Saturday, August 19, 2006

On a brief hiatus - again!

It's summertime! Pardon me as I take off for a few days to get some much needed rest and relaxation.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Queens Museum presents Fatal Love '06

QMA presents
Fatal Love 06
Saturday, Aug 19th from 3-7 pm

For the 6th year, the Queens Museum of Art will host Fatal Love on
August 19th 2006 from 3- 7 pm, an event based around the principles of
independence, tolerance and freedom of South Asian nations. Designed
to raise discussion and examine current global struggles for
resistance, Fatal Love 06 will include political and radical readings,
discussions, screenings and performance.


3.15 Chanika Svelvilas and AALDEF "Suitcases on Tour"
3.30 Naeem Mohaiemen Video/ Lecture
3.45 Voices of Resistance Sarah Husain, Sham - e - ali Al
Jamil and Zohra Saed
4.45 Kiran Desai reading
5.00 Emergency Broadcast Artists
5.30 After Partywith DJ Siraiki

About the Presentations & Presenters:

Suitcases on Tour : Chanika Svetvilas and AALDEF
Within the performance/ Installation Suitcases on Tour, Red, orange,
and yellow suitcases, echoing the high security alert levels that
have become a part of daily life, will be carried into the Queens
from the park by youth participants, followed by a presentation
by AALDEF. The suitcases echo paranoia and suspicion associated with
unattended luggage during a time of heightened security. The images
portrayed on the surfaces of the suitcases not only question
contradictions or injustices of indefinite detention and racial
profiling, concerns the courts have been struggling to comprehend
since the 9/11 tragedy, but also the impact on families and the
relativity of borders and national identity. An immigration booth
right outside the museum manned by the Asian American Legal Defense
and Education Fund
will provide answers to questions by the public.

"The Young Man Was No Longer.." Video & Text, Naeem Mohaiemen
Originally presented at Dictionary of War, Munich
Judith Viorst wrote in Necessary Losses: I would imagine, with
absolute terror, the world going on and on forever - and me not
there. Freud writes that we are incapable of imagining our own death.
But I am here to tell you that's not true. Please God, I used to
pray, I know you can't take death away. But couldn't you just arrange
for me to stop thinking about it?

Naeem Mohaiemen is a filmmaker and tactical media artist. He is
director of Visible (, an artist-activist
collective that works on film-art interventions on migrant impulses,
hyphenated identities and post 9/11 security panic. Project excerpts
have shown in various venues, including 2006 Whitney Biennial (Wrong
Gallery). His essays include the forthcoming "Hip Hop's Islamic
Connection" (Sound Unbound, MIT Press, DJ Spooky ed.), "Invisible
Migrants" (Men of the Global South, Zed Books, Adam Jones ed.), "
Terrorists or Guerillas in the Mist?" (Sarai Reader, RAQS Collective
ed.), and "Why Mahmud Can't Be a Pilot" (Nobody Passes: Rejecting the
Rules of Gender and Conformity, Matt Bernstein ed.).

Readings and Discussions on "Voices of Resistance" featuring
Editor Sarah Husain and Contributors Sham e Ali Al
Jameel and Zohra Saed

Sarah Husain conceptualized this collection as a means of redefining
the stereotypical depictions of Muslim women that inundate current
western discourse on the Islamic "other." These women engage in
discourses concerning their bodies and their communities.
Challenging homogenous stereotypes of Muslim women as the "Islamic
Other," this eloquent collection of fiction, poetry, interviews,
essays,letters, and artwork celebrates diversity across race, nation,
sexuality, and gender. Most contributors live in the U.S., and the
focus is on post-9/11 America, connecting multiple immigrant histories
and memories of "home" with the personal and political in contemporary
daily life." Hazel Rochman

Kiran Desai
Desai will be reading from her new novel "The Inheritance of Loss"
Desai's second novel is set in the nineteen-eighties in the northeast
corner of India, where the borders of several Himalayan states-Bhutan
and Sikkim, Nepal and Tibet-meet. Briskly paced and sumptuously
written,the novel ponders questions of nationhood, modernity, and
class, in ways both moving and revelatory.

Emergency Broadcast Artists
The Emergency Broadcast Artists take political theater to the streets,
subways, parks, and any other public space they can find to stimulate
audiences to take action on pressing political issues such as
immigration reform, torture, war in the middle east, and rampant us
imperialism. EBA seeks to inspire folks to pledge to make resistance
a part of everyday experience. For Fatal Love, they will be
performing a brief skit on the relationship between the war abroad
and the war home. They will also be showing short video documentaries
of their actions edited by Tarik Sayeed and Tricia Wang.

