Monthly Archives: January 2015

WCW: Amal Clooney

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Remember when Hollywood’s Most Eligible Bachelor George-hot-as-hell-Clooney told Barbara Walters he’d never get married?

Ya I do. Every single girl across the world cried themselves to sleep. Well, what’s the saying, “When we plan, God laughs”? That’s exactly what happened when The Cloons married HUMANA-HUMANA-human rights lawyer and certified H.B.I.C. Amal Alamuddin. Her impressive resume, trendy closet, privilege to cozy up next to a Phenotypically-Perfect GOD, and balls to stand up to the Turkish government are why she’s this weeks Woman Crush Wednesday.

Amal is a London-based activist, author and lawyer who specializes in international law, criminal law, human rights, and extradition. That’s right – she’s hot AND a genius. Who knew a woman could do that? *insert wink-face emoji*

She comes from a pretty brainiac family too. Her Druze Lebanese father has an MBA from the American University of Beirut. For those of you who don’t know, the Druze are monotheists living primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. Their super-cool faith can be described as an off-shoot of Shia Islam + a buncha other cool philosophies focused on the mind and truthfulness. Ya, pretty gnarly.

Her mother is the editor for Pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat, circulated across London, New York, Frankfurt, Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Beirut and Cairo. al-Hayat is a liberal, nationalist publication and trusted as the number one source for Arab intellectual dissemination.

Amal’s resume includes

  • Working for the Criminal Defense and Investigations Group
  • The Office of the Prosecutor at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon
  • International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  • Advisor to the King of Bahrain
  • Advisor to Special Envoy Kofi Annan on Syria
  • Counsel to the 2013 Drone Inquiry pertaining to the use of drones in counter-terrorism operations
  •  Taking part of the June 2014 Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

But one of my favorite bad-ass jobs of Amal’s is her most recent case, defending Armenian interests in a trial that is a landmark for genocide denial rhetoric. For those of you who know me well, I’m pretty much an honorary-Armenian, (VIVA HAYASTANNN), dubbed so by my best friends who are all of Armenian descent. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a BIG deal to me, and Amal’s undertaking of such a monumental trial is what really makes me love her.

The Ottoman Empire facilitated the mass killing and forced deportation of Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks from 1915-1923. The deserts of the Middle East are to this day laced with this memory. Evidence of the atrocity include mass graves, numerous supporting documents, and the obvious existence of a disproportionately large Armenian diaspora across the Middle East, who relocated in fear of their lives. My best friend Ovsanna’s ancestors found safety in Syria, while other families moved across the Asian continent and to the Americas, including that of Patron Saint of Middle-Eastern girls everywhere, Kim Kardashian. April 24th is hailed annually as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, and currently 21 countries have recognized the Genocide.

Although a behemoth of evidence implies Turkey’s guilt, the international community still fore-plays like a bunch jerk-offs in reaching a consensus. I would assume the reasons are geo-political and have to do with a status-quo with Turkish alliances. This clusterf*ck of confusion & silence has led to numerous allegations that the Genocide never occurred.

This is exactly what happened when Turkish political party leader Dogu Perincek was found guilty of racial discrimination and genocide denial by a Swiss court in 2007. He called the Armenian Genocide an “international lie”. The case was overturned by the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that Perincek’s Article 10 Right to Free Speech was violated when he made his claims. The case is now being appealed, and Turkey and Armenia have both entered as third-parties, with Turkey questioning genocide claims and Armenia having the likes of bad-ass Amal defending them.

Amal will refute Turkish testimony that doesn’t accept the atrocity as a genocide, while also accusing Turkey of double standards on freedom of speech:

 “Armenia is not here to argue against freedom of expression anymore than Turkey is here to defend it. This court knows very well how disgraceful Turkey’s record on freedom of expression is. You have found against the Turkish government in 224 separate cases on freedom of expression grounds.”

And just like that, by pointing to Turkey’s pretty-crappy record of free speech & press, Amal reveals the hypocrisy of Edogan’s policies. Not only does the nation constantly jail journalists and activists, it has also shut down Twitter and Youtube when sh*t hits the fan. Turkish defense of Perincek’s statement, yet its simultaneous silence of the press, reminds me of the old Muslim saying, “When you point a finger, remember three are pointing back at you.”

