Will my daughter still love me tomorrow? A reflection on leaving Salafism

Will my daughter still love me tomorrow? A reflection on leaving Salafism

By Thomas Maldonado Last weekend, I celebrated my youngest daughter’s birthday for the first time since I left Salafism (a branch of Islam that believes in a literal approach to the faith). Now that I am no longer bound by ridiculous religious rules, I am free to explore and celebrate the world around me, without giving two fucks about what anyone thinks or is brave enough to say to me. To see my daughter’s beautiful little face light up as she jumped in delight at my horrible happy birthday canticle made me…

Covid-19 and the conspiracy theorists

Covid-19 and the conspiracy theorists

By Saima Baig   The late polemicist Christopher Hitchens once described conspiracy theories as the “exhaust fumes of democracy: the unavoidable result of a large amount of information circulating among a large number of people.”  The current pandemic has brought out conspiracy theorists in droves and their theories are as outlandish as ever. Our disassociation with science and fascination with celebrities means that at times like these people will risk their lives but will still not believe scientific fact. A study conducted by researchers at the Reuters Institute at Oxford University, found that social media…

An open letter to Maajid Nawaz: on Islamism, Charlie Hebdo and free speech

An open letter to Maajid Nawaz: on Islamism, Charlie Hebdo and free speech

By Khadija Khan   Dear Maajid, First of all, I would like to acknowledge that you have long been an inspiration to many people from Muslim backgrounds, who were keen to reconcile their religious beliefs with human rights.   I personally respect you for your thought provoking and remarkable contribution to the debate around the Islamist ideology and how this has influenced people (sometimes vulnerable) in committing atrocities around the world in the name of Islam.  A few years ago, you faced death threats after tweeting a cartoon of Muhammad…

Cuties: Netflix’s controversial film and the child exploitation that we don’t discuss

Cuties: Netflix’s controversial film and the child exploitation that we don’t discuss

By Khadija Khan   The Netflix film Cuties, directed by Franco-Senegalese Filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré, has caused a lot of controversy. The coming-of-age movie shows very young girls in France dressed inappropriately for their age and performing highly sexualised dance routines. As a result, there have been calls for Netflix to ban the movie; Doucouré has also received death threats for having made such a film. In Cuties (‘Mignonnes’ in French), we see 11-year-old Amy, a lonely and alienated French girl of Senegalese origin, who is caught between her own immigrant…

Samuel Paty’s murder demonstrates why we must continue making the case for freedom of expression

Samuel Paty’s murder demonstrates why we must continue making the case for freedom of expression

By Tehmina Kazi Thousands of people gathered in Paris on Sunday October 18 to pay tribute to Samuel Paty, the history teacher who was brutally murdered for showing Charlie Hebdo’s Mohammed cartoons in class.  The protests were as much a display of unity in the face of collective grief, as they were a defence of freedom of thought and freedom of expression.  Regardless of the background of these protesters – Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan flags were being waved with pride – these values lie at the heart of what it…

Is Imran Khan’s ‘Medina state’ founded on Osama Bin Laden’s Islam?

Is Imran Khan’s ‘Medina state’ founded on Osama Bin Laden’s Islam?

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid Last week, reminiscences of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden sprung up in two unlikely arenas: Elland Road and the National Assembly of Pakistan.  A Leeds United fan had sent Bin Laden’s image to the football club to be put on their allocated seat in an empty Elland Road, presumably as a prank, as English football resumed behind closed doors earlier this month.  Meanwhile, in the Pakistani Parliament, Prime Minister Imran Khan eulogised the jihadist leader as a ‘martyr’ in the June 25 session, in what is…

The unbearable lightness of being a Turk abroad

The unbearable lightness of being a Turk abroad

By Sofia Demirturk Like pretty much everyone else in this world, I didn’t choose the nationality I was born into. As the Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun stated, geography is indeed destiny. Without meaning to undermine the power of individuality, often times our dreams, our means of reach and the very way we define who we are is, to a degree, a limited by the very geography we are born into. I’m not a linguist, but as a native Turkish speaker who also happens to speak some English, I think different in…

Religious superstitions and the coronavirus pandemic

Religious superstitions and the coronavirus pandemic

By Khadija Khan In the past, in the absence of scientific explanation, superstitious beliefs and unfounded assumptions about what causes deadliest plagues and contagious diseases led to horrific outcomes – and blame was usually heaped on the actions of minority groups in society for having ‘caused’ it all. Ironically, while anybody can get an infectious disease, it is actually the most vulnerable ones – women for example – who bear the brunt of the devastation in the aftermath of a pandemic. Therefore, religious people today implying the legalisation of abortion…

Virginity: losing my most ‘valuable’ asset  

Virginity: losing my most ‘valuable’ asset   

By Reema They say love is a beautiful thing. For many women in Saudi Arabia, that just isn’t the case. We were taught that love is only allowed after marriage. It is also expected that one’s marriage will be arranged by one’s family. That didn’t stop us, however, from searching for love. You just had to know how to keep it a secret. Like many girls, I had always dreamt of finding love. And I did find love—or so I thought. I had a secret boyfriend, as a lot of…

Naz Shah and Salma Yaqoob: two sides of the same coin?

Naz Shah and Salma Yaqoob: two sides of the same coin?

By Khadija Khan The row between Labour shadow minister Naz Shah and prospective candidate for West Midlands Metro Mayor Salma Yaqoob reflects the abominable situations within Muslim communities, where women have to grapple with a doubled-edged sword in order to get to positions of power. It is unfathomable how difficult it is for women of Muslim heritage to excel when men are disproportionately in top positions, and some women try to put down women also of Muslim heritage through smears and mudslinging. Shah accused Yaqoob of being unfit to be a Labour candidate…