacles in plazas are smoothly incorporated into these forces.

To make matters worse, our Western governments and corporations have operated in the spaces of totalitarianism: they’ve spied, bombed, tortured, and killed in (semi-)secrecy.

What can be said or done to counter the outpouring of craven solidarity with nothing but an abstract notion of “free speech”? This outpouring insults real people who have differences and needs, but seek to live together. It also closes down a discussion that builds on a true public knowledge, exposing all that is done in our names. #JeSuisCharlieHebdo is patently antithetical to collective and common life, alienating entire groups of people who never saw their lives represented in this rag. And it is therefore contradictory to abdicate power, as happens at these moments, to the states which have proven time and again to be incapable of facilitating this shared life."

[See also Javier's RTs assembled by Kenyatta: http://finalbossform.com/post/107505352430/twitter-users-resurrect-the-invalidating ]
javierarbona  2015  charliehebdo  racism  islam  hate  tyranny  liberalism  freedom  freedomofspeech  religion  freespeech  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  hypocrisy  satire  islamophobia  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Outburst!
"Outburst! is a Toronto based movement by young Muslim women for young Muslim women addressing violence in our lives.'



"Outburst! is a movement of young Muslim women and allies addressing violence in our lives. We are based in Toronto with the support of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic.

Our Work Includes

• Education: with our peers, service providers, government
• Community based research
• Art based workshops & groups for young Muslim women
• Resource Development
• Individual counseling and safety planning"

[via this post: http://outburstm.tumblr.com/post/52822399500/a-friend-of-mine-says-that-one-defines-a-punk-as ]
activism  gender  religion  islam  violence  education  toronto 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Kali & the Kaleidoscope - Call Of The Fundament
There are so many wonderful movements happening in the world right now - people making new kinds of art, people taking control of technology, new kinds of sharing economies and an enormous amount of social curation of all these things. And yet, there is some kind of melancholy lurking nearby, a deep disconnect that I have felt. Perhaps you have felt the same. 

All of this human creation…. art, invention, and commerce -  is a sort of attempt to get away from something, something very fundamental. If you are not close to the underlying basis of reality ( not God per se, just the laws of Nature perhaps) you will feel the same melancholy. For me that peace and harmony comes when I am studying the history of science and mathematics. 

Peter Drucker once said that we are moving towards a sort of Knowledge Economy. Fuck the economy, I’m only interested in knowledge. But the question now stares at mankind - the knowledge of WHAT? These answers aren’t gonna come from CERN, I can tell you that. Science itself has fallen prey to commerce and politics. 

The Islamic Golden Age might have been very close to understanding the important stuff:
 
“Know, oh brother…that the study of sensible geometry leads to skill in all the practical arts, while the study of intelligible geometry leads to skill in the intellectual arts because THIS SCIENCE IS ONE OF THE GATES THROUGH WHICH WE MOVE TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE ESSENCE OF THE SOUL, and that is the root of all knowledge… “ from the Rasa’il of the Brethren of Purity, 10th century C.E


Somewhere deep down we are not seeking knowledge for its own sake, but the root of knowledge. That fundamental root is constantly calling out to us. If you know me, it says - all secondary knowledge becomes unnecessary. I can generate everything again and again, as if it was new. All you need is me."
knowledge  science  2014  islam  art  invention  economics  meaningmaking  meaning  peterdrucker  fadesingh 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop | Los Angeles | Artbound | KCET
[See also: http://www.returnofthemecca.com ]

"To most people, when you say "Islam and hip-hop," they will look at you a bit surprised. To most, Islam is viewed as being pre-modern and anti-Western, with a strict, puritanical code that is also anti-pleasure, while to most people, hip-hop is viewed as the exact opposite: it's decadent, rampantly materialistic, hyper-sexual and hedonistic. But if you peel back the layers (or barely scratch beneath the surface), that initial look of surprise will soon turn to awe. Because not only is Islam a part of hip-hop culture, it's central to its very foundation. Harry Allen, hip-hop journalist and Public Enemy's "Media Assassin" has said that "if hip-hop has an official religion it is Islam."

