Hoodo Hersi

I was recently listening to the classic rock song Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. The song is about an intense spiritual experience Gabriel had and therefore the lyrics are rich in metaphor and subtext. Out of all the lines he sings two in particular always catch my attention:

I did not believe the information / I just had to trust imagination. – lyrics from the song Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel

We live in a time when it is difficult to trust any information that comes our way. So I guess that leaves us with imagination, but whose do we trust? Our own? In the last few years I have relied heavily on trusting the imaginations of stand-up comedians. And it is for this reason that I have recently, as usual, been watching a glut of stand-up comedy.

There was a Lenny Henry 60th birthday special on BBC2, there was a two-part show called The Big Asian Stand-Up also on BBC2, and the BBC World Service program The Arts Hour had a summer comedy special from the Lion d’Or Cabaret Theatre in Montreal. The show was hosted by the always excellent American-Iranian Maz Jobrani, and it featured several comics from all over the world, namely from countries that Trump has listed on his multi-iterative travel ban. Now there’s international irony for you.

I have also been watching some stand-up from the recent Edinburgh Fringe, the biggest arts festival in the world. This year the Fringe has seen over 20,000 individual comedy performances taking place in August. That’s over 2 years worth of performances happening in just one month!

After watching all of this comedy I have transcribed some of my favourite quotes. As you may notice most of the quotes selected have a somewhat foreign/Asian/Muslim tinge to them. That just happens to reflect the type of comedy I have come across recently. Having said that, I do enjoy a good stand-up comedian from overseas. There is no better way to understand a country and its people than through their humour. Also, to paraphrase Trevor Noah (who was recently talking about fellow comedian Ronny Chieng), a good stand-up is able to expose the stupid and illogical things society blindly subscribes to, and is someone who can also dismantle the cage of our accepted reality.

As well as being funny a stand-up from another culture, another country, can also bring a nuance and experience to issues that we natives may not necessarily have. And not just that, but a minority stand-up can use comedy to level the cultural playing field by getting their perspective across, as explained by the great American humourist Art Buchwald:

People ask what I am really trying to do with humor. The answer is, “I’m getting even.” For me, being funny is the best revenge. – Art Buchwald

And that is what I see many of these stand-ups doing, they’re not getting mad, they’re getting even. Anyways, whatever the intention of these stand-ups is, I hope you enjoy the 15 selected quotes below.

Maz Jobrani Stars

Are my parents first cousins? Yes they are. Not something I love to talk about. And I found out when I was 15. Not a good day in my life at all when I found that out. We were actually watching television and I’m making fun of George Bush to my mum. “Hey mum, that looks like what happens when two first cousins get married!” You could cut through the awkwardness with a knife. My mother was like “Your father and I are actually first cousins.” “Oh. Okay. Sorry mother but this rice and dhaal doesn’t taste very good anymore. May I be excused?!” – Ali Hassan

Are there people in here who are raising their kids modern? For those of you who don’t know raising your kids modern means spending time with them. Because our parents didn’t spend time with us. First of all, I was born in Iran and then we went to America, and immigrant parents don’t spend time with anybody. I feel like immigrant parents, I don’t care where they are from, but once they get you to America they feel their job is done. I swear! We landed and my parents said to us “Land of opportunity. Go! You’re on your own. We’ll see you at graduation. You better be a doctor. And own properties.” – Maz Jobrani

As a Canadian the only way I can make sense of the election in the US is that, to me, America is like a college girl with daddy issues. Here me out okay. It’s like she’s left her uptight British parents, moved out, experimented with a black dude, flirted with the idea of being with a woman, and then was like “Just kidding! I like rich scumbags. He’s so stupid and rich.” I feel like if America was a person that’s who she’d be, and I can tell some of you want to laugh at that joke tonight but you’re like “I’m American too, so it’s not funny.” But it’s still true. – Hoodo Hersi

British Indians, out of every group, not just minority groups, but out of every group in the UK British Indians are the wealthiest and the best educated. We are taking increasingly prominent roles in the worlds of business and finance and politics, but we do it in a sort of behind-the-scenes way, we’re not ostentatious about it. So you might not know but secretly in the shadows we are sort of…basically, Jews are catching a lot of our heat! Conspiracy nutters everywhere are worried about the Rothschilds and the entire time the Patels are just quietly working away in the background. Why do you think it’s called the Illuminati? Because we run shit using looms, naan, and tea. Wake up! – Ahir Shah

I am originally from Palestine. It’s not easy being Palestinian nowadays or for the past seven decades. I think Palestinians are a very unique minority group. I think we’re the only ethnic minority group that gets excited when a racist person tells us to go back to our country. “Why don’t you go back to your country?” “Oh my God! Thank you so much. He thinks we have a country. That is so nice. Free Palestine.” – Eman El-Husseini

