Gurmukhi edition of Fauzia Rafique’s new novel ‘KEERRU’ now available

B&W photo by Danyal Rasheed, inset painting by Shahid Mirza
cover design by Mariam Zohra d.

From the Author of Skeena- a ‘little big’ book

ebook
ISBN 9780463342541

Available Everywhere
USA & the World: US$4.50
Canada: CA$4.50
India: INR101.00
Pakistan: PKR101.00

Instant Downloads
smashwords.com/books/view/1012167

‘The story of broken families, lovers, immigrants.
Five people come together in Surrey BC to
form powerful connections with each other, and
to tell a story that has rarely been told.’

Purple Poppy Press 2020, Vancouver, Canada

.


Shahmukhi edition
Paperback
ISBN 978-969-593-315-2
PKR300.00
Sanjh Publications 2019, Lahore Pakistan
sanjhpk@yahoo.com
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The 70th Anniversary of the Partition of India

Pakistan India

Seventy years on, there’s still hope.

On October 6, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad spoke on the 70th anniversary of the Partition.[1]

Ahmad’s argued that the truth about the Partition must be known before there can be any meaningful reconciliation between India and Pakistan. Only if Indians and Pakistanis confront and accept what happened in 1947, can there ever be light.

For instance, many Sikhs revere the Maharaja of Patiala, Yadavindra Singh (1914-1974) as the icon of a bygone age. Some have suggested that he even gave sanctuary to Muslims during the violence of the Partition.[2]

yada

Ahmad’s research in the The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed (which includes eye-witness accounts from Patiala including from members of the Sikh community), shows a Maharaja who planned to cleanse his kingdom of his Muslim subjects.[3]

This was a shock even for some of my better educated friends in Patiala to learn. Maybe it’s time to pierce the veil of lies and illusions both India and Pakistan have woven these past seven decades. The Partition has scarred the subcontinent. Now it’s time to heal. Seek the truth. Study extensively, inquire carefully, sift clearly, and practice earnestly.[4]

 

Notes

[1] The lecture was part of a conference presented by the South Asian Film Education Society and the South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy presented at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University between October 5th to the 8th.

Dr. Ahmad is a now retired professor who taught Political Science at the University of Stockholm in Sweden. He was also a visiting professor at the National University of Singapore and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

[2] This last point is suggested by filmmaker Sara Singh in The Sky Below.

[3] Ahmad’s research has also been cited and excerpted in magazines and editorials like in the Hindustan Times, Frontline and Caravan.

[4] The words of the Chinese philosopher, Zhu Xi (1130-1200)

View the Deleted United Nations Report on Israeli Apartheid

Below are links to the ‘disappeared’, ‘deleted’ and ‘taken down’ United Nations report on Israeli apartheid. The report titled ‘Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid’ was removed from the website of U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (UNESCWA) at the end of last week ‘following pressure from the U.N. Secretary General.’ As well, Rima Khalaf, the head of UNESCWA, resigned ‘after she was asked to withdraw a report her agency published earlier this week that stated Israel is an “apartheid regime.” (mondoweiss.net/2017/03/resigns-refusing-apartheid)

Electronic Intifada has made it available, check it out below
electronicintifada.net

The 75-page report states in the beginning:

‘This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that
dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness
of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence
establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and
practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in
instruments of international law.

‘The analysis in this report rests on the same body of international human rights
law and principles that reject anti-Semitism and other racially discriminatory
ideologies, including: the Charter of the United Nations (1945), the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965). The report relies for its
definition of apartheid primarily on article II of the International Convention on the
Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973, hereinafter the
Apartheid Convention):

The term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of
racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to…
inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by
one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically
oppressing them.

‘Although the term “apartheid” was originally associated with the specific instance
of South Africa, it now represents a species of crime against humanity under
customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court, according to which:

“The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts… committed in the context of an
institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group
over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining
that regime.

‘Against that background, this report reflects the expert consensus that the
prohibition of apartheid is universally applicable and was not rendered moot by
the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia).’

It is outrageous that the report was removed and that the Honorable Rima Khalaf had to resign. Freedom of expression? International Law? Human rights? Integrity of research? Not if it doesn’t suit Israeli Power Holders in the United States.