Los Angeles has its own specific histories around Islam and hip-hop -- from the presence of artists such as Kam, Jurassic 5 and Divine Styler, to a May 2001 benefit show at the Watts Labor Community Action Center for Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown), which featured Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Zion I and others.

But arguably the most significant moment was when Ice Cube, who had just left N.W.A., teamed up with Public Enemy's production unit the Bomb Squad, to record his first solo album, "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" (1990). The combination of Ice Cube with Public Enemy was incendiary -- a volatile mix that combined Cube's militant street poetry with Public Enemy's Black Nationalist fury.

In the exhibit catalog to Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, Chuck D writes that this was the period following the release of their anthem "Fight the Power" and that "this alliance of Cube and Public Enemy was a show of Black and rap unity that the powers that be feared may ring the alarm and spin the youth away from being lured into stupor and sleep."

And indeed it did. For this was a period in hip-hop when political consciousness raising was central to the music's mission, as ideas about Afrocentricity, Black Nationalism and most notably Islam deeply influenced the culture. And not surprisingly, Malcolm X would become the icon of hip-hop, as his books were read, his voice was sampled, his ideas were referenced, and his influence shaped ideas about Black resilience and resistance. Malcolm's influence would culminate in Spike Lee's 1992 biopic of him, as "X" caps, and Malcolm merchandise became all the rage.

But more than just the popularity of his "By Any Means Necessary" slogan, or the circulation of symbols and the iconography of him, Malcolm's resurgence in urban America beginning in the mid-1980s and into the early 1990's also spoke to the profound disillusionment of Black youth in the post-Civil Rights era. This was hip-hop's "Golden Age," and through the legacy of Malcolm, it was deeply influenced by Islam, as seminal artists as diverse as Rakim, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Big Daddy Kane, Brand Nubian, Poor Righteous Teachers, the Wu-Tang Clan and others carried on a long standing protest tradition in which Islam influenced Black art and culture -- from Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, to its influence on jazz (Art Blakey, Ahmad Jamal, Yusef Lateef, etc.) and the Black Arts Movement.

By the time Cube was collaborating with them, Public Enemy had already been vocal supporters of the Nation of Islam, but it was Chuck D's baritone voice, his deeply informed lyricism, and his brilliant songwriting that made Public Enemy the standard bearers when it comes to revolutionary hip-hop, even to this day.

Ice Cube's work with Public Enemy on "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" proved to be a turning point, as Cube would continue to weave the ideas of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam into his albums, infusing his music with political urgency and biting social critique, from his magnum opus "Death Certificate" (1991) to "The Predator" (1992) and "Lethal Injection"(1993). Cube's music proved prophetic in many ways, as a closer listening to his first two solo albums add support to his claim that he in fact rang the alarm about what would become the L.A. Rebellion of 1992 in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict.

By the mid-1990's, at about the time that Cube's career path took a serious turn toward the world of film, hip-hop was increasingly becoming the soundtrack to 21st century capitalism. No longer being compared to the previous generations of Black artistic genius, hip-hop instead was being compared to itself, as the "Golden Age" is constantly being held up as the standard and beacon for hip-hop's own potential in the face of hyper-commodification.

In these demands for hip-hop to get back to its roots, what is often overlooked and understated is not only the extent to which Islam played a vital role in politicizing the music and shaping the politics and culture of early hip-hop, but how it has continued to do that even today through artists such as Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Lupe Fiasco, Jay Electronica, and others. This is partly what "Return of the Mecca" hopes to begin to redress, that through the songs, album covers, photos, flyers and poetry, these histories that too often go unseen are made visible. And that despite the post-9/11 context that has tried to silence these histories and separate Blackness and Islam, these powerful histories are a testament to legacies of struggle that need to be urgently understood and reflected upon."
hiphop  music  history  islam  sohaildaulatzai  2014  publicenemy  harryallen  jurassic5  kam  divinestyler  mosdef  talibkweli  dilatedpeoples  zioni  nwa  icecube  bombsquad  1990s  chuckd  spikelee  malcolmx  atribecalledquest  bigdaddykane  brandnubian  poorrighteousteachers  wu-tangclan  rakim  gangstarr 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Shura - Wikipedia
"Shura (Arabic: شورى shūrā) is an Arabic word for "consultation". It is believed to be the method by which pre-Islamic Arabian tribes selected leaders and made major decisions.

