Zakhme Dil – A Scarred Heart

On Wednesday 25th June 2008 at the Lord Mayor’s Hospitality Suite in Coventry, Save the Children launches a ground-breaking film entitled ‘Zakhme Dil – A Scarred Heart’ – telling the story of a young unaccompanied refugee in the UK.

Written and directed by Shakila Taranum Maan in collaboration with the young people from The Positive Press Project based in the West Midlands, the film tells the story of Ali, a young unaccompanied refugee from Afghanistan and It portrays images of life both in Afghanistan and UK.

There was once a time of no war, of everyday the sun-rising and children going to school. When fathers and mothers would do their job and sisters and brothers played and learnt about how to be in the world. When beautiful buildings stood proud; ancient, historical, with memories. And fragrances that were Greek, Persian, Chinese, Afghani, unimaginable.”   Extract from Zakhme Dil – A Scarred Heart ©Shakila Taranum Maan 2008

The Positive Press project has been running for the past year with an aim to give young people a voice on issues affecting them and to challenge representations of young refugees through the media. Young people participating in the project are drawn from both refugee and non-refugee backgrounds from Coventry and Birmingham. The project was funded by Comic Relief

The DVD is being officially launched by Save the Children in Coventry and will feature in the “Refugee Week” festival in London.

For further details contact Joanna Turner on 0121 555 888 or email her on j.turner@savethechildren.org.uk

Save The Children, Save the Children West Midlands, Afghanistan, Asylum Seekers, Refugees, Comic Relief, Refugee Week

Artificial Trees To Save The Planet

I don’t usually write about the environment, but an idea that professor Klaus Lackner of Columbia University advocating building billions of artificial trees to capture the build up of carbon in the atmosphere is difficult to ignore.

Biopact (a pact between Africa and Europe to develop green energy) writes that “carbon capture, in the form of “artificial trees”, is one idea explored in the BBC Two documentary Five Ways To Save The World. But could these extraordinary biomimetic machines help to mitigate our excessive burning of fossil fuels and its potentially catastrophic consequence, global warming? Or would we be better off using real trees in a carbon negative energy system? Let us compare the two ideas.

In 2006, more than 29 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide were pumped into the atmosphere. And 80% of the world’s energy supply still relies on fossil fuels. German geo-physicist professor Klaus Lackner of Columbia University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, thinks he may have found a way of tackling our current excessive use of fossil fuels.

Click here to read the full article

 

Please Don’t Go There

In Roray MacLeans review of ‘Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart’, he captures the essence of Tim Butcher’s extraordinary journey through the Democratic Republic of Congo  in the footsteps of Stanley  and Livingston.

Writing in his review, MacLean states that “the DRC is a nation wracked by decades of war. Acute poverty makes lawlessness, rape and murder routine. On his journey, Butcher is moved time and time again by the desperate willingness of people to cling to the old vestiges of order as an anchor against modern anarchy. In Kibombo he meets a stationmaster who diligently turns up for work every morning even though no train has reached the town in six years. In Kisangani traders wait for the tourist boats which will never arrive. On the banks of the Congo a fisherman asks him to smuggle his four-year-old son out of the country so as “to save him from a life of disease, hunger and misery”.

And this is the paradox; despite 130 years of worldwide social, economic and technological advances, there is little difference between the Congo seen by Stanley and by Butcher. Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene may have visited the country. Bogart and Hepburn may have come here to film The African Queen. Concorde may have flown in for the president’s pleasure. But today the riverboats rot on the mudbanks. The roads have been eaten away by jungle. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is once again “the most daunting, backward country on earth”.

Click here to read the full article.

The New Face of the British National Party

Dear folks, I have been extremely busy with a number of projects so have not had an opportunity to put pen to paper until I came across a BNP bill board advertising for ‘real Londoners’.

I live and work in Southall and last week walking with a group of friends we were confronted with a the BNP ‘real Londoners’ bill board opposite the Hambrough Tavern, a pub that was burnt down by the local migrant community in protest of a meeting held by the National Front.

In recent years, BNP has been successful at getting elected but have failed miserably at running a council with in-fighting being the norm and lack of democratic process which is of course against the grain of the BNP as they are basically thugs.

