An open letter to the writer and senders of the ‘Punish a Muslim’ letter,

I’ll be honest as a fellow born-and-bred Yorkshire woman, I’ve always been told to speak my mind but remain polite. Yet I’m equally aware of how passionate and loud we can be on average, so this is going to be a difficult task. Bear with me.

 

I’m not going to do what others have done, condemning your letter outright, or calling it ‘disgusting’ and ‘sickening’, though in my opinion it is that too, of course. Instead, I’m here to have a conversation, over why you’d want to send letters out to Bradford, Leceister, London, Cardiff and your own hometown Sheffield. I say hometown, because the only identifier we have is that letters have the Sheffield postmark, indicating that they were sent from there. I’d especially like to highlight what a shoddy exercise in communication you’ve committed, and how once again Yorkshire faces some negative press, because well you couldn’t mind yourself. A quality of a truly respectful neighbour, in any part of the world but especially our home county.

But that aside, I’d like to start by thanking you for being so overtly racist, in fact. In a way that only those who’ve experienced the escalation from strange looks, patronisation, or disdain to outright verbal abuse and beatings, could ever truly know. But I’ve got some thoughts, (and heck even some pointers for you) if you really are hell bent on helping those who’ve suffered, and to stop people from somehow mutating into sheep. A hellish thought, not least for motorists on our narrow country lanes.

 

Firstly, clarity. I’m sure like the rest of us you were put through painfully long English classes on writing a good letter. The importance of addressing your audience, and to make the subject of your sentence clear. Perhaps you were even tested on it, I think even I was and I went to the worst school in Bradford at the time. But mate, I have to say you letter is confusing the hell out of me, who are you talking to? You open up with:

‘They have hurt you, they have made your loved ones suffer.
They have caused you pain and heartache’

But who exactly is the ‘they’ you mean? All muslims or only some. I ask simply because some of your letters were sent to muslim addresses and houses like Councillor Riaz Ahmed’s business address. The best word for this is ‘confusing’ right? Once it could have been a mistake, but many addresses and it’s confusion. Perhaps you’re wanting to reach out to some of these people to join in your game, or give them forewarning, both noble ideas. I hope someone in your collective (if it is that) has some conscience and was trying to do exactly this. The forewarning, not increasing the number of game players for popularity’s sake. I mean are you wanting your followers to punish some muslims and not others, to help prove they’re not sheep?

 

This leads me to my second point. You seem to be insulting the very people who you are wanting to play your “game”. The saying ‘catching more flies with honey…’ springs to mind, remember no-one ever played with the name-calling class bully.  But seriously, someone whose printed out letters on fancy paper, embedded a table and heck even put in two logos (including a crest) into a letter, has to see the irony in what you’ve done right?!

For clarity’s sake, I’ll make it clear – you’re asking them to not be sheep, to not ‘follow orders’ or be ‘easily led’ and then you’re leading them to do things for points. It’s just absurd. Especially as you’re not even coming forward to make it clear who you even are. We may be warm, open folk in Yorkshire but we’re not gullible enough to follow a shadowy someone who’s not even doing the courtesy of looking you in the eye, shaking your hand or buying you a pint/coffee. For some reasons ‘blind leading the blind’ echoes in my head.

Not to mention the fact that all of the acts you’re dictating are crimes, meaning there’s a high chance someone is going to jail. Knowing how these things play out it’ll be those who foolishly follow your ‘actions’,  but hey they can’t point to you as the leader of this nefarious plan can they? So no doubt they’ll go to prison and you’ll keep on hanging out in Sheffield or down in 102 Petty France, London (who knows?), leaving the poor daft one to suffer alongside their heartbroken, abandoned family because of they hurt they inflicted on another. Wonder if you’ll send another letter clarifying that it is now you, dear writer, who has inflicted the ‘pain and heartache’?

 

Now the third point, may sound trivial but it’s important, your game has a serious fundamental flaw, your scoring process. Seriously, when did you last play a game? Maybe, I hit the nail on the head earlier, by noting that many people don’t play with bullies, and considering your bullying tone, perhaps this is the reasons why you’ve created a seriously messed up game (in more ways than one!). But I can’t let this one alone, it bothers me something awful…

How can throwing acid on someone be worth less than beating them up? Similarly, how have torturing using electrocution be worth less than using a knife? I’ve read enough crime novels, and watched enough action and horror movies to know that there are some forms of violence that are easier than others.   Also, burning a mosque or bombing it is worth the same amount of points. Do you seriously not know how to value anything? Well I mean of course you don’t, you’re expecting people to take away another person’s life, as well as a significant portion of their own life, all to follow your seriously flawed “game”.

