Thursday, 4 June 2020

A world where your child is your protector. Reflections on #BlackLivesMatter

©MIA COLEMAN, the Atlantic

It is half a century ago, a six year old boy, holding the hand of a young woman, my mother,  I was walking towards my maternal grandfather's village in Pakistan. Journey used to be long and tedious, and I being a six year old city slicker hated these travels to country. I asked my mum why she puts me through this torment - her response was she felt safe walking with a "young man" - a "mother" is safe on these roads, when a "woman" is not. Even at that age it hit me hard. I was a "man" protecting a "woman" in a dangerous world - journey to stereotypical male chauvinism started early, one would say.

Over the weekend I read a social media post from an African American man living in a relatively affluent suburban community in USA. He reflected that he goes out for his daily walks holding the hand of his young daughter. Because walking with his young girl he feels safe, because he is a parent, not a "threatening" black man who can be reported on to 911, or liable to be shot by a neighbourhood watch.

The helplessness of the account made the grown up man in me cry. Fifty years on, that woman and this man are still having to hold the hand of a child to feel safe. 

And then I saw the police in Seattle, Wahsington spraying the faces of five year old with pepper spray.  

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Donate safely this Ramadan - Check your charity before you give

According to reports Muslims in the UK donated over 100 million to charities last Ramadan. This was a conservative estimate that did not include donations to local mosques, private charity and donations to non-Muslim charities.

Unfortunately, not every penny given for charity reaches the deserving. Whilst most of the charities are legitimate and work hard to make your charitable pennies work harder, there are those who do not hesitate to exploit the generosity of others even in this holy month.

Charity Commission in the UK have listed the following top ten tips to help you make the right choice when donating your money for the good causes.
Presence of a Registered Charity number on a website/brochure/letter from a charity is not evidence that a charity is legitimate. Please check the charity's name and registration number against the online charity search tool.
  1. Before giving, check the charity's name and registration number against the online charity search tool: Find a charity - register of charities
  2. Fundraisers require a licence from the local authority (or the Police in London) to collect in a public place. Check that they have this. If the collection is in a privately owned place, check that they have the owner's permission.
  3. When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed.
  4. If in doubt, ask the collector for more information - a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.
  5. Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity's name, registered name and a land-line contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.
  6. Make sure when you give to radio and television appeals that the process is secure. Ofcom lists the rules for radio and television charity appeals on its website: Licensing - Ofcom website
  7. Take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity's website to ensure that they are genuine. Instead, search online for your chosen charity to check you have the right web address. For further guidance see: Guidance for donors - Get Safe Online
  8. Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to ascertain whether they are from a genuine charity.
  9. After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and inform the Charity Commission: Action Fraud - Police
  10. Don't be pressurised to give to a collection immediately. If in any doubt, donate directly to charity.
Charity's Commission has also produced this very useful video to help avoid giving your charity to wrong people and charities.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a free open air art exhibition of works by major UK and international artists. It sprawls over 500 acres in West Bretton near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England. Damien Hirst, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth are among a vast selection of artists represented.

It is a great place for a family day out. I would choose a dry day to visit. Plan your visit here Following are a few of the displays that I liked.

Friday, 14 April 2017

At last they came for me - and there was no one left to do anything about it. Mashal Khan

"First they arrested the Communists - but I was not a Communist, so I did nothing.

Then they came for the Social Democrats - but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. 

Then they arrested the trade unionists - and I did nothing because I was not one.

And then they came for the Jews and then the Catholics, but I was neither a Jew nor a Catholic and I did nothing.

At last they came and arrested me - and there was no one left to do anything about it."

Rev. Martin Niemoeller, Nazi Prison Survivor
 Now famous quote from Rev Martin Niemoeller was modified by Hussain Haqqani, ex Pakistani Ambassador to the US to reflect upon the direction Pakistani society is taking in terms of tolerance to dissenting views:

First they killed the Shias - but I was not a Shia, so I did nothing.

Then they came for the Ahmadis - but I was not an Ahmadi, so I did nothing. 

Then they killed the Christians - and I did nothing because I was not one.

And then they came for the Mohajirs and then the working women, but I was neither a Mohajir nor a working woman and I did nothing.

At last they came for me - and there was no one left to do anything about it." - Surviving citizens of Pakistan
Brutal, inhumane lynching of Mashal Khan, a university student in KPK province of Pakistan is not the first and doesn't looks like to be the last acts of barbarism in the name of religion in Pakistan. Such is the fear of intolerant attitudes that for twenty four hours of the brutal murder electronic media failed to highlight the incidence with seriousness that it merited.

