THE CHRONICLES OF NADIYA AND HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS

Yes, I know, the title is somewhat misleading and slightly clickbait-ish, so apologies from the start…

I recently watched 2 brilliant documentaries, Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma and The Chronicles Of Nadiya. Both are highly recommended.

Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma (2016) is a HBO documentary based on the book United States Of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists by the brilliant investigative journalist and academic Peter Bergen. It could easily have been called The Chronicles Of Homegrown terrorists. The documentary focuses mainly on American citizen Shifa Sadequee, who is charged with conspiring to commit acts of terrorism against the USA, and the struggles of his family to prove his innocence. It also covers the 2009 Fort Hood shooting by Major Nidal Hasan, along with the effects this shooting had on families of victims and on the relatives of Hasan.

If you wish to glean an insight into why people do bad things in the name of Islam, why and how others are trying to stop them, and how the online world is complicating matters for all sides, then this documentary is well worth watching. Unfortunately I cannot find a link to the full documentary online, but if you get a chance to watch it on TV then please do. Anyways, below are some of my favourite quotes from it:

He was online. He was online all the time. So he got all these different versions of Islam through online interactions with people. – a sister of Shifa Sadequee

The conversations online are very often the blind leading the blind, posting of articles and scholarly works and trying to interpret them themselves. – lawyer for the Sadequee family

We all need to create safe spaces for folks to have conversations and to express unpopular views, out in the light of day, so that we potentially redirect these young men into a much more positive use of their intellect. – lawyer for the Sadequee family

Before looking at what is happening overseas, before looking at what is happening in our society or even our campus, the first thing to take control of is our hearts. – Imam Omer Mozaffar, Loyola University

Online, you are as potent as your words. – lawyer for the Sadequee family

A lot of the conversations that happened online are with folks who don’t have the level of knowledge he has. And therefore he is looked up to. And that sense of status is positive reinforcement. And it also gives one a sense of confidence. And that confidence makes you keep going down the same road. – a terrorism expert, referring to online conversations between Shifa Sadequee and other Islamists

I looked at this and I know this makes a lot of people angry, but I said “I’m not sure as a professional with decades of experience in the counter-terrorism business, I would characterise this as terrorism. Because if you’re looking at the psychological state of the person, do you want to jump to the conclusion that he clearly had a political intent? I though he was mentally imbalanced.” – Philip Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA Counter Terrorist Center, speaking about the 2009 Fort Hood shooting by Major Nidal Hasan

That’s the basic start. You just have to admit that things aren’t perfect and you want to make them better. – Kerry Cahill

You could argue there are a lot more dangerous things than terrorism. We ought to be focused more on cancer research, or obesity, or drugs, or gun violence. But that doesn’t capture America’s imagination as much as the threat from ISIS. – Andrew Liepman, former Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center

Look, I understand why Americans get concerned about terrorism. It can happen at the Boston marathon. It can happen in a military base in Texas. The randomness of this affects Americans. The fact that they cannot explain the ideology. But if I have to balance this against other things that affect American life, I would step back and say “I’m somebody who has practiced this for decades. I don’t worry about it very much.” – Philip Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA Counter Terrorist Center

We live in a 24/7 news cycle. ISIS is a big news story. 7 out of 10 Americans believe ISIS is a very serious threat to the United States, which is pretty astonishing because, if you think about it, the fact is that neo-Nazis, far right anti-government terrorists, are killing quite a number of people. Timothy McVeigh, in the Oklahoma city bombing, killed 168 people. So the point is there are homegrown terrorists who are motivated by ideologies other than jihad. If you do the thought experiment where the guy in the Kansas Jewish Centre in 2014 shouted “Allah-hu-akbar” instead of “Heil Hitler”, it would have got a lot more attention. – Peter Bergen

I’ve had people challenge me. People who don’t know the counter-terrorism business. Moms in suburban America say, you know, “You say you shouldn’t worry much. You’re wrong. I worry a lot. There’s this Muslim wave of terrorism that’s coming at us and it’s changing our culture.” My answer to them is, to be blunt, “You have GOT to be kidding me. You are welcome to worry, that’s your responsibility. But I’m an analyst and I deal with fact. The fact is if you judge threat by the impact on the American family, terrorism has a miniscule to near zero impact. – Philip Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA Counter Terrorist Center


Nadiya Bangladesh

On to the second documentary. Since winning The Great British Bake Off last year, Nadiya Hussain has written an adult cook book, she has written a children’s cook book, she has regularly spoken out against Islamophobia, she has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, she has become a columnist for The Times Magazine, she has become the poster child for British multiculturalism, she has baked a cake for the Queen, and soon she will be on the BBC comedy quiz program Would I Lie To You?

