Why being a bystander is not an option

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Photo: Harsh V.

My column Personal Political published in the Cambridge Chronicle, June 8, 2017

Beena Sarwar

“You don’t even speak English,” comes a male voice across the fading evening light.

We glance past Cambridge Public Library’s main entrance. The man is bending close to someone sitting on a bench on the other side. A couple of homeless guys slightly drunk, ribbing each other?

The voice breaks through the dusk again. “This is not your country. Why don’t you go back?”

I jump up and walk purposefully towards them, suppressing a reminder that I’m a small brown woman heading towards an unknown situation.

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Ways of seeing: Imagine, South Asia

Something I wrote for The News on Sunday, published Feb 14, on a thoughtprovoking series of discussions and Anila Quayyum Agha’s stunning installation ‘Intersections’ at the cornerstone of ‘Imagine, South Asia’ at the historic Peabody Essex Museum

Intersections

Intersections by Anila Q. Agha: an immersive, mesmerising experience. Photo: Beena Sarwar

In an age of divisiveness and conflict, with media attention focused on power politics and high profile acts of violence, Imagine, South Asia, a weekend-long series of events at the Peabody Essex Museum was a welcome reminder of the healing and inclusive power of the arts.

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Remembering Shahab Ahmed

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The Orkestra Marhabba: haunting Turkish sama’a music. 

Colleagues, students, family and friends of the late Shahab Ahmed gathered on Nov 15  evening at an elegant and dignified memorial where speakers remembered him as a friend, a brother, a scholar, a poet, a translator and a seeker of Truth (his first book, What is Islam? has just been published).  Continue reading

‘More Than My Religion’: Reclaiming the narrative

imageMy article for The News on Sunday, Nov 8, 2015 on the ‘More Than My Religion’ (Oct 8-Nov 17) at City Hall, Providence RI – a unique exhibition showcasing art by American Muslims that aims to break stereotypes and build bridges — and help the homeless. Continue reading

At an interfaith meeting in Fremont, CA, and beyond

#ChapelHillShooting All lives matter. “Terrorism, their’s and our’s”

Deah, Yosur, Razan#‎AllLivesMatter‬ My heart goes out to the family and friends of Deah, Yosur, and Razan, the beautiful young people whose lives were so cruelly snatched in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, ostensibly over a ‘parking dispute’.

It’s not front page or breaking news in the US mainstream media the way that racial killings or murders committed by Muslims make the news. Those defending the media in this case say that the murders were not motivated by Islamophobia, and that to highlight the religion of those involved is to create conflict. Continue reading

Boston bombings: A Pakistani perspective and a Cambridge cabbie

Khalid Lottfi: "We will not let them hijack our religion"

Khalid Lottfi: “We will not let them hijack our religion”

“You know, I think the Chinese student who was killed, I took her there,” said the cab driver. It was a few days after the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, and after the police had chased the perpetrators, killing one and capturing the other. Everyone was still talking about the unfortunate events that claimed three lives and injured over 260 more.

It turned out that the brothers Tsarnaev lived on our street, on the next block. Here’s a link to the piece I wrote about it for weekly The News on Sunday in Pakistan – and a shorter comment for Global Post – Boston bombings: A Pakistani perspective. Continue reading

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