Distant India in a Distant Time


Muslim refugees on a train from Delhi to Lahore, 1947 — Click to enlarge

Henri Cartier-Bresson is perhaps the most well-known photographer in India, or rather—an important distinction—the photographer whose work is most well-known. He first visited India in the fall of 1947. One of only two Western photographers granted access to Gandhi, Cartier-Bresson shot a series of portraits of the ailing leader the week before he was killed by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu chauvinist, in January 1948. Cartier-Bresson then covered Gandhi’s funeral and the national mourning that followed.

First published in Life magazine, these photos brought Cartier-Bresson worldwide recognition. They were also widely reproduced in India, and are today so familiar there that his authorship is usually forgotten. The same is true of many quieter, more tableaux-like photos he took on subsequent visits in 1950, 1966, and 1980. In “Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame,” the Rubin Museum brings together selections from each of these trips.

Whether the Rubin Museum is an easy trip – or not likely – this article is worth the read. History comes alive. The photographer’s eye is well understood. We learn, we learn more.

NYPD Copper, Combat Vet, Muslim – detained at JFK Airport


Officer Ali at home in BrooklynKarsten Moran/New York Times

❝ Syed Ali is an American citizen, an officer in the New York Police Department, a combat veteran and a major in the United States Army Reserve. But none of that made a difference at passport control last month when he arrived at Kennedy Airport on an evening flight from Istanbul.

❝ After landing, Officer Ali was led from passport control to a holding area for what Customs and Border Protection refers to as secondary screening. But instead of a quick check to confirm his identity, Officer Ali said, he was held for hours, past midnight. When he asked, after more than an hour of waiting, whether it would take much longer, an officer threatened to incarcerate him…

“I feel like my rights were violated,” Officer Ali said in an interview, still sounding a little shaken. “Are you telling me that every guy with the last name Ali is a terrorist? Are you telling me every guy with brown skin coming in from overseas is a terrorist?”

❝ Officer Ali’s trip was part of a vacation to decompress after a two-year military deployment to Kuwait, where he had served in Operation Inherent Resolve, the mission to combat the Islamic State. In September, he is scheduled to return to his regular job with the Police Department, where he most recently worked in the transit unit.

Officer Ali is one of a number of Muslim Americans who have complained that since the start of the Trump administration they have been subjected to additional scrutiny when returning from abroad, facing hours in airport custody and what they described as hostile questioning…

❝ Officer Ali said his feeling of powerlessness in airport custody “was one of the lowest points in my life.”

I’ve dedicated my life to public service,” he said. “I want my country to treat me fairly, too.”

Yup, tell me about “post-racial” America, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. We have a government run by sniveling chickenhawks like Trump, racist weasels like Jeff Sessions. It ain’t new. It ain’t getting old in a country where elections are managed by money and an electoral college that has little to do with democracy.

I’ve confronted crap like this my whole life and I’m native-born and white. The ignorant bigots I rejected in the 1950’s are back as strong as ever. Republicans roll over and stick their hind feet in the air out of something they call Party Loyalty – and ignore any loyalty to the Constitution of the United States and all the bits and pieces added trying keep our legal system within a couple decades of modern society.

Officer Ali faced the scumbag ideology that’s always been part of this country. The scum just has a better chance to surface when idjits elect a scumsucker to live in the White House.

Clowns writing Trump’s scripts are as ignorant as he is


Nigerian Muslim poet Albasheer Adam Alhassan – at present a bank manager 🙂

The world has learned to take things US president Donald Trump says with a pinch of salt and in celebration of a day more synonymous with pints of beers and shamrocks, president Trump delivered another one of his odd gaffes.

In a St. Patrick’s Day reception with Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, Trump quoted words from what he appeared to believe was an Irish proverb.

“As we stand together with our Irish friends, I’m reminded of that proverb–and this is a good one, this is one I like. I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it,” Trump said. “Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you,” Trump said, uncharacteristically reading from a script.

But it turns out, the “Irish proverb” is in fact part of a poem titled “Remember to forget” written by Albashir Adam Alhassan, a Nigerian poet. The gaffe may have been missed by prime minister Kenny, but it wasn’t missed by Twitter users.

RTFA for some of the chortles over Trump’s latest dull normal incompetence. Frankly, that the poet in question turns out to be Muslim is stone awesome. Being quoted by an anti-Muslim bigot is even better.

Intersections


Click to watch the video

Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha uses light and cast shadow to transform Rice Gallery into a sacred space of her own making that is open to all.

“Intersections” is inspired by Agha’s seminal experience of exclusion as a woman from Mosques, a space of community and creativity, while growing up in Pakistan. The wooden frieze emulates a pattern from the Alhambra, a palace where Islamic and Western discourses met and co-existed in harmony, and serves as a metaphor of union.