Photo from: scribd.com

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Film Review: Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai

muzaffarnagar-riots-_032716094254

Directed by Nakul Singh Sawhney

There was a time when Muslims and Hindus lived together in Muzaffarnagar. Their children played cricket. They celebrated Eid, Holi and Diwali. They worked the fields and sat on farmers’ collectives like the Bharatiya Kisan Union. The town was referred to as “Mohabbatnagar,” the city of love.

In September 2013, however, the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts of Uttar Pradesh suffered one of the worst pogroms in modern India’s history. Over 100 people (mostly Muslim) were massacred while more than 80,000 were displaced. Homes were wrecked, mosques were vandalized and dreams turned to dust.

In Muzzafarnagar Baaqi Hai, Sahwney probes the underlying causes of the pogrom. He shows how the BJP (and its agents) instigated the pogrom to win the general election of 2014 which brought Narendra Modi to power. The BJP was assisted in Muzaffarnagar by local Hindu Jats who used the pogrom to seize Muslim property, women and wealth.

Sawhney also unravels the BJP’s strategy in stirring up violence for votes. First, they turn Islamist terrorism into the new bête noire deeming Muslim youths as members of ISIS. Second, they revive the idea that Hindus have been “cheated” with election banners and posters speaking about “struggling” for Hindus. Third, they play on old anxieties of Hindu men about Muslim men stealing Hindu girls through the new “Love Jihad” conspiracy.

Those who survived the pogrom were put into camps. As Sawhney shows, however, the refugees failed to receive adequate provision for food or medical care. When it was discovered that over one hundred children died in the camps due to disease, the government has the camps bulldozed to avoid any unwanted scrutiny.

Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai is a difficult film to watch. Sawhney could have reined in the many threads in the documentary (such as the Bharatiya Kisan Union) for a tighter narrative and unity of theme. Still, in giving voice to the unheard and letting us enter their world, Muzaffarnagar triumphs.

Quetta August 8/16

quetta-august8

PCSF on Balochistan Tragedy
Press Release
Lahore: Monday, August 8, 2016.

The Pakistan Civil Society Forum (PCSF) strongly condemns the target killing of President Balochistan Bar Association coupled with a suicidal attack at a hospital that has taken dozens of human lives. The PCSF consider this incident as a serious security failure of the government and all of its agencies.

The PCSF which is representative body of more 50 national level human rights and development organizations from across Pakistan, in a statement issued here on Monday stated that the innocent people are soft targets of the terrorists, and the security apparatus has failed to protect their lives, and these incidents are a serious security lapse from the side of all concerned.

The statement said that the entire civil society of Pakistan including the human rights and development organizations are angered and shocked at this brutal incident, and they console with the aggrieved families. The statement added that this particular incident that took place in a city where the security agencies are said to be always vigilant is a sad surprise for the entire nation and that has raised many questions on the performance of our agencies and implementation of so called National Action Plan, and about the short term and long term measures to eliminate terrorism, radicalization, militancy and target killings in the country.

Perhaps it is the right time to demand a clear and strong action against all sanctuaries of terrorists and their breeding ground. The statement said that now once again is the time to reformulate a clear stance to counter extremism in the country by expediting the role of law enforcement and security agencies. This is again the time for the government and security establishment to wake up and crush extremism and all those who harbor, support and promote such elements. The statement further said that the responsible should be brought to justice and those have lost their lives in this incident should be compensated in terms of ensuring security of the people of Pakistan. The PCSF also demanded:

• The government and security establishment must inform the nation about the real gains of it’s Counter-terrorism policies and hurdles

• Make public the details of enquiry report over this incident and all actions taken against those involved. Beef up security in all public places so that such incidents can be prevented in future.

Mohammad Tahseen
Convener PCSF

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‘What is happening in Palestine is a genocide and we will not allow anyone to bully us into sanitizing our words.’

Uddari supports the following statement
made by Dream Defenders on August 6, 2016.

dreamdefenders

Dream Defenders Statement
on the Condemnation of M4BL Platform
by Some Pro-Israel Groups

On Monday, the Dream Defenders along with 50 other organizations, representing hundreds of Black people across the country launched A Vision for Black Lives, an agenda that clearly defines policies, organizing tactics and resources to advance Black liberation. The platform included a call for the US government to divest from military expenditures and US aid to the State of Israel and instead, invest this war-making money towards building infrastructure to support Black and Brown communities in the US. Since our launch, some Zionist organizations have condemned the platform and have announced that they will cut all ties with the Movement for Black Live, going so far as to label some in the BLM movement anti-semitic.

