Sunday, 17 May 2009
In his book Desperately Seeking Paradise, Ziauddin Sardar recounted how frustrated British Muslims became with Western media coverage following the publication of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. Islam-baiters were given centre stage in even the most progressive media outlets while moderate Muslim voices, like his own, were given no space. And so, segments of the population broke into riot.But while there remain youth dispossessed and refugees from drone bombs, trouble will continue to brew. Help youth where you are engage with their community peacefully and constructively, be it through a community-formed newspapers, theatre, poetry, music, sports etc, and, if they are Pakistani expatriates, let them know that other Pakistanis and Pakistani expatriates are making their voices heard;
A lack of voice is also Riz Ahmed's explanation for suicide bombers in his song 'Sour Times' (aka 'Post 7/7 blues'):
'So see it ain't religious faith that's causin these crimes
It's losing faith in democratic freemarket designs
It's no coincidence the bombers came from ghettoes up north
And the way that Bush and Blair talk gives a lost boy a cause
Then double standards get us angered both at home and abroad
There's a monopoly on pens that's why they forge their own sword'
A quick glance at my circle of friends, acquaintances and family will suggest that we now have reason to believe that Muslim and Pakistani communities will integrate better in their host countries; we are breaking into the mainstream national and international media, telling stories our way. Encouraging to note is that not all of us came from elite or middle-class backgrounds and that not all of us went to elite universities.
"And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same."
Also known as MC Riz, and hugely popular for his youtube hit '9/11 blues', Riz (26) has played lead roles in the ground-breaking movie Britz, aired on Channel 4, in The Road to Guantanamo, Shifty and Rage, a movie to be released later this summer - an all British cast movie with Judi Dench and Jude Law. Riz has also published articles on attacks on civil liberties.
Riz has a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University and an MA in Classical Acting from Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London).
Wajahat (now approaching 30) regularly publishes comment pieces with Guardian Comment is Free, the Huffington Post, has published a few opinion pieces with the Washington Post and publishes interviews of intellectuals with Counter Punch.His play Domestic Crusaders, soon to be staged in New York and LA, has been described by author Mitch Berman as important to Muslim American theatre as A Raisin in the Sun was to African American theatre.
His short story Ramadan Blues was recently published in an anthology, Pow Wow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience—Short Fiction From Then to Now.
Wajahat's undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley was English and he also has a law degree (JD) from UC Davis.
My brother Issam (24) is probably the best young Pakistani print-journalist, providing his Dawn, Christian Science Monitor, Yahoo News, Huffington Post, Guardian and Independent news readers with on-the-ground, sober and nuanced reports and analysis, with little egotism involved.
Issam has an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and Communication Science from Leeds University and a post graduate diploma in print journalism from City University (London).
Rolling Stone, Guardian and The Boston Globe, as well as Mike Muhammad Knight's novel The Taqwacores, pay tribute to Basim (26) and his progressive Bostonian Islamist punk band, The Kominas ("Scum bags"). MTV and the BBC have played his music and his band has played at South by South West in Austen, Texas. On March 19-20th, Basim's band will be playing at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
Whether it's criticising Siraj Wahhab for his verbal attacks against homosexuals, making fun of Gap kids or critiquing Smith College girls for oppressing hijab-clad Muslims, Basim's music is always confrontational, but with purpose. And, as the first Muslim voice in punk, he's reaching fresh audiences with his fresh, and very important, narratives.
Basim regularly writes for Guardian Comment is Free and wrote for Daily Times (Pakistan).
Basim has an undergrad degree in English literature from University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Listen to Basim and Shahjehan Khan of The Kominas on http://www.myspace.com/thekominas
Habiba has produced two radio-documentaries, The Camel Boys (2008) and Forbidden Love (2007), aired on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s show The Current.
She has also worked for CBC on Marketplace (television), The Current (radio), and As It Happens (radio).
Habiba has undergrad degrees in Women's Studies and Equity Studies from the University of Toronto, and masters degrees in Women's Studies from York University (Canada) and in broadcast journalism from Columbia University.
Habiba’s academic work explores issues of gender, race, and cultures within a post-colonial feminist analysis. She has been awarded numerous prestigious awards for her research on gender equality, including the Abella Scholarship for Studies in Equity.
Ali (24) has written a few impressionistic pieces for the New York Times opinion pages and contributed to a few reports in The Nation. He also writes for The Friday Times (Pakistan). More impressively, Ali is releasing his first novel, a coming-of-age story, The Wish Maker, with the same agent as his professor, Zadie Smith.