An art form I actually have some experience with. Never on this scale. Beautiful.

Original score by Mark Walley. Visit RiceGallery.org. Learn more about the artist at AnilaAgha.com. Learn more about the filmmakers at WalleyFilms.com.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

A young Muslim woman introduces President Obama visiting her mosque

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Click to get to the video

In her introduction to Obama’s speech, a young Muslim woman, Sabah Muktar, explained why the visit is important to her and other Muslim Americans:

In these uncertain times, some of us might find ourselves doubting where we fit in this society. Personally, this visit by our president is an affirmation to all Muslims; we are just as American as any other. It’s a gesture that invites inclusiveness of all faiths and color. More importantly, it’s an assurance for the Muslim-American kids constantly bombarded by anti-Islamic rhetoric that they belong…

I strongly believe to a lot of Muslims out there, the appearance of our president in our local mosque today does exactly just that. And personally, reassures me that I, a proud black, Muslim African American, am just as American and have the obligation to fulfill my loyalty to my country as any other.

Keep on rocking in the Free World.

Pic of the day


Click to enlargeReuters/Nacho Doce

A burqa and a pink-polka-dot Gibson Flying V electric guitar is not a common combination. Stereotyping, however, is exactly what Muslim woman and professional heavy metal musician, Gisele Marie, wishes to challenge.

Based in Sao Paulo, Marie, 42, is the granddaughter of German Catholics, and converted to Islam several months after her father died in 2009…Music is also a family affair for Marie. The musician grew up in a house of instruments, trained in classical piano, and has fronted the heavy metal band “Spectrus” since 2012…

“People do not expect to see a Muslim woman who uses a burqa, practises the religion properly and is a professional guitarist who plays in a heavy metal band, so many people are shocked by it,” said Marie. “But other people are curious and find it interesting.”

Before converting to Islam, Marie practised Wicca, a modern pagan witchcraft religion. She says that what she searches for in a religion is passion for life and the ability to be yourself.

I have no more criticism of Gisele Marie’s choice of religions than I do of any other. If she draws understanding and care for humanity, nature and life from what she believes – all well and good. As one may from most religions and many systems of philosophy. At root.

I’ve made it clear, often enough, I see no need to turn away from material reality. That is sufficient richness and truth for more than any one individual.

RTFA for more photos by Nacho Doce.

#JeSuisAhmed


Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

After the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” — “I am Charlie” — became the unofficial slogan of solidarity with the shooting victims. #JeSuisCharlie trended on Twitter, and people held up signs featuring the phrase at rallies all over the world.

Je Suis Charlie’s message is an important one in the wake of this horrifying crime. But now a new hashtag campaign, #JeSuisAhmed, has arisen to augment it. Its message of tolerance deserves — perhaps needs — to be heard as well.

#JeSuisAhmed honors Ahmed Merabet, the French police officer who was murdered outside the Charlie Hebdo offices by the same gunmen who went on to murder the magazine’s staffers. Merabet, in addition to being a police officer, is believed to have been part of France’s large Muslim community.

Twitter users have rallied to the hashtag to argue that Merabet, like the murdered journalists, should be honored as a defender of free speech — particularly because he died trying to protect a publication that had mocked and derided his own religion.

#JeSuisAhmed does not dispute the sentiment of Je Suis Charlie. Rather, it adds to it, by calling attention to the importance of tolerance as well as solidarity. That is important in its own right, but it’s also an elegant response to those who might respond to the attack with broad hostility towards Islam, or suspicion of Muslims as a group…

The hashtag was also a reminder that the victims of Islamist terrorists are primarily Muslim

In an update, VOX notes that candyass [my word] sources like the NY TIMES say Merabet’s religion is unconfirmed. While the British press reports that his family says he was Muslim and will be buried in a Muslim cemetery.

Close enough for folk music, folks.

Australia tweeted #illridewithyou – and traveled in solidarity with Muslims

#illridewithyou

Against a backdrop of fear and uncertainty following the hostage taking in Sydney, thousands of ordinary Australians turned to social media to spread a message of unprecedented tolerance and solidarity.

Trending worldwide, the #illridewithyou hashtag was a response to a number of Muslim listeners who called Australian radio stations to say they were scared to travel in public as the siege unfolded.

Users offered to ride on public transport with anyone feeling intimidated. They posted their travel plans and invited others to get in touch if they were going the same way and wanted a companion.

Police stormed the Lindt cafe in the central business district, bringing an end to a day-long standoff with gunman Man Haron Monis. There is still uncertainty about his motive for taking up to 30 people prisoner.

