How far are we really “One Ummah”?

Apologies to all those who have tweeted/messaged et al, awaiting a new post.

This will be (Lord willing) educational in some form or other, perhaps different from the usual things I write about.

Yesterday was quite an interesting day. I went to Imam Suhaib AKA The Snapchat Imam’s talk  on ‘The Pursuit for Happiness and Love’. As someone who is still relatively new  to the whole dawah scene but immersed in the concept of spirituality he seemed to do an excellent job in unfolding the issues of post modernity and Islam today.

Rest assured, I will probably provide a synopsis of his lecture at another point. The reason I brought up his lecture is because of what happened during…

As someone who has spent some 20+ years identifying as a British Muslim, you’d think I’d be apathetic towards the level of discrimination I face.

Funnily enough, no this is not a post about how society views Muslims, and Asians for that matter, under the umbrella typecast ‘terrorist’, ‘jihadist’ or similar. No, rather I want to discuss the open discrimination within the Muslim community itself.

It seemed last night, Twitter was going wild about the racial pecking order within the Ummah (Muslim community). The open discrimination. not just within racial standards but within sects due to such racial standards dominated the voice of Muslim Twitter. Just to hammer in what it is I mean exactly, the following tweets encapsulate everything:

“I have 0 time for Arabs in Karbala my siblings weren’t served in a store cos they’re Asian and the Iraqi shopkeeper would only serve Arabs.”

Whilst another spoke about the disparity in treatment of Black Muslims and Non-Black Muslims stating:

“These lot need to stop acting like they’re in a battlefield coz they’re marrying a black man. Our men are not your charity.” 

Evidently, open racism and discrimination has infiltrated numerous spaces and it’s time we call people out on it.

This brings me back to yesterday, where Imam Suhaib (God bless him) asked us all to stand up hug one another and introduce ourselves. The bond of brother/sisterhood is particularly important in Islam, not only as a support mechanism but for Muslims to anchor their faith as is evident:

‘Hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. Remember the favor of Allah upon you, when you were enemies and he brought your hearts together and you became brothers by his favor.’

Qur’an  (3:103)

What’s ironic is we couldn’t be more divided.  I introduced myself, knowing full well the questions and statements to come…

“Omg you’re Asian?!”

“No way, prove it!”

“Omg, I mean I knew that Kashmiris were fair, but you look so European.”

“I don’t understand how can you be Asian?”

“Omg can you speak Urdu? Say something!’

The following things spring to mind:

  • Why are you asking me to verify my life? Am I a Twitter account though?
  • This scene in Mean Girls:

  • But more importantly, and this is something I have pondered for two decades now: Why do you care? Why are you so invested? and more importantly, How will this benefit your life?

What’s most interesting is as a “White” Muslim, I face less discrimination from the British white population. Possibly because people will call white people out on their blatant racism – So why aren’t we willing to call bigots out within out own community? Moreover, my fake af “white privilege” gets me nowhere because my name is unapologetically of Eastern decent. So either way, I do not benefit. Parred.

For the Muslims reading this – I will never know your pain, at least on a superficial level. I doubt I’ll be stopped and searched, detained under the Terrorism Act 2006, be branded a’terrorist’ or the like, have someone racially abuse me in the streets or similar. Honestly speaking, I feel in some ways the level of discrimination I face in my everyday life is a blessing in some ways. Whilst it is tiresome having to continually justify my heritage over the years (quite frankly, what I deem to be a trivial issue) it has not only reinforced my identity, but more importantly my identity as a Muslim. It seems the Ummah is so fixated in where you’re from, how you dress and what languages you speak etc etc. And then many have the audacity to question how ‘authentically’ Muslim you are. Do me a favour son, know yourself. More importantly – know your religion.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.”

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – Last Sermon

The level of Islamophobia today is unprecedented and is a billion-dollar enterprise in itself. People are making money from turning society into a divisive state – so I ask you, why are you perpetuating more division? How is this, in any way, useful to combating the major issues we face today? Ask yourself the next time you have the urge to ask how someone can be Muslim and not of the same pigmentation, what am I trying to gain from asking such a question? If you are genuinely intrigued, perhaps read a book/go to a history lecture at SOAS/ ask an intelligent question and then move on with your life…

This isn’t just an issue rife within the Muslim community, but one within all communities and it’s time we speak up and call people out on it. It just so happens a large part of the discrimination I have faced has been from Asian Muslims who feel it is acceptable to question my level of faith, ethnicity, family make-up or the like.  Unfortunately, my discrimination has predominantly been and likely will remain within the Asian community but I have had enough and I will unashamedly make a stand and so should you.

Why is it ‘One Ummah’ when you’re trying to free Palestine, but you’re unwilling to tear down the barriers and unprecedented discrimination Black Muslims face? How is it that there are Arabs and Asian unwilling to recognise their superiority complex when it comes to this socially-constructed racial pecking order?

As for the women who felt it was appropriate to make such comments: you’re not the first and you probably won’t be the last. Me sitting here and blogging isn’t just for you; it’s for the many that will come after you and those before you, when I was too young, too polite or too willing to sell my identity to be anything but what I am.

Consider educating yourselves in the way you speak to others and about others. I cannot blame you for the colonization of your mind and what can be assumed to be a large part of your primary socialisation and experiences, but I am not here for your ridicule or entertainment. I don’t personally care for or crave your acceptance – mainly because you have no value in my life. I do, however, thank you for being the straw that broke the camel’s back and pushed me into publishing this.

Yes I am British. Yes I am Asian. But more importantly, I am Muslim. I am one of you. I am you.

***

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Man-made or Mind-made? If Politicians Listened to Grime…

 

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Disclaimer: If explicit language horrifies you, I advise you don’t carry on reading.

I must admit as I write this, a 5000 word extended essay awaits me but this seems far more interesting considering the current climate. S.O to Stormzy, Bugzy Malone and Kano who inspired this piece –

In light of the recent expose RE: Panama Papers, here I’ll be analysing whether the socio-economic deprived areas where grime music is gospel, truly reflects the environment – and if Politicians were to listen to grime would it give them ample reason to tackle the social and economic problems today?

I’ll be honest, it’s no secret – I’m a massive grime fan. Always have been, always will be. Whilst many feel it isn’t acceptable for someone, perhaps fairly well versed on Politics, to favour an authentic UK underground rap scene, I disagree entirely. In my opinion, if Politicians did listen to grime, they’d probably have a better portrayal of what life is really like for some embroiled in knife crime, drug abuse and an attempt at every chance given to break the cycle.

After all, as George the Poet said “‘Even though I saw myself in my friends, if I stayed there I couldn’t be much help to my ends.”

Let’s begin by examining some, humorous yet direct, lyrics:

“We got 10 man chasing a dream…you got 10 man sharing a spliff” – Stormzy Not That Deep

Ever the American dream – If one hopes to achieve anything they should just work hard and the meritocratic state will provide you with ample opportunities right? Wrong. Stormzy’s lyric is very telling of the social environment much of the youth, if not Adult population, find themselves in, in grime-prevalent areas since we’re being priced-out of London, bills are reaching  extortionate levels and we’re living in times of austerity. Is it any wonder entrepreneurship in the form of dealing is a viable occupation?

