Palexpo: The Palestine Exhibition in London

Last weekend, my sisters Everyphototunity, HappyMuslimMama, my niece and I went to the Palestine Expo 2017, a huge event organised by Friends of Al-Aqsa, in order to raise awareness about the issues which are happening in Palestine today.

The timing of the event was not coincidental. This year marks a series of devastating anniversaries for Palestinians: a hundred years since the Balfour Declaration, 50 years of Israeli occupation and 10 years of the Israeli government’s blockade on Gaza.

–  Mondoweiss

This is a topic we are all quite passionate about, as there is so much conflict, struggle and hardship for the citizens of this country, which is still prevalent today. As Muslims ourselves, it is hard to hear about the human rights which are being oppressed in this country, and the fact that this is continually being ignored – by the media, the Western governments and the rule-makers of their own country.

The Palestine Expo was a range of seminars and talks, exhibitions, film showings, workshops and interactive areas for people to walk around, to listen to speakers and get to know more about the country’s rich heritage and history.

Everywhere we went, there were strong messages about what is happening today in Palestine as well as Israel, and what we can also do to raise awareness, help the organisations who are friends of Palestine, and also support ethical companies.

We managed to sit and listen to a few lectures which were pretty emotional, informative, inspiring and moving. Firstly was Dr Inas Abbad, a Palestinian activist, teacher and researcher who spoke about her home, about how their identity was slowly being erased, with their roads, streets towns and even names being changed, and the continuous censoring, lack of education and danger that follows school children as they go to school every day. Secondly was Ronnie Barkan, an Israeli human rights activist and conscientious objector, who spoke about his support for the struggle. I found it really interesting that he pointed out the various things the Israeli government has done to hide their actions, such as mis-labelling passports in English and in Hebrew. Thirdly was Soheir Asad, a Palestinian activist and Human Rights lawyer who spoke about the legal routes that the Israeli government had taken, land laws which were used to take land from Palestinians and the way this was used against them in courts. Lastly was journalist Yvonne Ridley, who is also a political activist, who spoke about the injustices she had seen, about the images which have stayed with her since she was a child and the disillusionment she felt when she realised the lies and distortion of the media.

We also managed to catch an amazing talk by journalist John Pilger (which ended in a standing ovation), in which he talked about his experiences in Palestine, and the ways he had been blocked in reporting the truth – but also the ways people’s mentality was changing so that they were unwilling to stay silent in face of injustice.

There were several places for us to leave our messages of hope throughout the expo – a giant wall of messages, pinned postcards, and even a tree to hang our words. It was pretty inspiring to see such positive words, beautiful messages to support our fellow Muslims and humans from across the country.

We also managed to try some Palestinian cuisine during the lunch rush, and tried some seasoned chicken wraps from Tabun Kitchen, which was pretty tasty (although cold!)

There was plenty of opportunity to walk around and explore, and we saw lots of beautiful pieces of art, as well as some story-telling shows and some documentaries about Palestine which were on show. I love that there was so much to see and do, and that there are a lot of similarities to Pakistan and my family’s village, which has a focus on story-telling, culture and a peaceful Islamic way of life.

It was a pretty informative day for all of us, there were a lot of things which made a lot more sense to me by the end of the day, and it was amazing to see so much support from Muslims and non-Muslims at the show. There was a protest briefly outside the venue from anti-Palestine protesters, but this didn’t discourage anyone from attending the event, and I liked that there were no shows of arguments or clashes as a result – people just left the protesters to it, and they slowly dispersed.

I would highly recommend to everyone that they do their most to find about this issue – even though we don’t live in Palestine, it is an issue which affects all of us. It isn’t enough just to know that this is happening, but to understand why, what we can do to help, and how to  make sure it doesn’t happen again.

#CHECKTHELABEL

“There’s a Palestine that dwells inside all of us, a Palestine that needs to be rescued: a free Palestine where all people regardless of color, religion, or race coexist; a Palestine where the meaning of the word “occupation” is only restricted to what the dictionary says rather than those plenty of meanings and connotations of death, destruction, pain, suffering, deprivation, isolation and restrictions that the country has become injected with.”
― Refaat Alareer, Gaza Writes Back

Every year, Israel exports millions of pounds worth of dates to the world, which many people unknowingly buy and use to break their fasts. These dates are often grown in illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley, on land that has been stolen from Palestinians. By buying these dates, we are helping Israel to continue it’s illegal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. With your hard work, dedication and support the #CheckTheLabel campaign has grown significantly over the last 8 years.  The campaign has gone to the heart of the communities in cities and towns across the UK to ensure no one buys these dates.