More power to you Amal. Not only are the Armenian people rooting for you, but all marginalized and disadvantaged victims of large-scale denial are TOTES fan-girling right now. You go Glen Coco!

Make sure you kiss Georgie for me.

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American Sniper, or DAMN Bradley Cooper Looks Good

Ok so I watched American Sniper (but not at the theatres cuz I wasn’t gonna pay for that sh*t LOL) and my initial thoughts were:

1. You can totally meet your future husband if you’re vomiting at a bar. #AmericanDream

2. OH HELLO Bradley Cooper you lookin’ mighty fine though.

3. When Bradley Cooper told his drunk future wife that hicks bang their cousins, I thought OMG so do Afghans- This can begin peace negotiations with the Taliban for sure.

4. That baby he’s cradling looks really fake:

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5. Finally, that Arab sniper was really hot.

And then I thought a couple other things:

1. Hmmm, why do they show the Twin Towers falling and then men getting deployed to Iraq like the two were connected? LOL AHEM 9/11 didn’t have sh*t to do with Iraq.

2. Why does he take his Bible everywhere? Bro Muslims love Jesus too though LMAO.

3. Didn’t al Qaeda in Iraq not exist till after Chris Kyle’s first tour? So he isn’t shooting terrorists initially….

Yea that last point is pretty important. Chris Kyle’s first tour was in March of 2003. In the movie, his military commander says they’re fighting AQI (Al Qaeda in Iraq).

SCCCCCCRRRRRR HOLD UP THOUGH that’s a HUGE lie (SHAME SHAME CLINT EASTWOOD TU-TU-TU). AQI didn’t exist until late 2004. The movie makes it seem like this is who Kyle is shooting. Upon viewing the terrorist attack at the U.S. embassy, Kyle laments to his wife: “Look what they did to us”. Bro. “They”?!! If by “they” you mean al Qaeda, then THEY were not the freaking woman and child you killed. The movie conflates a legitimate indigenous resistance with the people behind 9/11, who anyone with a brain knows now WERE NOT IN IRAQ.

This movie is nothing more than a mechanism of propaganda. Realizing this made Bradley Cooper wayyyyy less hot. How is it even feasible or okay to perpetuate a lie like that??

All the cinematic wonders and appeals to emotion flew out the window the second I registered that this whole movie is one big sh*tstorm of whitewashing. It tries to legitimize the war in Iraq that urbody and they mama knows didn’t have sh*t to do with 9/11. Remember when Bush admitted there WERE NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION? Ya. Only weapons of mass DECEPTION apparently. So what DID we accomplish with the invasion?

The US destruction of Iraq left an estimated one million Iraqis dead, 4.5 million displaced, five million orphaned, some two million widowed and birth defects and cancer rates significantly worse than those seen in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Japan at the end of the Second World War. The US war on Iraq also fueled the rise of ISIS. This immeasurable suffering is completely erased from the narrative presented in American Sniper. – Rania Khalek

 

OKAY so besides the fact that the whole movie glorifies a war that was built on a lie that had nothing to do with 9/11 (sorry about da run-on sentence), it ALSO tries to make Chris Kyle into a remorseful good-hearted Christian with a firm moral grounding.

This is also bullsh*t. He was a sociopath. And he thought this was a religious war which makes him an idiot:

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And of course my favorite:

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Anything and everything that has happened in Iraq since the U.S. invasion is not about war. It’s about resource-control and politics. And if anyone thinks it’s about religion, well congrats, you’re a malleable and naive bimbo.

And since this films release, threats against Arab-Americans and Muslims have dramatically increased, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Don’t believe me? Just check out what my fellow Americans are saying on Twitter:

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How cute.

Also something that’s really alarming. I only figured out how Fugazi this movie was because I have a background in Middle Eastern politics and the inquisitiveness to find out the truth. My peers may not have those characteristics. So when people watch this movie, they’re totally gonna buy it. Like, they’ll really think that Chris Kyle was a remorseful, but proud American who fought for our country against those who perpetuated 9/11 and that Iraqis and Arabs/Muslims are nothing more than blood-thirsty Jihadists. This is what scares me the most. The illusion Clint Eastwood has so vividly painted.

My closing thoughts?

