Freethinking Stokie

A blog by a British, Pakistani, North Staffs woman providing analysis and discussion on the issues that our local media struggle with.

Indian Girl Who Fled Arranged Marriage, Becomes Millionaire Entrepreneur

‘An Indian girl who took a blind leap to escape an arranged marriage has returned home a millionaire.

In 1984, 17-year-old Chanda Zaveri met a couple on Park Street in Calcutta who offered her a different fate from “most Marwari girls” of her age, according to India’s Telegraph newspaper. If Zaveri found herself in Boston, they said, she would have their help.

“I had no money, just a pair of diamond earrings,” said Zaveri, whose parents had arranged her marriage. “I sold it, got myself tickets on British Airways and landed in Boston.” ‘

Read the rest of the article at this link.

Source: Huffington Post

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Majora Carter: Greening the ghetto

http://www.ted.com In an emotionally charged talk, MacArthur-winning activist Majora Carter details her fight for environmental justice in the South Bronx — and shows how minority neighborhood suffer most from flawed urban policy.

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Midnight’s Children by Deepa Mehta.

Odeon Stoke does not appear to be screening this movie which makes an important contribution to the world’s understanding of the partition of India and what it meant for millions of Indians, both Hindu and Muslim.

I suggest that Stokies who wish to watch the film contact Odeon Stoke via this link. http://www.odeon.co.uk/fanatic/contact_us/

You will need to select GUEST SERVICES and STOKE, provide your email and write your message.

This is one movie that all children of Indo-Pakistani immigrants to Britain need to watch. It’s also a movie that those alive at the time of the partition may wish to watch.

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A scene that many Muslim parents in Stoke need to see.

The video is in Urdu and touches upon issues such as music and Islam, double standards for men and women and the rights of Muslim women to marry whosoever they choose to marry.

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THE BLACK POWER MIX TAPE: A trailer of a movie that every Brit of an immigrant background should watch.

The Black Power Mixtape is an award winning compilation feature documentary that displays the story of the African-American community 1967-1975, the people, the society and the style that fueled a change. Told with sparkling, beautiful and deep footage, lost in the archives in Sweden for 30 years.

 
Written and Directed by: Göran Hugo Olsson
Produced by: Annika Rogell, Story AB
Co-Produced by: Joslyn Barnes & Danny Glover, Louverture Films
Art Director: Stefania Malmsten
Edited by: Göran Hugo Olsson & Hanna Lejonqvist
Including appearances by:
Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichae, Dr. Martin Luther King

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On desi misogyny and fat jokes about women

On desi misogyny and fat jokes about women

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Anjem Choudary recruits Stoke’s youth while in Pakistan…

…Pakistanis come together to make beautiful, beautiful music.

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Forced Marriages – Sara’s story (Urdu with English subtitles).

Forced marriage, REPORT IT (anonymously if you wish), SPEAK OUT and SHARE this video.

Below is one of a series of animated documentaries produced by the British High Commission Islamabad.

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When fundamentalists strike, women’s rights are always the first to go.

When we politely remain silent in front of fundamentalist inspired thinking, we are facilitating people to reach the final step – terrorism. As outlined in my post on Dr. Fouzia Saeed, Saeed (a Pakistani academic) sees suicide bomb attacks and bomb blasts as step 10, the final step of terrorism. She comments that steps 1 to 9 are what facilitate that terrorism and these are the steps that Stoke’s Muslim communities need to pay heed to.

 

Muslim communities in Stoke-on-Trent seem to be all too happy to give away the rights of Muslim women in a plight to seek approval from their peers. A man’s honour is judged by how effectively he manages to control the women of his household. Whether it’s the right to move freely, to go swimming in a mixed area, to hang out with friends, to educate oneself, Stoke’s patriarchal Muslims will restrict their females from doing it. All that matters is what the neighbours think. Not what is right, what is wrong, or what is truly in the best interests of the family member that they seek to subjugate in exchange for status in the community. They will agree with the fundamentalists that for a woman to be considered “virtuous” and a “good Muslim” she should neither have nor express  sexuality in any way and she mustn’t ever answer back to her father or her elders in general, no matter how unjust or cruel their words or actions might be. A Muslim woman in Stoke these days must tolerate the possibility of her husband wanting to engage in polygamy and must abide by what the men in her family tell her. End of story.