Their response has made it all the more clear why we stand in solidarity with Palestine and with Black and Brown people around the world fighting for justice.

Those who have previously claimed to be allies of the Black lives matter movement have shown us that they are comfortable with our resistance so long as it fits within particular confines and restrictions. It is convenient to endorse black lives matter when it benefits you. And as long as we stay silent about Israeli apartheid, they will “stand” with Black liberation in the US. Now that our movement has taken a stand against all forms of white supremacy and oppression, Black lives no longer matter. We want no part in this quid pro quo form of politics. True solidarity does not come with strings attached.

We’ve been dealing with this type of hypocrisy with our supposed “allies” for generations. On the American left, there are many wolves in sheeps clothing. You have revealed yourselves. And now that we know who you are, we will not forget.

We remain steadfast in our condemnation of the State of Israel and their illegal occupation of the Palestinian people’s homeland no matter the consequence. Solidarity with Palestine is not a requirement, it is a choice” and is rooted in the basic understanding that the state violence we experience is directly tied to the violence facing Black and Brown communities in Palestine and around the world. While our struggles are not identical, we recognize that we are up against the same systems. What is happening in Palestine is a genocide and we will not allow anyone to bully us into sanitizing our words. In 1948, the State of Israel created a Jewish majority by destroying approximately 500 Palestinian towns and driving over 700,000 Palestinians out of their homeland.  Ethnic cleansing continues today in the form of expulsions, Jewish-only settlements, massive attacks in Gaza and across Palestine, in addition to over 50 Israeli laws that sanction discrimination and apartheid.

As Black and Brown people living in the US, the heart of global empire, we bear a particular responsibility for global liberation. It is our taxpayer dollars that are funding Israeli apartheid and a military industrial complex that is devastating entire peoples and communities throughout the world.  Having an international analysis, means we must call for the divestment of our support of Israeli apartheid and to the wars being waged in Africa, Latin America and throughout the Middle East, just like we are calling for a divestment from the policing of our neighborhoods and incarceration of our people. This is both an ideological and a strategic decision. Resources are needed to advance the Vision for Black Lives platform and there are plenty of resources to be distributed, they are just being spent on waging war against, rather than stabilizing, our peoples.This is why the Dream Defenders believe in Black and Brown solidarity and why we fight for the liberation of Palestine.

We have more work to do now than ever before. In moments like these, we must double down and fight on. Check out A Vision for Black Lives – it is full of information about potential legislative action at the local, state and federal level and campaigns to support our efforts to advance global liberation. Launch a Campaign in support of the Boycott Divest and Sanctions Movement to show the State of Israel that we do not support their oppression of the Palestinian people. If you want to see it for yourself, look to organizations who run delegations with a principled stance that would allow for a real look at the situation on the ground, not a manicured one. Read more about what Black Palestinian solidarity means and looks like here. Do not stay silent. We applaud Jewish organizations like, Jewish Voices for Peace, If Not Now and the Jews of Color Caucus  that have spoken out in this moment in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and have called upon others to do the same.

The Dream Defenders remain committed to a world in which ALL people are free. As Black people fighting for our freedom, we are not thugs and our Palestinian brothers and sisters are not terrorists. For the children who are met with tear gas and rubber bullets as they walk home from school, for the families of those we have lost to police violence, for the communities devastated by economic violence and apartheid walls, we fight. To all those who believe in a world in which all people are free, join us. For those who no longer stand with Black people because of this belief, goodbye. We do not need nor want you in our movement.

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Goodbye Sabri

sabri

Written by Randeep Singh

I was not a fan of Amjad Sabri. I don’t know any of his tunes. Why am I mourning his passing?

Sabri was one of the leading singers of qawalli in the subcontinent. As part of the Sabri brothers, he performed in dargahs, concert halls and stadiums around the world.

He was shot dead today in Karachi. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility. In the past ten years, Pakistan’s Sufi Islamic culture has been bombed, murdered and assailed. Shrines are attacked, worshippers are killed and festivals are fired on.