Clint Eastwood is really old and should probably kick the bucket soon,

and Bradley Cooper, please go back to The Hangover and stop perpetuating a lie that not only makes my people look way more evil and sadistic than they are, but rewrites the entire narrative of the Iraqi War. KTHNXBAI.

 

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5 Years

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Today marks 5 years we’ve had to live, learn, and love without Marissa. I say it every year – I don’t know how we made it this far. It’s a dramatic statement sure – but when you’re used to a routine, any break in it makes the future unclear. This is what happened to us when Marissa passed on. I was privileged enough to have her in my life as a friend for ten years, and we enjoyed elementary, middle and high school side-by-side. Marissa and I fought and cried and laughed and hugged…we made bets about boys and straightened each others hair and thought of lies to tell our moms about report cards. She was and is my best friend.

There were many reasons why I came to love Marissa so much, but the most impressive was her amazing ability to love without judgement, as well as her inquisitive mind. Marissa was always ready to forgive. She didn’t hold grudges. I’ll never forget in the 7th grade her and I had a falling out. For one week we gossiped about each other to our friends, but one day, I passed a classroom she was in. We caught each others eye – she was sitting at the desk closest to the door and like a reflex, I waved. I had completely forgotten we were mortal enemies, and I quickly and embarrassingly threw my hand down. But she smiled, with this surprised, excited look on her face, and waved back. And just like that, we were BFF’s again.

I think we can all agree that this life and all the experiences and emotions that come along with it are confusing. No one really knows WTF is going on. Sure we have religion and faith to help us along the way, but when someone close to you passes, you begin to question everything. I couldn’t comprehend or understand why it had to happen. And I still battle with those questions, and sometimes I still find myself excited to tell her news or gossip. Just the other day, I thought, “Oh Marissa is gonna LOVE this”. But its literally been 5 years and I’m still doing that? Pretty bizarre.

It’s this love and loss that fascinates me. The love I feel for Marissa and her legacy is monumental. Anytime I visit the beach and smell the salty air, anytime I see children frolicking in the sand, I feel her presence. In my darkest moments I’ll remember her. It hurts because she won’t be by my side for my first born, we won’t get our first Botox-injections like we planned, we won’t sit on a porch together and watch our kids play. Those dreams we had together and excitedly talked about won’t happen. But I can say with certainty that we had an amazing decade together, and that her presence and absence in my life taught me some tough lessons.

I gained an immense sisterhood from her passing. On her birthday and the anniversary of her death, a group of girls & I spend the day together. We were her closest friends in Los Angeles. We meet for dinner and laugh, cry, share memories of her. It’s a safe place for us to mourn together. It makes me believe in Divine Intervention; two friends Marissa introduced me to made a significant impact in my life. One coincidentally lived on my street, had two older sisters just like me, and ended up becoming my roommate at UC Irvine. She helped me through a hard time in college, and I’m certain I couldn’t have done it alone. Another is my best friend to this day. These girls are my support system, and it’s almost like Marissa never left, because her presence lives on through them. I thank Marissa every day for placing these individuals in my life.

Marissa, I miss you so much. There have been so many times that I was angry at God for taking you away from me. Sometimes I just want to fly to Georgia and cry over your grave. I want to immerse myself in our pictures and Facebook comments and text messages and wake up next to you. I miss the way your hair smelled. It was always fruity. I miss your skinny little fingers and your perfect manicured toes. I miss making you laugh – you were literally my favorite person to laugh with. I wish you didn’t leave but God is the best of planners. Please visit my dreams soon because it’s been a while.

The following is an excerpt from a poem entitled “Breathe” by Palestinian poet Deema K. Shehabi. It reminds me of Marissa and her presence:

 People who sit by the sea

Find you there through the rough water.

Others see you in the faraway crescent moon,

Only to find you breakfasting at their table.

Some yearn for years

And suddenly catch you in the deepest edges of their children’s eyes.

 

I love you My Island Princess.

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My Woman Crush Wednesday: Googoosh, Persian Icon

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They call her Iran’s Daughter. Hailed as the most influential and celebrated Iranian pop artist of all time, Googoosh holds monumental status among singers of the Middle East. What she represents to us is akin to the iconic fame of Elvis or Michael Jackson – and today she’s my Woman Crush Wednesday.