I speak Bengali, which is spoken in Bangladesh and is based on Sanskrit text. I speak Urdu, which is spoken in Pakistan and is based on Arabic text. I speak Hindi, which is spoken in India and is also based on Sanskrit text. And I also speak English which, as you know, is based on oppression. – Eshaan Akbar

I was raised as a Muslim but I stopped practicing Islam a few years ago because I went on this journey of self-discovery, and that journey led me to discover bacon. That’s some lovely stuff you white guys are packing! Wow! I’ve never had alcohol but when I had bacon I was like “Woah! Hash tag I ain’t no Muslim bruv.” – Eshaan Akbar

I’m a 26 year old man who lives in his mums attic. I love living with my mum, an amazing woman. Last year we took in a refugee. He’s an amazing inspirational guy. He’s 16, he’s from Vietnam. Basically how this came about is my mum is a social worker and he was found and brought to her department, and he told us all this horrific stuff that he had been through. He’s been through the mill, he was forced into slave labour, human trafficked in the back of a van, and now he’s in Glasgow. As if that was part of the ordeal. As if he’d finally escaped from his captors, looked outside and went “Oh, for crying out loud! When will this madness end? Just put me back in the van.” So we decided to take him in. The next day the police brought him to our house. I thought that was pretty quick. I thought we would have had a couple of months, not 12 hours later the police knocking on our door saying “Alright mate? Here’s your refugee. Goodbye.” Is that it? I don’t need to sign anything? I’ve had tougher Amazon deliveries than this. What would they have done if we weren’t in? Just leave him with a neighbour? But taking in a refugee is hands down the best, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I say that like I’ve done loads of amazing stuff, like I’m Mother Theresa. The second best thing I’ve done is the time I managed to cook chips and a frozen pizza in the oven at the same time. Doesn’t sound that hard but they both had conflicting time and temperature guidelines. – Stephen Buchanan, winner of the 2018 BBC New Comedy Award

I’m British-Indian but my dad in Indian-Indian, he’s like aggressively into it. My dad has lived in various western societies for the last 37 years and has steadfastly refused to integrate into any of them, but he’s not Muslim so no one minds. I myself can’t be Indian-Indian, I couldn’t live there for long. If I have to live in a country that is so pointlessly hostile to Muslims it might as well be here in the UK. It’s closer. – Ahir Shah

Muslim women only wear the burka on special occasions these days, like when our kids have pissed us off, we’ll put one on and at home time we’ll just watch the little shits try and work out which is their mum. – Isma Almas

My best mate, Ruksana, came out to her mum. Ruksana’s mum is a very devout religious Muslim, she’s been to Hajj numerous times, she prays five times a day, so Ruksana was quite nervous about coming out to her. So she sat her down and she said to her “Mum, I’ve got something to tell you. I’m gay, I’m a lesbian.” And her mum just looked at her and said “Oh no! Now that is going to make it even harder to find you a husband.” – Isma Almas

My family are Muslim and some of you may have seen a Muslim woman wearing a burka, walking ten paces behind her husband. I just want to explain something, that’s not actually her husband. What we like to do is put a burka on, cover our faces, pick any Asian man, and follow him. It really freaks them out. – Isma Almas

My mum came over to the UK from Jamaica mid-to-late 1957. This was ten years after Windrush. She was really pissed off there wasn’t a camera crew to meet her. So she came over to the UK and it was different to what she thought it was going to be like. She thought it was going to be milk and honey and it wasn’t that at all. “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs.” We saw these signs in every single place where you went, so if you were a black Irish wolfhound you were buggered. – Lenny Henry

My parents came over from Pakistan in the 60’s, along with a lot of other men and women from south Asia, primarily to do the low paid jobs that white people didn’t want to do, like being doctors and surgeons. – Isma Almas

There was a lot of confusion when I was growing up. I got confused a lot about identity, I didn’t know what was going on. The most confusing thing that was ever said to me was on September 12th of 2001. I’ll take you back, if I may. I was in the eighth grade. There was this kid in our class, his name was Kyle. We were arguing, going back and forth in front of the whole class. He pushes me against the locker, he sticks his finger in my chest and says “Go back to Afghanistan, you dirty Pakistani.” And I’m Lebanese! I don’t know if I was offended more by the bigotry or the geography of the whole situation. – Wassim El-Mounzer



Imran Oath

So, I guess it’s official then. Pakistan’s charismatic cricket star turned firebrand politician Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi is the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan. Born in Lahore in 1952, the 65 year old took the official oath on Saturday 18th August 2018, a day after being elected by a majority of lawmakers in the national assembly. At a simple ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President’s House) in Islamabad, Khan, as luck would have it, in front of all those people and cameras managed to fumble some of the words, all spoken in Urdu. Urdu is one of the officially recognised languages of Pakistan (English is the other one), and it is a language that Khan should really be fluent in. Even Trump was not similarly stumped when giving his oath to office in his native English tongue.

