Muslim Woman Becomes Face Of UK’s National Healthcare System

Dr Farzana Hussain, a British Bangladeshi Muslim, has been recognized for her work as a General Practitioner (GP) in South London.

July 2020 marks 72 years of Britain’s free nationwide healthcare system, the NHS – and to celebrate the occasion, a Muslim doctor graces billboards up and down the country.

Dr Farzana Hussain, a British Bangladeshi Muslim, has been recognized for her work as a General Practitioner (GP) at a medical center in a deprived area of South London. The mother of two has, like medical staff worldwide, been on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Hussain is among twelve National Health Service staff who have been photographed especially for the anniversary by acclaimed British photographer Rankin, known for his portraits of Kate Moss, the Rolling Stones and even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

The NHS pictures can be seen across the country on billboards and in shopping centers, not to mention at the iconic Piccadilly Circus lights in central London – undoubtedly the most famous advertising spot in the UK.

Dr Hussain hasn’t let it go to her head. “It’s difficult to put into words how privileged I feel to be able to go to work every day and make a difference to people’s lives and to help battle this global pandemic.

Now more than ever, it’s important that we see the humanity that makes up our GP practices, community services and hospitals. Every member of staff has their own story, fears and hopes for the future. I think Rankin’s photography brings this out really well.”

You can read her full statement on the official NHS page.

This is a great achievement not just for the Muslim community, but also specifically Muslim women, the hijabi community, the Bengali community and the South Asian community. It is yet another proud moment for Muslims in the UK – earlier in the year a British key worker graced the cover of Vogue –  towards finally achieving the recognition British Muslims deserve. 

READ MORE: British Vogue’s Latest Cover Star Is A Black Hijabi Supermarket Assistant

Black Lives Matter Protests Aren’t Over, And They Won’t Be Anytime Soon

Media may have died down with covering protests, but they're still happening, and they're still relevant.

Black Lives Matter Protests Aren’t Over, And They Won’t Be Anytime Soon

Media may have died down with covering protests, but they’re still happening, and they’re still relevant.

By

Nawal Qadir
Photo of activist Alaa Massri protesting in Florida.

Following George Floyd’s murder in May, cities across America erupted in protests, calling for an end to a system that singles out and brutalizes Black people, indigenous people, and people of color. In the weeks following, these protests garnered multinational media attention, with major news networks constantly reporting on the “dangerous and destructive tactics” of many cities. 

 

 

As the protests continued week after week, however, they fell out of major network news. But even without the constant media attention, protesters are still going, and they’re getting more dangerous for protesters. 

In the recent weeks, videos emerged on social media of protesters in Los Angeles, CA being violently beaten by LAPD, namely one of a man in a wheelchair being thrown to the ground. These types of violent encounters have been shrouding these protests since the beginning, but they’ve increased exponentially since mass media’s attention has been turned in other directions. 

“The LAPD has been rebuked for the same tactics so many times before…that their continued use [of force] ‘indicates an intentional refusal to preserve the constitutional rights’ of protesters,” says a recent LA Times article that investigates the LAPD’s long history of brutality.

But the brutality faced by LA’s protesters pales in comparison to that of Portland, Oregon. 

Portland, like many other American cities, has been protesting every night since May 29, but two weeks ago marked the arrival of federal officers in the city. These officers, sent into the city by The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on order of President Trump, have been dressed in camouflage and tactical gear, armed with tear gas, and arresting protesters nightly. 

Protesters have since reported, and recorded videos of, federal agents throwing protesters into unmarked vans, presumably arresting them. 

Portland’s mayor Ted Wheeler has said that the federal agents aren’t welcome in the city, and was recently tear-gassed alongside protesters in a rally Wednesday night. 

Much like Portland’s own mayor demonstrated, the people aren’t backing down. They’ve continued to take to the streets, night after night, with mother’s forming walls around protesting bodies and chanting the words “Feds stay clear. Moms are here.” 

These are just two examples of the continuing protests, but they’ve been happening all over the country – like New York City, who protested even in the middle of pouring rain. While it may seem pointless, given the lack of attention surrounding them, the continued protests despite the increasing danger towards protesters themselves is the people, very loudly, letting government officials know that they won’t stand for small bills of reformed action. People want systemic change and they won’t stop until they get, regardless of media attention.