My earliest memories are that of my mother singing Googoosh songs to me. Growing up only speaking Pashto, I didn’t really understand what the words meant – Afghan Farsi (officially known as Dari) and Iranian Farsi differ in dialect, and already not knowing Dari fluently, I came to love Googoosh’s music initially not so much for the lyrics, but for it’s timelessness. Songs she sang in the 1970’s still stirred my soul and moved my feet. My generation rediscovered Googoosh this way – by listening to our parent’s old albums and bootlegged recordings. Although Googoosh hails from Iran, she is the daughter of Azeri parents, and has an Armenian name. She was adored by my mothers generation in Afghanistan. When Googoosh made her famous comeback in 2000, I begged my mother to take me to her concert, and cried the entire night when I was left home. But my mother, sister, and aunt came home in tears, so moved by her performance.

This is because Googoosh’s comeback was not from an artistic writers’ block or management issues. Googoosh had been banned by the conservative government of Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Unlike other artists, Googoosh refused to leave Iran for exile, and instead, remained in silence for over two decades. She had a series of failed marriages and abusive relationships, and only has one son from her first marriage. My mother always said, “she is much too great for any man to handle”.

During this time, her fans held on preciously to her work. Across the world, Iranians, Afghans, Armenians, Tajiks, and all others continued to blast her melodies, a testament to her lasting quality as an artist.

Googoosh is a revolutionary in her own right. She pioneered the breakthrough of women in the Middle Eastern entertainment industry, starring in 25 films, winning countless awards, playing to millions in sold-out concerts internationally, and recording in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Armenian, and Dari. Googoosh has duets with Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Charles Aznavour, and Silvy Vartan, among countless other renowned artists. She was and is a fashion icon – known for her flamboyant, hippie-like fashion and extravagant hairstyles. To this day she continues to record, recently making headlines with her single “Behesht”, a controversial song that promotes gay rights, adding to Googoosh’s style as a rebel and revolutionary.

Now that I am older and understand Farsi/Dari at an almost fluent level, her lyrics resonate with me that much more. Her single, “Mano Gonjishka” is among my favorites. A heartbreaking poem, Googoosh begs her lover to return, proclaiming that the house-birds she’s kept in cages lament the absence of her lover.

Any time I hear this song, I imagine Googoosh, alone in her home in Iran. How she must have felt, being caged during the Revolution, how it must have pained her to see her records being destroyed, her films banned. When Googoosh was silenced, it signaled the dark wave that came across the Middle East during this turbulent time.

This history adds to Googoosh’s status as an icon. She is much more than a pop-music entertainer. She is a symbol of hope, not only to women, but to artists across the Middle East and Central Asia. Her silence and come-back represent the tenacity and fervor our people have, to thrive, to succeed, and to break from the socio-political structures that attempt to hamper any individuality or independence we assert for ourselves. Her strength, endurance, and unbreakable spirit makes her one of my personal idols.

Check out more on Iran’s Daughter at: www.googoosh.com

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I’m What They Call a “Moderate Muslim”, but Sorry I’m not Sorry

Why I, as a “moderate Muslim” don’t have to apologize for jack.

Today I saw a super lame comment on my FB newsfeed that read:

“I am disappointed by moderate Muslims unlikeliness to call out extremism in Islam. Staying silent tends to imply guilt by association.”

AHEM.

When 9/11 happened, I was getting ready for the 6th grade.

When the London bus bombings happened, I was studying for my history exam.

When Fort Hood happened, I was in my Poly Sci class.

When the Boston bombings occurred, I was eating a donut,

And when Charlie Hebdo was attacked, I was probably asleep.

So why, in any world, should I have to apologize? Did ALL U.S. soldiers admit guilt when the Abu Ghraib atrocities were unveiled? Does every Jew repent when an IDF solider kills a Palestinian civilian? Does every middle-aged Caucasian man write an apologetic manifesto when another white serial killer is on the loose? Should Obama, being that he is African-American, and therefore “guilty by association”, beg on his knees for forgiveness anytime a Crip shoots someone up? NO. And if you expect that an entire group of people HAVE A DUTY TO APOLOGIZE for the acts of like 1% of their group, then go have a baby with Rupert Murdoch:

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Listen, I get it, I get it. Like, one time, I got stung by a bee, and after, I TOTALLY HATED ALL BEES, and if bees could talk, I’d want them to explain why their bee-friend had to do me like that.