Despite this slightly embarrassing hiccup, Khan’s first wife Jemima Goldsmith, the British heiress daughter of a Jewish billionaire, the mother of his two sons, and to whom he was married for nearly a decade, publicly congratulated him on his victory.

Being prime minister of Pakistan has been described by Time magazine as one of the world’s toughest jobs, especially in the aftermath of 9/11, but even before then it was rather treacherous. The country’s first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated, and a number of subsequent leaders have shared the same fate, variously being executed by order of the state, blown up on planes, and at political rallies. Therefore being cavalier about death seems to be a prerequisite in Pakistani politics. When Khan, who has spent more than two decades seeking the highest office in the land, was asked about such matters he casually replied that “You’ve got to go sometime. You might as well go for something you believe in.”

Khan’s first decision as PM was to scrub the nine-course meal traditionally served after the oath-taking ceremony, also held at the President’s House. It was a sign of the “austerity drive” he had promised while on the campaign trail. Instead, refreshments were served in the grand hall of the official residence. Khan had also campaigned on promises to combat Pakistan’s endemic corruption and to break the landowners’ monopoly on political power.

By any given standard Khan has led a full and colourful life. He served as the chancellor of Bradford University between 2005-2014, in the British city which has one of the highest concentrations of citizens of Pakistani ancestry. Described by Bradford’s vice chancellor as “a wonderful role model for our students”, Khan has been a hero for diaspora Pakistanis since his cricketing heyday in the 1980’s.

And it was during the 1980’s that he became known as a glamorous playboy cricketer. At the time he was friends with the likes of Mick Jagger, and he was known to wear leopard skin satin trousers whilst boogying at Annabel’s nightclub in Mayfair. In the defence of his playboy past Khan has said “I have never claimed to be an angel,” although it is somewhat doubtful that an angel could ever make it in Pakistani politics.

He also had a famous public spat with Salman Rushdie, author of the very controversial The Satanic Verses. Rushdie suggested that Khan was a “dictator in waiting” and compared his looks with those of Libya’s former dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. Khan’s elaborate response to this? “What is he talking about? What is he talking about? I always hated his writing. He always sees the ugly side of things. He is — what is the word Jews use? — a ‘self-hating’ Muslim.”

Khan has gone on to say “Why can’t the West understand? When I first went to England, I was shocked to see the depiction of Christianity in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian.’ This is their way. But for us Muslims, the holy Koran and the Prophet, peace be upon him, are sacred. Why can’t the West accept that we have different ways of looking at our religions? Anyway, I am called an Islamic fundamentalist by Rushdie. My critics in Pakistan say I am a Zionist agent. I must be doing something right.”

Imran Queen

An 18 year old Imran Khan is introduced to the Queen by Intikhab Alam at Lord’s cricket ground in London, 1971.

And then there is the cricket. Khan is not only Pakistan’s most popular politician since Benazir Bhutto, but he is also Pakistan’s greatest ever sportsman. He captained Pakistan to victory in the 1992 Cricket World Cup, against none other than the former colonialists England. The final of the 1992 ICC Cricket World Cup was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia, on the 25th of March 1992. A capacity crowd of nearly 90,000 spectators saw Pakistan win by 22 runs to lift their first and so far only World Cup trophy. Ian Botham, Khan’s then arch nemesis, was bowled out for a duck (by Wasim Akram). Such heroics have earned Khan the titles of ‘Lion of Pakistan’ and ‘Lion of Lahore.’

As recognised by Khan himself, his colourful life makes him many things to many people. Some see him see him as power-hungry, operating at the behest of the military and out to undermine Pakistan’s democratic progress. Some see him as being so close to the army that he been called the armies “blue-eyed-boy.”

Others see him as a principled leader who has stuck to his guns and defied all his critics. Others still see him as somewhat hypocritical. His cynical wooing of various hard line religious parties has earned him the nickname “Taliban Khan”. His anti-American rants and his election stance as an anti-corruption, populist champion of change, notwithstanding his privileged Oxbridge upbringing, have left some voters unsure whether he can be trusted. Likewise, in the small world of the Pakistani elite, many are equally convinced of Khan’s dubious allegiances, with stories circulating about how he has on several occasions met the CIA and MI6 in London.

