Mufti Menk Talks About How Nicki Minaj Follows Him On Twitter

"Mm-mashallah" – Nicki Minaj on Plain Jane (Remix) with Muslim A$AP Ferg

Mufti Menk Talks About How Nicki Minaj Follows Him On Twitter

“Mm-mashallah” – Nicki Minaj on Plain Jane (Remix) with Muslim A$AP Ferg

By

Mareena Emran
Photo of Mufti Menk shaking hands with a president, but with Nicki Minaj's face over him. / Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

 

It’s pretty common to hear Islamic phrases like “Assalamualaikum” and “MashAllah” in your favorite rap hits, but the recent discovery of rapper Nicki Minaj following popular Muslim scholar Mufti Ismail Menk on Twitter has turned the Muslim community on its head, with many speculating about Minaj’s personal religious beliefs. It’s honestly left us all in shock.

Mufti Menk of Zimbabwe is an esteemed Muslim figure on social media who is known for his motivational lectures and large platform following.

Although the entire situation may have confused many of us, Mufti Menk decided to voice his own view on the situation in a short YouTube video, explaining that Minaj following him on social media is something that is nobody’s business except her own.

 

“SubhanAllah, she happens to be following a lot of people on Twitter and Instagram…in the entertainment industry, and at the same time, for some reason, follows me,” said Mufti Menk. “Now, people are very inquisitive, but trust me, you don’t need to know.”

He also included in his statement about Minaj following him that not everyone who follows him necessarily agrees with him, and that it’s possible that Minaj is perhaps looking at Islam from a new perspective by following his Twitter page.

“Not everyone who follows you agrees with you,” said Mufti Menk. “Some people follow you because they disagree with you and they just want to see what you do. In this particular case, whatever the reason is, big deal?”

Mufti Menk’s follow up video has gained over 420k views as of August 18th, and has also been circulating around Instagram and Twitter, reaching thousands more.

The news of Minaj following Mufti Menk has received mixed reviews over the internet, and a lot of young fans have stormed TikTok with videos of their reactions as well.

With all the TikToks, Tweets and memes being made about the situation, Mufti Menk hopes that his followers understand the importance of spreading positivity regardless of Minaj’s religious affiliations.

“I’m happy, and I pray, InshAllah, that it’s a means of goodness for everyone, and a means of guidance for one and all,” said Mufti Menk. 

So, the question still lingers, is Minaj making plans to go to Izlam? We won’t know until she makes a legitimate statement, but her Plain Jane remix may have spoken for itself.

READ MORE: Netflix Cancels Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Patriot Act’ After Six Seasons

Netflix Cancels Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Patriot Act’ After Six Seasons

American-Muslim comedian Hasan Minhaj announced that his political comedy Netflix show, Patriot Act, will not be renewed for another season.

Netflix Cancels Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Patriot Act’ After Six Seasons

American-Muslim comedian Hasan Minhaj announced that his political comedy Netflix show, Patriot Act, will not be renewed for another season.

By

Rania Rizvi

American-Muslim comedian Hasan Minhaj announced that his political comedy Netflix show, Patriot Act, will not be renewed for another season. 

“What a run. @patriotact has come to an end,” wrote Minhaj. “Thank you to @netflix and everyone who watched.” 

While some fans are happy to see Minhaj moving on from the show to start other projects, many upset fans believe the show was deliberately cancelled due to the controversial nature of the topics discussed. 

From being banned in Saudi Arabia for discussing the alleged corruption of the royal family to delving into the highly polarizing debates on police, marijuana, and the American prison system, Patriot Act dared to cover some of the most polarizing topics in politics today. 

Even the title of the show, Patriot Act, showed that Minhaj was not one to shy from controversy. Minhaj’s powerful play on words of the USA Patriot Act, a controversial policy implemented by the Bush administration that has historically been abused to unlawfully criminalize Muslim post-9/11, made a statement that encapsulated not only Minhaj’s willingness push the envelope, but to punch back at beasts like religious injustice.

