April182013
April262012
Outsiders often see Afghanistan as a problem in need of a solution: a conflict region that needs more troops or another election. But in seeing Afghanistan as a problem, the people of the country, and their desire for self-determination, are often overlooked.
From the Soviet invasion and the mujahideen resistance to the Taliban and the American occupation, A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan examines thirty years of Afghan history. It is the story of ordinary citizens whose lives play out in the shadow of superpowers. There are tales of violence to be sure, but there is also love and even romance.
Based on 14 trips to Afghanistan between 1994 and 2010, A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan is the work of renowned photojournalist Seamus Murphy. His work chronicles a people caught time and again in political turmoil, struggling to find their way.
Liberty Media Corporation honored A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan by VII Photographer Seamus Murphy and MediaStorm last week as the winner of its 2012 Media for Liberty Award.
Watch Here

Outsiders often see Afghanistan as a problem in need of a solution: a conflict region that needs more troops or another election. But in seeing Afghanistan as a problem, the people of the country, and their desire for self-determination, are often overlooked.

From the Soviet invasion and the mujahideen resistance to the Taliban and the American occupation, A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan examines thirty years of Afghan history. It is the story of ordinary citizens whose lives play out in the shadow of superpowers. There are tales of violence to be sure, but there is also love and even romance.

Based on 14 trips to Afghanistan between 1994 and 2010, A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan is the work of renowned photojournalist Seamus Murphy. His work chronicles a people caught time and again in political turmoil, struggling to find their way.

Liberty Media Corporation honored A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan by VII Photographer Seamus Murphy and MediaStorm last week as the winner of its 2012 Media for Liberty Award.

Watch Here

March292012
sov

Ahmed Rashid Extended Interview - Pt. 1 || The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Pakistani Journalist Ahmed Rashid, author of the bestseller Taliban, talks about Pakistan and his new book Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

Watch Part II here

March252012
March202012
“When he [the US soldier] hits her [the sister-in-law] with a slap and she pleads him in god’s name, half of his [victim’s] body is lying inside, martyred, half of his body outside, martyred. She gets up and she is forced back to her place and she carries out the Islamic ritual for the dead and she lights the lamp and the place is full of Americans, who raised their voices that it was one American - and that, too, he was insane? What shame is this? Why doesn’t an insane [man] kill himself… Why doesn’t an insane kill his own friends? What kind of insane is he that he can kill this poor guy’s 11 children and my brother and then directly find his way back to his base? That he can make it to four homes within an area of four kilometres, I am amazed at that.

Then my sister-in-law got up and performed the rituals for my martyred brother Mohamed Dawood until the morning. For god’s sake, you think about it for a second: until the morning, the woman is sitting with the martyr lying in front of her. Then I get a call in the morning, and in what condition I make my way there?

I want no compensation, from no one. I don’t want Hajj [pilgrimage to Mecca], I don’t want money, I don’t want a villa in Aino Mina [a posh neighbourhood in Kandahar city], I just want the punishment of the Americans. I want it, I want it, I want it. And I have laid down my own head in god’s will. And if that is not possible, god be with you, I am leaving right now.”

Brother of victim Mohamed Dawood

Mr. President, I want an Answer || Al Jazeera English

So it wasn’t just one ‘insane’ guy?

March162012
12PM
The New York Times Rejects Anti-Muslim Advertisement || Think Progress

The New York Times rejected a full-page anti-Islam advertisement submitted by anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. The Times rejected the ad, which urges Muslims “to quit Islam,” because “the fallout from running this ad now could put U.S. troops and/or civilians in the [Afghan] region in danger,” Geller told The Daily Caller. The ad, a product of Geller and Spencer’s new group “Stop Islamization Of Nations” (SION), can be viewed after the jump.

Pamela Geller stated that she made this ad in response to the anti-Catholic ad that was posted int the NYT’s earlier. NYT stated that they decided to delay the publication of this anti-Muslim ad because of recent events in Afghanistan, and they were afraid it would result in violence. The question that insaniyat posed was would they even consider posting this ad if it were anti-Semitic?

The New York Times Rejects Anti-Muslim Advertisement || Think Progress

The New York Times rejected a full-page anti-Islam advertisement submitted by anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. The Times rejected the ad, which urges Muslims “to quit Islam,” because “the fallout from running this ad now could put U.S. troops and/or civilians in the [Afghan] region in danger,” Geller told The Daily Caller. The ad, a product of Geller and Spencer’s new group “Stop Islamization Of Nations” (SION), can be viewed after the jump.

Pamela Geller stated that she made this ad in response to the anti-Catholic ad that was posted int the NYT’s earlier. NYT stated that they decided to delay the publication of this anti-Muslim ad because of recent events in Afghanistan, and they were afraid it would result in violence. The question that insaniyat posed was would they even consider posting this ad if it were anti-Semitic?

March132012

Could The Use Of Flying Death Robots Be Hurting America’s Reputation Worldwide? || The Onion

The First Responders debate the U.S. military’s use of drone planes to rain fiery death upon Afghanistan from above. (Aired 10/11/11)

I personally think ‘flying death robots’ is more effective than the euphemism ‘drone.’ If we called them flying death robots, wouldn’t people take the issue of drone strikes more seriously?