When buying dates for Ramadan this year, please check the label and make sure they have come from free settlements and are part of a fair trade community. One of the biggest reasons we fast is to recognise and understand the suffering which unfortunate people undergo, and these fasts could be undermined if they are opened with food which becomes a symbol of oppression.

For more information, please visit this site.

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Weekly Beautiful Libraries Links

I’ve been looking for books to read, but have ended up finding silly links and games to play – so far I’ve played 5 rounds of Battleship on my mobile and only won twice. Here’s some links while I play again.

If 2016’s Oscar-nominated movie posters told the truth – let’s see which one of them wins tonight!

When Frozen meets Star Wars. A mashup by artist Katarzyna Witerscheim.

And while you’re at it, here’s some hijabi-fied Disney Princesses.

A magnetic collage – a short story with GIFs.

Thought this was good – a piece of fiction on an alien’s take of human behaviour.

This is one for Londoners – cute and quirky cafe shops around London to visit for something a little different.

This white chocolate sphere dessert. Surprisingly not that difficult to make!

An interesting article on China and it’s women-only mosques – part of BBC’s documentaries about China.

I’m a real library freak, and I always look for pretty bookshops and libraries whenever I travel abroad. A list of beautiful libraries around the world to add to my bucket list.

5 second films – enjoyment and wasting less of your time. Or more of your time depending on how many of these you end up watching.

World Hijab Day 2015

February 1st marks the annual World Hijab Day, which celebrates not just the cloth which covers women’s faces or hair, but the idea of modesty, and the concept of liberation through covering yourself.

You can read my hijab story here, but I love that hijab is becoming more and more prominent in today’s times, and that women are feeling more confident in expressing not only what it means, but how it can influence others positively. I also love the fact that it encourages non-Muslims to experience hijab for a day and see what it means.

Since recent events such as the Paris attacks, the Sydney attacks and the Peshawar school attacks, it is hard to show Islam being portrayed as a peaceful religion, and I feel more wary that there is more hostility towards the hijab and what it symbolises. Echoing my sister’s words, this is not my faith, it is hard to separate some people’s perceptions of hijab, modesty and Islam and equating them with violence and terrorism.

Having said that, just as we do not want all Muslims to be tarred with the ‘terrorist’ brush, nor do we want all speakers to be considered as ‘ignorance’ or ‘bigoted’. I have heard the views from a few Jewish friends that they have started to feel that there is some anti-Semitism being directed towards them, that Britain is becoming less tolerant to non-secular faiths, and that they don’t feel entirely comfortable with how they are being portrayed. I can understand the feeling, it is easy to be prejudiced without knowing both parts of the story, and I feel that there is an increasing amount of censorship in the media which doesn’t help.

There have been some beautiful stories, however, which shows that there’s plenty of hope yet. After the Sydney attacks, for example, the trending hashtag #Illridewithyou has started a beautiful series of gestures from non-Muslims who have offered to accompany hijabi women and prevent attacks. I’ve seen it since, being used in various countries, tweeted out, shared on Instagram, Facebook, and showing a united front and understanding for women in hijab. It gives me a huge smile, to see that there are plenty of people out there who don’t judge a woman for her beliefs or what’s on her head.

If all else fails, here’s understanding Hijab for Dummies, although I’m sure you just need to look outside the window and see a passing Muslimah in hijab. If you do see one, give her a smile and look past the cloth, underneath will be a beautiful woman whose biggest attribute will be her modesty and her kind heart.

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Image Source

Rubbish Shadow Art by Tim Noble & Sue Webster

By ‘rubbish’ shadow art, I mean made from rubbish, not terrible – because this stuff is amazing! Artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster have taken shadow art to another level – using pieces of rubbish and junk to make some amazing pictures.

The duo also have created more artwork with lights, paint and other mediums, but it’s the shadow-art which stands out for me, because of how cleverly it’s put together, and the fact that the objects used look nothing like the end shadow result. You can see more of their shadow art on their website, or here.

I love the detail in their work – right down to strands of hair, facial features and shapes of clothes – which something that shows how delicate this art is, despite the medium used to make it!

rub1rub2 rub3 rub4 rub5 rub6All images belong to Tim Noble & Sue Webster

Revenge on the Spammers – Bob Servant gets even on Junk Mail

To: Bob Servant

Subject: Delete This At Your Peril

FROM HIS ROYAL HIGHNEST, JACK THOMPSON

Dear sir,

Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business. I am JACK THOMPSON, only son of late King Arawi of tribal land. My father was a very wealthy traditional ruler, poisoned by his rivals. Before his death here in Togo he told me of a trunk containing $75m kept in a security company. I now seek a foreign partner where I will transfer the proceeds for investment as you advise. I am willing to offer 20% of the sum as a compensation for your effort/input and 5% for any expenses. Thanks and God bless,