She has also made a two part program for the BBC called The Chronicles Of Nadiya. Aside from being a very clever play on the book title The Chronicles Of Narnia, the program is a cookery based travelogue with Nadiya visiting her family ‘back home’ in Bangladesh.

The first part aired a few days and is well worth watching, not just for the amazing food that is shown, not just for the positively infectious Nadiya, not just for the stunning scenery of Bangladesh, but also because it portrays Islam, Muslims, Bangladesh and its inhabitants in such a positive light. Nadiya, just by being herself, counters all the Islamophobic narrative that is out there in abundance. She effortlessly manages to speak out against negative stereotypes of Muslim women, so much so that journalist Abigail Chandler said:

The Chronicles Of Nadiya should be mandatory viewing for anyone who thinks that Islam is nothing more than the violence and terror that is regularly reported on the news…Nadiya is a natural, personable presenter, and The Chronicles Of Nadiya marks the debut of a powerful, engaging presence on British TV. She demystifies Islam in the most light-handed way, but in a way that could do more good than any amount of serious documentaries could. – Abigail Chandler

Her comments about the hijab also received some positive tweets, especially in light of recent burkini-related events in France:

Below is a link to part 1 on BBC iPlayer, along with a few quotes. Enjoy!

Nadiya on where “home” really is…

It’s odd because when I come here [to Bangladesh] I call back home [in England] “home”, and when I’m back home [in England] I call Bangladesh “back home”, so it’s odd because I feel like a confused person myself, because I don’t know where home is, because home’s here and home’s there, and I’m always constantly fighting for home to be Britain. And there’s times when I’m back in England where I’ve had abuse just stood on a platform on the train station. And then suddenly I kind of question whether it is home. And then I come here [to Bangladesh] and I feel so out of my depth and I think, “Well, how can this be home, then?” You know, I do sometimes wonder whether I’ll ever discover where home really is…But I don’t know, I just quite enjoy the pull of the two, I quite like being a part of two things. – Nadiya Hussain

Nadiya on emotionally reminiscing about good times with close relatives…

It really got quite teary, which I didn’t expect. And it’s odd because I think…sometimes, when you live away from all of this, you feel like you are the one who made you. You forget that these are the people who quietly sit and pray for you and think about you. I think I’m taken aback a little bit by everybody’s reaction. – Nadiya Hussain

Naidya and her cousin Eva talk hijab…

Nadiya: My religious beliefs also have an impact on what I wear…So, for me, I’ve been wearing my hijab for, since I was 14. So it’s like, that’s a long…17 years! I’ve been wearing it for a very long time. It’s not specifically because I came from a religious family. In fact, I think I came from quite the opposite. It was something that I found myself and, the first part of me finding religion, that was the first act that I actually did, it was to cover my hair, and I realised the importance, or the significance. It’s a sign of being a Muslim and it’s a sign of practising Islam. It’s a sign of modesty. And it’s just one of those things that you do do and I think everybody finds it at different stages of their lives.

Eva: I can’t imagine myself just taking my hair out and go out without my headscarf. I can’t do it.

Nadiya: I’m sure your hair’s desperate for air and sunshine. Mine is. Mine desperately needs some sunshine.

Eva: I feel uncomfortable without it now.

Nadiya: It’s your modesty. It’s covering your modesty, and hair is seen as something beautiful and you preserve that for only specific people.

Eva: It helps you not to attract people.

Nadiya: The only people who can see your hair are the people you can’t marry so, apart from the person you do marry. So your husband, your dad, your dad’s brothers and, um…

Eva: Nieces and nephews. Your own nieces and nephews.

Nadiya: Your mum’s brothers…and your own brothers. So these are the people you can’t marry.

Eva: Grandad!

Nadiya: And Grandad.

Eva: They keep us, like, as a jewel, don’t they? In Islam, that’s what they call us. Like, you don’t let your queen out, like, on the street.

Nadiya: When something has been sort of polarised by the media, or an event, there is fear of, “Oh, my God, I’m wearing something that everyone’s going to look at and say, ‘Well, we blame you,’ ” and that fear of being chastised or being, you know, just being criticised or, you know, being blamed for something we’re not responsible for.

Eva: We haven’t done anything wrong. So why should we change ourselves?

Nadiya: I think it strengthens my belief in who I am and the choices that I make.