February292012
February282012
February202012
 Massoud Hassani Turns Childhood Toy into Wind-Powered Mine Sweepers
Afghani designer Massoud Hassani transformed a childhood toy into a giant bamboo minesweeper powered by the wind. 
There are more land mines in Afghanistan than there are people, so  Massoud Hassani turned a childhood toy into an extraordinary  wind-powered bamboo mine sweeper that destroys and tracks them. Made out  of bamboo and biodegradable plastic,  the rolling Mine Katon’s arms self-destruct when they hit and  simultaneously destroy a land mine. Equipped with a GPS chip, this  incredible design also maps out which land mines in the country have  been wiped out so that local Afghanis know which areas of the country  are safe.
Read More

Massoud Hassani Turns Childhood Toy into Wind-Powered Mine Sweepers

Afghani designer Massoud Hassani transformed a childhood toy into a giant bamboo minesweeper powered by the wind. 

There are more land mines in Afghanistan than there are people, so Massoud Hassani turned a childhood toy into an extraordinary wind-powered bamboo mine sweeper that destroys and tracks them. Made out of bamboo and biodegradable plastic, the rolling Mine Katon’s arms self-destruct when they hit and simultaneously destroy a land mine. Equipped with a GPS chip, this incredible design also maps out which land mines in the country have been wiped out so that local Afghanis know which areas of the country are safe.

Read More

January122012
10AM
December62011

Women, War & Peace Reviewed || Muslimah Media Watch

In October and November of this year, PBS aired a five part series, “Women, War & Peace,” in the United States. The series website explains: “Women, War & Peace spotlights the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframing our understanding of modern warfare.”

Several of the episodes in the series focus on conflicts that Muslim women face and resist around the world: Bosnian women in I Came to Testify tell their story of war and rape at the hands of Serbian forces, and their courageous journey that led to rape to be considered a crime in international law. The award-winning Pray the Devil Back to Helltells the story of this year’s Nobel prize winner Leymah Gbowee’s activism in the organization she helped found, “The Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace,” which brought Christian and Muslim Liberian women together to collectively promote peace in their country. And Peace Unveiled (sigh—another veil pun title) looks at the political activism of the Afghan Women’s Network and their work to promote the rights of women in Afghanistan.

These women’s stories are difficult to listen to—the violence, setbacks, and social norms they face seem immeasurable at times. The episodes highlight the complexity of how conflict affects their everyday lives. A Bosnian woman who testified at the Hague, Witness 99, shares her thoughts after the trial towards the end of I Came to Testify; the accompanying scene shows a Bosnian woman who visits the grave of a family member to offer her prayers:

“I was glad that everyone would answer for what they had done, but it wasn’t a very harsh sentence…You know that rape is the worst form of humiliation for any woman. But that was the goal—to kill a woman’s dignity.”

Another insightful segment from Pray the Devil Back to Hell describes how the collaboration between Muslim and Christian Liberian women came to be. Asatu Ban Kenneth, now the assistant director of the Liberian National Police, speaks up at a church where Leymah Gbowee had presented the work of the Christian Women’s Peace Initiative:

“I’m the only Muslim in this church…God is up. We’re all serving the same God. This is not only for the Christian women. I want to promise you all today that I’m going to move it forward with the Muslim women.”

The secretary of the organization explains that there were some initial concerns by the members of its newfound interfaith nature:

“But the message that we took on: Can the bullet pick and choose? Does the bullet know Christian from Muslim?”

The impact of conflict on women’s personal, family lives remains a prevalent theme throughout the series. In Peace Unveiled, one of the women featured throughout the episode explains why she continues her work to increase women’s participation at peace negotiations in Afghanistan:

“I don’t want to go back. I want to make it easy for my daughters. We will struggle. We will struggle until the last breath. We cannot do anything alone. We are part of the world.”

From all of these wrenching situations they find themselves in, these women continue to challenge political systems that do not value their voice—sometimes with the assistance of outsiders but always with the strength of their own personal convictions—using nonviolent methods to promote change in their countries.  The series ultimately sends a positive message of hope and change.

When hearing about the conflicts in these countries in conventional news reports, it is rare to hear about the stories from women’s perspectives. It was nice to watch a series where women predominated and shared their experience with conflict. Stories of their challenges and their work to address the violence they face is rarely, if at all, a perspective that is mentioned.

I can’t recall another television series that explores how women address the impact of political strife from different parts of the world. Instead, we often hear third-person accounts of the violence these women face, as opposed to the efforts of women on the ground who actively work to engage with the systems they live with to promote their well-being.

Two weeks ago, we looked at the problematic depiction of Saudi women in Amnesty UK’s video, “How not to be punished for being a woman.” This unfortunate video is only one of several videos Amnesty produced in attempt to educate the public about the abuses women (often Muslim) suffer around the world. In another film, a British actress highlights the plight of Afghan women under Taliban rule from her flat in London.

Looking at both videos, a theme emerges: that women from these countries have no agency and make little effort to combat the social rules of the societies where they live. This one-sided narrative does little to promote discussion of how social conventions can change, or to consider the inspiring work that actually happens on the ground. These powerful stories can’t be reduced to “humorous” educational human rights videos.  It is in the face of videos like those that the stories of the Women, War, and Peace series are especially important, giving us a more intricate picture of courageous, strong women not as victims but instead as actors shaping the context around them.

You can watch all five episodes of the series at PBS’s “Women, War & Peace” website.

December22011
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