For info contact:
Jaishri Abichandani
Director of Public Projects
Queens Museum of Art
718 592 9700 X 147

NYC Bldg, Flushing Meadows
Corona NY 11368
Tel: 718-592-9700

Internship Programme at the OIC Permanent Observer Mission in New York

Internship Programme at the OIC Permanent Observer Mission in New York

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), with its headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is the world’s second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations, with 57 Member States spread across different geographical regions of the world.
Program Description: The Permanent Observer Mission of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the United Nations in New York is providing a limited number of unpaid internships to college graduates, and, exceptionally, to college seniors during the upcoming 61st Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The internship programme will begin in September 2006 and continue until December 2006. Preference will be given to candidates holding Master’s degrees, applicants from OIC member states, and to those individuals that are able to intern full-time.
The Organization promotes solidarity and cooperation among its Member States in the political, economic, social, scientific, cultural and commercial spheres. In New York, the OIC Observer Mission coordinates the positions of the OIC Member States on issues of their common concern in the United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and other UN bodies. The Permanent Observer Mission of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the U.N. in New York is also entrusted with:

  • Following all matters of interest to the Islamic Conference at the United nations;
  • Coordinating the diplomacy of OIC Member States at the U.N.;
  • Maintaining close contacts with the UN Secretariat;
  • Creating, maintaining and strengthening working relations with the UN specialized bodies and institutions as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC);
  • Creating, maintaining and strengthening contacts with Member States of the UN.
Duties: The internships, which are unpaid, but attract university credits, are intended to expose selected students, under appropriate supervision and guidance, to the activities of a major inter-governmental organization, and its participation in the work of the United Nations. These involve desk studies and orientation to the OIC’s policies, and programmes; familiarization with the issues of OIC’s concern at the United Nations in the political, economic, social and humanitarian spheres; attendance at meetings and drafting issue papers and reports. The work is intense and instructive.
Application procedure: Applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds and academic disciplines will be considered for the internship programme. Candidates should write to the Permanent Observer of the OIC to the United Nations [130 East 40th Street, (5th floor) New York, NY 10016], enclosing a concise but complete resume, and indicating the reasons that have influenced them to seek this experience. The applications should include 3 references, at least one of which should be from their University faculty. Further clarifications, if any, may be obtained by communicating with the OIC office by sending an email to:

Further clarifications, if any, may be obtained from Mr. S. Shahid Husain, Senior Adviser. Telephone: 212-8830140, fax: 212-8830143, email:

Apply by:
September 18, 2006

Grounded flight: passenger muttered 'Pakistan'

Terrorism only serves to empower those in power. That's a sweeping statement, but for the most part, it is true.

This article serves as testimony to that statement. And look at the reaction of authorities in response to what seemed like somewhat abnormal behavior: they swing some air force jets right into action! My question was, why didnt such a thing happen when 9/11 occurred?

Considering that the Air Force can launch jet fighters to 29,000 feet in 2.5 minutes (according to Paul Craig Roberts - who was Assistant Secretary of t! he Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of t he Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions), why did a deviation from the flight plan not make the air force react as expeditiously on that fateful day?

So many questions, so many secrets...

Subway reading : An experiment in the making

My column for The Post just came online and i'm copying it below for your convenience.

We live in scary times!

Subway reading : An experiment in the making

In last week’s column I contended that a certain climate of fear was overtaking American society; that people were afraid to come out and speak their minds and protest on the streets, all because of a palpable fear of persecution. Be it their personal or professional lives that these people might be concerned about, such sentiments should never exist in a true democracy where all freedoms are rights and not privileges. Hence it is no wonder that people question modern American democracy. What did it start out as, and where has it come to? Most importantly, where is it going?

It is in such times that I, as a graduate student in New York City whose primary interests include Islam, South Asia, the Middle East among many others, could be perceived as a threat; even a terror threat. For a Muslim, travelling the New York City subway can be frightening in this day and age. The New York Police Department is by law now allowed to inspect any baggage that one takes into the subway. While civil liberties activists created a huge uproar about this blatant invasion of privacy and subsequently questioned the Police Department’s motives of how they could make New York more secure, New Yorkers are still not any safer. Just a few weeks ago, a man was nearly killed when a man with a chainsaw tried to murder him – on a subway platform! The victim got severe cuts to his chest and abdomen. Did any police officer not notice this man on the platform? And what about the countless molesters that lurk on the platforms? The security threats that are presented to daily commuters from non-terrorists are worthy of the police’s attention, not the contents of my backpack.

My readers will then understand my predicament when I travelled the city’s subways this past week with a book on Hezbollah by Lebanese scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb in my backpack. While I realized early in my life that one need not worry about what people say or think (unless, of course, you wear hot pink jeans), but with that book in my hands, I could not help but feel vulnerable; naked. It was an odd feeling I did not want to have, but my fears overtook me. Weird thoughts filled my head as I travelled the subway: “What will people think?” “Why not wait till I get home or to school?” “Is this a wrong book to read?”