No one is pure in the Land of Pure. Not Sabri, a devotee of Allah and His Prophet. Not Farid or Data Ganj, Sufi poets and cultural icons of Pakistan. Only the new guardians of Islam show the straight path. They are the masters of the day of judgement …

Goodbye Sabri. May your voice lift the spirits of those you left behind. May Pakistan preserve your legacy and the spirit of its culture.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed! Protect Bangladesh’s Secular People from Religious Fanatics!

photo-ap
Bloodstained glass is visible near the spot where Samad was hacked to death. Photograph: AP’ an earlier image from the theguardian.com

In the past week, a gay rights activist and the editor of the only LGBT magazine Xulhaz Mannan was murdered with Tanay Mojumder, a community organizer, for being ‘pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh’. This came two days after the killing of Rezaul Karim Siddique, a professor Of English, for promoting secular ideas. More is here:
washingtonpost.com

It appears to be an ongoing strategy of religious fanatics to eliminate their critics and others who do not believe in their favored religion. It’s happening not just in Bangladesh but also in India, Pakistan and elsewhere. We are proud to stand against religious bigots everywhere.

Please use the following links to send messages urging the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wajed to take necessary steps to assure safety of secular people, journalists, writers and activists.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Send an email
info@pmo.gov.bd
Send a Facebook message
facebook.com/Sheikh-Hasina-Prime-Minister-of-Bangladesh
H. E. Kamrul Ahsan
High Commissioner for Bangladesh in Canada
Send an email
bangla@rogers.com

Sample message to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh
‘We condemn the three extra-judicial murders of secular minded people in Bangladesh, and we demand from Bangladesh government to take necessary measures against religious extremists to assure safety of peaceful activists, journalists and educators. These killings give us a clear view of the extreme religious mind: It is intolerant, uses bullying tactics, tries to bend others to their will with violence, uses sickening cruelty, disregards laws, becomes the judge and the jury, dishes out death instead of justice. Your government must act with force and conviction to defeat this mindset.’

Secular Pakistan & Uddari Weblog
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60 Vancouver Area Writers/Artists Sign Support Letter for Indian Authors

bolaka-bo-bally

Writers, artists, performers, filmmakers, academics and activists of Vancouver Lower Mainland have added their names to support the heroic action of our Indian peers in their struggle against the regime-encouraged intolerance of Indian society.

‘We, the writers and artists of Vancouver Lower Mainland, fully support the protesting Indian authors, artists, actors and filmmakers who have returned their awards and those who have resigned from their posts to protest the Indian establishment’s inaction over the cold-blooded murders of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, and in August, of Prof Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi. The protest also marks the general escalation of intolerance in Indian society projected in the recent Dadri incident where an alleged ‘beef-eater’ was lynched by a mob.

‘We urge the Government of India and its literary establishments to listen to protesting authors and artists and to take required action to create a tolerant society that is able to protect freedom of expression and the human rights of all its citizens.’

Signed by the following 61 authors, artists, filmmakers, performers, academics and activists:

Joanne Arnott
Jarnail Artist
Chinmoy Banerjee
Krishan Bhanot
Ajay Bhardwaj
Sadhu Binning
Edward Blodgett
Aadil Brar
Nachhattar Brar
Harinder Kaur Dhahan
Iinderjeet Dhami
Barjinder K. Dhillon
Sukhjeet K. Dhillon
Jagdev S. Dhillon
kc dyer
Janet Fretter
Nirmal K. Gill
Sonja Grgar
Christine Grimard
Patricia Gruben
Pasi Gunguwo
Alan Hill
Sukhwant Hundal
Mahtab Janjua
Sana Janjua
Nirmaljit K. Johel
Ranbir Johal
Surjeet Kalsey
Avtar Kaur
Sushil Kaur
Shahzad Nazir Khan
Ranbir Khana
Rupinder Rupi Khera
Amarjit K. Manget
Amrit K. Mann
Jasbir K. Mann
Darshan S. Mann
Manolis
Kyle McKillop
Anne Murphy
Haider Nizamani
Nadeem Parmar
Summer Pervez
Randeep Purewall
Fauzia Rafique
Jeewan S. Rampuri
Ajmer Rode
Surinder K. Sahota
Jagjit Sandhu
Joginder S. Shamsher
Jarnail Sekha
Bakhshinder Singh
Neena Singh
Bonnie Quan Symons
Gurcharan Talewalia
Ashley Tombu
Raghavendra Rao K.V.
Rc Weslowski
Rita Wong
Julian Worker
Mariam Zohra

This support letter will be sent to protesting authors, and to the government of India and it’s literary agencies.