Khan himself proclaims to be Pakistan’s only political leader to make their money outside Pakistan, while keeping it all in Pakistan. He sold his London flat to buy a jungle on the outskirts of Islamabad, with cows for milk and yoghurt, a vegetable patch and even his own wheat – a picture of idyllic self-sufficiency. Now he just has to recreate at least something of that vision for the country which he has been elected to govern. And the stakes are high in a youthful nation of more than 200 million people, where many still live in grinding poverty. Although the economy expanded by nearly 6% in the year to June 2018, the current account deficit is rising fast, partly due to currency devaluations. Economists say another IMF bailout may be unavoidable.

Khan is no longer the playboy he once was. He has since been at great pains to affirm his Islamic identity. His avowals of Islam, his identification with the suffering masses, and his attacks on his affluent English-speaking peers have long been mocked in the living rooms of Lahore and Karachi as the hypocritical ravings of “Im the Dim”, another moniker allotted to him by his critics. Khan, however, now considers himself a practicing Muslim with leanings towards Sufism, a mystical path very different from the Taliban’s Islamic literalism. Khan has said that “My tradition is of a more Sufi style of Islam.”

Perhaps the strangest criticism I have come across of Khan emanated from an unexpected source. I am a huge fan of Trevor Noah, a South African born stand-up comedian who is also the host of the American TV news satire program The Daily Show. Over the years Noah has been very Muslim-friendly in his outlook. Hasan Minhaj was a regular contributor to The Daily Show, until recently retiring from it to work on his own show.

However, in a recent episode Noah decided to compare Trump with other politicians around the world, in particular to Khan. The comparison was interesting to say the least. He talked about how both Khan and Trump have similar pasts: both are from privileged families, both went to the best universities, and both had playboy pasts because of their heartthrob status.

I realise the segment, no longer than 5 minutes, is meant to be purely satirical, and perhaps we should just watch it, laugh, and then move on with our lives. Noah does clearly say “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Imran Khan is the brown Trump…I’m saying that Imran Khan is one of many leaders around the world who is following the successful format of the hit show called ‘The Trump Presidency.’” To compare Khan to Trump is a little disingenuous as Khan has been a long-time critic of the American government, and he sees Trump as someone who is presiding over “absolute civilisational decay.”

A more detailed critique has been written by Pakistani journalist Mohammad Nazar Syed, and the clip itself is presented below.

Because he is now the prime minister of Pakistan, many things from his past have resurfaced online. Among the usual crop of historical or embarrassing photos and YouTube clips, there is an article written by Khan nearly 17 years ago that has started trending again. In early 2002 Khan wrote a lengthy article for the Arab News where he described in detail his views on Islam, science, materialism, the east, and the west. It is well a read and is presented below in full. Enjoy!

Why The West Craves Materialism & Why The East Sticks To Religion

Imran Khan, 14 Jan 2002, Arab News

My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British. The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan. Despite gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis.

I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal — the national poet of Pakistan. The class on Islamic studies was not taken seriously, and when I left school I was considered among the elite of the country because I could speak English and wore Western clothes.

Despite periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I considered my own culture backward and religion outdated. Among our group if any one talked about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a Mullah.

Because of the power of the Western media, our heroes were Western movie stars or pop stars. When I went to Oxford already burdened with this hang up, things didn’t get any easier. At Oxford, not just Islam, but all religions were considered anachronism.

Science had replaced religion and if something couldn’t be logically proved it did not exist. All supernatural stuff was confined to the movies. Philosophers like Darwin, who with his half-baked theory of evolution had supposedly disproved the creation of men and hence religion, were read and revered.

Moreover, European history reflected its awful experience with religion. The horrors committed by the Christian clergy during the Inquisition era had left a powerful impact on the Western mind.

To understand why the West is so keen on secularism, one should go to places like Cordoba in Spain and see the torture apparatus used during the Spanish Inquisition. Also the persecution of scientists as heretics by the clergy had convinced the Europeans that all religions are regressive.

However, the biggest factor that drove people like me away from religion was the selective Islam practiced by most of its preachers. In short, there was a huge difference between what they practiced and what they preached. Also, rather than explaining the philosophy behind the religion, there was an overemphasis on rituals.

I feel that humans are different to animals. While, the latter can be drilled, humans need to be intellectually convinced. That is why the Qur’an constantly appeals to reason. The worst, of course, was the exploitation of Islam for political gains by various individuals or groups.