 

 

However fans believe that this fact, along with Minhaj’s Muslim, “POC identity” are the reasons for its cancellation. 

“Netflix cancelling Patriot Act is not just an indication of the fact that they don’t want to center voices of color, but instead (I think) an indication of the fact that Hasan Minhaj and [his] team took risks and made people uncomfortable — and that was too much for Netflix,” tweeted a disgruntled fan. 

The show premiered on Netflix on October 28, 2018, and within two years, Minhaj produced 39 episodes that covered a wide range of sociopolitical issues presented in an interactive, talk show format. Prior to coronavirus, the show was filmed in New York City in front of a live audience, before switching to the more one-on-one format of the last season. 

Ranging from covering topics as serious as the aforementioned ones to overpriced designer products and the slave-like work culture of the video game industry, the show’s content diversity and edu-comedy style allowed Minhaj to reach millions and educate others about critical issues around the globe. 

Many fans have even said that the show’s episodes are so informative that they’ve been able to complete assignments and get As on final projects because of Minhaj. 

Regardless of the show’s cancellation, Patriot Act

has undoubtedly created waves that nobody was anticipating. Minhaj’s brazenly unabashed and witty commentary combined with his energetic stage presence made Patriot Act not only popular, but an influential force on Gen-Z. 

More importantly, Minhaj’s unwillingness to stick to the status quo of making stereotypical “brown jokes” and belittling his ethnicity for the sake of “relatability” has set a new precedent for POC creators to own their identities as a part of their experience, not as the punchline. 

Fans took to Twitter to reflect on the show fondly. 

“I loved Patriot Act because the show challenged the status quo… they taught their fans to stand up for what’s right, whether or not that was popular. Forever grateful,” tweeted a fan.

 

While the show may be cancelled and the next moves of Minhaj are unknown, fans are hopeful that he will deliver. Many of the top comments under Minhaj’s Instagram post are positive, stating that they “can’t wait for what’s next” and believe that this is “just the beginning” for Minhaj. But until then, we are just going to have to watch the reruns (Netflix, at least let us reminisce, it’s the least you can do).

READ MORE: Hasan Minhaj Breaks Down The Yemen Crisis On ‘Patriot Act’

Young Black Muslim Mother-To-Be Shot Dead In Maryland

Both CAIR and the Howard County Police are offering separate rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the suspect.

A young Black pregnant Muslim woman was fatally shot in her home July 31  in Columbia, Maryland on Eid weekend, according to local authorities. The woman, Rabiah Ahmad, was a hairstylist with her own brand, House of Kiyomi. Her baby girl, Ajha, was delivered but is in critical condition. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the woman’s killer.

On August 6, an update to a GoFundMe campaign organized by Ahmad’s cousin revealed that Ajha also died. 

Howard County Police say that officers responded to the 6600 block of Dovecote Drive for a report of several shots fired around 11 p.m. on Friday. Multiple bullets were fired into the residence from the outside, and one of which struck Rabiah Ahmad, who was 30.

The victim was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she died. Ahmad was 28 weeks pregnant. At first doctors were able to save and deliver the baby girl, Ahja, but unfortunately she passed away just days later on August 5.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball addressed the horrific tragedy and offered condolences to Ahmad’s friends and relatives in a statement:

“It is an unimaginable and unacceptable tragedy which took place in our community overnight. Our condolences and prayers go out to the family and friends of Ms. Ahmad and to our entire Howard County Muslim community who are shocked and saddened by the incident which occurred on Eid al-Adha, the Day of Sacrifice.”

At this time, the motive for the shooting is unknown.

“The Howard County police department is working diligently on this case and my office has been in touch with leaders within the Muslim community to offer our support and resources where needed to help those impacted,” Ball added.

Zainab Chaudry, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations office in Maryland, made the following statement:

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s loved ones, and especially to the infant in critical condition. We urge anyone with information about this horrific crime to contact authorities and help bring justice for this family. At this point, there are too many unanswered questions, and the community’s help can make a tremendous difference.”