The fact that drugs are a prominent theme in grime music alone should illustrate the dire need for investment and education in such areas. How can you expect a people to rid themselves from the cycle, when there is little help on the ground?  It begs to question how far do MPs in inner London/Birmingham/Manchester etc.really know their constituents?

On a lighter note, what Stormzy has shown is the dream is still out there. It may take many twists, turns and unexpected setbacks due to the poor socio-economic surroundings. But it is possible.

“You don’t know where, my people coming from ’cause you don’t go there” – Giggs Don’t Go There

This hits the nail on the head and essentially forms the basis of my argument – If Politicians really wanted to know what it was like for people growing up and living in deprived areas, surely they’d visit and talk to the locals, understand their way of life and the factors that have aided the rise of socio-economic deprivation and how this is channeled through music. In any case this can be taken literally (you really don’t go there) and therefore you won’t be able to understand where they are coming from (in terms of opinion and literal observation.) and metaphorically – you don’t understand the people, their thoughts, their opinions, their way of life because you haven’t taken the time to see what their lives are like.

Told you grime was deep.

“They never ask how did he get here?” Bugzy Malone, Fire in the Booth

The inability of the system to understand its people has puzzled me long before my dabble with A-level Sociology. Why the mechanism of state and society never quite meshed is probably something I can’t explain (too long, too complex and I’m probably not well versed in this particular area) but nonetheless Bugzy makes a valid point: the interrogation process when being held in custody is lengthy and often humiliating where many are subjugated to racial profiling and suspicion.

Whilst, understandably, it is the job of law enforcement e.g. Police, to find out who/what/where/when/why – a substantial amount of that time could be better spent by politicians and community officers in understanding their local constituents and the issues that arise in their life, taking a preventative measure. More often then not, it is a cycle of poverty, family troubles, lack of education and petty crime that can often lead to more serious crimes. If this were the case, and MPs/Councillors etc. did look into prevalent issues – could the cycle end?

The basis of this lyric is simple: If you don’t ask, how will you ever know?

Perhaps it’s worth looking in to…

“Always had a vision that one day it would be different” Kano A Roadman’s Hymn

When Shia LaBeouf said “Don’t let your dreams be dreams” springs to mind. Similarly, goals are incredibly important as a survival tool. The idea that there is a chance of

 

“If I didn’t spit bars, could be behind ’em in a prison.”

Arguably one of my favourite lines. It’s actually pretty eloquently put.

Kano puts simply the harsh reality of few opportunities in some communities up and down the country.

I don’t think I need to expand on this tbph.

“Tell a kid he won’t be shit, he won’t be shit.”

Before this becomes an AS level Sociology class, let’s state some facts. Undeniably for a lot of kids a self fulfilling prophecy, often influenced by people in authoritative roles, shape the way in which they view themselves and their abilities. For some, the lack of support given can often dictate their future career options. What Kano has exemplified is how in creating and enforcing a self-fulfilling prophecy, promising children they will not amount to anything early on in the respective primary or secondary socialisation, this builds a foundation of structural hierarchy – which is often difficult to leave without the right support and guidance.

If I can understand this all from one Kano lyric, surely Politicians need to pull their finger out and actually do something about it…

“Too black for Distrikt but the money too pinkish…so we can get in ‘long as we’re spending like N***as? Just as long as we don’t bring our sisters.” Kano Fire in the Booth

“I was in the upper-class queue posh ticket, staff told me sorry sir you’re in the wrong position. Bigot idiot didn’t say fuck all to Richard. So fuck all your riches, you can’t fool the pigment.”

Kano has many points to make and this is no exception. The notion colour isn’t an issue in modern day Britain is like saying, Cameron isn’t a tax avoider – Don’t play yourself. Skin colour often plays a role in how society chooses to perceive us – and as a society it’s our own fault.

Taken from his ‘Fire in the Booth’, Kano talks about classism, racism and the inherent divide in wealth. The structural undertones

“Motherfuckers want their cake, and to stuff their fucking face”

Tbh I feel this lyric could just as equally apply to anyone – but in this case Politicians. And more specifically, Cameron (and other notable leaders) who were/are squirreling money away.

This goes back full circle: You cannot sit in your lofty towers overlooking the situation on the ground when you haven’t been on the ground. You cannot claim you know the condition of the people when you cannot sympathise with their ongoing struggle of social and economic deprivation.

Above all, you cannot decide it is one rule for a small proportion of the population to abide by an immoral sense of shared responsibility, only to then impose a harsh moral obligation on the rest.

 

 

 

America: 24 hours – From Ali to Orlando

A lot can happen in 24 hours.

In 24 hours, the sun rises, sets and rises again. In 24 hours you can go from 30 degree blistering heat to a downpour of tercentennial rain. You can go from euphoria in remembrance to status quo – and indeed in the space of 24 hours this is what happened around the world when we went from mourning and honouring the life of Muhammad Ali, a great pioneer of civil rights in addition to heroic sporting figure, to the mourning of 49 civilians in Orlando, Florida who were gunned down in a vicious hate crime against the LGBTQA+ community.

This piece won’t justify the barbaric act of killing tens of innocent lives, nor will it attempt to decipher any causal links between political Islamism (has anyone got a concrete definition yet?) or otherwise. Instead, I want to challenge the idea of taboo issues.

The Orlando shooting itself presented many flaws: the idea that gun control is still something America refuses to control, hate crimes against the LGBTQA+ community. demonizing of another minority group – Muslims only further propagated by could-be President Trump and the acknowledgement of radical Islamism by Clinton, against the wishes of the current sit-in President Obama. On a side note, issues I for one, don’t believe have been looked into further are mental health and homosexuality in the Ummah (Muslim community).

Before some of you read this with a gasp of breath and consistent reiterations there is no just thing as ‘Gay Muslims’, let’s state some facts. Omar Mateen, the gunman, was someone who often used “Jak’d” – similar to that of grindr, a dating app where he engaged in conversations and met someone of the same sex – for dates. He also frequently visited gay bars. Whether this was to case the joint or simply because he enjoyed the atmosphere is entirely up to you. I question this however, if his intention was to go in and kill as many people as possible, would he not have done it at that point?

This was a clear and evident hate crime against the LGBTQA+ community. There are no qualms about it. However the idea of self-hate and associated repercussions for allegedly being gay is something I want to delve into further. Mateen’s father outright plausibly denied even the idea his son may potentially have been gay stating:

“”If he was gay, why would he do something like this” whilst reiterating in another interview “[Omar] was a good boy”.

Whilst this may seem like an in denial father, it is also very telling of the primary socialisation of Omar Mateen. An inability to express ones feelings in their own home, amongst the people who (probably) love them the most can stifle one’s development. And here’s where mental health plays its role.

Mental health within the Muslim community is often overlooked for many a reason. This may be due to stigma – an association can often lead to being an outcast within the cultural community and leave one feeling isolated. This is a perpetual fear of lack of understanding – from parents, friends and even oneself hence why many bury their heads in the sand dismissing a potential diagnosis and the social paralysis they believe may accompany it. Mental health, generally in society, is something we are talking about more which is a great thing but what happens when you’re unable to correspond your state of mind with your state of imaan (Faith)?