READ MORE: Who Is Stealing From Whom? Contextualizing The Protests

Car Bomb Attack Kills At Least Five, Wounds 85 in Rebel-Held Syria’s Azaz

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack until as of now. 

Azaz, Syria – An explosive laden car blew up in Syria’s rebel-held northwestern town of Azaz on Sunday, killing at least 5 and injuring around 85 people, including women and children. The incident took place in the village of Siccu. Injured civilians, who were in critical condition, were taken to a hospital on the Turkish side of the border.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack until as of now. 

The Northwestern Syrian town of Azaz has been under the control of rebels backed by Turkey since the state got its control into Syria in 2016. And the YPG/PKK terror organization, which regularly attacks from Syria’s Tal Rifaat and Manbij regions, often targets Jarabulus, Azaz and Afrin.

Attack in Afrin

Earlier on Sunday in another terror attack, 13 people, including children, were injured in Afrin, a northwestern town of Syria, which is controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters. Sunday’s attacks came as parliamentary elections took place in government-held parts of the war-torn country. As in previous elections in Syria, the vote could produce a rubber-stamp body loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: The missions, Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).

READ MORE: Jordanians Call For Change After So-Called Honor Killing Of Ahlam

Jordanians Call For Change After So-Called Honor Killing Of Ahlam

Ahlam was murdered by her father who shortly after, sat down and drank tea beside her body.

Trigger warning: violence, domestic violence

In Jordan, a woman named Ahlam was murdered by her father in what is recognized as an “honor killing.” The attacks began after a dispute unraveled between Ahlam and her father. Her father hit her with a brick and continued the harm as Ahlam attempted to escape. She managed to start running as she was screaming for help, but her father chased her. She passed away after multiple hits to her head. Neighbors tried intervening, however, they were allegedly stopped by Ahlam’s brothers. As her body laid on the ground, Ahlam’s father sipped back on a cup of tea and smoked a cigarette. 

Ahlam had been previously in jail on a charge for misdemeanour by her father who then paid for her bail a month later. Investigations have opened on a report that someone complained of a woman being assaulted. There had been notifications that she was facing abuse at home, and no one stepped in to address the violence. 

Jordanian law allows for criminal indictment reduction under reason of honor; this can be seen in the Jordanian Penal code, Articles 98 and 99. Therefore, the father could reduce his crime under reason of Ahlam bringing dishonor to the family. Many Jordanian women have gone on social media to share that Jordanian laws continue to silence women while using Ahlam’s story as a horrifying example.

 

Jordanians flooded Twitter with anger and sadness. However, there were also comments that supported the murder. Comments such as “If she did something that touches the family’s honor then she deserves it…” escalated the issue. The father is facing the charges at Grand Criminal Court in Amman after Ahlam’s story garnered attention in the media. 

A similar incident occurred in Jordan when a man had killed his 14-year-old daughter after she made a Facebook account in May 2020.

There is a lot of growth to be made in the Jordanian government to address issues for Women’s Rights. A petition was made and began circulating online calling for the end of Articles 98 and 99 which now has more than 35,000 signatures. The translation of the petition urges the abolition of articles 98 and 99 in the Jordanian law. The petition is also asking for the end of Article 52, which gives families the right to waive the right to life of their children.

READ MORE:  OP-ED: Another ‘Honor Killing’ In A Family

Man Arrested In Spain For Murder Of Aya Hachem After ‘Fleeing To Portugal’

Aya Hachem was shot and killed as she walked near Lidl Supermarket in Blackburn on May 17th.

Manchester Evening News reported that a 30-year-old man was arrested in Spain on suspicion of the murder of 19-year-old Aya Hachem on July 4.

The 30-year-old was arrested after a European Arrest Warrant was executed in the holiday resort of Fuengirola.

Prior to his arrest, the man first fled to Portugal using his brother’s passport, before hiding out on the Costa Del Sol with his girlfriend, Spanish police revealed.

Aya Hachem was shot and killed as she walked near Lidl Supermarket in Blackburn on May 17th.

The man is being held on suspicion of murder and the attempted murder of the man police believe was the target of the drive-by shooting that killed Hachem.

A spokesman for Spain’s National Police said on July 8 that, “Police have arrested a fugitive on foot of a European Arrest Warrant in Fuengirola.”