BUT I AIN’T HOLDING THE WHOLE DAMN HIVE ACCOUNTABLE.

Yes, as a HUMAN BEING, I am VERY SORRY anytime an innocent person is hurt. Lemme say that again so you don’t think I stuttered – AS A HUMAN BEING.

So please, fall all the way back with that collective punishment bullsh*t. Us Muslims, we’re 1.7 BILLION strong, 20% of the whole damn Earth’s population. My brothers and sisters in Islam include some household names you might recognize like Ice Cube, Drita D’Avanzo, Mohammad Ali, T-Pain, Busta Rhymes, DJ Khaled, Fareed Zakaria, Dr. Oz, Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih…SO ARE THEY ALL RESPONSIBLE TOO?

Y’all think Ice Cube shoulda added a PSA at the end of Friday to apologize for the Taliban? Maybe Miss USA 2010 shoulda made her crowning speech about 9/11 and accounted for her whereabouts on that tragic day? …..Yeah, sounds pretty ridiculous right?

So, if you want us “moderate Muslims” to apologize for the actions of some freaky-deeky loonies from the boonies of jihadi Islamdom, then I’ma have to find that damn bee-hive and get to the bottom of radical Beextremism.

ASALAM ALAYKUM.

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Collective Guilt Carried Across the Afghan-American Diaspora

I have a theory, one of “collective guilt”, that comes with being Afghan and American. I feel it when I see news of Afghanistan, when my parents speak of their past, and when I hear melodies and poems from this far away place. I am reminded of my heritage every wake of my being; my mornings consist of hearing my mother sing old songs to my niece, smelling the spices my father drizzles over “tukhm” (eggs). I gaze at my reflection as I brush my teeth, and again, I am reminded of who I am. The slight slant in my eyes & my high cheekbones, a tiny reminder of my Hazara great-great grandmother. My dark hair and tall, slender body, a stark feature of most Pashtun girls. And my “accent” when I speak Afghan Farsi, officially known as Dari, the language I picked up as a child, distinguishing our Farsi from that of the Iranians, while simultaneously speaking Pashto, the language of my forefathers. I am, in every aspect, Afghan.

There is no greater pain than knowing your tax dollars contribute to the killing of innocent civilians in your country of origin. Drones have broken families on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and killed more civilians than insurgents themselves. Children are made into orphans and women are made into widows, and the struggle for stability in the region continues. The war bears little fruit, and as an Afghan-American seeing this, I cannot help but think I aided some way in this perpetual state of war.

I speak English. It is the only language I am fluent in. I spent the first 10 years of my life saluting to the American flag. I grew up with my peers curiously asking where Afghanistan was on the map. I did not know it would dominate the TV screen so soon.

Post 9/11, I hear about Afghanistan from the TV more than from my parents. I have this feeling of confusion, guilt, pain, anger, bottled inside me, all I want to do is trade places with my counterparts back home. I want to renounce everything and anything and take away the pain they are feeling. One second I feel appreciative and privileged, and the next second I feel spoiled-rotten and stupid.

I sense this guilt in my peers. From my Afghan friends at UC Irvine to my cousins who are just as American as me, we all carry it. This innate feeling that we should be doing more, that we’re stagnant in this society unless we are giving back. We feel an intrinsic sentiment of DUTY, that we MUST help back home, that we MUST spread awareness here, and pay homage to our parents past.

“Back home”. I have never been to Afghanistan. Most of my generation has not either. Afghanistan is not a vacation spot; planning a trip there carries heavy implications and most of my peers have not seen our motherland. All we see is the pain, the destruction, the women begging in the streets, the casualties of warfare, the pity the international community gives to our land. We learn of Afghanistan through books, through classes we take, through interactions with family from home, through the nostalgia our parents experience.

When I get stopped at the airport, I am reminded. When I pronounce my name, I am reminded. When I’m asked of my background, I am reminded. I automatically anticipate the response of my receiver when I say, “I’m from Afghanistan”. What will they say? A joke? A backhanded compliment? Pity? Will they ask me when I came, although I was born and raised in LA?