Mashal, a self confessed Sufi leaning liberal student was targeted based on his alleged blasphemous posts on social media channels - I have scoured through and couldn't find evidence of one.

He was brilliant and inquisitive, always complaining about the political system of the country, but I never heard him saying anything controversial against the religion,” one of his teachers said.
Someone asked a question on Twitter: "What have you done today that you know added to your own character?"

Possible answer from Pakistan would be: While one courageous voice after another was being brutally silenced, I stayed quiet

"Pakistan is a peaceful country. Anyone raising voice is made to REST IN PEACE" - Mujaid Alam

Thursday, 31 March 2016

In Defence of the "Mullah" "Maulvi" and the "Maulana"

Recent religiously motivated protests across Pakistan made visible a new breed of mostly bearded protestors who knowingly or unknowingly were caught on camera using the filthiest possible language full of unthinkable profanities directed at the government officials and those who do not agree with their political views. Videos recordings of these foul tirades have hit the social and other digital media and there is an uproar among general educated decent people at the ascent of this new breed of so called "Mullahs". This brings me to the point of this post - these foul mouthed characters are not Mullahs!

Not every person sporting a beard is a Maulana, Mullah, or Maulvi. Not every Madrassa (religious school) in Pakistan is a breeding ground for extremism. The two symbols of virtuous Islam have been hijacked in Pakistan by a large majority of failed-every-where-else-in-life morons with tacit approval of self serving religious establishment, political opportunists, and military dictators.

These people do not have a right to represent Islam in no way form or shape. Ordinary decent people need to take that right away from them. While showing and commenting on there deeds, views, and language we should not give them the status of representatives of Islam by calling them Maulvis, Mullahs, Maulanas, Ashiqan-e-Rasool, religious protestors. They are none of these. Semantics matter when presenting a narrative.

There is also a dire need for real Ulama-e-Deen (religious scholars) to take note of this, come forward, and not be swept away by the lure of street power through thugs.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

#PrayforLahore Candlelight Vigil at Consulate General of Pakistan Manchester

Cowardly terrorist atrocity on Easter Sunday evening of 2016 at a children park Gulshan-e-Iqbal Allama Iqbal Town in Lahore left over 70 children, women and men dead and scores injured.

A candlelight vigil was organised by citizens in the North West of the UK to show solidarity with the victims and mourn the unnecessary loss of life. I was humbled by the number of people from across different religious, ethnic and national backgrounds who attended despite terrible weather conditions. Councillor Paul Murphy OBE Lord Mayor of Manchester, Tony Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner and interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, Rt.Hon. Sajjad Haider Karim MEP and many other representatives joined in a message of common grief and resolve that terrorism will not break us apart as a community.

It was a sobering ceremony conducted by Sajid Qazi Community Welfare Consular,  and Consul General Dr Zahoor Ahmed in Manchester.

Tony Lloyd's words sum up what every speaker at the vigil iterated:
“The Easter terrorist attacks in Lahore were reprehensible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We think also of those who have been injured and those who witnessed this terrible attack, many of whom are children.

From Greater Manchester, to Brussels, to Lahore, we are all part of one, great global community.

We share the heartbreak of those who are mourning today, we reach out a hand of friendship and solidarity, and we send a message of hope and strength.

That message is simple – those who seek to divide us through fear and violence will never succeed. Together we are stronger than the terrorists will ever be.”

Aftermath of the explosion in Lahore

Mr Iqbal Siddiqui of Pakistan Community Centre Manchester lighting the candles

Amna Ahmed, a member of civil society in Timperley along with a large number of ladies attended the vigil

Tony Lloyd interim Mayor of Manchester and Police and Crime Commissioner, Consul General Pakistan Dr Zahoor Ahmed, Sajjad Haider Karim MEP<  Counsellor Paul Murphy Lord Mayor of Manchester, Father FalakShair 

Counsellor Naeem-ul-Hassan, ex Lord Mayor of Manchester lighting the candles
Counsellor Paul Murphy Lord Mayor of Manchester and Dr Zahoor Hassan Consul General of Pakistan in Manchester
Counsellor RabNawaz Akbar lighting the candles 

Tony Lloyd Police and Crime Commissioner and interim Mayor of Manchester speaking to the audience

Counsellor Paul Murphy Lord Mayor of Manchester addressing the audience

Sajjad Haider Karim MEP addressing the audience