JACK THOMPSON

———————-

From: Bob Servant

To: Jack Thompson

Good morning your Majesty,

I want 30%, and not a penny less,

Your Servant,

Bob Servant

Spam emails are a familiar pain to all of us who have ever used email – be it an impoverished and exiled King in Africa, the fake banks warning us about hackers, young pretties from Russia wanting to have fun,  false job offers or The Lottery Company giving us a million dollars – we’ve all had our junk folder fill up with nonsense and con-merchants.deleteperil

Enter Bob Servant, former “window cleaner and burger van entrepreneur”, who has the answer to every junk email that can be thrown at him. Bob’s ‘revenge’ on spam email has replies which are admirable and deliciously absurd, bizarre and simply genius, and in short, some of the funniest things I’ve read. From Kings who offer lion as compensation, kidnapped postmen and Russian companions, Bob manages to cleverly dodge requests for bank details, demands for money and sneaky questions – yet keeps them hanging with his own crazy and impossible demands.

The book is split into chapters which deal with various ‘scenarios’, with each chapter compiled of a conversation of emails showing the exchange between Bob Servant and the spammers, which get wackier and more far-fetched, the further you read. The mad yet very enchanting character of Bob Servant spins stories of talking leopards, setting up circuses, kidnapping a postman and getting restraining orders, all while teasing the spammer on to more promises (have a look here for a taster of the emails, which show Bob’s brand of fake gullibility and absurd humour).

Added to this are the deadpan footnotes by Neil Forsyth who acts as the ‘voice of reason’ to explain Bob’s thinking, although this only serves to add to the humour, not to mention the hobbies Bob talks about such as his “jazz mags” and deliberately obscure references to random friends which crop up in emails.

I won’t add too much to this apart from saying that this is the ultimate book which gets its revenge on spammers, as well as also having a lot of fun alongside it (and really makes me want to try the same thing with the junk mail I get, although I have a feeling it wouldn’t have the same hilarity of conversation) – Bob Servant makes you laugh, cringe and splutter in disbelief at some of the preposterous scenarios which play out. I’ve already recommended this to at least two friends (and then had to wrestle the book back from them, as they wouldn’t give it back) and would recommend it to all, particularly those who don’t see themselves as big book-readers (don’t worry, this book is bite-size!) Bob Servant is exactly the kind of absurd character we’ve always wanted to meet, but without the hassle of running away when he’s becomes too crazy, since he’s safely ensconced in these pages and takes out his silliness on the spammers.

As for now, I’ll leave you with this picture of a talking lion, as requested by Bob Servant.

May the Fourth be with you!

The internetz strikes back! Another reason why May is my favourite month of the year, it’s a good day for internet geeks (including myself) to taking advantage of the Star Wars pun.

I’ve always seen Star War fans show their love (and Force) in the memes and images on the Fourth in the last couple of years and it’s always made me laugh, so here’s a chance for me to jump on the Star Wars bandwagon and post one that I put together myself 🙂

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The Slow Death of Ceefax…

…reaches its climax, since this week they finally switch off the last pixels. I remember the slow days of Teletext and Ceefax pages, where it took about 3 minutes to load a page, and playing a game on it meant you had to clear your diary for the next 50 minutes. Bamboozle anyone? Those were the days , when subtitles were a nuisance (for my parents anyway – “Get that rubbish off the News, it’s too slow!”) and when TV listings only when as far as the next hour, and covered five channels.

Fun times : )

How to focus in the age of distractions

By god is this something sorely needed. When we’re not checking our Facebook, emails, Gmails, Twitter or Whatsapp, we’re sending a picture with Instagram, reading books from iPads while eating dinner, listening to music with our android smart phones-slash-washingmachines, taking pictures of pictures.

Is it any wonder our kids have a short attention span and we’re so overworked?

I remember when I was a kid, playing computer games was something we did every now and then, but we much preferred to read a book. Using a computer was for drawing on MS Paint (yes I still do that now, don’t say you don’t), but we much preferred painting with acrylics and watercolour pencils. And using a phone was just when we called each other’s landlines to arrange a place to meet, where we’d go out and have fun rather than type about it online.

There are actually rehab clinics for internet addicts. Facebook rehab and all.

I don’t want to sound too extreme, I’m just a culprit in all of this as anyone else, I can pretty much say that I use a computer at work every day, then come  home and unwind in front of my own PC! And the internet has done wonders for people, of course, it’s connected us to millions, it’s helped us express ourselves, and it’s opened a whole new world out there.

But sometimes we just need to take a break. Breathe. Live in the real world a little.

Image from Learning Fundamentals