This brings me on to my next topic: homosexuality and Muslims. Some of you reading this may find fault with me merely mentioning the two in the same sentence, almost analysing it as an oxymoron. Those same people need to wake up. We need to dig deeper and answer the problems of the Ummah. Why is it we seek solace in Youtubers (Such as: Sid & Dina, Ali Dawah, “Dawah Man” for example), answering our questions about sex, relationships, depression and death but find it difficult to ask for help from those who know us most? Or from our most scholarly in the community – Ulema /Imams? What makes us unapproachable and devoid of honest conversation?

Regardless, whatever your personal belief, set that aside for at least the duration of this piece. There are many people within the LGBTQA+ community who align their religious beliefs as Islamic. In fact, Buzzfeed did a whole segment on it:

http://bzfd.it/292GM8X

I may not be the most well-versed person when it comes to Islamic theology and many will state an Orthodox approach to what I’m about to write (including other Abrahamic religions) but I know enough to say imaan is of twofold: the tongue and the heart. What one may say may not necessarily correlate to what they feel in their heart and vis-a-vis. Similarly, just because someone has desires different to yours; for you to judge them, mock them, ostracise them from the Ummah will undoubtedly lead to psychological unrest and torment. Life is hard enough as it is – it’s unnecessary to put additional duress on people.

This brings me full circle. The inability to talk openly within our community about the struggles we go through – whatever they may be is at the core what is destroying us internally until self-combustion. Now there is no conclusive and definitive evidence Omar Mateen was gay or otherwise, and we will never know. All we can say is this: he killed 49 people in a merciless attack. It was a hate crime. But had he been open about who he was and had he got the guidance he much needed, would this narrative be different?

I’ll leave you with this:

“What is (wrong) with you? Why do you not help each other?” Qur’an [37:25] 

If you enjoy my posts, you might enjoy my tweets – Follow me at @alluneesaknow 🙂

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36525219

http://www.9news.com.au/world/2016/06/14/13/16/omar-mateen-used-gay-dating-app-jackd

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/14/orlando-gunman-was-a-regular-at-lgbt-nightclub-pulse-before-atta/

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/omar-mateens-gay-lover-says-orlando-attack-was-about-revenge-not-isis-a7095476.html

#PrayForPeople not just Paris

It’s interesting.

It’s interesting who we choose to align ourselves with, in the form of solidarity. Is it the people next door, the ones that share our values and principles? Is it those we do not know that exist, who are battling living under excruciating conditions every day? Or is the people we know are living in dire conditions, but choose to ignore in our very own states?

It’s incredibly telling.

In the golden age of social media – the need to be seen and heard is accessible to all with the click of a button. As my housemate suggested, if society places value on what you had for dinner last night, on Instagram, of course something as vile as the attacks this week will resonate within us.

In the same week 43 people died and over 200 injured at the hands of  2 merciless suicide bombers, claiming affiliation with Daesh (IS), attacking Shi’iah Muslims in Beirut Lebanon, 26 Shi’iah Muslims were killed in Baghdad Iraq with many more injured. Also at the hands of Daesh.

Paris came under attack, and over the course of 40 frightful minutes, 129 lives were reported dead with over 200 in critical condition or injured. It was then the world woke up.

Now, I am not undermining or trivialising the attacks that happened in Paris. Quite the opposite. I openly condemn any act inciting hate, malice and death to a people. However, it was my Lebanese host who posed ‘Why do we choose to highlight #PrayForParis but not Beirut or Baghdad?’ I’m glad to see since writing this, many have picked up on his sentiment and I see my Facebook and Twitter TL flooded with thoughts for all lives lost this week – including those we know not of, who have died at the hands of brutality. Moreover, it’s not necessarily we, as people, who can be blamed entirely for our prioritisation of human life.

Why do corporations such as Facebook and Google choose to colour themselves in red, white and blue yet fail to acknowledge the nations embellished in pain and misery – this week alone (never mind, every day). Was Kenya not worthy of a change of profile picture in stance with solidarity back in April? Was Turkey’s capital, Ankara not allowed the same rights of expression?

Initially I thought providing a check-in service on Facebook for those in Paris was a great idea as it kept loved ones connected on a global scale, knowing they were safe, and rest assured I was incredibly happy to know people were alive and well.

Then I remembered, where was Beirut’s check-in? Were their loved ones not entitled to the same knowledge of their safety? Whilst I frantically whatsapped everyone I knew in Beirut at the time, it occurred to me how divisive Facebook was in being culturally selective and how dangerous this was in fuelling the fire of segregation.

Why do the Paris attacks fill us with disbelief and despair more so than others?

Is it because we assume the attacks in these cities are more frequent and therefore we have become apathetic as a people? Or is simply that Paris is closer to home – not just in terms of lifestyle, but proximity too. It therefore begs to question: Does this stir the illicit fear that they too are coming for us?

Does that mean our fear of security is simply masked as our stand for solidarity?

It was only 11 months ago when France faced a serious wave of terrorism in the form of the Charlie Hebdo attack and Hostage taking. Whilst we were proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie in January, it seemed 60 people bombed in Pakistan at the hands of Terik-i-Taliban, a car bombing in Libya killing 10 lives by the Daesh Libyan branch, not to mention suicide bombings in Tripoli, Lebanon and the bus shelling in Volnovakha, Ukraine and many more across the world went unheard. Why is that? Rather we were concerned with what had engulfed our social media platforms that such attacks failed to be given a platform.

In my opinion it’s another case of double standards. Much like the march in Paris back in January where world leaders linked arm in arm to show their solidarity in the face of an attack on free speech – we, as Britain, gathered, shook hands with and embraced leaders with some of the most appalling human rights records. Had the same attack happened in the MENA region would we gain the same response from world leaders? Similarly, choosing to recognise solidarity with one nation over many others going through similar attacks bemuses me. It illustrates a double standard on what we are willing to tolerate – if it happens in the Middle East/Africa/Asia, does it mean it didn’t happen because we fail to hashtag it or post it on our walls?

Don’t get me wrong – social media is an incredibly powerful tool in bringing news to light, the #ChapelHillShooting being a key example as well as instilling unity in the form of #IllRideWithYou and #VoyageAvecMoi. We shouldn’t negate the ability of social media to bring a tense and polarised world together. But we shouldn’t let global corporations decide what is and isn’t news. What is and isn’t worthy of our remorse. Who is and isn’t important.

Even if it is superficial, in the most obtuse of manners, perhaps society should not be discredited for showing its solidarity through changing of profile pictures and trendy hashtags. Why? Because maybe it’s all we have to offer in an increasingly globalised world. Let’s just remember, it’s more than pretty colours and catchy hashtags – Its real lives. Some which are echoed more than others, and as such I’ll leave you with this:

Our reactions to such heinous actions truly depict the state in which we find humanity.

Humble Pie or Racist Cake?

As The Great British Bake Off draws to an end this week, I’ve read more (unsurprisingly) lukewarm racially provocative comments about some of the contestants in the Daily Mail.

Yes, yes shock horror – The Daily Mail. The same newspaper aiding and abetting the vile shite spewing out of Katie Hopkins mouth as of the 1st November. Irrespective of this, questioning the viability of certain candidates based on their background seems a bit uncalled for. Mind you…could be all those insanely moderate views I possess.