Signatories include individual members of New West Writers, Punjabi Lekhak Manch, Purple Poppy Press, South Asia Film Education Society, Surrey International Writers Conference, Surrey Muse, Uddari Weblog, and more.

Photo from Boiaka Bo Bally

Related posts
Add Your Name to Support India’s Protesting Authors & Artists
Support India’s protesting authors

Surrey Muse and Uddari Weblog thank everyone for participating in this signature campaign.

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Asma Jahangir: A Great (Punjabi) Woman

Asma-Jahangir-oslofreedomforum
I had to face imprisonment and house arrests, but it made me tougher. As a lawyer, many a time I took up difficult and sensitive cases dealing with minorities’ and women’s rights. Yes, I constantly receive threats, and to be very honest, at times it is very scary. But I have to continue my work.’

Asma Jahangir is a lawyer (to say the least) defending the rights of women, children and men in Pakistan’s harsh climate of religious extremism, misogyny and child abuse. She does it in the courtroom, on the street, in the media, and on the international scene.

Since 1972, when she launched a case against the Government of the Punjab for the release of her father Malik Ghulam Jilani who was arrested for resigning from the National Assembly to protest the Pakistan Government’s military action in Bangladesh, Asma has been an honorable and courageous leader of Pakistan’s political, legal and social movements. She was one of the leaders of the long and often dangerous campaign waged by women activists against the Hadood Ordinances and the draft law on evidence; She forced the parliament to pass a legislation in favor of bonded child laborers of brick kilns. She is a founding/serving member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Women Action Forum (WAF), Punjab Women Lawyers Association (PWLA), and of the AGHS Legal Aid Cell that offers free legal services to vulnerable population groups.

In 2010, Asma was elected as the first woman President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She is a former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and a UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions from 1998 to 2004, and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief from 2004 to 2010.

She is the author of Divine Sanction? The Hadood Ordinance (1988) and Children of a Lesser God: Child Prisoners of Pakistan (1992). She has received numerous international and national awards including honorary Doctor of Law degrees from universities in Switzerland, Canada, and the USA; the Right Livelihood Award or the ‘alternative Nobel prize’ in 2014; American Bar Association’s International Human Rights Award in 1992; the Martin Ennals Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, and Sitara-I-Imtiaz in 1995.

Asma was placed under house arrest and later imprisoned for participating in the movement for the restoration of democracy against the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq in 1983. She, and her family, has often been a target of vandalism, violent attacks, hate campaigns and character assassinations carried out by militant groups, political interests and their media representatives. Un-deterred, she continues to be a force to reckon with for each successive government, and for the interest groups who violate the rights of people.

More on Asma is here
oslofreedomforum.com
dw.com

Contact Asma Jahangir
crisisgroup.org
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wikipedia

View the above on its page
Great Women of Punjabi Origin

Years of unceasing democratic work against armed and unarmed adversaries, and in over four decades of active politics, Asma has refused to serve the interests of any colonial, hegemonic or familial power. At all times, she has taken a firm stand on the side of the people, often being victimized, and she has gone onto extend protection to them wherever and whenever possible. The local and international power brokers have introduced their own heroes who come backed with enormous resources and a wide international network of organizations, forums and media outlets. As is the nature of colonizing mind, they make it appear as if Pakistani women had no history of resistance prior to their presentation of it.

May be all this money, resources and influence will for some time sideline our real heroes such as Asma Jahangir, Hina Jillani, Hussain Naqi, Abdur Sattar Edhi and others. But sooner or later we will see through these schemes, and we will be able to acknowledge the ceaseless contributions to the betterment of our lives of our heroes like Asma Jahangir, and we will find deserving ways to nurture and honor them.

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

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Support India’s Protesting Authors

sahitya-akademi

Uddari fully supports the protesting Indian authors who have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards, and those who have resigned from their posts, to protest the Akedemi’s inaction over the cold-blooded murder of fellow member Dr Malleshappa Kalburgi in August, and at the general escalation of intolerance in Indian society examplified in the recent Dadri incident where an alleged ‘beef-eater’ was lynched by a mob.