The spokesman added, “Further investigation led to the identification of the vehicle he was using, leading officers to trace the route he took through the South of Spain.”

The man is currently subject to the extradition process so he can be brought back to Lancashire and be charged with the offenses.

READ MORE: Two Men Charged With The Murder Of Aya Hachem

Kansas City Gun Range Denies Muslim Woman Entry Because Of Her Hijab

"Hats, caps, bandanas, or any other head covering will be removed in the facility, except baseball caps facing forward.” She was told by the range's manager that keeping her scarf would pose a safety risk.

A Kansas City area gun range is under fire for violating the civil rights of a local Muslim woman by not allowing her into the facility unless she removed her hijab earlier this year.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is demanding the U.S. Department of Justice launch an investigation into the denial of services by Frontier Justice during an incident earlier this year at one of their gun ranges located at 800 NE Jones Industrial Dr in Lee Summit, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri.

Rania Barakat shared her experience in a video conference on Facebook Live with CAIR this past Thursday. The incident, which took place on January 1, unfolded after an hour long wait on  a busy New Year’s Day out with her husband, who had used the range in the past with friends. When the couple approached the cashier to pay, they were told by staff that she must remove her hijab in order to use the facilities. 

Barakat stated that she’d shot at other gun ranges in the past without any issue. Frontier Justice employees cited the company’s dress code policy, which is listed on its website, “Hats, caps, bandanas, or any other head covering will be removed in the facility, except baseball caps facing forward.” She was told by the range’s manager that keeping her scarf would pose a safety risk. The couple left once it became clear they weren’t going to be let in.

Afterwards, Barakat said she went online to leave a review only to discover that other hijabis in her community had encountered a similar experience at the range, some she even knew personally. 

“The law demands equal access to public accommodations regardless of your race, color, religion and national origin,” said CAIR attorney Zanah Ghalawanji. “Frontier Justice has disregarded and violated the civil rights protections by actively excluding Muslim women who wear the hijab from their business.”

The company, whose website denotes its core values of “Faith, Family and Freedom,” has facilities in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas. Their site also makes note of their involvement in Christian education, which leads one to believe they would be more sensitive to issues of religious expression. 

“To have this happen to me personally, it was very sad and, you know, frustrating,” Barakat said. “And I would never want anyone to go through what I went through.”

In Thursday’s conference, Moussa Elbayoumy, chairman of CAIR’s Kansas board, mentioned that the chapter had received other reports around the same time from other hijabis who were also told they had to remove their scarves in order to shoot at the same location. He stated that the range’s policy isn’t based on any legitimate safety concerns, and is deliberately meant to exclude Muslim women.

“Frontier Justice, you know, says they value faith, family and freedom,” Zanah Ghalawanji, a CAIR National attorney said in the conference. “That appears to be their motto, but, however, their actions tell us that they have shown otherwise.”

You can read CAIR’s letter to the Department of Justice in full here or donate to support Barakat’s legal defense via their official fundraiser.

READ MORE: Bangladeshi Tech CEO Fahim Saleh Found Dismembered In New York Apartment

Bangladeshi Tech CEO Fahim Saleh Found Dismembered In New York Apartment

Saleh was last seen on camera getting into the elevator in his apartment building accompanied by a man dressed in all black, who, according to police, is the suspected assailant.

New York, New York – Fahim Saleh, 33-year-old tech entrepreneur, venture capitalist and founder of Gokada and Pathao – ride sharing companies – was found dismembered in his New York apartment on July 14th.

The NYPD confirmed a man had been found dead Tuesday in an apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Saleh was last seen on camera footage on the evening of July 12th getting into the elevator in his apartment building accompanied by a man dressed in all black, who, according to police, is the suspected assailant. The elevator in Saleh’s building goes straight into his luxury condo, the source said.

When Saleh’s sister went to check on him, found his torso in an area next to the living room, the official said. Other parts of his body were found stuffed into individual bags in the apartment, the source said

Who was Fahim Saleh?

The 33-year old, son of Bangladeshi immigrants, was a tech savvy person who created his first company PrankDial.com while still in high school. He later went on to co-found a ride-sharing company Pathao, which is a popular service in Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2018 he helped found Nigerian motorbike taxi app Gokada. And very recently, he also founded a venture capital firm Adventure Capital which invested in ride-sharing start-ups in countries like Bangladesh and Colombia.