The article, written by Amanda Platell, states “Poor Flora wasn’t PC enough for the Beeb”. Yeah, that and she had a shit week.Ya mad, ‘Mand?

http://gph.is/15TaIYN

It hadn’t occured to me that even cake – something so menial, could be made into a race issue. Platell’s focus lay in Flora’s bake. Had she made a chocolate Mosque – she wouldn’t have been kicked off the GBBO.

For a start, if your chocolate centrepiece ain’t up to scratch – something as structurally difficult and advanced to bake as a Mosque probably wouldn’t be your first port of call. Secondly, if this were the case and the BBC were in fact playing PC Political Correctness, Flora wouldn’t have won the technical bake – unless you’re suggesting this was a clever rouse by our ‘leftie’ institution in a massive cover up?

But let’s not get into semantics her argument was flawed from the off – why ‘journalists’ persist on carving social segregation out of the fragile ice centrepiece that is society, I do not know but you crack on dear – the minority that truly believe Flora was hard done by due to the BBC facilitating the needs of a gay man, a ‘new’ man and a muslim woman should probably reassess their lives.

But more to the point, why is cake being made into something it’s not? An unsavoury, crumbling mess that is racial/religious tensions. Cake is cake – whether you’re British or not. Ironically not everything has to be politically/socially analysed. But since we’re on the point…

I’m glad we live in a country where very few give a fuck about your racial/ religious background, sexual orientation or lifestyle choice. With that said, there are of course fringe groups that will persevere in dissecting the country until clear lines of division have been ridged into the creveses of society and carnage is all that is left in order to restore a broken country.

But enough about Britain First, the EDL and any other half-arsed, isolating, racist “we’re not racist, we’re patriots” so-called political parties. Whilst nearly 4 million Brits voted in favour of UKIP leading the country (yes, really) and Britain First has gained over a million likes on Facebook (they should probably remember, facebook likes do not equate to votes), I still maintain the view it isn’t because a majority of people believe eastern europeans are an inferior folk but rather, they’re sick of the conditions they’re living in. Sick of the lack of school places, the housing crisis up and down the country, the extortionate, escalating rent prices in London, forcing the working poor to live hand to mouth or having to wait up to 3 weeks to see a Doctor (wait for my piece on Junior Doctors – that’ll be a barrel of laughs).

No. Rather people are focusing their attention and channelling their anger at the wrong groups in society. I don’t honestly believe the main concern of many, is how to fuck over the “indegenous” people of said country.This could be my realist approach to most things, but I would probably say a large proportion of society is concerned with their own well being, first and foremost. Whether that’s intentional or unintentional; overt or covert. And that’s okay. Sometimes. But to negate the dire circumstances http://bit.ly/T88Cp1 many now live in, on a micro level illustrates the selfish desires of an individual, on a macro level exposes the ugliest of faces welcome in society today.

What troubles me is the lack of sympathy. I say sympathy as opposed to empathy because I imagine it would be incredibly difficult to truly know what it’s like to uproot your whole life in search of something better – for you and your family.

Instead of spending our lives on social media, allowing it sift and regard what is and isn’t ‘news’ – get out more. Speak to people. Understand people.

What you might come to learn is, at the end of the day, people are just people. And people are beautiful.

Lıghts, Cameron, Mılıtary Actıon?

I am a lot of things. I’m British. I’m a West Ham fan (apparently, you are too David?) I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a writer (ish). I’m also a Muslim. But there’s never been a point where I’ve felt more out of the confineds of the British loop than recently – more specifically since Cameron’s bombardment of what Muslim communities are supposedly “quietly condoning”. The on-going tug of war between self- identifying as a Brit and a Muslim has forced a distinctive divide in our society, appropriated by the very institutions there to represent us.

At face value David Cameron gave one of his most sympathetic speeches to date, both clarifying and distinguishing the issues of extremism we are dealing with today in Britain. The thing is, he forgot to mention a few key issues – mainly how to tackle the growing rate of Islamophobia and its classification as a hate crime, a failed counter terrorism strategy in the form of Prevent and Britain’s foreign policy in the Middle East. Casting those aside, job well done son.

What I find more irking about Cameron’s speech is his failure in addressing the mitigating issues of extremism without tackling the fundamental root causes. I welcome direct, effective action to combat the exponential rate at which polarisation is taking place in Britain, but to tackle extremism after its occurrence rather than the very roots shows a major failure in Britain’s approach in truly eradicating extremism.

Isis’ rapid rise to power over the last year has certainly shaken the global community, and the insurgence of educated westerners joining their ranks has not only shocked us as a nation but placed pressure on Cameron to re-align Britain’s counter terrorism strategy. However, whilst reassembling Britain’s position on the War on Terror, he outright dismissed the failures of policies such as Prevent (part of CONTEST – Britain’s counter terrorism strategy). Failing to address the root causes of terrorism it, ironically, has been deemed counter-productive by field experts in combating the initial process of radicalisation and tackling the hearts and minds of Brits who feel they are in limbo between the culture they grew up in and the culture repressing their views – the same culture, might I add.

Perhaps an avenue to create sustainable change in is education. Religious Education is a compulsary subject at GCSE yet one of the least popular. R.E classes are, in my opinion, a great way to encourage and stimulate debate and understanding of cross-cultures and religons. Here, we can really tackle why individuals in society feel they belong to some groups more than others. Shutting down whole debates or views for fear of allowing radicalisation to manifest will only generate more underground movements where British Muslims feel they are not free to express how and why they feel so issolated. It is the message extremism brings with it we must challenge in order to allow students to critically assess and challenge them.

To negate foreign policy or the poverty in which we have left many of the countries we have attempted to bring democracy to, has left nations battered, bruised and in need of re-building. To leave such countries in disrepute and not expect extremism to become rife is naïve to put it kindly.

In what Cameron highlights as the “grievance justification” illustrates our Prime Minister’s flippancy in failing to identify serious root causes of the creation of off-shoot radicalised terrorist groups. Whilst I agree, exploiting the Arab Uprising was timely, what has been lost in translation is Isis’ actual formation – in the detention camps in Iraq during the American/British invasion. It is undeniably a contributing factor and to disregard a strategy which, yes has gone on to foil some terrorist attacks but has not delivered on weeding out the very sprouts of extremism, not only intensifies the scrutiny British Muslims are currently under but also damages our country’s tolerant and accepting nature.

Perhaps instead of creating and perpetuating a culture of fear and allowing ignorant values to entrench Britain, time could be better spent actually addressing why radicalised people in fringe groups are leaving Britain and how best to tackle the problem of fanaticism.  Evidently, whether Cameron decides to publicly acknowledge it or not, Prevent has failed Britain as a successful counter-terrorism strategy.  If teens, families, widowers – people from all different walks of life feel there is more legitimacy and acceptance in a state where, quite frankly this doesn’t exist we have to start addressing our own domestic issues.

Cameron further goes on to highlight an implicit assumption that it is Muslims that are responsible for removing the root causes of radicalisation internally. What we must keep in mind, is Isis are attacking us all. Our ideals, our principles and our way of life. This isn’t something the Muslim world can deal with alone, let alone the 2.7 million Muslims living in Britain. This is bigger than any of us and now is the time where we must come together to find real solutions – not just to preserve our accepting and tolerant society but to eradicate the perception that one warped representation of Islam is reflective of all Muslims. It isn’t.