As well, Uddari rejects the Modi Government’s attempt to trivialize writers’ valid protest against human rights violations and growing constraints on the freedom of expression as just ‘personal choice’ of individuals.

The courageous authors who have returned their Sahitya Akademi Awards are Punjabi writers Waryam Sandhu, Atamjit, Ajmer Aulakh and Megh Raj Mittar; Malayalam writers K Satchidanandan, Anand, Sarah Joseph, Subhash Chandran, Shashi Despande, and Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas; Hindi writer Uday Prakash, English novelist Nayantara Sahgal, Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi, and ‘Yuva Puraskar’-winning author Aman Sethi. This had begun earlier by six Kannada writers Veeranna Madiwalar, T. Satish Javare Gowda, Sangamesh Menasinakai, Hanumanth Haligeri, Shridevi V Aloor and Chidanand Sali who had returned their awards to put pressure on the administration to take action on the murder of Dr. Kalburgi.

Uddari urges our readers to send messages to relevant authorities such as the Indian embassy in the USA, Consul Generals of India in Vancouver and Toronto, or to Sahitiya Akademi in India to strengthen the the efforts of protesting writers and activists. Here is the contact information.

Sahitiya Akademi
Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi-110001
Phone: 91-11-23386626/27/28, Fax: 91-11-23382428
Secretary: 91-11-23073002, 23387064 (Direct line)
e-mail : secretary@sahitya-akademi.gov.in

Embassy of India, USA
2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 939-7000
Fax: (202) 265-4351
Embassy Hours: 930 AM – 600 PM EST

Consulate General of India, Toronto
Mr. Akhilesh Mishra, Consul General
cgindia@cgitoronto.ca

Consulate General of India, Vancouver
Mr.Rajiv Kumar Chander, Consul General
indiacg@telus.net

kalburgi-surrey-rally
In September, a rally was held in Surrey BC by Taraksheel Sabha to protest the murder of Dr. Kalburgi

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frafique@gmail.com

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Why Criticizing Islam is Not Islamophobia

Hallaj

Written by Randeep Singh

Writing in the wake of Charlie Hebdo in Al-Jazeera, Abdullah Al-Arian argues that Islam has been “unfairly criticized and ridiculed” by the West for centuries. Such a history, he writes, has prejudiced the West into into painting Islam as illiberal and intolerant.

Islamophobia is a reality. So too are problems within Islam and the Muslim world. Islamophobia should be condemned; but not criticizing or questioning Islam or Muslim societies.

If I criticize Islam for engendering patriarchy, the persecution of minority groups and its smug, supremacist view of itself, it’s because I have criticized Christianity for the same reasons. I oppose Christian organizations for their homophobia, without hating Christianity. I criticize Israel without hating Jews. I criticize Islam without hating it. I am not hating or fearing anyone: I am striving for equality, inclusion and justice regardless of who or what we are.

The fight for freedom of expression is not a clash between civilizations. It has been happening within the Muslim world for centuries. Mansur Al-Hallaj (856-922) became a martyr for proclaiming “I am the Truth (God).” Sarmad (1590-1661) too was martyred for his “heretical” views. Bulleh Shah (1680-1757) challenged the mullah for his sectarian views. In modern times, Nazim Hikmat (1902-1963), Saadat Hassan Manto (1912-1955) Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-1984) and Naghuib Mahfouz (1911-2006) have all been imprisoned, exiled or censured for their art and political views.

Criticism of the Muslim world as illiberal and intolerant today is likewise vindicated. Just ask Raif Badwai, the blogger who recently received 50 lashes in Saudia Arabia. Or ask Aasiya Bibi, the Christian women who languishes in prison on charges of blasphemy in Pakistan. Or how about Salman Rushdie?

Without change, the Muslim world will become progressively more intolerant and creatively barren. Denying any criticism of Islam produces a culture which is afraid to ask questions and unable to find answers.

