On March 18, a student in Pine Bush High School near New York City recited the American Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. This was done as part of the school’s Foreign Language Week, which was conducted to celebrate the “many races, cultures and religions that make up [the US and the Pine Bush] School District.”
One would expect the multicultural and cosmopolitan American society to appreciate such gestures. However, reactions to the recitation of the Pledge in Arabic spoke otherwise: the language in itself was described to be meant for terrorists! Such bigotry once again highlighted everything that is wrong with USA nowadays: xenophobia, racism, ignorance, violence and above all, Islamophobia. Continue reading
Of late, countries at the centre of the world — Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and even Lebanon for that matter — are going through troubles and disturbances. Be it the Arab Spring or militant insurgency, the overall atmosphere in most countries of the region has been turbulent, to say the least.
However, right next to these countries, the Gulf states, in spite of all their internal and external problems, have enjoyed relative comfort. Partly due to the fact that the natives of Gulf tend to prefer political stability over chaos, and partly on account of the cash reserves that oil and hydrocarbons keep generating, the Gulf states have, by and large, kept insurgency and instability away from their respective territories.
Yet, this does not imply that life is a bed of roses for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In fact, recently, the GCC has been doing its share of research and brainstorming over security and diplomacy issues. As of now, the security calculations of Gulf countries are being radically shaken. Continue reading
Back in 2011, South Sudan broke away from Sudan and declared itself as an independent state. Western media verticals, as well as many pro-secession pundits claimed that statehood will usher in a new era of prosperity and growth for South Sudan, and eventually, even Sudan will have to acknowledge the superiority of the South Sudanese state.
Apparently, those dreams are yet to come true, and with things going the way they currently are, prospects do not seem promising for South Sudan.
In fact, I have written about South Sudan multiple times: back in 2013 itself, I termed South Sudan to be a failed state — I am yet to be proven wrong. In 2014, troubled by the loss of life and property in South Sudan, I questioned the logic of secession, and even thought of ways to fix the blunder named South Sudan.
However, all said and done, South Sudan continues to prove itself as a failed state. Continue reading
Every year in December, Christians all around the world celebrate Christmas, marking the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, when it comes to venerating Christ, most Christians tend to go out-of-the-way and claim ownership of Christ. In Christianity, Jesus is viewed as the Son of God, or God Incarnate.
However, there is another religion that pays equal, if not greater, respect to Jesus, albeit in a slightly different manner.
Unlike Christianity that began respecting Christ only after he had left this world, Islamic veneration of Jesus began during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad himself.
Islam views Jesus as a Prophet of God, rather than Son of God. Jesus, or Isa as he is called in Arabic, is referred to by name in nearly 25 different verses of The Quran, with titles such as Messenger, Prophet, and even Messiah. In fact, all Muslim theologians view Jesus as a precursor to Prophet Muhammad.
So, is the fact that both Christianity and Islam respect Jesus enough to build bridges between the two religions? Or are the different versions a source of perennial tension between adherents of the two faiths? Continue reading
As we approach the end of 2014, world economy, the energy sector to be more precise, lies in a dismal state. Back in June, oil prices were at an all-time high. They have been slashed by nearly 40% since then. This rapid collapse of oil prices has had an adverse effect on various economies, such as that of Russia and Iran.
Russia, in particular, is having a bad outing — shrinking energy prices are followed by a rather crucial monetary crisis. The exchange rate of Russian rouble in relation to the American dollar has fallen by over 50% this year, and in the past week itself, Russian currency lost 17% of its value.
The question that now arises is: will the plummeting oil prices and a sinking currency spell doom for Russian plans of world domination? Continue reading
So Malala Yousafzai recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, and everyone all over the world is singing her praises. Rightfully so.
In fact, Malala’s case is probably the only one wherein all media verticals seem to be in absolute agreement, be it Al Jazeera, or Press TV or even Fox News. That girl deserves praise for her efforts.
However, whilst Ms Yousafzai was receiving her Nobel Prize, my attention was drawn towards the case of another young girl from Pakistan: Nabeela Rahman. Much like Malala, Nabeela too recently travelled to the Western part of the world, albeit the latter went to Washington instead of Oslo, and had an altogether different purpose in mind. Continue reading
Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.
– Winston Churchill
Churchill’s above statement provides a sweeping, and possibly one-sided picture, of democracy as a mixed blessing — a system with its boons and banes that just somehow works. Such a generic observation claims, on one hand, that democracy is better than any other non-democratic system, and at the same time points out that it still is not the God-given mandate to all problems that this world is currently facing. Unfortunately, a good number of Americans tend to agree with the first interpretation of Churchill’s statement, but overlook the second one.
Much like any other form of governance, democracy too is vulnerable. However, one can find solace in the fact that a democratic setup offers us the chance to have second thoughts about mistakes of the past: replace one set of fools with a new set of fools, for instance. The elected leaders serve for a given time period — such a time limit can control the amount of damage that they can do to their country or, in the case of USA, to other countries as well. Continue reading
Between October 3 and 6, Muslims around the world celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, commemorating Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his own son to show obedience to Allah.
I have put together some images of Eid al-Adha celebrations around the world. Continue reading
Scotland recently rejected freedom, and voted in favor of staying in the United Kingdom. Of course, this was not the last time we have heard from Scottish nationalism, and voices for self-determination and recognition will continue to be heard, until sovereignty is achieved and Scotland earns its rightful place among the nation-states of the world.
However, apart from setting a paradigm in self-determination for the rest of the world, the Scottish referendum also gave us a lesson in the ground realities of history and nationalism. Continue reading
First up: Robin Williams was a fine actor by all means. His death is an unfortunate and tragic incident.
As soon as word got out about Williams’ death, the internet mourned the loss of a very talented actor. Rightfully so. Social media, online publications, blogs and everything else was filled with “RIP Robin” messages, and people talked at length about the life and story of Robin Williams.
However, while social media did praise the works and accomplishments of Robin Williams shortly after his death, there was also a time when hardly anyone on Facebook or Twitter considered Williams to be the voice of several generations. That time was barely a week ago. Continue reading