Both CAIR and the Howard County Police are offering separate rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the suspect. Anyone with any information at all is urged to contact CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry, zchaudry@cair.com, 410-971-6062.

READ MORE: First Two Muslim-American Women Elected To Congress Won Their Re-Election Primaries

How One TikToker Is Shutting Down The “Basic Black Kurta” Eid Fit Trend

Black kurtas are a staple for basic Muslim men during Eid. Here's why one TikTok star is tired of being basic.

How One TikToker Is Shutting Down The “Basic Black Kurta” Eid Fit Trend

Black kurtas are a staple for basic Muslim men during Eid. Here’s why one TikTok star is tired of being basic.

By

Mareena Emran
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Eid is a special time in the Muslim community for a number of different reasons. From the special Eid prayer, down to securing the Eidi bag, this occasion is unlike any other. But even with all of the festivities, there’s one super important piece to making the celebration feel complete: your Eid fit.

With just a quick glance, it’s pretty typical that you’ll find your Instagram and Twitter feeds flooded with black kurtas, but 20-year-old Emad Ahmed changed the game this year.


Ahmed had no hesitation ensuring that he wowed the crowd with his outfit for Eid Al-Adha, sporting a bright pink kurta with a bedazzled seam and collar. He featured his suit in a TikTok video which gained the attention of nearly 30,000 people. His video now has over 3,000 likes, and was even duetted by a number of other Muslim TikTok creators who wanted to follow Ahmed’s footsteps in switching up their outfit choice for the holiday.

“I was kind of afraid of how my friends would react,” Ahmed said. “There’s a big culture around toxic masculinity, but I was just like, ‘you know what, let’s make a statement, I’m just going to go for it,’ and I posted the video.”

Prior to posting his Eid fit video, Ahmed had voiced his concerns through a private TikTok video about the black kurta trend on Eid, explaining how it feeds into the culture of Desi stereotypes and sexualization of men. 

“I personally believe that guys shouldn’t be sexualizing girls, especially on a platform like this (TikTok),” Ahmed said. “There are so many big TikTokers who are just like, ‘Oh my God! When a guy walks into a room with a black kurta he looks so clean, so hot,’ and I think it’s dumb, because you wearing something is not going to define how good looking you are. I think people are missing the entire point with this black kurta stuff.”

Ahmed also went on to talk about the pressure of fitting into modern societal gender norms.

“I know a lot of guys that are so sensitive, in Western society especially, that when girls say something about them, they feel pressured to do exactly that, just like wearing a black kurta,” Ahmed said. “If a girl thinks that black kurtas are hot, boys will feel the need to wear a black kurta (to impress them), when in reality, it should all be about pleasing yourself and spreading positivity around you.”

After posting the private TikTok, Ahmed was approached by another creator, Nabeel Mian, to collaborate via the duets feature on the app, telling Ahmed that he would support by wearing a bright colored kurta as well.

“The morning Emad posted his kurta video, he had actually commented on his video tagging me that he wants to see what I’m wearing for eid, and with this, I had an idea and thought of making a duet with him,” said Mian. “My eyes landed on this new sky blue colored kurta and I thought it would be perfect to wear alongside my buddy Emad.”

Ahmed and Mian’s duetted video paved the way for more duet videos to be made, and also gave the two creators a chance to connect and bond with one another. The video amassed around 8,000 views and around 2,000 likes.

“I found Emad about a month ago around when he first started, I could see he was going to grow very big so I wanted to support him through it,” Mian said. “I did this to hopefully inspire people to join with us and start a chain so we could still do a collaboration. Sure, girls can say they love it all they want over social media, but we all know being unique and different is what truly stands out over anything else. Emad’s video is a perfect example because he was able to attract social media without following the standards it had set out.”

Both Ahmed and Mian hope to continue changing the face of Desi and Muslim TikTok with more collaborations. They both hope to break the chain of toxic masculinity on the platform while also embracing their individuality through their content.