Ali created his own concentration at undergrad at Harvard University, from where he graduated in 2006.
Treating a patient who was a victim of the 7/7 bombings, Farrah (27) was disgusted that the crime was perpetuated by people who shared her cultural background. Determined to fight stereotypes that Muslims were terrorists, she presented a light-hearted documentary, aired on Channel 4, called 'Osama Bin Everywhere'.
In it, she found Osamas in the UK, Nigeria, Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan and Canada and asked them what they loved.
Farrah has an undergrad degree from Oxford University and finished up her medical degree at Imperial College.
Omar left London the same time as my brother did, for Pakistan. He reports for The Independent and TIME and has also been published by the Guardian, the New Statesman, USA Today, International Herald Tribune, Daily Star (Beirut), and Dawn (Pakistan).
Omar has a degree from SOAS.
Almost straight after he graduated from Columbia University, cousin Fasih (now in his early 30s) published three pieces of news analysis on Iran on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
When he wasn't running his father's gas company in Pakistan or setting up Pakistan's political leadership, he graced Newsweek and the Washington Post with feature articles, as well as The Friday Times (Pakistan). Now he'll be launching Newsweek Pakistan.
Navid (now in his early 40s, although he looks deceptively young) is Executive Director of Gazelle Media, a senior producer of documentaries and award-winning journalist.
In 2003 he was a Senior Producer on Channel 4’s Hajj: Trip of a Lifetime, and has received awards from the Prix Europa for his radio programmes, and the Al Bruni award for Media – Muslim News Awards for Excellence. In 2005 he was awarded the Sanford St Martins Award, by the Church of England for his coverage of the BBC WORLD SERVICE 2005 – Hajj in Mecca.
Recent television work includes presenting Who Wants to be a Mullah? (2004, BBC2), Young, Angry and Muslim (2005, Channel 4) and Associate Producer, on “The Retreat”, (2007, BBC2). In 2006, he traveled to Mecca with young Muslims from the UK and produced ‘Pilgrims from the Gangland’.
We met when he interviewed me for "I'm a Muslim, get me out of here", which aired on BBC Radio 4.
Ali is still only an e-acquaintance, but I feel empowered by the fact that we're connected and that he's regularly publishing comment pieces with the Guardian, Huffington Post and with Dawn (Pakistan).
He will later publish a novel Children of Dust this year.
Ali has a philosophy degree from Emory College, as well as a law degree.
Pakistani only by association, Kaps (26) keeps Issam and me informed about South Asian issues and provides a sometimes Indian-tinted perspective. He publishes commentaries with Guardian Comment is Free, New Majority and has also published with the LA Times, Singapore's Strait Times and Khaleej Times.
Kaps studied film writing at college in India and law at City University (London).
I (26) first became politically active when my civil liberties as an international student at UC Berkeley came under threat. I got my message across on Star News TV, broadcast through North America and Asia, KPFA, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Nation, as well as local newspapers. I've also been cited in the Daily Times and aired on BBC Radio 4, and invited to speak on France 24.
I have published articles with the global edition of the New York Times, The Boston Globe, Internationale Politik (Germany), New Strait Times (Malaysia) and The Friday Times (Pakistan). My opinion pieces have been hard-hitting confrontational pieces challenging the Pakistani government, about Pakistan's rule of law and women's rights. My feature articles have covered issues relating to the diaspora voice.
I have a degree in Economics from UC Berkeley and am the recipient of the full-tuition Schmidheiny Global Business Scholarship.
People with whom I am not yet acquainted with, but who make me feel empowered:
Although we're not yet acquaintances (though, facebook informs me, we do have 10 friends in common) I've been inspired by this 31 year old Karachi-born woman's courageous broadcast journalism, journeying into Taliban held parts of Pakistan and asking probing questions.
Her documentaries have been aired on Channel 4, CNN, PBS, CBC and Al-Jazeera. She did her undergrad at Smith College and masters International Policy Studies and Communication at Stanford University.
Muenuddin has recently started publishing short stories with The New Yorker.
He graduated from Dartmouth College and Yale Law School and now farms in Pakistan.
Graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, 38 year old Hamid has authored Mothsmoke, a novel that vividly describes my Lahore, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist. He also writes impressionistic comment pieces for the New York Times, Washington Post, The Independent, The Guardian, and TIME.
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