Real, honest communication is needed and rather than being reprimanded about what Muslims have or haven’t done enough of, I would much rather see Britain – Muslims and Non-Muslims, unite as one nation to tackle Isis. Together.

As vigilance of Muslims in Britain has increased, so has the rate of Islamophobia with headstones being defaced, racial abuse on public transport and an underlying culture of Us Vs Them.  Whilst Cameron declared this is about Islamism – the political ideology and not Islam itself, I find his need to hold Muslims responsible for tackling the face of extremism alone bewildering.

The splintering and widened polarisation has planted schisms within Britain. Cameron’s comments have indeed done more to topple the funambalism upon which British Muslims currently stand. Whilst he indeed tried to distingush moderate, practicing Muslims from the callous nature of extremists attacking in the name of Islam, Cameron did little to address the rise of Islamophobia across Europe, including Britain. This was somewhat ironic considering Cameron and May are willing to limit the rights to freedom of speech in the form of the Snoopers’ Charter but are yet to propose legislation to categorise Islamophobia as a hate crime.

David Cameron proclaimed a five year plan in order to stamp out Brits flying over to join such terrorist organisations. These included: seizing passports, allowing Teachers to report any perceived suspicious behaviour and increased surveillance of social media accounts. The problem is Dave, once again you’ve failed to acknowledge and tackle the real root causes… Seizing passports is all well and good but what he has failed to address is the need for an alternative. We, as a society, are merely papering over the cracks. Clearly British Muslims aren’t flying over to Turkey and crossing the border for a cheeky Nandos.

Perhaps if we had organisations where disenfranchised Muslims could go to talk about their issues or social movements to help promote better integration in some of the most secular parts of the country, a better understanding could be built and a stronger Britain can manifest itself once more. A great social movement in the form of The Ramadan Tent in London and Manchester not only helps promote a sense of community, something integral within Islam, but helps create better relations. Affirmative action would be better directed in this way.

Personally, I feel the combination of the mass media portrayal of Muslims and political speakers overtly disregarding significant issues such as foreign policy are enabling the likes of Isis to attract disenfranchised British Muslims. Whether they choose to openly admit their own flaws or not, our own systems are aiding and abetting such terrorist organisations by not including moderate Muslims in the conversation but instead, using moderate Muslims as scapegoats for apparently turning a blind eye to such extreme fringe organisations. The problem is Cameron, those in power – including yourself, are yet to provide a platform for the masses of Muslims. Many Muslims feel non-government organisations such as Quilliam are not representative of the Muslim community. You said you want a platform for moderate Muslims to be heard, but what are you actually doing to enable such?

What I feel isn’t being said enough is this: Brits flying over to cross the border and our PM’s crass words aren’t mutually exclusive. Both add fuel to the fire and both feed into the illicit acts ever present in our divided society. From barbaric beheadings in the east to defaced Muslim headstones in the west, there is a reason why so many British Muslims feel ostracised from society. If the very systems that are there to unify and represent us are collectively blaming us, is it any wonder why Muslims feel vulnerable?

It is this vulnerability terrorist organisations feed on. Like leeches, they tend to drain all rationale and sense of belonging from the impressionable and gauge their flawed ideologies into their minds. The real question we should be asking is where do we take the debate from here?

After Britain and America’s approval of Turkey’s airstrikes on the border, will Britain follow in suit? Or will we supply the weaponry for Turkey to drop airstrikes at a point where political instability in the country is rife? After all, the most profitable of wars are those where one is not directly involved but instead gains economics prowess through selling arms. Only time will tell.

Britain needs to respond to the pressing issue that has infiltrated our country: the creation of fringe groups from the increase in polarisation occurring. We can probably start with not blaming whole religions and masking them as ideologies. We must retain perspective. We must stay strong and promote British values of acceptance and inclusion, not only to defy Isis and their warped sense of Islamic practice but challenge our own government’s ideals on what makes Britain British.

Britain is public services. Britain is foreign aid. Britain is multiculturalism. Britain is a strong working ethic with an even stronger sense of social responsibility.  Let’s remember that when we start dismantling everything we stand for as a nation.

The UnIslamic State

Just why are juvenile jihadis so attracted to a life of turmoil? Here, I’ll explore why westerners (more specifically, Brits) are drawn to the promise of a so-called “Islamic State”.

This was originally an issue I thought I would be able to deal with a little later down the line, after my piece on FIFA corruption and America’s need to suppress people who possess a concrete amount of melanin. Obviously not.  Not since Cameron has openly stated Muslims are “quietly condoning” terrorism, more specifically the goings on in Iraq and Syria, and not since Isis decided to hijack Ramadan.

Let me start by saying on behalf of all Muslims: I’m sorry. I’m sorry the Daily Mail and other media outlets are not publishing what 99.97% of Muslims are actually practicing. More to the point, I’m sorry I didn’t personally get on the 25 bus in Bethnal Green, get off at Holborn, tap my oyster card, get on the Piccadilly Line, jump off at Heathrow T4 and stop some dickhead 15 year olds thinking it’s a solid idea to wage a war against the west. I was at work.

Brits flying over to cross the border and our PM’s oh-so-kind words on average British Muslims apparently “quietly condoning” terrorism (in this particular example, with reference to ISIS) aren’t mutually exclusive. Both add fuel to the fire, and both feed into the illicit acts ever present in our divided society. From barbaric beheadings in the east to defaced Muslim headstones in the west, there’s a reason why many British Muslims feel ostracised from society. If the very systems that are supposed to represent us are collectively blaming us, is it any wonder why Muslim teens feel vulnerable?

It is this vulnerability terrorist organisations feed on. Like leeches, they tend to drain all rationale and sense of belonging from the impressionable and gauge their flawed ideologies into their minds. At 15, under the law they are deemed children however, common sense would also state they actively made this decision (one of them went even as far as to con their nan out of £500 for a plane ticket.) Instead of shunning these girls, blaming their parents, blaming the police, blaming the muslim community why aren’t we asking the real question – What is ISIS offering them that a democratic, liberal, tolerant (just about) society isn’t?

Headlines like “UK Muslims helping jihadis, says Cameron” aren’t doing anyone any favours. Also, wtf does a Muslim “quietly condoning” terrorism even look like? Are there tell-tale signs I should watch out for? Why isn’t there a step-by-step guide I can refer to to reinforce my vigilance?

And another thing, if Muslims are “quietly” condoning ISIS – How do you know they are in the first place? After all, it’s seriously lowkey… You mindless twat, Cameron. What irks me more so is that it was only the day before Cameron was wishing Muslims a Happy Ramadan, giving praise to their input in society. So you can understand this aparent U-turn is a bit like a real-life construction of ‘The Thick of It’.

The backlash he faced from Abdul Azim, Mehdi Hasan and Sayeeda Warsi showed affirmative direct action being taken by Muslims, for Muslims. Whilst I’m appreciative, and glad a fair few Guardian big names have been adding their two penneth, part of me feels (even me doing this) isn’t enough.