“This generation will be the generation to break stereotypes, and doing so is very important, because our culture in the past has always been worrying about what others would think and say about us,” Mian said. “My question to everyone is whether they would feel better if they were to follow a trend or start a trend. I’m sure it would mean much more to them to start one. If that is the case for them, then that can only be done by embracing a unique fashion sense to truly stand out and be noticed.”

READ MORE: Plant-Based Diet, Islam And Eid: What’s The Deal?

First Two Muslim-American Women Elected To Congress Won Their Re-Election Primaries

Congratulations to Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar!

Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to the United States Congress, have won their primaries for re-election — both of them by a landslide. 

This past Tuesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar won her primary in Minnesota’s historically Democratic 5th Congressional District, which includes the entire city of Minneapolis. Omar is the first Somali-American, the first naturalized citizen of African birth and the first woman of color from Minnesota to be elected to Congress. Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, defeated Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones in the Democratic 13th District primary in a closely watched race. The first-term incumbent scored 66% of the vote against Jones’ 33%. The last time the two campaigned against each other in 2018, Tlaib won by a tiny margin, beating Jones by only about 900 votes out of roughly 89,000 cast.

Omar and Tlaib both received endorsements from fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

Each of the women will move on to the general election, which takes place on November 3, 2020. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as 35 of 100 senate seats, and the office of President of the United States will be voted on. 

This year’s general election is generating much concern due to a lack of federal funding for USPS, which carries the burden of processing most of the country’s ballots this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We found a handy guide with voting information specific to each state here. Find out if you’re registered and how to get a mail-in ballot in your area as soon as possible, as significant delays are expected

The Stigma Of Menstruation In Muslim Households

We spoke with the chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University, Atiya Aftab, about the stigma of menstruation in Muslim households.

The Stigma Of Menstruation In Muslim Households

We spoke with the chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University, Atiya Aftab, about the stigma of menstruation in Muslim households.

By

Syeda Khaula Saad
Art - Ameena Muhammad

 

There is a lot of shame embedded into the upbringing of Muslim women. Through patriarchal cultural practices that have been passed down and mistaken for “words of Allah,” we are raised to be shrunken. And oftentimes it isn’t until we’re sitting in the midst of our adulthood desperately trying to unlearn the feelings of disgust we feel toward ourselves that we realize how heavy the weight of misogyny has become. And it starts off young. 

We are often taught that the foremost “confirmation” of our womanhood is the first red droplets we see on our underwear at the beginning of puberty — this moment, known as menarche, signals the start of menstruation. At meager ages of 11, 12, 13, we are told “You’re a woman now!” and the first reasoning? Your body has the ability to bear children. But rather than celebrate it, it’s met with secrecy. We are told to disguise cramps as “stomachaches,” to sneak pads into our pockets as we go to restrooms, and to do anything to avoid letting men in our homes become even slightly conscious that we are menstruating. In Muslim households we are drilled with the idea that we are “impure” in the eyes of Allah and that we should steer clear of the men in the house entirely. But Middle Eastern Studies Program and Political Science adjunct professor and chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University Atiya Aftab says these views come from culture, not religion. 

“A menstruating woman is not seen as dirty or lesser due her menstruating status,” Aftab tells Muslim.co. “In Islam, menstruation is not seen in any way as a divine punishment.” She explains that these interpretations have been morphed from religious traditions surrounding the status of a menstruating woman. For example, a woman on her period is exempted from fasting during the month of Ramadan (though she is expected to make up the fasts at a later time) and she is also exempted from the obligatory five daily prayers. While this is often pointed at as a justification to regard menstruating women as “impure” or “dirty,” Aftab feels differently. 

“In the case of fasting, it is a hardship for a menstruating woman to abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk,” she says. “Hydration, nutrition, and possibly medication [is] needed.” Therefore, the same mercy that is given to those who are sick is extended to menstruating women. “With respect to prayer, it is required that a person who is engaged in the daily formal prayer must be in a state of ritual purity (wudu/ghusl),” Aftab explains. “A person who is bleeding — male or female — is not a ritual state of purity.” So, it is not the fact that the blood is coming out from the vagina that makes a woman unable to pray, but the fact that she is bleeding at all. 