Hence, it was a miracle I did not become an atheist. The only reason why I did not was the powerful religious influence my mother wielded on me since my childhood. It was not so much out of conviction but love for her that I stayed a Muslim.

However, my Islam was selective. I accepted only parts of the religion that suited me. Prayers were restricted to Eid days and occasionally on Fridays, when my father insisted on taking me to the mosque with him.

All in all I was smoothly moving to becoming a Pukka Brown Sahib. After all I had the right credentials in terms of school, university and, above all, acceptability in the English aristocracy, something that our brown sahibs would give their lives for. So what led me to do a ‘lota’ on the Brown Sahib culture and instead become a ‘desi’?

Well it did not just happen overnight.

Firstly, the inferiority complex that my generation had inherited gradually went as I developed into a world-class athlete. Secondly, I was in the unique position of living between two cultures. I began to see the advantages and the disadvantages of both societies.

In Western societies, institutions were strong while they were collapsing in our country. However, there was an area where we were and still are superior, and that is our family life. I began to realize that this was the Western society’s biggest loss. In trying to free itself from the oppression of the clergy, they had removed both God and religion from their lives.

While science, no matter how much it progresses, can answer a lot of questions — two questions it will never be able to answer: One, what is the purpose of our existence and two, what happens to us when we die?

It is this vacuum that I felt created the materialistic and the hedonistic culture. If this is the only life then one must make hay while the sun shines — and in order to do so one needs money. Such a culture is bound to cause psychological problems in a human being, as there was going to be an imbalance between the body and the soul.

Consequently, in the US, which has shown the greatest materialistic progress while giving its citizens numerous rights, almost 60 percent of the population consult psychiatrists. Yet, amazingly in modern psychology, there is no study of the human soul. Sweden and Switzerland, who provide the most welfare to their citizens, also have the highest suicide rates. Hence, man is not necessarily content with material well-being and needs something more.

Since all morality has its roots in religion, once religion was removed, immorality has progressively grown since the 70s. Its direct impact has been on family life. In the UK, the divorce rate is 60 percent, while it is estimated that there are over 35 percent single mothers. The crime rate is rising in almost all Western societies, but the most disturbing fact is the alarming increase in racism. While science always tries to prove the inequality of man (recent survey showing the American Black to be genetically less intelligent than whites) it is only religion that preaches the equality of man.

Between 1991 and 1997, it was estimated that total immigration into Europe was around 520,000, and there were racially motivated attacks all over, especially in Britain, France and Germany. In Pakistan during the Afghan war, we had over four million refugees, and despite the people being so much poorer, there was no racial tension.

There was a sequence of events in the 80s that moved me toward God as the Qur’an says: “There are signs for people of understanding.” One of them was cricket. As I was a student of the game, the more I understood the game, the more I began to realize that what I considered to be chance was, in fact, the will of Allah. A pattern which became clearer with time. But it was not until Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” that my understanding of Islam began to develop.

People like me who were living in the Western world bore the brunt of anti-Islam prejudice that followed the Muslim reaction to the book. We were left with two choices: fight or flight. Since I felt strongly that the attacks on Islam were unfair, I decided to fight. It was then I realized that I was not equipped to do so as my knowledge of Islam was inadequate. Hence I started my research and for me a period of my greatest enlightenment. I read scholars like Ali Shariati, Muhammad Asad, Iqbal, Gai Eaton, plus of course, a study of Qur’an.

I will try to explain as concisely as is possible, what “discovering the truth” meant for me. When the believers are addressed in the Qur’an, it always says, “Those who believe and do good deeds.” In other words, a Muslim has dual function, one toward God and the other toward fellow human beings.

The greatest impact of believing in God for me, meant that I lost all fear of human beings. The Qur’an liberates man from man when it says that life and death and respect and humiliation are God’s jurisdiction, so we do not have to bow before other human beings.

Moreover, since this is a transitory world where we prepare for the eternal one, I broke out of the self-imposed prisons, such as growing old (such a curse in the Western world, as a result of which, plastic surgeons are having a field day), materialism, ego, what people say and so on. It is important to note that one does not eliminate earthly desires. But instead of being controlled by them, one controls them.

By following the second part of believing in Islam, I have become a better human being. Rather than being self-centered and living for the self, I feel that because the Almighty gave so much to me, in turn I must use that blessing to help the less privileged. This I did by following the fundamentals of Islam rather than becoming a Kalashnikov-wielding fanatic.

I have become a tolerant and a giving human being who feels compassion for the underprivileged. Instead of attributing success to myself, I know it is because of God’s will, hence I learned humility instead of arrogance.