Saleh’s family confirmed his death in a statement.

“The headlines talk about a crime we still cannot fathom,” the statement said. “Fahim is more than what you are reading. He is so much more. His brilliant and innovative mind took everyone who was a part of his world on a journey and he made sure never to leave anyone behind.”

“There are no words or actions to provide any of us comfort except the capture of the person who exhibited nothing short of evil upon our loved one,” the statement continued.

“We need and urge the NYPD and other members of law enforcement to work diligently to get to the bottom of this horrific crime and bring justice for Fahim,” his family said.

Both of the companies were founded by Saleh. His Pathao co-founder Hussein M Elius paid tribute to the passionate tech-entrepreneur.

Saleh’s personal assistant 21-year-old Tyrese Devon Haspil was arrested Friday in connection to the death of the tech-entrepreneur. He allegedly owed Saleh tens of thousands of dollars and was on a repayment plan. 

Haspil was arrested Friday morning outside a building in the city’s SoHo neighborhood,  NYPD Detectives Chief Rodney Harrison said during a news briefing Friday. He is charged with second-degree murder and other charges. Haspil was Saleh’s executive assistant and “handled his finances and personal matters,” Harrison said. “It is also believed that he owed the victim a significant amount of money.”

Reportedly Saleh recently discovered that Haspil — who’d worked for him for five years — stole roughly $90,000 from him. After which he decided to fire Haspil and offer to set up a repayment plan. 

Police told the Times Haspil, dressed in a black three-piece suit, followed Saleh into the key-card secured elevator that led to his seventh-floor apartment and attacked him when the elevator stopped. He disabled Saleh with a taser, and stabbed him several times in the neck and torso.

The horrid killing shocked neighbors and the tech and venture capital worlds, where Fahim Saleh, a founding partner at Adventure Capital, cultivated a reputation as an energetic and creative businessman who specialized in direct investment in developing nations – with his ride-hailing apps in Nigeria and Bangladesh being worth more than hundreds of millions of dollars.

READ MORE: It Empowered Me To Fight Even More: Alaa Massri’s Charges Dropped But She Isn’t Backing Down

Salma Lakhani: Canada Appoints First Muslim Woman Lieutenant-Governor

Salma Lakhani is the first muslim woman to be appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Canada.

The Canadian Liberal government has named Salma Lakhani as the next lieutenant-governor of Alberta, making her the first ever Muslim to hold the position in Canadian history.

Lieutenant-governors are the highest ranking officers in each province. They carry out various official duties, including: swearing in the premier and cabinet, opening each session of the legislative assembly and signing bills into laws.

Ms. Lakhani has lived in Edmonton for more than 40 years and has long served as a community advocate focused on issues including education, health care, immigration, human rights and has “dedicated her life to helping people in need and those who faces obstacles to succeed in our society,” said the Prime Minister’s office in a news release.

Ms. Lakhani obtained an honors degree in clinical biochemistry from the University of Manchester. In 2005, she was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal for outstanding achievements in the province and in 2012, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal honoring service to Canada. 

“Ms. Lakhani is devoted to supporting people in her community, from new immigrants and young people to women and families,” the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau said in a written statement. “As Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, I know she will serve the people of her province and our country well, and continue to be a source of inspiration for all Canadians.”

READ MORE: Raffia Arshad Becomes The UK’s First Hijab-Wearing Judge

It Empowered Me To Fight Even More: Alaa Massri’s Charges Dropped But She Isn’t Backing Down

The 19-year-old was arrested for protesting and had her hijab unlawfully removed in police custody.

Alaa Massri is a fierce advocate for injustice, and one that isn’t easily rattled – after all, she’s the woman who was arrested for protesting in Miami who had her hijab unlawfully removed. 

 

 

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As her charges have been dropped, Massri says she would like to believe it was her petition—which garnered over 315,000 signatures and counting—and the voice of the people that was heard, that led her to this outcome.

The Lebanese-American pre-med student has been a frequent protestor, attending at least three to four protests weekly since May 30, carrying medical equipment with her to tend to injured folks. Massri is also the leader and organizer of a street medic team for an organization in Miami.