See, I think I can speak for my generation, when I say we’ll never feel totally 100% American. We can’t define ourselves by that label. When your TV screen displays an “enemy” that looks like you, speaks your language, eats your food, listens to your music – how can you feel American anyways? We will always be Afghan hyphen American. Afghan – American.

The Afghanistan Development Project at UC Irvine held a fundraiser every year of my attendance to aid in development back home. Our club consisted of maybe 15 students, from different parts of Afghanistan. We were political science majors, biology students, prospective engineers. But this little place the size of Texas, thousands of miles away, brought us together. We worked so hard every year for those fundraisers. It was as if the whole nation was counting on us. It was as if our hard work would show the world, our peers, our parents, that we remembered, we knew, we recognized, and we would give back to the land that shaped us, influenced us, and makes itself known in every parameter of our lives.

I think I will carry this guilt forever. My very existence in sunny Los Angeles feels like I am slapping the face of an Afghan orphan. This is how deep-seeded it is for me. But although I may feel this way for the rest of my days, I am trying, very hard, to funnel this pain and passion towards something proactive. I believe that Afghans feel a deeper sense of injustice than other groups. It is so easy for me to feel the sting of others, whether it be African-Americans, Palestinians, Syrians…I automatically “understand”.

So maybe this guilt will make us all better Americans. Maybe this guilt will allow us to actualize the principles of this country, liberty, freedom, justice for all. This is the curse of being Afghan and American, but I promise myself and my people, I will give my life to helping my brothers and sisters back home, and here in the States.

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Why #JeSuisAhmed, and not #JeSuisCharlie

We can all agree the terrorist shooting at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters is a devastating tragedy. And because I’m Muslim, I’ll have to work extra hard to convince you I think so. Well I do, and my prayers and solidarity go out to those affected by the attack.

However, I cannot, and will not, pretend that #JeSuisCharlie.

Rather, #JeSuisAhmed, the policeman gunned down in an effort to stop the terrorists. This Tweet sums up my feelings:

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Free speech is a beautiful thing. It is the platform where I exercise my right to use this blog. It is the concept I champion everyday, as a young, Afghan, Muslim, American. I exercise it in every second of my being. But convoluting free speech with racist speech can get a little iffy. Charlie Hebdo may hide behind the cloak of “political satire”, but lets get it right: satire has historically been used for the purposes of poking fun at the people on top, those in power, not the marginalized, disenfranchised communities who hold no power. Charlie Hebdo just straight up is xenophobic and racist. What am I talking about here? I’ll show you:

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“The sex slaves of Boko Haram are angry. ‘Don’t touch our child benefits!’”

Da f*ck?! Yep, Charlie Hebdo tastefully poked fun at rape victims of a terrorist movement that murder unapologetically. And that’s not the only time they’ve so grossly exercised their “free speech”.

France, stop fronting like you’re all for freedom of expression. You’ve banned headscarves and burqas before. You’re regulating how people dress…so puhleeeeez, shut the f*ck up with that bullshit.

Hollywood, it’s super cute that a couple of your celebrities are standing in solidarity too, but y’all censor ya movies day in and day out, and almost banned Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz for openly criticizing the Israeli government for last summers massacre in Palestine.

Charlie Hebdo, why do you say you equally make fun of all races and religions, but you fired veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet in 2008 for an anti-Semitic remark?

That’s why I’m Ahmed. Ahmed the Muslim cop. These lame ass extremists use our religion to perpetuate their violence, and it’s us sane Muslims who sacrifice ourselves in the end: our dignity at the airports, our pride when we’re the butt of jokes, our mental health when we read what “experts” have to say on Islam on TV, online, WHEREVER.

Ahmed’s death is symbolic of the battle all Muslims face, in a world that constantly aims to marginalize, vilify, and blame us for the work of a couple crazy mofos.

Big ass difference between “free speech” and “hate speech”, so while we all mourn the victims of this horrible attack, lets reevaluate what kind of principle’s we’re defending when we state, “Je Suis Charlie”.

 

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Single Middle-Eastern Female

Ok, so you’re turning 25 and you’re still single. All the homegirls from the block are either married, engaged, or boo’d up with the guys they’re probably gonna marry. Whether you’re Persian, Afghan, Armenian, Indian or Arab, the pressure to get hitched is there – in the form of your great-aunt Zara asking why you haven’t had kids yet. I mean, if it takes a couple months to get to know a guy, then maybe like a year to 2 years to figure out whether you FASHO wanna marry him….then like, are you getting married at 31?! Popping out kids at 34?!