Also, instead of the snobbish Brown Sahib attitude toward our masses, I believe in egalitarianism and strongly feel against the injustice done to the weak in our society. According to the Qur’an, “Oppression is worse than killing.” In fact only now do I understand the true meaning of Islam, if you submit to the will of Allah, you have inner peace.

Through my faith, I have discovered strength within me that I never knew existed and that has released my potential in life. I feel that in Pakistan we have selective Islam. Just believing in God and going through the rituals is not enough. One also has to be a good human being. I feel there are certain Western countries with far more Islamic traits than us in Pakistan, especially in the way they protect the rights of their citizens, or for that matter their justice system. In fact some of the finest individuals I know live there.

What I dislike about them is their double standards in the way they protect the rights of their citizens but consider citizens of other countries as being somehow inferior to them as human being, e.g. dumping toxic waste in the Third World, advertising cigarettes that are not allowed in the West and selling drugs that are banned in the West.

One of the problems facing Pakistan is the polarization of two reactionary groups. On the one side is the Westernized group that looks upon Islam through Western eyes and has inadequate knowledge about the subject. It reacts strongly to anyone trying to impose Islam in society and wants only a selective part of the religion. On the other extreme is the group that reacts to this Westernized elite and in trying to become a defender of the faith, takes up such intolerant and self-righteous attitudes that are repugnant to the spirit of Islam.

What needs to be done is to somehow start a dialogue between the two extreme. In order for this to happen, the group on whom the greatest proportion of our educational resources are spent in this country must study Islam properly.

Whether they become practicing Muslims or believe in God is entirely a personal choice. As the Qur’an tells us there is “no compulsion in religion.” However, they must arm themselves with knowledge as a weapon to fight extremism. Just by turning up their noses at extremism the problem is not going to be solved.

The Qur’an calls Muslims “the middle nation”, not of extremes. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was told to simply give the message and not worry whether people converted or not, therefore, there is no question in Islam of forcing your opinions on anyone else.

Moreover, we are told to respect other religions, their places of worship and their prophets. It should be noted that no Muslim missionaries or armies ever went to Malaysia or Indonesia. The people converted to Islam due to the high principles and impeccable character of the Muslim traders. At the moment, the worst advertisements for Islam are the countries with their selective Islam, especially where religion is used to deprive people of their rights. In fact, a society that obeys fundamentals of Islam has to be a liberal one.

If Pakistan’s Westernized class starts to study Islam, not only will it be able to help society fight sectarianism and extremism, but it will also make them realize what a progressive religion Islam is. They will also be able to help the Western world by articulating Islamic concepts. Recently, Prince Charles accepted that the Western world can learn from Islam. But how can this happen if the group that is in the best position to project Islam gets its attitudes from the West and considers Islam backward? Islam is a universal religion and that is why our Prophet (peace be upon him) was called a Mercy for all mankind.


Imran Clouds

As always there is a lot going on in the world. Where does one start in trying to make sense of any of it? For this blog post I have decided to focus of Boris and his burka-based bumbling: there is a short but interesting article from Labour MP Rupa Huq, followed by just a few of the readers’ letters sent to the Guardian, and then we have the fiercely satirical Daily Mash making a rather relevant point about the crazy scare mongering surrounding the whole British burka debate.

This is then followed up with a humorous anecdote involving former Pakistan cricket captain and now prime minister Imran Khan. I end with some quotes from the last two episodes of the weekly TV show Real Time With Bill Maher and, surprise surprise, my arch nemesis old Trumpy McTrumpFace gets a mention. I remember a few years ago there was a period of several months when the Metro newspaper could not go a day without mention Cheryl ‘Nations Sweetheart’ Cole, and it seems I am the same with El Presidente. Anyways, please be aware that there is a wee bit of bad language in some of the quotes below, so you have been politely warned. Enjoy!

Boris Johnson Is Leveraging Hatred And Racism In His Desire For Power

Rupa Huq, 11 Aug 2018,

His calculated remarks about burqas fuel the flames at a dangerous time for ethnic minorities

I remember the first time I was called “Paki”. It was 1978 at primary school in Ealing, west London, now my constituency. I was quite startled. My playground tormentor had to explain the etymology of the term to me. I retorted: “Actually, East Pakistan has been liberated into Bangladesh since 1971; it’s an independent country”, which shut him up.

I was born in Hammersmith the year after Bangladeshi independence and recall the racism of old. In those days, “the host community” saw the likes of me and the two kids in our school with turbans (brothers) as “Asian” – the shorthand “Paki” overlooking different nationalities. The subtitles of religion had not reared their head. The Satanic Verses and 9/11 changed that when the badge “Don’t freak, I’m a Sikh” was produced, signalling a disaggregation of Asians. Race broke down into religion.