Shura is mentioned twice in the Quran as a praiseworthy activity, and is a word often used in the name of parliaments in Muslim-majority countries."
government  governance  classideas  democracy  representativedemocracy  islamicdemocracy  islamicculture  arabic  consultation  politics  sharia  islam  civics  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Put up or shut up - Roger Ebert's Journal
"A democracy depends on informed electorate to survive…alarming number of Americans & majority of Republicans are misinformed…did not arrive at such conclusions on own…persuaded by relentless process of insinuation, strategic silence & cynical misinformation…speak in coded words & allow implications to sink in…have an agenda…seek to demonize Obama Presidency & mainstream liberal politics in general…conservatism they prefer is not traditional conservatism of…Taft, Nixon, Reagan, Buckley or Goldwater…frightening new radical fringe movement, financed by such as newly notorious billionaire Koch brothers, whose hatred of gvt extends even to opposition to tax funding for public schools…time is here for responsible Americans to put up or shut up. I refer specifically to those who have credibility among guileless & credulous citizens who have been infected w/ notions so carefully nurtured. We cannot afford to allow next election to proceed under cloud of falsehood & delusion."
republicans  rogerebert  sarahpalin  teaparty  glennbeck  islam  politics  2010  2012  conservatism  misinformation  barackobama  rushlimbaugh  us  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
What's in store for the next decade? - By Anne Applebaum - Slate Magazine
"And what do these headlines tell us? If I had to read the tea leaves and make a grand prediction, I would say that in the closing days of the 2000s, the future does not look good for all authoritarian regimes. However, the signs are very positive for one particular authoritarian regime: China. Partly this is because the Chinese, unlike the Iranians and the Russians, continue to deliver prosperity, and in the current era it is prosperity, not ideology, that keeps authoritarian regimes in power."
china  via:cburell  capitalism  2009  ideology  authoritarianism  economics  prosperity  iran  russia  islam 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Mahmood Delkhasteh: The 21st Century's First Authentic Revolution
"The consequences of this revolution cannot be underestimated. Many argue that it was 1979 Iranian revolution which transformed Islamic fundamentalism into a global phenomenon. If this is correct, then it is possible that the present revolution might to do the 'unthinkable' and overthrow a corrupt, fundamentalist regime. Such a non-violent revolution could secularise the state, separating it from religion, and revolutionise religion itself by redefining Islam as a discourse of freedom and a method not for obtaining and managing power, but for expanding freedom. The principles of such an Islam are already being produced...An authentic Islamic renaissance is already sweeping through many Iranian cities, and its effect on other Islamic countries will be felt in the coming years and months."
iran  2009  islam  revolution  change  reform  authoritarianism  dictatorship  freedom  democracy 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Jamaica Gleaner News - The origins of Christianity & Islam - In Focus - Sunday | September 27, 2009
"The Middle East continues to be a simmering crisis. This gives the impression that there are implacable differences. Christianity, Judaism and Islam share the same God. Their roots are virtually the same. Certainly in terms of religion, there are more similarities than differences...The closeness of Christianity to Mithraism is so stunning that it begs an answer to the question: how could such a replication occur?"
via:cburell  religion  christianity  islam  tcsnmy  mithraism  history  constantine  ancientrome  judaism  middleeast 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Microsoft Muezzin « Snarkmarket
"I am a serious atheist. I am not dabbling in Islam. But even so, this app really called out to me (ha!) for two reasons. One, nostalgia. I do remember the athan—distant, spectral—from my time in Dhaka. Two, structure. I’m building my days entirely for myself now, and finding that it’s a challenge to split them into pieces. When does this thing end, and that one begin? It’s arbitrary. So—admittedly this is silly—I thought hey, this works for folks! Let’s give it a spin! I am 100% glad I downloaded it, if only to see the interface. Wow. Do you want the athan from Mecca or Medina?...Egypt? They’ve all been sampled. Do you want the dua after the athan? What juristic method will you be using for the asr prayer?...It might sound like I’m poking fun, but I am absolutely 100% not. One of my favorite intersections—and one of the most underreported—is the one between technology and religion. And an app like this lets you not just read about it, but sort of explore it."
islam  applications  windows  snarkmarket  structure  atheism  sound  prayer  atham  religion  muslims  nostalgia  tcsnmy 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization: Jonathan Lyons
"'A wonderful and important book which for the first time presents the Western debt to medieval Arabic learning in a clear, accessible manner. From the azimuth to the zenith, from algebra to the zero, so much of what the West takes for granted came to us from the Arab world ... A fascinating book' William Dalrymple"
books  history  science  religion  middleages  medieval  islam  tcsnmy  jonathanlyons 
july 2009 by robertogreco
…My heart’s in Accra » Jonathan Lyons on the Islamic resolution of science and monotheism
"This led him to the exploration of Islam’s influence on what we think of as western science and society. He focuses in particular on Adelard of Bath, wondering what kind of person goes to the Holy Land during the crusades not to kill, but to learn Arabic and bring back that scholarship?