Nadiya BBC

18 Funny-ish Quotes

After a few serious blog posts I thought it best to try and lighten the mood. So please find below 18 hopefully funny-ish quotes from the likes of Doug Stanhope, Nazeem Hussain (pictured below), Jeff Mirza, and Shazia Mirza (no relation, I presume). Anyways, enjoy!

nazeem-hussain-legally-brown-2

A guy’s driving down an old country road and he sees a farmer in his orchard feeding his pigs, but what he’s doing is he’s taking one pig at a time, holding him up, letting him eat an apple out of the tree, and then setting him down before picking up another pig and letting him eat an apple. So the guy pulls over and walks up to the farmer and he says, “Wouldn’t it save time to just knock all the apples on the ground and let the pigs eat them all at once?” And the farmer, confused, looks at him and says, “What’s time to a pig?” – Doug Stanhope

A long and wicked life followed by five minutes of perfect grace gets you into Heaven. An equally long life of decent living and good works followed by one outburst of taking the name of the Lord in vain, then have a heart attack at that moment and be damned for eternity. Is that the system? – Robert A Heinlein

A string and his friends walk into a bar, and the string goes up to get a drink and the bartender says, “We don’t serve strings here.” So the string ties himself in a loop and does up the top of his head and then goes up to the bar, and the bartender goes, “Uh…are you a string?” And the string goes, “No, I’m a frayed knot.” – Kumail Nanjiani

A Sunday school teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church service, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” One bright little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.” – Anon

A thoughtful gift for Mother’s Day would be to stop asking her for money and get your career going. – Jake Weisman

Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need. – Will Rogers

Always remember that the crowd that applauds your coronation is the same crowd that will applaud your beheading. People like a show. – Anon

Always try to be modest, and be proud of it! – Anon

Am I a good person? No. But do I try to be a good person every day? Also no. – Anon

Brother, how come you’re not married? Have you not met the right cousin yet? – Jeff Mirza

Clowns divorce: custardy battle. – Simon Munnery

Earlier this year I saw The Theory Of Everything, loved it. Should’ve been called Look Who’s Hawking, that’s my only criticism. – James Acaster

I know that there’s racism and all this, because people are angry. But I take comfort in knowing that racists are not that bright…I’m in London, I was walking down the street and this man shouted out. He went: “Oi, you Paki…go back to India.” – Shazia Mirza

I never lie on my CV, because it creases it. – Jenny Collier

I had to shave off my massive beard recently because I found out that when girls say they find men with beards sexy, what they really mean is that they find sexy men with beards sexy. – Adam Hess

You can throw rice at a wedding, but you can’t throw naan bread. – Joe Wilkinson

Listen, if I can just be serious for a minute, and I think it is important. As you know, I grew up with loads of Muslims, and the overwhelming majority of them, 98%, 99%, 99.5%…are fucking terrorists, yeah. They’re gonna fucking kill you, yeah. We know this to be true from our own experience. – Hardeep Singh Kohli

What do you guys want to talk about? Go on, yell something out. What was that? ISIS? Oh really? Do you guys want to…? Do you know this guy said to me recently, “Hey Nazeem, mate, I mean, you’re a Muslim so does that mean you support ISIS?” I said, “Are you serious? Just because I’m Muslim doesn’t mean I support ISIS, you idiot! Some of us like Al Qaeda, there’s the Taliban, Jamaat Islamia. Don’t bunch us all together like that.” – Nazeem Hussain

THE WRATH OF KHAN VERSUS THE HATE OF TRUMP

Yes, I know, another blog post about Trump, but this one kind of feels personal…

In the most patriotic nation on earth, the United States of America, the highest honour the government or any American can bestow has always gone to the fallen soldier, the hero who died on the battle field, the brave patriot who made the ultimate sacrifice by fighting for his loved ones, for his entire nation, for all that America stands for. So great is this sacrifice considered that the fallen soldier is often immortalised in many a song and movie.

The second highest honour has traditionally gone to the family of the fallen, honoured because of their sacrifice and their grief. In recent times such families have been honoured by groups like Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization founded in January 2005 by individuals who have lost family members in the Iraq War, and are thus entitled to display a Gold Star on their lapels.

Because of this the number one unwritten rule of American politics has always been to never go after the families of the fallen, to always be respectful for those grieving over their ultimate sacrifice. This is a rule that is so unwritten because it is considered to be so patriotically obvious. No astute politician, especially one running for the presidency, would dare break this rule. Donald Trump, however, is neither astute nor politically minded. Which is why he recently decided to openly criticise the Gold Star family of Captain Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan.