 

What people don’t realise is, this is precisely how it all starts. In countries like Iran and Afghanistan, the fundamentalists first attacked the rights of women and the men were like “it’s ok, it’s only women”. When men became the target of these fundamentalist human rights encroachments, only then did the patriarchs realise what they’d done. Only when men were beaten up in the street by fundamentalists for wearing a t-shirt or for not LOOKING Islamic enough, did those men realise what a Pandora’s box they had opened. The same will be the case in Stoke’s Muslim communities. The fathers, brothers, husbands and uncles who are today giving in to the ideologies of people who seek to tell them how the women in their lives should be behaving, will one day be the victims of their own moral cowardice.

 

The fact that we live in a relatively stable society with (mostly) well constructed laws does not mean that fundamentalists are not a credible threat to our freedoms. THEY ARE. The UK Government is IGNORING the fact that when one goes to a Sharia Council affiliated mosque to get an Islamic divorce that men are being charged £200 and women are being charged £400 AND told to give up their dowry! It’s not legally binding, but the leaders of Muslim communities have so much influence and power over people that they dictate what is the Muslim way to live. British Muslims know that if they don’t submit, they will become outcasts. The laws of the UK are failing to act against this kind of discrimination whilst hiding behind the veneer of “religious accommodation”. In a few decades time, there will be more Muslims in the political sphere since the Muslim population of Britain has already gone from 1.9 million in 2004 to 2.6 million in 2010. That’s a 36.7% increase. Muslims being in politics is not a problem, however the views that these Muslims have is most definitely a problem. Most of Stoke’s Muslims I meet are anti woman, anti-gay, anti-education, pro-conspiracy theories, anti-freedom, anti-democracy, anti-free speech, anti-music, anti-British, anti-anything that embodies a genuine willingness to see humanity in others, yet people like me are the ones who are told to “watch what we say”. What kind of a nightmare are we living in? And what kind of nightmare are we creating for future generations by allowing fundamentalists to hijack our lives without even challenging them?

Women’s rights are ALWAYS the first to go, because fundamentalists know that nobody cares about women enough to speak up about their rights. They know that most societies are led by patriarchy and misogyny and that couldn’t be truer of Stoke’s Muslim communities.  Republicans in the US who know that Evangelicals don’t give a rat’s ass about women’s rights, use this apathy and lack of ethics to keep attacking women’s healthcare, cancer care and reproductive healthcare services. Stoke’s fundamentalists act similarly. They know that many of Stoke’s Muslims hold patriarchal and misogynistic views, that verbal, emotional and physical abuse of women is tolerated and concealed within these communities. As long as these views which perceive women to be inferior beings go unchallenged, the fundamentalists’ rhetoric will continue to penetrate Stoke’s Muslim communities at deeper and deeper levels.

 

Mark my words people, if Stoke’s Muslims (religious or just cultural) do not physically organise and mobilise against fundamentalists in Stoke, if people do not speak out against those who accept fundamentalist encroachment on basic human rights, we will have more and more terror cells being found in Stoke-on-Trent.
Bomb blasts are the final step, and we all have a responsibility to prevent people from reaching that final step. When we fail to challenge the yobs that distribute hateful content outside mosques or when we fail to challenge those who call a handshake haraam and tell us how to discipline our daughters, we are no better than the mafia wife that watches silently and thus facilitates the bloody end. If the ideology isn’t challenged, how can we condemn a person when they reach step 10?

 

It’s much easier to stop a steam train when it’s just started moving, not when it’s gained momentum.  There needs to be a comprehensive and organised effort against fundamentalists in Stoke. Fouzia Saeed is 200% correct.
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“A Man’s Honour Lies Between the Legs of a Woman” by Tarek Fatah

In Khaled Hosseini’s soul-piercing novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, the character Nana, a poor unwed mother, tells her five-year-old daughter, Mariam: “Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”

Hosseini’s novel is about life in Afghanistan, but in the 30 words above he sums up the way men govern the lives of women across most of the Muslim world. Like Mariam, millions of Muslim girls are told very early in life by their mothers that their place in society is one of submission; submission, not to God, but to man.” 

Click here to read the entire article via The Huffington Post.

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