His book, “The House of Wisdom“, starts with a description of the unschooled, barbarian European masses knocking on the gates of the learned and sophisticated Islamic lands. He explains that Fibonnaci’s father sent him to a Muslim family to learn his math - he would have learned double-entry bookkeeping, an innovation that hadn’t yet reached the North.

When European monestaries might hold a couple of dozen volumes, Arabic libraries held hundreds of thousands of books. When the sultan decided to donate books to a new school, he sent 80,000 from his personal collection."
science  history  spain  iran  islam  religion  philosophy  arabic  translation  ethanzuckerman  jonathanlyons  españa 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Fathers of Invention: What Muslims Gave the Scientific World
"In the Middle Ages, while Christians were busy warring, plundering, and burning heretics at the stake, Muslim scholars were inventing the most advanced devices of the day. They refined the scientific method, developed effective cardiac drugs, and built celestial observatories—yet over time their contributions were largely forgotten.
history  tcsnmy  muslims  islam  middleages  science 
june 2009 by robertogreco
History of Religion
"How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world's most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Selected periods of inter-religious bloodshed are also highlighted. Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds? Ready, Set, Go!"
history  religion  tcsnmy  maps  mapping  timelines  visualization  geography  politics  society  buddhism  islam  christianity  judaism  atheism  hinduism 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Read This: The Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam
"Victor Katz has put together five experts: Annette Imhausen on Egypt, Eleanor Robson on Mesopotamia, Joe Dauben on China, Kim Plofker on India, and Len Berggren on Islam. These are all well-known historians, and several of them are writing or have writte
math  tcsnmy  classideas  ancients  mesopotamia  china  india  islam  eqyptians  history  books 
july 2008 by robertogreco
What Every American Should Know About the Middle East
"Most in the United States don’t know much about the Middle East or the people that live there. This lack of knowledge hurts our ability to understand world events and, consequently, our ability to hold intelligent opinions about those events."
middleeast  culture  religion  islam  iran  iraq 
april 2008 by robertogreco
A lesson in humility for the smug West - Times Online
"Many of the western values we think of as superior came from the East and our blind arrogance hurts our standing in the world"
values  society  democracy  history  politics  west  commentary  culture  religion  christianity  europe  islam  world  via:preoccupations 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Faith and politics | The new wars of religion | Economist.com
"Ironically, America, the model for much choice-based religion, has often seemed stuck in the secular era, declaring war on state-sponsored terror, only to discover the main weapon of militant Islamism is often the ballot box."
atheism  religion  war  politics  government  policy  us  asia  europe  science  islam  christianity  future  secularism  guyfawkes  terrorism 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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