The religious misogyny behind Imran Khan’s remarks on rape

The religious misogyny behind Imran Khan’s remarks on rape

By Khadija Khan   Imran Khan is no stranger to controversy. Over the years, the Pakistani prime minister has come under fire for making a number of ill-judged comments that have sparked a backlash. During a recent question-and-answer interview with the public on live television, the former cricket captain was asked what steps his government had taken to prevent sexual abuse. After denouncing crimes against women and children, he claimed sexual violence was a result of “increasing obscenity”, and a product of India, the west and Hollywood movies. The prime…

The Muslim Council of Britain finally has a female leader – but there’s a long way to go towards equality

The Muslim Council of Britain finally has a female leader – but there’s a long way to go towards equality

 By Khadija Khan   A historic occasion has been marked in the British Muslim community. Zara Mohammed, a 29-year-old Glaswegian, became the first woman to be elected as secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). The news was met with a lot of approval, particularly by women, and seen as a step in the right direction towards inspiring other Muslim women to take leadership roles. It was all going well for Ms Mohammed, with all the complimentary articles about her in the papers. That is until she was asked…

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…