Recalling the first protest she attended on May 30, Massri said, “The police started firing rubber bullets and throwing tear gas at us. I rushed to help one of the protesters who had gotten shot; he was bleeding, very, very badly … and then moments after the tear gas had gotten so bad, I actually passed out in the street, and I was carried away by random strangers.”

However, Massri did say that the majority of protests she has attended have been peaceful, with the exception of the one on May 30 and the one where she got arrested.

She also mentioned how she hadn’t considered the possibility of something happening to her. “It was a very peaceful protest, it was a Wednesday. Everyone was at work … so, we were maybe 60, 70, 80 of us, at most,” she recalls about the day of her arrest. “I knew that arrests were something that may possibly happen at a very violent protest, you know, one that has looting … and actual riots, but I never anticipated for arrests to happen where I was protesting or myself getting arrested at all. It was very unexpected and very traumatizing.”

Massri said her involvement in protests and being at the frontline of them leads her to believe that her arrest was a personal attack on her, and a tactic to scare her and the folks she’s been leading to stop them from continuing the work they’ve been doing — and will continue to do.

 

 

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“For me personally, I think it just empowered me and encouraged me to continue to fight even more because the police are hiding behind their badge, where they get to lie on police reports and blatantly dictate whatever charges they want to press you with,” she explained.

While taking action against the officers involved in her arrest is a possibility, “It’s more important that something like a policy, or a bill would be passed to ensure that this never happens again, at the end of the day, that’s my end goal,” she added.

After an incident in Minnesota in 2013, where a Muslim woman suffered the same fate when she was forced to remove her hijab infront of mail jailers over a traffic offense, Minnesota decided to  implement a new policy on how to treat female Muslim inmates in their state. Massri expressed that while this was a good first step, she believes it is imperative to educate officers and others who are in positions of power and implement some sort of religious learning classes or a cultural training day.

Massri believes stripping Muslim women of their hijabs during the time of their arrest is a humiliation tactic “to prove that their badge has the power, and the ability to do whatever they want and to humiliate you in whatever way that they can, and choose to do so.”

Everyone who was arrested at the time Massri was, were all males who also objected against her treatment and told the officers it was her religious right to wear her hijab, but while she was still in handcuffs, she recalls the officers grabbed her hijab off her head and took it away, and said they dictate what happens in their job.

Massri’s message to all young activists, hijabi or not is to keep going out there and keep fighting in whatever way that you can.

 

 

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“It’s important to recognize your privilege,” she expresses. “No matter what type of privilege you have — whether it’s just skin color, the language that you speak, your socio-economic status, your health — all of these contribute to your privilege and the ability to recognize that and use that voice of privilege to stand up for those who are oppressed and for those who face injustices is vital in changing the world for future generations.”

READ MORE: Muslim Woman Forced To Take Mugshot Without Hijab In Florida

Pakistani Capital To Get Its First Hindu Temple Complex

Under Prime Minister Imran Khan, work on the complex has moved forward with 100 million rupees ($1.32m) in government funding.

Late last month, construction began on the long-awaited Shri Krishna Mandir temple complex in Islamabad’s H-9 area. This will be the first Hindu temple in Pakistan’s capital, coming seven decades after the country’s inception. The complex, which will include a crematorium, a community hall, and boarding for visitors, will serve an estimated 3,000 Hindus living in Islamabad who will no longer need to leave the city in order to perform religious rituals. 

Approved in 2017 under Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, administrative obstacles postponed construction for some time. Under Prime Minister Imran Khan, work on the complex has moved forward with 100 million rupees ($1.32m) in government funding. Since coming to power in August 2018, PM Khan’s government has stated that it aims to improve living conditions for Pakistani minorities, including but not limited to the restoration of several religious shrines.

The official groundbreaking ceremony took place on June 23rd, and was performed by Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights, Lal Chand Malhi. 

Although the temple complex is being met with mixed responses, many praise this as a big step for the country’s minority Hindu community. According to the Pakistan Hindu Council, Hindus make up about 4% of Pakistan’s population of 200 million, with a vast majority living in the province of Sindh. However, the building of this temple complex in the country’s capital is intended to send a message of inclusivity in line with the promises of PM Khan.

READ MORE: #HijabisFightBack: Belgian College Students Protest Headscarf Ban Constitutional Ruling