Both my sisters were married by 25. My mom at 15, in exchange for some goats and some land (real talk). But a trend I’ve noticed is our generation is getting married later – so what? I know most of us dreamed of a khastegari (hand-in-marriage ceremony) by 23…but if it didn’t happen its not the end of the world. Sure, there are still those girls who found their partners earlier in life….but let’s celebrate the freedom we have to still be single and USEFUL in this society…I mean it ain’t the motherland. We have opportunities here.

Tonight, two of my homegirls & I sat over hookah and chai, lamenting our single, Middle-Eastern female selves, talking about who was boo’d up and who was talking to who and which douche was still popping bottles at Sound, when our engaged friend arrived. She began a list of complaints about her fiancé. Homegirl was engaged for 4 years, and madly in love with him, but she had problems too. He was a homebody, and she missed being young and social, she missed nightlife and spending time laughing, drinking, things my friends and I did every weekend. Like a sign from God, it clicked in my head, right then and there. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s just different grass.

So, single Middle-Eastern females – REJOICE! Tell Khala Zara to shut up, and celebrate yourselves, single & free.

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The History of Love

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Happy Birthday Mommy

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My mother is the all-powerful queen I aim to be, and the tyrannical monster I admire. She is an extremely intricate hypocrite; and she has lived for an eternity. She has the presence of Nefertiti and the smile of Diana, and she sometimes embarrasses her three daughters with her boisterous laugh and utter carelessness for those uncomfortable with her demeanor. She is the champion of liberty; being a refugee after being a commodity has opened her heart to all walks of life, and the gleam in her eyes reflect freedom. Her hands are Mother Theresa’s and her hugs are home. Her soul is scarred and she is often the victim of her own optimism. But it is her pessimism that brought the wrinkles around her eyes, and I have turned her hair gray. She is old because of me. Five nations can understand her when she speaks, and she has touched the soil of countless countries. She has one thousand friends and one million children, and I will worship her until my knees are bloodied and she has commanded me to stop. She has no sons but her nephews adore her. She protects her children like a tiger with her cubs.

And she will not let me kiss her feet. Those feet have travelled a lifetime, carried her daughters across borders, escaped political turmoil and fled a nation occupied by evil. They too are wrinkled and they ache all day; but to have the soles of her feet in my palms is Heaven. She, like her sisters, is hairless; her legs are smooth and a beautiful tan. Diabetes has tortured them, and sciatica slows her down. But her stride is royalty, and her scent is forever flowers. When she penetrates my dreams, I awake with a damp pillow and red eyes, how lucky am I to have her grace me, even in sleep? How lucky am I, to have lived in her womb and shared her blood? What made me worthy? Her voice is a reminder of God, and often late at night I hear her singing, in Farsi, in Russian, in Pashto, in Urdu. She drinks chai all day and watches CNN all night. She fights with Bill O’Reilly in the living room and tells her Republican friends to vote Hillary. She flirts with cashiers and sings old songs at weddings. She argues with cops and she questions authority and she tells me to dance until I die. And in an instant, she can throw you to the floor with her temper and powerful mood swings. She is a vengeful Pashtun to the core; to be cursed by her is a death sentence, for God is on her side, and He grants her every wish. To see her in a crazed fury is beauty at its zenith, the epitome of the human condition, the fervor and passion of generations. She is the daughter of Afghanistan, but the American dream, and she is a stronger patriot than Malalai, or Sojourner Truth. I love her because she is crazy and I hate her when she’s right. She is my best friend while being the open wound on my heart. Her poise and prowess frighten me and I cannot be anything but in awe of her valiant soul, her violent passion, and her piercing eyes. She shoots first and asks questions later.

& I will forever shackle myself to her temple; I will never stop begging at her altar. She quenches my soul and she completes my essence, and for as long as I grace this earth, I will thank her for my life, spent here in Beauty.

…A man once consulted the Prophet Muhammad about taking part in a military campaign. The Prophet asked the man if his mother was still living. When told that she was alive, the Prophet said: “(Then) stay with her, for Paradise is at her feet.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

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