It’s not enough to actively condemn ISIS, particularly as a Muslim, because that’s not the narrative most media outlets, politicians and vicariously society want to hear. Regardless of secterian affiliation they have been widely condemned by Muslims globally. Unfortunately, ISIS hold a far stronger prominence as a “true” representation of Islam because it not only feeds and facilitates their agenda to recruit radicalised digital dickheads through social media (and thus amass disillusioned westerners) but, also perpetuates the culture of fear our own systems rely on to relay that British Muslims condone and support barbarism; proof being the affiliation of vulnerable muslim teenagers that have been isolated. It’s an on-going cycle that will continue until we, as a society, make it stop. How? Stop printing bollocks that feeds the very thing you claim you want to eradicate.

Another thing to clarify is, believe it or not, Isis doesn’t discriminate. That’s right. You heard me. They actually have no F’s to give when it comes to mass killings. Whether you’re Sunni, Shia, Jewish, Christian, Yazidi or Pete at 53, they have no moral obligation. There is no sanctity of life where Isis are concerned, as demonstrated by the bombing of a Mosque in Kuwait killing 27 people, a beheading in France and 38 Brits being gunned down by an Isis fanatic in Tunisia all of which took place on a Friday – the holy day for Muslims. This is something we often forget when bombarded with the constant battle between East and West – however, it’s what we do now that will create positive change.

The sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shiites is further evidence of the deep-rooted issues which cascades from a cultural to a Muslim issue. Isis use it to exploit and empower their agenda, creating further segregation. Murdering innocent civilians in and out of the Levant is as casual as dress down Fridays at work.

Whilst it’s obvious British/US foreign policy played a key role in the creation of off-shoot radicalised terrorist groups, what isn’t so obvious is how to combat and overthrow organisations which were once splinter groups but are now dominant in the Middle East. Last week, someone said to me “Well if David Cameron just apologised…” I won’t bother finishing the sentence because A). He won’t and B). Overtly apologising isn’t going to change anything, but weaken Britain’s political position The war on terror extends further than a simplistic soz, i’m afraid. The economic disposition, secterian riots and back-door arms deals with the west all influence the manifestation of terrorism.

Religion

They have no religious legitimacy – the same organisation that beheaded Alan Henning (who was tried under Shariah law, and found not guilty of espionage or the like and was still beheaded irrespective of this) under the banner of Islam. Whilst I am a firm believer Henning should not have been tried in the first place, the fact that Isis can willingly manipulate their own judicial system as a means to support their political ideology reinforces exactly why it is the people supporting Isis that are at fault – not Islam.

I can present no better example of why it is the people not Islam at fault than the alledged Caliph himself. What an absolute tool. Al Baghdadi (AB) is, quite literally, making up laws as he goes a long. Case in point, a new form of Zakat

(compulsary charity) was enforced in Mosul, Iraq early this year with AB claiming such a payment comes directly from the Qur’an. Funnily enough it financially supports the maintinance of a caliphate. The Qur’an however states a compulsary 2.5% of your accumulated wealth must be given to charity each year. Not only that, but it is a fundamental pillar of Islam. Anything thereafter is Sadaqah (philanthropy).The point of giving Zakat is to aid the poor and eradicate poverty in society – if you can give, you should give in essence.

And just to hammer in home, if the leader of Al-Qaeda is openly proclaiming Isis’ acts of violence are reductive of Islamic practice and go against its very teachings – well for a start, seriously bro, pot kettle black? And secondly, that’s probably worth reading into if Al-Qaeda and the West have both individually condemned these violent attacks.

Now What?

Perhaps instead of creating and perpetuating a culture of fear and ignorance, time could be better spent actually addressing why radicalised people in fringe groups are leaving Britain and how best to tackle the actual problem of fanatacisim. Evidently, Prevent has failed Britain as a successful counter-tererrorism stategy. I mean, a family from Luton practically Skyped Britain to let em know they’re in Syria… If teens, families, widowers, individials feel there is more legitimacy and acceptance in a state where, quite frankly, there is no legitimacy or acceptance we have to address our own domestic issues.

We can probably start with, not blaming whole religions/all believers of said religion. The vast majority of people do not wish to cause anyone any harm but rather, crack on with their everyday lives. After all, we all face similar problems: bills, mortgages, work, salary…a Conservative government.

God Save The Queen (So she can save our Human Rights)

I’m a female. I’m in my 20s. I also happen to be a Muslim. And British. And Asian. And White. Shit, now what?

It seems we’re facing a quiet revolution and it’s taking place in our back gardens. Much like those pesky weeds that grow inbetween concrete tiling, when you don’t take care of it – it devalues your home…

I grew up in a fairly mixed, cosmopolitan area of London, so much so it was quite normal to walk down the street and see different people from various backgrounds wearing colourful clothing and conversing in different languages. Britain was tolerant…accepting. People still do that today, only it’s met with questionable looks and hushed comments.

Recently, I truly realised the extent to which we’ve regressed as a country. We can choose to cite the rise of Islamism or popular fascist groups such as: EDL, BNP as the reasoning behind the disconnect in society. Alternatively, we can actually acknowledge the true disdain to which people feel so detached by what society is offering (in my view, the former is merely smoke and mirrors there to frighten us and perpetuate hate).

Now, whilst I still believe Britain is probably the most tolerant country in the world (it’s unfortunate to say there are very few places in the world where you are free to be who you are with little or no resistance – this includes the supposed leaders of the free world) this is all set to change this week when the Conservative government will propose scrapping the Human Rights Act (HRA).

This is a bit shit if you’re British. Really shit if you’re not.

Why? Because it means the end of democracy. Essentially, one set of rules for Brits and another for Non- Brits, with the European Court of Human Rights holding limited power over our own Supreme Court decisions.

And that’s another thing – who the fuck signed up to a more American political/legal system? Not on my watch, son. I have no time whatsoever for Britain to be turning into a self-obsessed, gun-loving, hate-preaching, war-mongering nation. From changing the House of Lords to the Supreme Court in October 2009 to talks of a written constitution following the British Bill of Rights (BBoR) (set to replace HRA) and even talks of bringing back capital punishment (because that’s certainly the kind of thing a progressive country would do – cheers Gove), we’re certainly making ways in ensuring inequality resonates. I won’t even go into the healthcare and education system…

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No wonder most of us can’t be fucked to educate ourselves about politics – we’re either sidelined into accepting the bs they’re coming up with and gift-wrapping as equality or we find it awfully unsettling knowing our rights are being dissolved, so much so that we choose to numb the pain by concerning ourselves with only our own immediate problems.

What I feel we’re experiencing is a quiet revolution on both sides and here’s why: the Tories want to segregate and box us in order to distinguish a “true” Britain. I can’t say I really want to be part of a Britain where we’re being stripped of our human rights – literally. Whilst they say the BBoR will act as a social cohesion tool evoking true british values and putting it at the centre of our beliefs, I can safely say I’ve never felt less British in my life.

Extremism is rife on both sides. If it’s not the Tories chipping at our human rights, it’s Brits voting in favour of Ukip or going even further to join the ranks of ISIS. Facepalm is an understatement. What the Tories are either choosing to ignore or failing to realise are why apathetic attitudes in society have led to a rise in seeking alternative means to have our voices heard. Nearly 4 million Brits voted for Ukip to run the fucking country – Is this life?