‘I’m Charlie / I’m Ahmad – Je Suis Charlie / Je Suis Ahmad’ by Fauzia Rafique

jesuischarlie

If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.’ ― Noam Chomsky

I am Charlie
In protest and condemnation of the slaughter of 10 unarmed journalists of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, their bodyguard, and a police officer, by a faction of religious extremists who were ‘offended’ by the publication’s cartoon depictions of Prophet Mohammad.
Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws are based on this same thinking where hundreds of non-Muslims and Muslims face brutal lynchings and killings each year from militants claiming their religious sentiments were offended.
The perceived inciting of this ‘religious offence’ is given as a valid reason to shoot, kill, behead, stone, burn, drag- other humans.

I am Charlie
To stand with grieving families and friends now facing trauma of the violent killings of loved ones.

I am Charlie
To strengthen and support progressive movements in France and elsewhere so that this incident is not used to further victimize Muslims, immigrants, People of Color, rights activists and other outspoken or vulnerable groups.

I am Charlie
To show solidarity with Vive Charlie Hebdo! to uphold our right to Freedom of Expression.
charliehebdo-cover

I’m Charlie
To challenge the argument that because Charlie Hebdo is seen to be a ‘racist’ publication (or ‘bad’ journalism) feeding into the systemic racism and Islamophobia of French society, we should not be enthusiastic in condemning the killings or going all out in support of the Freedom of Expression movement. This gives me the chills. It reminds me of some of the ‘reasons’ or ’causes’ of rape given to us that are based on the belief that women cause themselves to be raped by wearing provocative clothes or by staying out late at night or any number of things; Or that a child’s playful behavior invites an adult abuser to sexually abuse them. To say that a racist publication was attacked because it purposefully offended religious sentiments of Muslims in France and elsewhere, is actually saying that the victims of violence caused the violence by offending the sentiments of the attackers. Isn’t this the basis of ‘honor’ killings, blasphemy killings, and other hate crimes against women, minorities and under-privileged people in Pakistan? As well, enough victim blaming and shaming happens against underprivileged population groups in Canada. It’s not about the publication or attacked persons nor it is about placing value on them, but fighting the mindset that wants to or needs to annihilate it’s critics.

I’m Charlie / I’m Ahmad
To honor the Muslim police officer who may or may not have been ‘offended’ by Charlie Hebdo but he gave his life defending the journalists.

I am Charlie
To resist and fight the loud echoes in my ‘progressive’ circles scaring people with ‘Islamophobia’ allegations; and, the convoluted thinking of extreme religious fundamentalists who are silencing people by inflicting death.

I am Charlie
To insist on my right to investigate, describe, satirize, humourize and criticize without fear everything that concerns me.

I may detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ —Voltaire

Images and some information from PEN American Center‘s facebook and web pages.
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‘Three Deaths in the Summer of 2014’ by Sana Janjua

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An extraordinary painter
had died in Pakistan
with his mind
split from the agony of
rush-wounding consciousness,

and an Ahmedi woman so ordinary
no one would remember her name
was killed with a child in her womb.

When he was alive,
he was always dying
from the pain of having witnessed
too much of what happened
on ordinary days in Pakistan
in the last two decades.

When she was alive,
she was always singing songs
so that when her son grows older,
he can extraordinarily endure
the withered weather of wrath
unlike the painter.

I don’t remember all of that,
because my doctor says
my memory is suspended
to allow for survival.

I don’t remember that
one day when I was ordered
to convert, to bow down
to a god who will not forgive me
for the sin of having been born
on the wrong side of the fence.

I don’t remember how
I was called an imbecile
on that one evening when my heart
had already sunk below
the canal that weaved the
periphery of my city.

I don’t remember those many
nights when I would wake up
howling because the cage was
smaller than the limits of my
imagination, and I was drowning
in the venom of a decayed love.

But, what I do remember
is how I threw stones at your
martyred memory having
thrown away the last remnant
of my now deceased heart.

Art work by Ahmad Zoay.

A Pakistani Canadian playwright, performer and a poet, Sana Janjua is a co-Founder and the President of Surrey Muse since 2011.

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‘Children of Peshawar’ a poem by Ashok K. Bhargava 

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Muzzled flowers
Bullet ridden walls
Blood soaked books
Ask us –
What is this barbaric devastation?
We won’t live for it

Dec 18, 2014
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Sign this petition
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Separate Religion from State
Declare Pakistan to be a Secular Democracy

Support this action
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Public Meeting in Rawalpindi
Organizing society against the fascist onslaught

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