When asked on TV about Boris Johnson’s recent calculated outburst, I found myself doing his voice and gestures. “It was like being in room with him,” Krishnan Guru-Murthy later commented on Twitter. But I fear that the lovable rogue act is wearing somewhat thin. He cannot be trusted: his flippant words endangered Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s life; he wrote two columns on staying in Europe (for and against) and plumped for the latter, on deciding it played better among the Tory membership for his leadership bid; and, as my impression hinted, his private life has been “colourful”. I don’t have a vote in the contest and am not a burqa fan, but in his not very veiled attempt to assume the crown, the damage is already done. It would be a tragedy if he became PM through leveraging hatred against the most visibly different UK community who are already vulnerable and under attack.

It’s not enough to excuse his likening of burqa-clad women to letterboxes and bank robbers as eccentricity when it fuels Islamophobia. As an MP, you’re de facto a magnet for abuse – for me, usually with a Muslim twist, sometimes for speaking about justice for Palestinians, or even the dangers of leaving the EU. This spring, I received an Islamophobic package, containing a “Punish a Muslim Day” warning letter doused in a mystery substance. It resulted in police cordoning off my office as a crime scene and one of my staff being taken to hospital for examination – it was the week after the Salisbury attack. Every time a pronouncement like this is made, women have hijabs ripped off, grandfathers are attacked on the way to mosque and mosques have pigs’ heads left on their doorsteps. Such flippancy has consequences.

At the most dangerously rightward tilting moment in politics since the 1930s, Johnson’s intervention is fuelling the flames of the deplorable rise of all forms of hate crime in our society. With the ransacking of a radical bookshop and rebirth of rightwing thug Stephen Yaxley Lennon as folk hero Tommy Robinson, anti-racists should stand as one against Islamophobia, homophobia and antisemitism. The climate we have in our post-referendum divided nation has disinhibited the hate-speakers. The fate of my late friend and colleague Jo Cox, murdered in cold blood when doing something I undertake weekly – my advice surgery – is a reminder of where these sentiments can lead.

In the meantime, I have no idea what became of my infant school abuser. I’m not going be pursuing him for an apology 30 years on, but wherever he is I hope he’s a reformed character. Sadly, all the evidence on the ground is that racism is taking a more pernicious tone and Boris Johnson has just made it worse.

Rupa Huq is Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton

What Muslim Women Ought Not To Wear Isn’t A Matter For Boris Johnson

Letters, 08 Aug 2018,

Readers respond to the former foreign secretary’s comparison of Muslim women in burqas to ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’.

I think Boris Johnson looks like a baboon’s bottom with a haystack on top. That might be charming if he were a decent human being, but given the malevolent nature of his interventions it would be a blessing to all if we were spared the sight and sound of him, and of his camp followers. He is no joke. Every woman without exception has the right to wear whatever she wants, or nothing at all, without fear of abuse or persecution. – Sally Griffin, Brighton

Lest people think that laws that ban covering the face do wrong only to highly strict Muslim women, please think about the increasing use of cameras with face recognition that can track everyone’s movements around the city. Until we have strict laws that prohibit the systematic practice of face recognition, except using the faces of court-designated criminal suspects, in any areas where the public is admitted, the only way we can protect our privacy is by covering our faces. We must defend our right to do this. I am neither Muslim nor a woman, but these laws attack my rights. They attack yours too. – Dr Richard Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation

It appears that Boris Johnson regularly follows two of President Trump’s principles. First, never apologise (even when you know you are wrong); second, get your name in the media as often as possible (even if you have to do it by expressing insensitive or extreme views). – Alan Bailey, Sandy, Bedfordshire

Burqas Apparently Biggest Issue Facing Family Of Twats From Nantwich

08 Aug 2018,

Mash Burka

Islamic women’s clothing is somehow having a terrible effect on a white, mostly atheist family in Cheshire. The Sheridan family are angry and upset about a small number of Muslim women wearing burqas, particularly when reminded by politicians and the media.

Mum Donna said: “You could wear a burqa to rob banks. It immediately draws attention to you and there are probably better disguises, but I can’t sleep at night for thinking about it. As a family we’ve got our own worries. It’s hard making ends meet and our son Mark can’t find a job after university, but these women wearing strange outfits in other places are making our lives hell. I worry that people might think they’re post boxes and put letters through the eye slot so they don’t get delivered. That’s never actually happened, but what if it was your car insurance?”

Daughter Jennifer said: “If everyone wore burqas I wouldn’t know if I was talking to my mum, a teacher or a paedophile. My GCSEs would be bound to suffer.”