Obviously, these questions and thoughts should have no relevance to the action I was performing: gaining knowledge. Instead, the thoughts perturbed me and the questions befuddled me. This past week has been like an experiment. I would notice what sort of people observed me and what sort of expressions they would give. Sometimes I would intentionally flash my book cover (featuring a bearded religious cleric with his fists in the air) and see what reactions I would get. Other times, I would just sit and read and wait for any heads to turn.

It was in a subway ride a few days ago that I had one of the most unsuspecting experiences in regards to the book. Sitting on a corner seat, I read a few pages of the book as I waited for my stop. A few moments later, a stocky African American gentleman tapped me lightly on one shoulder and took the seat adjacent to mine. He proceeded to ask whether he could find the book at a Barnes and Noble (the largest book retailer in the US). I answered in the affirmative and he asked if he could see the cover. He looked at the cover closely and made an effort to memorize the author’s name. He thanked me and then commented on how he was interested in the issue himself and wanted to know more.

The whole encounter could not have lasted for over one minute, yet it reinstated my faith in the freedom of expression the US is so proud of. Could my book-reading have actually turned out to be a PR stunt for the author? Perhaps. In any case, someone noticed and instead of giving me a weird look, proceeded to ask for more information. This thirst for knowledge reminded me of the very reason why I set out to read the book in the first place. My conscious rebellion against CNN as “the most trusted name in news” compelled me to dig deeper and ask harder questions.

Now when I travel the subway with a book in my hand, I think of all the people I am potentially influencing. You never know who can benefit from a seemingly inconsequential action. It proves my point that one need not be fearful of the unknown, and instead, should embrace the known. If your intentions are right, your actions cannot go wrong.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Galloway on his support of Lebanon - Sky News

"George Galloway has spoken out in support of Lebanon, saying he believes
Hizbollah is justified in attacking Israel. The Respect MP also lambasted
media coverage of the war and said the UN resolution means nothing.",,31200-galloway_060806,00.html

While Galloway has said the unthinkable (or unsayable!) I also feel he comes across as a man who has no allies. Almost tactless? While I praise him immensely and look up to him with utmost respect and admiration, he can get away with saying something like that because of his age and status in British society. Can my peers and I get away with something like this? I fear not.

In any case - enjoy! It's entertaining and inspiring!

Telegraph article: University students at centre of terror plots

This sort of news really saddens - and scares - me. As a graduate student, academic freedom is what I thrive on. The university is a liberating place where I can be myself - and study what I want - and not worry about the world. It is, in many ways, the last bastion of freedom in a world where the word freedom itself has lost its meaning - or taken on a new one.

So, it is not surprising when I read this article, that all I can think is, to what extent will they go to uncover these terrorists plots and their cells? Is this really the best way to weed such individuals out of society? Better yet, why not sit down and listen to their woes and address them. Isnt a long term solution so much more advantageous than short term peace of mind?

I may not be in Britain right now but similar things are happening right here in our backyard. NYC is apparently such an attractive target. I've copied some excerpts and it was after reading these particular paragraphs that I honestly felt fearsome.

The recruitment of Muslim students at British universities to take part in terrorist attacks is at the heart of the alleged plot to blow up passenger jets, it is feared.

A dossier of extremist Islamic literature has been uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph on the campus of a north London university, one of whose students has suspected links to the alleged terrorist attack.

Waheed Zaman, 22, a bio-chemistry student and the president of the Islamic Society at London Metropolitan University, was one of 24 people arrested last week. Material found at two portable buildings used by the society includes documents advocating jihad and a pamphlet on how to deal with approaches from the security services.

Prof Anthony Glees, the director of Brunel University's centre for intelligence and security studies, criticised university authorities for ignoring the threat to national security in their midst. "Institutions have not sought to address the problem: they have instead sought to undermine those who have raised the issue," he told this newspaper.

Extremist Muslim groups had been detected at more than 20 institutions, both former polytechnics and long-established universities, over the past 15 years, Prof Glees said.

I was taught that Jihad is of paramount importance to cleanse the heart and soul of all that drives it away from doing - and being - good. When Muslims of Muhammad's time would embark on jihad, they would return to fight a greater jihad - that of the heart and soul. Fighting the devil is a battle royale. And it is one that all humans - irrespective of religious background - do consciously. We all seek to do - and be - good. No religion professes violence. Whether we can digest this idea or not, we must live with the fact that we all indulge in jihad in some way or the other.

I've also been an active part of my school's Muslim Students Association (MSA) and it troubles me that a pamphlet "on how to deal with approaches from the security services" is now part of "extremist literature". How absurd!

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) actually has a toolkit on their website that gives details on what to do if you are confronted by law enforcement authorities. Such measures are absolutely normal for Muslims living in today's day and age because the net has been cast so wide that many many innocent people suffer invariably.

Let's nip the evil in the bud, but allow some roses to still grow peacefully...