So why are menstruating women so taboo in many Muslim households?  Most of the feelings in regard to menstruating women date back to pre-Islamic culture, Aftab explains. “Men would refuse to go near their wives, eat or drink with their wives, or sleep in the same bed when they were menstruating,” she says. And it wasn’t just Muslim households where this was occurring.

Negative feelings toward menstruation exist in Jewish households as well, where followers believed that even those who touched a menstruating woman would be deemed unclean. These same stigmas persist even today in many Asian cultures including in India, Pakistan, Japan, and Indonesia. 

But despite these negative generalizations about menstruation, many of the ones that exist in regard to Islam are more cultural than they are religious. In fact, Aftab says it is reported that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told his companions that, regarding their wives, husbands should “Do everything with her except for sexual intercourse.” (Muslim; ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari). 

In fact, Aftab recalls a beautiful story regarding the Prophet (PBUH) and his wife, Aisha.

Aisha related that: “The Prophet would recline on my lap while I was menstruating and he would read the Quran.” (Bukhari). And the Prophet and his wife Aisha shared the same drinking vessel while she was menstruating. Aisha stated: “I would drink while menstruating, then pass the vessel to the Prophet. He would place his mouth on the (same) place as my mouth and drink…” 

“The actions of the Prophet demonstrated that a menstruating woman was not impure or dirty and was fully capable of engaging in aspects of normal life in the following tradition,” Aftab says. In the same story, Aisha reported that: “The Messenger of God said to me, ‘Get me the prayer mat from the prayer area.’ I replied, ‘I am menstruating.’ He said, ‘Verily, your menstruation is not in your hand.’” (Muslim). If the wife of the Prophet had no issues expressing that she was menstruating, why do we encourage girls to hide their periods from their fathers, brothers, and eventually husbands?

The Prophet (PBUH) has laid a foundation to regard women with utmost respect — and a state of menstruation does not warrant a change in that. The perpetuation of menstruation stigma is hurting Muslim women in irreversible ways. Years after the fact, feelings of anxiousness and shame surrounding our bodies remain. It is up to both women and men to recognize where they might be perpetuating misogynistic practices surrounding women’s bodies and work to fix these mistakes. Menstruating is one of the most natural things that can happen to a woman. By shunning it and teaching girls to keep it a secret, we are teaching them that there is something biologically wrong with them. The outside world is already bent on bringing down the Muslim woman — there is no need to do the same within their own households. 

“Menarche should not be hidden, but celebrated,” Aftab says. 

What The ‘Peace Deal’ Really Means For Palestinians

Israel will halt annexation of Palestinian territories in exchange for establishing diplomatic ties with the UAE. Here's what this 'peace deal' means for Palestinians.

What The ‘Peace Deal’ Really Means For Palestinians

Israel will halt annexation of Palestinian territories in exchange for establishing diplomatic ties with the UAE. Here’s what this ‘peace deal’ means for Palestinians.

By

Samer Hassan
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

The leaders of the Zionist government of Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a deal that would normalize relations between the two governments. While the UAE has long maintained quiet relations with Israel, this public deal sets a dangerous precedence for the Middle East: one that says, we don’t care about your human rights track record, because profit and strategic cooperation trumps all.

Israel has shown the world that its efforts to annex Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank were not only met with impunity but ultimately rewarded by a public treaty. One that establishes friendly relations between an autocracy that purports to have Palestinians’ best interest at heart, and a Zionist government that has referred to Palestinians as barbarians and vermin.

Israel has codified its unequal treatment of Palestinians. By building Jewish-only roads in the occupied territories, encircling whole villages inside a net of concrete walls, and systematically imprisoning hundreds of Palestinian children, the Zionist state hammers down all efforts to build a viable Palestinian future. 

According to the United Nations, illegal Israeli settler violence towards Palestinians has skyrocketed by over 70% in 2020 alone. This is a government that has bulldozed Palestinian attempts to build a hospital for COVID-19 patients, maintains over 147 heavily armed checkpoints, and continues to expand its separation wall deep inside Palestinian land. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised this new deal by saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov.” There is no peace in the Middle East because governments that ally themselves with the West are allowed to murder their inhabitants with impunity while pointing the finger at others that dare to seek justice. 