The BBoR is being pushed because hate-preachers and terrorists are taking the piss and using the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to stop us imprisoning them because it’s an “infringement of their human rights”. What a liberty!

Okay, fair enough, I see where Cameron and co. are coming from but where do we draw the line? This, coupled with the new Snoopers’ Charter means our rights to freedom of speech and privacy amongst other things will be quashed. Politicians, with the support of mass media, are using our fear and lack of knowledge against us. Whilst it is misguided, we can only blame ourselves.

Cameron will declare on Wednesday “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying: as long as you obey the law we will leave you alone. This government will turn the page on this failed approach.”

In summary, we’re fucked. You’ll have to mind what you say and to whom, exacerbating the culture of fear we’re already in. It will prevent integration amongst communities as we become ever more suspicious of one another. Think the Gestapo (probably on a smaller scale though.)

What Can We Do?

We must tackle exactly what is at the root of this apathy rather than segregate ourselves into an Us Vs Them sub-culture. This blatent segregation we are witnessing can be prevented by one thing: educating yourself. And not from a text book/Google/Bing (if you’re edgy like that). Talk to each other, share your experiences and try to understand their views. This culture of fear needs to stop.

You’ll learn alot from it and hopefully become more accepting of people who hold those views. Clearly our foreign policy and attempts at counter terrorism thus far have been little short of abysmal, but in my opinion the answer isn’t to react in just an extreme manner and start eradicating basic human rights. None of the issues will be resolved and if anything we’re just isolating whole communities, all the while stirring the catalyst of hate – when did we become this?

Above all remember, people are just people –  at the core, we do actually care about one another (N.B: Charity relief given to Nepal this month alone has helped thousands of lives.) Don’t let the current government strip you of your civil liberties and of everything that makes us proud to be British.

Final Note

And to you Mr. Cameron, I don’t want British pride unless it represents Britain. Britain is public services, Britain is foreign aid, Britain is multiculturalism. Britain is a strong working ethic and an even stronger sense of social responsibility. I don’t want to be British in a Conservative Britain if it means equality is only exclusive to those with a passport.

CON-DEM(ned): The day Clegg nicked 9 grand a year off you

Nick Clegg – once the adoration of students everywhere. Now just the wanker who robbed you of 9 grand a year, I’ll look back at the hard-hitting issues of the last 5 years of coalition and assess: Was it really all that bad? 

In 2010, Cameron held 307 seats – more than Labour (258), making the Conservatives the largest party in Parliament but still in need of a coalition to form a government.

The Lib Dems (LD) gained the largest share of votes in their history (23%). Brown had an abysmal campaign from start to end – with bigots, bellends and everything in between attempting to ambush him, there was no way Labour would have been able to form an outright majority.

After two weeks of careful negotiations and soul selling, Clegg got into bed with Cameron “because the largest party deserved to be heard”, and thus commenced sprinkling social injustice across the land.

Now let’s take a look at the tea-boy tory in all his glory and assess whether the LDs really gave a heart to a conservative coalition.

The Economy:

For a start, they said they’d clear the deficit by 2015. This has now been extended to 2017. The national debt stands at £1.56 trillion. To put that in perspective, Osborne stated it would be brought down from £100bn to 0 in 2010. Question is – where the fuck is this money going? The same “hardworking families” they keep banging on about have a lower disposable income year-on-year under this coalition. Consumption is responsible for approximately 60% of GDP. So if no-one has money to spend, recovery will be slower.

The Lib Dems successfully increased the tax threshold for the lower paid in society to £10k. This is a saving of roughly £700 for most people. I genuinely think this was a great step in the right direction. You’re more likely to get people into work and get the economy moving.

The Lib Dems also wanted to introduce a mansion tax at a rate of 1% on properties worth more than £2 mil. That didn’t happen – turns out one of Labour’s major pledges wasn’t all that radical after all. #StayKlassy

As for lending, I am all for investing in SMEs – I’ve worked for them, I run my own – they are the backbone of the economy. But whilst Cameron likes “taking a punt” and fancies himself as a chancer, I wouldn’t chance another term under his rule (and unfortunately chance, we did).

If someone in the press office has to rally 5000 SMEs to “sign” an open letter endorsing a Conservative government – You’re doing it wrong, son. Society should be able to see the creation of new businesses and thrive from the fruits of its labour.

See how easy it is to digress into tory-bashing? That’s how irrelevant the LDs are. What was so great about our country was that the third party was a progressive centre left party. It brought together a union of left and right. Now, we’re left clutching a crumbling, disgruntled society giving rise to UKIP. Kudos.

Other Important things we seem to forget:

Alright so, they may have let quite a few things slide (mainly all their policies) but it’s important to remember the LDs made up 57 seats in Parliament – they were destined to be drowned by the bellowing sounds of Michael Gove and Theresa May.

Btw I don’t think Clegg was joking when he said Gove ran the Department for Education like something out of the Thick of It. The parallels between Gove and Abbot are uncanny. Genuinely sounds plausible.

They stopped the Human Rights Act (HRA) being scrapped –

I don’t know about you but I’d much rather have my Human Rights than save a few quid on tuition fees. Idk though – that could be me being a radical. Indeed, Cameron couldn’t go through with this 2010 pledge. Partially because it’s insane; mainly because the Lib Dems recognised this.

Snooper’s Charter –

Another one of our civil liberties that faces the axe, The libertarians managed to prevent the Conservatives pushing through greater powers for the police to monitor our internet and phone communications. Think News of the World hacking – only, allowed.

Other vaugely important things include: Employment Regulations, Climate change and our position in the EU.

Education:

I don’t think anyone needs to be reminded of the key pledge Clegg said he’d commit to and then tossed aside (and this is more than just that promise, our schooling system has also been dismantled and sold for parts).

What we should remember is that Labour introduced tuition fees in 1998, capped at £1000, They then went on to triple it in 2004 despite Blunkett (the then Education Secretary saying they wouldn’t in 2001).

You can choose to look at it as a method to lower income tax by introducing a “graduate tax”. Alternatively, it can be viewed as increasing inequality – the same benefits provided to lower income students then are not the same as they are today.

So funnily enough, looking back on it, I’ve parked my issue with Clegg going back on his word. My real issue is Nick voting in favour of trebling tuition fees.

Clegg, don’t act like your hands were tied. Don’t say it was the kindest thing you could have done. Don’t try and justify hiking fees by saying students pay “less” than we would have under the old system.

But above all, don’t piss on my back and call it rain. You voted in favour of an increase in tuition fees. You didn’t even abstain – how can you now justify that?

At least the NUS have made a wise investment, in spending £8000 on a massive billboard exclaiming just how we feel about you.  #YouFuckingLiar

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Oh Nicholas, where did you go wrong…?

Well here’s a start: getting into bed with Cameron wasn’t the best of ideas. This wasn’t an awkward morning after the night before. This was a 5 year commitment. I don’t even think you needed the benefit of hindsight for that.