The malaise and the lack of willingness on part of many voters not to come forward or to stay away deliberately is disconcerting. I know for a fact that a lot of young people in my extended family did not vote let alone register for a vote – they are too angry with the Labour government over the Iraq issue.

Perhaps we need the political and social structures to deteriorate to the levels of the early 70’s with ‘Paki bashing’ being the norm – perhaps then the generation of my nieces and nephews will feel compelled to be part of a political landscape.

Dogs – A Legacy for Pakistan

Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote ‘Dogs’ during the struggle against the British Raj,  but the words are as apt for the state of Pakistan  today. The feudal  system of the rule of the Bhutto’s  to the brutal regime of Musharraf exposes the lack of progress for a country created with a multitude of ambitions for its minorities.

Dogs
These wandering unemployed gods of the streets,
On whom has been bestowed ardour for beggary,
The curses of the age their property,
The abuse of the whole world their earnings;
Neither rest at night nor comfort in the morning,
Dwellings in the dirt, night-lodgings in the drains;
If they rebel, make one fight another,
Just show them a piece of bread –
They who suffers the kicks of everyone,
Who will die worn out with starvation…

If these oppressed creatures lifted their head,
Mankind would forget all its insolence:
If they wished they would make the earth either own,
They would chew even the bones of the masters –
If only someone showed them consciousness of degradation,
If only someone shook their sleeping tails!

Extract from ‘Poems by Faiz’ Translated by Victor Kiernan published by Vanguard Books (PVT) Ltd , South Publications, London

Ground Hog Day in the Bazaar’s of Pakistan

Here is a beautiful rendition of poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz,  Aaj Bazaar Mein (Today in the Bazaar) being initially read by him, then continued by song which is sung to images  of the day to day life in Pakistan during the Zia-ul-Haq  era. It seems that Pakistan is trapped in a ground hog day.

Islam, Wife Beating and the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks on the inclusion of Sharia law into British secular law was unnecessary and untimely. Perhaps the Archbishop should read the Quran and assess for himself the extent of the problems and restrictions that Sharia law Arriving at the correct interpretations of the Quran has been a matter of great debate.

With no provisions for dealing with problems that women face, in particular domestic violence, the Islamic organisations in Britain are impotent when dealing effectively and in the interest of women. The Archbishop’s archaic views can only reinforce multicultural attitudes of ‘let them sort it out in their own communities’ approach. His remarks also throws light on the escalation of funding cuts in the voluntary sector by local authorities throughout Britain which has meant that women’s organisations such as Southall Black Sisters are facing an uncertain future. Southall Black Sisters has been at the forefront of rights for minority women but are now facing a core funding cut by Ealing Council depriving Britain of an organisation that is ‘iconic, vital and essential (Keith Vaz). Both the Governments and local authorities mantra these days is that ‘we are not living in Alabama are we?’ meaning there is no need for special provisions for minority groups anymore. According to them, the war on racism and inequality for women has been won.

 The erosion of provisions in law and civil life for minority women of all religions has ensured an increase in violence, destitution and abandonment. In many cases there are high risks to their lives where women are killed (Banaz, Surjit Atwal) or commit suicide (Navjeet Sidhu). The Archbishop’s careless remarks can prove to be very costly indeed.

Which religious interpretation does the Archbishop suggest we follow? Saudi Arabia, Iran, India? Religious laws have no place in democracy as in essence, it operates outside of these realms. It is not just the matter of divorce in Sharia law. There are other implications for women too, for example the rule for husbands on ‘wife beating’. 

According to six eminent scholars, this is their reading on the law governing wife beating:

Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God has gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them. Virtuous women are obedient, careful, during the husband’s absence, because God has of them been careful. But chide those for whose refractoriness you have cause to fear; remove them into beds apart, and scourge them: but if they are obedient to you, then seek not occasion against them: verily, God is High, Great! Rodwell

Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme. Dawood

Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah has guarded. As for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great. Pickthall

Men are the managers of the affairs of women for that God has preferred in bounty one of them over another, and for that they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for God’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them; God is All high, All great. Arberry

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in their sleeping places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great. Shakir

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whom part you fear disloyalty and ill conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance) for Allah is Most High, Great (above you all). Ali