Captain Khan was killed on active duty in Iraq in June 2004. Some 12 years later his father, Khizr Khan, delivered a 6 minute blistering speech at the recent Democratic National Convention that is considered by many to be the emotional highlight of not just the DNC, but also of the Republican National Convention.

Khan Senior delivered his remarks as he was joined by his wife Ghazala Khan on the fourth day of the DNC at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, on Thursday 28th July, 2016. It would be unfair to pick out highlights from the speech as the whole of it is well worth a listen. Wajahat Ali, a journalist who is featured in a video below, recently Tweeted: “I’ve seen #KhizrKhan’s speech a few times now. It takes a Desi Muslim uncle to remind America of its core values & freedoms. Amazing.”

The fallout from the speech has been far, wide, vitriolic, and in many cases bizarre. It has created huge unintentional political waves, catching the Republicans and Trump in particular on the back foot. Many people have made many comments on the speech, for and against, and both Khan parents have now done several high profile interviews since, mostly in response to what Trump and his supporters have been saying about them.

The scariest thing about all of this, for me, is the fact that Trump has now shown precisely how little he genuinely cares about Muslims. Trump quite calmly shattered the unwritten rule of always honouring Gold Star families. With an unnerving sense of composure he has questioned the silence of a grieving Muslim mother by suggesting that maybe she wasn’t allowed to say anything due to religious reasons. However, in her silence she was more presidential than Trump has ever been, and in her silence she had more dignity than all of the ignorant words of Trump combined.

He has also questioned the political motives of a grieving Muslim father, with Trump and some of his supporters suggesting that Khan Senior is somehow working for the Democrats, or that he may even be some sort of an ISIS sympathiser.

I know many Republicans are confused. After all, Khan Senior is a Muslim man whose Muslim son was killed by Muslims in a Muslim country in a war supported by Hillary Clinton. And, for the life of them, Republicans cannot understand why everybody seems to be verbally attacking Donald Trump. Go figure.

If Trump is not able to show a modicum of respect to Muslims such as these, the most honoured in America, then how on earth will he treat Muslims who are taxi drivers, or Muslims who are asylum seekers who cannot speak English? What hope is there, if any, for Muslims in America and around the globe under a President Trump?

It is also a sad indictment of Muslims globally when an idiot such as Trump can say the things he says about us, and propose the anti-Muslim policies he clearly wishes to implement once in power. There are over 1.5 billion of us and only 1 of him, yet who is doing the pushing and who is getting pushed?

Anyways, that’s enough philosophising from me. Below are many cartoons and YouTube clips from various comedians and commentators on the biggest political battle of Trump’s career so far, a battle that is far from over, the battle of Trump versus Khan. Enjoy!


The original speech at the DNC by Khizr Khan…

Tonight we are honoured to stand here as parents of Captain Humayun Khan and as patriotic American Muslims  with undivided loyalty to our country. Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy; that with hard work and goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.

We are blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams. Our son, Humayun, had dreams too, of being a military lawyer, but he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son ‘the best of America’.

If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America. Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities; women; judges; even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls, and ban us from this country. Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future.

Let me ask you: have you even read the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. [He pulls out his copy] In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law’.

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

We cannot solve our problems by building walls, sowing division. We are stronger together. And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our President.

In conclusion, I ask every patriot American, all Muslim immigrants, and all immigrants to not take this election lightly. This is a historic election, and I request to honour the sacrifice of my son – and on election day, take the time to get out and vote. And vote for the healer. vote for the strongest, most qualified candidate, Hillary Clinton, not the divider. God bless you, thank you.


Cartoonists react to the whole fiasco…

Trump Khan PlentyTrump Khan PayingTrump Khan SlamsTrump Khan NoseTrump Khan GoldTrump Khan GagCelebrity SacrificeTrump Khan PreferTrump Khan ShowTrump Khan ClownAugust 2, 2016

Trump Khan SpinTrump Khan GreatTrump Khan Agent


Some comments from other commentators…

Comments from the likes of Mark Fiore, Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Wajahat Ali, and Aziz Ansari…

Trump Khan Fiore

That is an American founding document being inspirationally used as a middle finger. I did not know that was technically possible. – John Oliver

I love the fact…that there’s a supreme brown karmic justice: that a Muslim Pakistani immigrant American couple with funny accents and multi-syllable names, with mocha caramel skin right now are body slamming Donald J Trump left and right, and they are the couple reminding all Americans, Republicans and Democrats, about our Constitution, about our freedoms, about our values, about our core values that are under threat if a demagogue like Donald J Trump is elected. I love it. – Wajahat Ali