“During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories,” said Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, strategically adding, “The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”

Netanyahu, Bin Zayed, and Donald Trump released a joint statement saying they hoped the “historic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East.”

To a Palestinian like me, this treaty has unequivocally ignored the calls of my people — a call that demands the world hold Israel accountable for its rampant destruction of Palestinian homes, murder of Palestinians who dare to organize, and efforts to label us terrorists and anti-semites when we call out Israel’s racist laws designed to keep us in perpetual poverty and dependency. By using the false narrative that this agreement will bring peace, the UAE signals to the world that it truly does not have the interest of Palestinians at heart. Crown Prince Bin Zayed is now officially complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. 

Middle Eastern governments need to show Israel that its efforts to apply sovereignty over the Occupied West-Bank comes with international consequences like sanctions, not treaties.


Samer Hassan is Palestinian activist who graduated with a degree in Political Science from Columbia University.

UK Police Aggressively Drag Muslim Father From His Dying Daughter’s Hospital Bed

Disturbing footage filmed in September 2019 of police officers mistreating the mother and father of a young patient, after they refused to leave their severely ill child, was recently obtained by the Mail.

UK Police Aggressively Drag Muslim Father From His Dying Daughter’s Hospital Bed

Disturbing footage filmed in September 2019 of police officers mistreating the mother and father of a young patient, after they refused to leave their severely ill child, was recently obtained by the Mail.

By

Maryam Zaynah
Images from Dailymail

Zainab Abbasi, a six-year-old daughter of two former doctors, died in September 2019, days after her parents were mistreated at the hospital their daughter was being treated at. What happened? 

With Zainab’s condition worsening quickly, her parents panicked and asked to leave the room. Not long after they were asked to leave the room but refused to, a complaint was made because of Rashid Abbasi’s lack of cooperation. The police were called to the room, asking the couple to leave. The footage also shows Aliya Abbasi desperately begging a police officer to empathize with her situation. “Do you have children, police officer?” she asked.

The very upsetting footage shows a police officer violently removing Mr. Abbasi from the room, by holding his neck. They strapped his legs and ankles together and forcefully wheeled him away on a bed, as the 59-year-old man attempted to break free. A female police officer can be seen shouting at him in a condescending tone, “You’re acting like an animal it’s disgusting. Get him out of here.”

The video shows Mr. Abbasi repeatedly demanding they allow him to have his medicine as he had severe chest pains from the stress and intensity of the situation.

Later he was told he had suffered from a heart attack. The next day he underwent a heart procedure.

Meanwhile his wife Aliya was screaming at the scene before her, hopelessly urging the police to let go of her struggling husband who had become quite worked up. She was pulled by the back onto the hospital floor screaming, “They’re going to take the tube out of our daughter and she’s going to die.”

Mrs. Abbasi did admit that her husband can sometimes become animated and bad tempered, but that is only because of his health conditions and Zainab’s situation which he felt was not receiving enough attention and care. The couple were both former doctors and knew that enough wasn’t being done. She said, “Because we were both doctors we knew exactly what should be happening and we could point out when our daughter was being failed. If this could happen to us, what about other people?”

Despite this distressing experience they continued to try and save their daughter in any way possible, who had little time left to live. They pleaded for her to be given high doses of steroids which was again denied. The following morning she died, with her mother and father silently watching.

The loss of their young daughter has left the helpless parents traumatized and heartbroken. Mr Abbasi has now began proceedings to sue police for their behavior. A petition is going around which you can sign to help which can be found here.

Black Muslim Immigrant Has Spent Three Years In ICE Custody Despite Being Granted A Pardon

Attorneys believe Ousman Darboe has been held by ICE longer than any immigrant in New York City.

Black Muslim Immigrant Has Spent Three Years In ICE Custody Despite Being Granted A Pardon

Attorneys believe Ousman Darboe has been held by ICE longer than any immigrant in New York City.