Dad Steve Sheridan agreed: “It just doesn’t feel like your own country anymore when women aren’t showing plenty of flabby midriff in ill-advised lycra tops. We’re not racist because we worry about all sorts of religious clothing. I’m always fretting about vicars getting dangerously hot under their big cassocks.”

Immy’s In His Prime And Ready To Make A Lasting Impression

Derek Pringle, 30 Jul 2018,

Imran Khan’s ascent to the prime ministership of Pakistan in the country’s recent elections reminds me of the time he first showed a keen grasp of international relations.

The occasion was the dinner on the eve of the 1992 World Cup. England and Pakistan were the finalists and therefore the guests of honour, though it didn’t feel that way when our Australian hosts unleashed a Queen impersonator as part of the evening’s entertainment.

Disgusted by what they saw as jokes in poor taste, Graham Gooch and Ian Botham — staunch patriots both — stormed out, leaving the rest of the England squad at the bash.

Looking on with interest from the next table was Imran, who suddenly pointed at us and said: ‘Look team, it’s only the bloody colonials who are left.’

He had a point. There was Allan Lamb, born Cape Town; Robin Smith, born Durban; Graeme Hick, born Harare; Chris Lewis, born Guyana; Phil DeFreitas, born Dominica; Gladstone Small, born Barbados; Dermot Reeve, born Hong Kong; and me, born Kenya.

It was an amusing observation but one which would have been perceived as a cruel slight back then had it been uttered by a politician and not a cricketer.

Nowadays, with Donald Trump making nasty the new normal, Immy, as we used to call him, will be ready to trade insults — those sledges learnt on the cricket pitch excellent preparation for the challenges that lie ahead.

Real Time With Bill Maher

This week Trump held two of his hillbilly Nuremberg rallies. It’s scary to people in this profession. He calls the media “the enemy of the people” except, of course, for Fox News. They are so far up his ass they’re the enema of the people. From now on collusion is not a crime but journalism apparently is. We live in a country now where reporting reality gets attacked because it threatens the fantasy world created by the cult leader. – Bill Maher, 03 Aug 2018

I think every American needs to be passionate about this. The free press in this country was enshrined in the Constitution and it predates the Constitution. It is one of the things that makes America different, that makes America special, and that makes America great. And when we have people like the president, with the power of the presidency, trying to whittle away at that, to attack not only the truth sayers but the truth seekers, including the investigators, anybody seeking the truth he attacks. Once you are removed from truth, anything can sprout into that desert. – Charles Blow, 03 Aug 2018

Fear is a contagion in a democracy. Trump uses fear and he is exhausting the opposition. When you are in a fight, you can win two ways. You can bring your opponent to submission, think Germany and Japan after World War II. Or you can break their will to fight, think the United States in Vietnam. And the degree to which Trump and his lies and the constancy of the craziness, it breaks people’s wills. It checks them out. They become exhausted by it. And I think that there is some evidence in the polling to see that’s happening, so 95 days from an election, which I would argue is the most important midterm election in the history of the United States of America, everybody out there has a job to do, and it’s to vote and make sure your friends vote. Because there must be a check on this lawless administration or we’re down the road 10 miles into Trumpistan looking at the United States of America in the rearview mirror. – Steve Schmidt, 03 Aug 2018

This is a new level of political corruption because it’s a corruption of ideas. We’ve always had ways of trying to get at the money corruption, and we pay a lot of attention to it, but what happens when the ideas of a party or a group of political actors are completely corrupted? And that’s what we are seeing. – Lawrence O’Donnell, 10 Aug 2018

It’s always funny when I hear the immigration debate, like I see white supremacists saying “We want our country back.” We didn’t take a cruise here on purpose. We didn’t go “Oh, they’re hiring in America? Get on the boat!” It’s so ridiculous. We’re here because you wouldn’t do the shit you needed us to do. People also say dumb shit like “Slavery is a choice.” So if slavery is a choice I guess Harriet Tubman was just a travel agent. It really is this: this country is getting browner and browner and darker, and that’s just the way it is. So instead of Republicans trying to fuck over poor people, they should get to fucking. I don’t understand that. They should have at it. – D L Hughley, a black comedian, 10 Aug 2018

America hated the Kenyan so much, they gave her to the Kremlin. They hated Obama so much that they’re willing to do whatever to have white supremacy. Listen, Obama was what we aspire to be, Trump is who we are. – D L Hughley, a black comedian, 10 Aug 2018

We had a porno star say she had unprotected sex with the president. If you’re not worried about gonorrhea, how the fuck are you going to help us with North Korea? – D L Hughley, 10 Aug 2018