Now I understand, siding with Brown would have dented LD popularity in the short term. Even if you had sided with Labour – you weren’t strong enough to form a majority in a LIB-LAB coalition. Granted, here you can say your hands were tied…

What you should have done was either form a Tory-LD coalition and actually stand your ground or hold a vote of no confidence and dissolve this façade coalition so the rest of us can rectify your misgivings.

Rest assured, what you have done has sent the Lib Dems back into a destitute position. All the years of striving to have your voice heard were traded in so you could act as Cameron’s submissive. And yes the safe word is red.

Now fast forward to 2015, you’ve lost 49 seats, lost senior members in cabinet and lost the trust of not just students, but the nation. You lost.

And for that I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

Sources:

http://bit.ly/1zNr36M

http://bit.ly/1IrHKGq

http://bit.ly/1H8FWTL

http://bit.ly/1KuamgT

http://bit.ly/1JEkwyC

MiliBrand? It ain’t gonna happen

So much hype surrounded this interview that once I had watched the trailer on Youtube I couldn’t help but think “Excellent” in a Mr. Burns fashion. This was it. The big tell-all where Brand was gonna ask the questions no journo had bothered to ask.

Milibrand was happening. Unfortunately, in the words of Ed, it ain’t gonna happen.

At least not all of it.

Let’s begin.

Ratings to Ed for actually going through with this chat (calling it an interview is a bit of a stretch). I imagine the Daily Mail had a field day not to mention Murdoch’s papers, on him dropping those t’s and merely entertaining Brand’s notion of democracy. #Parklife

Say what you like about his awkward flair and stabbing his brother in the back (N.B: had David Miliband been elected as leader of the opposition, it would have been him ‘stabbing’ Ed. Bottom line – get over it Kay Burley and co. you’re not their mum, you don’t need to go to family therapy or awkwardly sit around the passover table.)  Ed knows charm. And charm Brand he did.

Bit strange really. Considering when Paxo interviewed Brand on Newsnight, Brand was almost flirting with Paxo with his mockney masculinity and tactile nature, so much so I think it threw Paxo at times.

In comparison Miliband was far less overt with his charm. That could be because of his placid nature, mind. #BBCLeadersDebate #MyNameIsShirley #YeahItIs #ISeeYouBoo

I can’t imagine Justine (his wife) was too happy after that cheeky stunt on Thursday night. Then again, I don’t think she was too happy with being told she was better off sticking her head in an oven. Tbf though, I wouldn’t really take expert advice off a woman willing to shag a married man in an open field.

Ed’s ability to listen and respond directly (which was a first, this election) meant Brand couldn’t actually go after him in a punitive manner. So he played it well even if some of his points felt like he was digging a hole to Australia… Why would you mention the Equal Pay Act (1970) when women are paid 77p of every pound a man makes?

This was something Brand obviously picked up on but Miliband’s point was progression could only be made by the union of people and politics. In a rather mechanical procedure, he argues progress can only come from people demanding change, politics responding but not all the way and people pushing on.

Why is the struggle so difficult? Why is it so easy for lobbyists to pass the interests of large corporations that pay 0.05% tax, when someone on a standard starting salary has to pay 20%? They’re basically mugging us right off. This is something Ed said he’d address…

Miliband used the Trewsers broken trust in politics to manoeuvre a vote in favour of Labour. Having said that I imagine Brand’s Trewsers are somewhat inclined to the left. Though at times it seemed he could have used more definitive examples, I think it shows he’s not all that airbrushed (it would be hard to be with #baconbuttiegate).

Politics has also benefited us too. The introduction of minimum wage, the women’s vote, education reform – particularly under the Blair years…and all of these support Ed’s argument that change can happen.

What I should stress is, he didn’t actually agree to change anything hence why what the media published last week is bullshit – this was not a concrete pledge (unlike his manifesto carved in stone) and whilst I admire his ‘can’t keep a good guy down too long’ spirit, I think some but certainly not all the changes he acknowledges will be dealt with under his government.

But like Ed said, change comes from people demanding it and pushing forth. I just don’t think it needs to be as difficult as he makes it out to be. If we voted for candidates that actually cared about the community they represent, we wouldn’t find ourselves being turfed out and socially cleansed in London or have such general apathy towards politics.

Ed did acknowledge the frustration of millions toiling under this facade coalition. So should he be elected as PM come Thursday, Brand can hold him to it and either prove the system is inherently bollocks, or Miliband will ensure change can and will occur. According to Brand “This guy will actually listen”.

Flashback to 2010 when Clegg-mania struck us like the wide-eyed hopeful students we were… we thought he’d listen. And listen he did, to the tune of the Tories #I’mJustSayin’

Basically, keep perspective. No one-man can change everything wrong in a society but identifying what needs to be changed and making some headway with it seems like a good start (Take note, Clegg).

Whilst I agree with Brand that people have become disenchanted by the disservice of our political system – I disagree entirely with not voting (and apparently he does too now #MilibrandPart2). Regardless, don’t mug yourself. No one will give a flying fuck about your protest against the system, not even your nan, because those that did decide to cross a box at the polling station will have their votes counted and their voices heard.

In order for this revolution to take place, everyone of voting age will either have to spoil their ballot or not bother turning up. As the daughter of a life-long Labour supporter, I can tell you now, that just ain’t gonna happen.

Democracy in the western world isn’t going anywhere. But our attitude towards it is changing. We’re starting to spit out the force-fed drivel politicians are plying us with. In the words of Kanye “We ain’t playin’ whichu no-mo!”

It’s about bloody time we stopped allowing these PPE studying, (predominantly) Privately educated, Oxbridge associated, Bullingdon Club members running the country based on the lives of people they know nothing about. #YouDon’tKnowMeEse

Vote for real people, who can make a real change. Kudos to Amina Lone for example, a single mum contesting the seat in Morecambe and Lunesdale, who knows what it’s like to live in depravity and come out the other side. She was on benefits raising two kids at the time and over the last 20 years managed to successfully co-found and establish the Social Action and Research foundation, which co-produces policy with communities to combat poverty and strengthen democracy. To make something of nothing that then goes on to improve the lives of others isn’t just admirable but proof that change, real change, can occur.

Lone, ironically, isn’t lone in knowing what social and economic deprivation is. Nearly a million of the working poor are forced to use food banks. Whilst spending on the NHS has increased under the coalition (£2.7bn), it’s gone towards sacking 8,000 nurses and having a top-down reorganisation. Frivolous spending isn’t exactly what we signed up for. And let us not forget cuts to disability benefits, which meant 60 people died because they could no longer afford a decent standard of living… in a developed country. Just let that sink in.

This might sound like alot of lefty lunacy but, as stated, I’m simply saying it like it is. I’m not saying don’t vote Tory – live your movie but, know that when you vote Conservative, you’re voting for extreme cuts on the most vulnerable in society for the next 5 years and they make no qualms about it. This is a choice you make. Whilst I agree the economy was in a dire situation in 2010 and any government would have been unpopular in such a situation, to relentlessly reward the very institutions that helped put us in that position is all kinds of foolishness.

Ed isn’t looking for the Thatcher hysteria (and hysterical we were) or the Blair euphoria – he wants change and he wants it now and so do we.

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Sources:

http://rt.com/uk/206247-benefit-cuts-related-deaths/

http://bit.ly/1EXaTbe

http://bit.ly/1PDnkgO