By

Sara S. & Zainab Damji

Photo of Ousman Darboe

Ousman Darboe has spent three years in an ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) facility – that’s three years of missed birthdays and anniversaries, three Ramadans, and watching his two-year old daughter grow up through glass windows.

The 26-year-old Gambian immigrant has been in ICE detention since 2017 and is now in Bergen County Jail, New Jersey. 

Governor Cuomo pardoned Ousman of his one charge as an adult of robbery, which according to Gothamist he says he didn’t do. 

This pardon was intended to secure his release. Yet it hasn’t.

Despite being granted the rare pardon six months ago, multiple immigration and federal judges have refused to release him, even on bond.

The conditions at the Bergen County Jail are known to be inhumane and pose as health risks to the inmates at the facility. “You wake up like someone poured a bucket of water on you,” he told The Gothamist.And there’s no windows in the cells. You’re just compacted in a room with four walls and a vent, no air coming in or out, so you’re just stuck.”

The Gothamist reported that to pass the time, Ousman, as a Muslim, prays five times a day. He reads self-help books and is currently reading “Midnight” by Sister Souljah, about a Black Sudanese Muslim immigrant in Brooklyn. Ousman also said that he is “planning for the future”.

Follow this link to call ICE Field Office Director Thomas Decker, Deputy Field Office Director Darius Reeves, and ICE SDDO Hector Medina to demand Darboe’s release. #FreeOusman

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter Is Not A ‘Feel-Good’ Instagram Challenge

U.S. Citizen Shot In Pakistani Courtroom While Facing Blasphemy Charges

Tahir Naseem, a U.S. citizen, was shot in a courtroom at the Peshawar Judicial Complex by a local 19-year-old resident.

Tahir Ahmad Naseem, 47, was accused of blasphemy in 2018 in Pakistan for allegedly claiming to be a prophet, a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Mr. Naseem, a U.S. citizen, was shot in a courtroom at the Peshawar Judicial Complex by a local 19-year-old resident. It is not clear how he managed to bring a weapon into the court premises.

A video of the gunman was shared widely on social media. While being held by police he is heard saying that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told him in a dream to kill Mr. Naseem. Police officer Ijaz Ahmed has given a statement to clarify the progress of the case. 

“The culprit accepts responsibility for killing him and says that he killed him for having committed blasphemy,” said police official Ahmed. “[The suspect] has been arrested from the scene.”

Mr. Naseem was born into the Ahmadiyya sect, according to a community spokesperson. Following the Second Amendment to the Pakistani Constitution in 1974, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are declared non-Muslims by the Government of Pakistan. They are no strangers to persecution. 

The community spokesperson however added that Mr. Naseem had left the sect and had been exhibiting signs of being mentally ill. In YouTube videos uploaded by Mr. Naseem, he claimed to be a messiah. 

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive subject in Pakistan, with rumors of the crime spurring vigilantes and mobs to take lethal action against supposed perpetrators. 

Domestic and international human rights groups say blasphemy allegations have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores. While prominent politicians have acknowledged the harm that blasphemy laws have done, hard-line religious parties continue to mount pressure against any that aim to repeal them. 

In 2011, a Punjabi governor was murdered by his own guard for defending a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy. In 2018 Bibi was acquitted after spending nine years on death row and subsequently fled the country. Islamic extremists send her death threats to this day. 

A prominent Islamic scholar, Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, publicly attacked the laws during the Bibi case, warning that a failure to repeal them will only strengthen extremists in the country. 

“The blasphemy laws have no justification in Islam. These ulema [council of clerics] are just telling lies to the people.” 

An ally of Mr. Ghamidi, Dr. Farooq Khan, was assassinated for speaking out publicly on the same issue. 

Mr. Ghamidi himself had to flee the country following a foiled bomb plot against his home. Speaking to the Guardian in Malaysia, he expressed worries over how mob killings embolden the religious right and thus enable future vigilantism against those who speak out.

“It became impossible to live there,” he said.