But the sight of hostages being forced to hold a black flag bearing the shahada, the basic Islamic creed – “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God” – in the window of the cafe seemed enough to make innocent people concerned about a backlash if they wore Muslim dress in public.

There is little wonder that Australian Muslims are scared. As research has shown, terrorist attacks and events seen to be “the fault of Muslims” have been shown to catalyse a sharp increase in the number of Islamophobic attacks perpetrated against Muslims going about their everyday lives…

All this might make the popularity of the #illridewithyou hashtag surprising. But what really underpins this social media phenomenon is the fact that ordinary people are not only aware but are prepared to do something about the Islamophobia that ordinary Muslims face in the current climate…

In the world of bigots you don’t even need to be Muslim to be lynched. You simply have to “look” like a Muslim or “dress” like a Muslim. The first person I recall being murdered by a bigot right after 9/11 was a Sikh in Arizona. Reality didn’t matter in the least. The distance between Sikh and Muslim beliefs includes centuries and are nations wide. Meaningless to a narrow-minded fool.

I mentioned this response to the siege in Sydney to my wife and her first recollection was folks in a software company she deals with in much of her IT work. They’re in Georgia. After 9/11, folks throughout their company made it a point to travel together with many of their fellow workers, Indian, Pakistani, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist – everywhere – to act as an additional shield against the bigots and fools who wanted to kill a Muslim ar at least some kind of non-Christian foreigner.

Turkish court convicts classical pianist of insulting Islam

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say has been given a suspended 10-month prison sentence for insulting Muslim values.

An Istanbul court found Say guilty of denigrating religion through comments he made on the social networking site Twitter, his lawyer said on Monday.

The 43-year-old musician, who has played with the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Symphony and other world orchestras, was on trial for sending tweets last year, including one that joked about a religious leader and some Islamic practices…

The court ordered a “supervised release” for Say, meaning that he would be free as long as he did not commit a similar crime within five years…The sentence was reduced to 10 months from 12 months due to good behaviour in court.

“We reject the charges against us but the decision is the court’s,” the musician’s lawyer told the court..

Say was not in court for the sentencing. But he denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated.

He is the latest in a series of intellectuals and artists to be prosecuted in Turkey for expressing opinions and his case has raised further concerns over rights and freedoms in the country, a democracy with a mostly Muslim population that seeks membership in the European Union.

Say, who is due to perform in Germany on Monday evening according to his website, is a strong critic of the Islamic-rooted government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a devout Muslim who expounds conservative values, alarming some secular Turks who fear the government plans to make religion part of their lifestyle…

If Turkey hopes to join a democratic assembly like the European Union that nation’s government will have to grow into the 20th Century – if not the 21st – and understand that democracy can be impertinent and even disrespectful.

It isn’t unusual for True Believers in any religion to wish to silence critics of their beliefs, lifestyle and sometimes hypocritical regulations. It isn’t considered the norm or acceptable in modern society for government to act as agent for that religion.

Hundreds of children dying in Pakistan measles outbreak

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Measles cases in 2012 have surged by almost five times of that the previous year in Pakistan, leading to the deaths of hundreds of children, according to an international health body.

Maryam Yunus, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday that 306 children died in Pakistan because of the infectious disease in 2012, a dramatic surge from to the 64 children in 2011.

The WHO said the jump was most pronounced in southern Sindh province, where measles killed 210 children in 2012. Twenty-eight children died there the year before.

The organisation did not give a reason for the increase in deaths, but a provincial health official in Sindh said that the disease hit areas where poor families did not vaccinate their children.

A provincial health minister said 100 children died in Sindh province in December alone, mostly in areas where many people were not vaccinated.

He said health officials recently launched a campaign to vaccinate 2.9 million children in the affected areas of the province and urged parents to get their children vaccinated.

“We are vaccinating more than 450 patients per day. We are working on vaccination since the outbreak of measles in the area,” Dr Shahid Hafeez Shahani, a government official, said.

Do the math. At the current rate, they will have vaccinated 2.9 children in just under 18 years. Some of them will already have children of their own – halfway through the project.

Pakistan has a poor health care system, unsanitary conditions in many regions due to poverty, and a lack of education about how to prevent disease.

Pakistani officials believe that the worst-hit areas are poverty stricken areas where children did not receive vaccination.

Many Pakistanis, especially in rural areas, view vaccination campaigns with suspicion as a western plot to sterilise Muslims…

Most people who contract the disease recover, but it can be fatal for malnourished children.

Ignorance, poverty, religion. You can pick the order of responsibility, which needs to be dragged into modern life, first. They all share the blame – and the same clueless government.