 

Finally, who is keeping score? Is there going to be a final scoreboard, a bit difficult considering your not exactly putting yourself forward as a ref, and shaking your player’s hands before setting them off to play a game for the day. By ‘day’ do you mean only during daylight hours, or is the night included too. No matter what you think about the premise of the movie “The Purge’, you have to give it to them they at least had the decency to create a structure, and to communicate it well, as well as allow open discussion and criticism. It is in this spirit that I’m putting myself out there to engage with you, as someone who didn’t receive the letter so can only assume I’m a target, but may well have considering some of my fellow muslims in Yorkshire and London did. Because I don’t want a Sharia led police state either, no I’ll be bolder I don’t want any form of police state, I want a democracy. But all democracies are built on ethics, open communication and due process, not badly engineered games, without effective scorekeeping and shady puppet-masters, so why not come forward for your democractic due process and I’ll buy you a cuppa, over which we can discuss the murkiness of your ideals and communication. Doesn’t that sound nice?

 

Kindest regards,

 

Mariam Kauser

Originally from Bradford, but currently on a short spell in London.

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Making the most of your surroundings: Year Review

It’s been a little over a year since I re-entered London to pursue my next project, my doctoral research into exclusions in online spaces.

It’s also been about seven years and three weeks since I first connected to the capital, I mention this only because today I was not clocked as being from anywhere else. I have again acclimated to my surroundings, even though I made the conscious effort to keep my broad twang.

So, I thought it was apt I started writing more often. Even though the imposter syndrome might run deep or make things get shady sometimes, I know that for my future I need to just GET OVER IT! With this in mind, I’m trying to acclimatise myself with writing and especially writing on the online page. In a similar way I’m realising how I’m so blessed to be able to enter so many places and to participate in them (marginally) better than those who feel more awkward than I. Only today I had the absolute privilege and energising feeling of being in a room full of “BAME” (hate that word) women and men who considered the future of women in UK politics. So I’m going to make a conscious (and consistent) effort to write more reviews of events I go to, the readings I do, my musings and more… Gotta let them see me work!

On that note.. I better get back to reading Simonden closely. Byeeee

 

 

FutureLearn Course – Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism

This morning I signed up to an 6 week online course, which starts on the 16th of January 2017. The course is run on the Future Learn platform, is completely free and entitled ‘Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism‘. It should take only 3 hours a week, so I’m hoping to fit it in without too much bother.

The course seems interesting as it explores the British Empire through 6 themes;

  1. money
  2. violence
  3. race
  4. religion
  5. gender and sex
  6. propaganda

Having read the lead educator, Richard Toye’s blog post, ‘Why is the British Empire still so controversial?’ , highlighted as a taster for the course, I was hooked in by the focus on both the historical and documented Empire, it’s continuing colonial legacies (which extends longer than you may think) but most of all by the notion of ‘informal empire’.

For too long as a British-born, Muslim woman of South Asian descent,the ability to label, structure and vocalise all the stories, histories and continuing ripples that I see as a large messy uneven web has been so damn hard. The connection to web technologies has in part helped, but also made it a little difficult. Though I now definitely know more, and I’m able to connect to more data and refer to more anecdotal evidence and narratives, lets face it the colonial capitalistic patriarchal carnival just continues. As I sit a little overwhelmed and unsure of how best to attack the many problems I see before me. While simultaneously forging my way through contemporary society and it’s many messed up unfolding scenarios that I can trace back to historical legacies that allowed some to hold power of others. Then justify this power through questionable systems. Systems that allowed people, lands and traits to be classified, homogenised for the purposes of promotion/defamation and then this new “logics” to be legitimised as “rationales”, interwoven with the scientific, cultural, political and social advancements of the world in a great many directions. Some directions brought great worth to some of the Empire’s subjects and some directions a great deal of pain.

I know for a experiential fact I am not alone in what I perceive. In my feelings that I live in a society unequal towards too many and in so many ways. That I am both part of a global village, a global identity, a great big society but also shut out from it. A society that refuses to acknowledge the many doors it shuts in our faces, the many anxieties and insecurities it induces and the many hoops it lines up for everyone to always jump through. Whilst continually measuring our progresses, putting us under increased surveillance, gathering so much data about us that we tend to see and project ourselves in terms of narrow descriptions. This feeling is felt across many, many fault lines of ‘diversity’, many tribes constructed through ‘data classification’ and throughout the length and breadth of this country (as well as in various parts of our historically colonised world).

You could argue that these tools extends to out online environments.  Online platforms could be fooling us into thinking we are both a consumer and a producer, a spectating observer as well as a fundamental cultural constructer, however is it not just another type of social carnival? A virtual one that looks to be a revolution but only projects and protects the very people served historically by colonialism, patriarchy and capitalism?

 

Days Drag On… What do I find on my phone?

Crazy long day – feel dead and drained and I’m in no way prepared for the mess that will be tomorrow. MA class (not done my reading!) then shifts in another store, as part of my new job! The need to keep balancing between love of learning and money to keep learning, is a hard journey to navigate through.

Sorry for rant. I’m just going to keep it sweet by posting some stuff I re-(discovered) on my phone. Not what I’m feeling right now, but I’m slowing getting over the emotions, anxiety and people-pleasing tendencies that kept me from sharing my words. 

 

Title: Couplet (date: 06.10.15)

I love you, but I love me more,
in reality; its a falsified bore.

How can anyone be without another,
One will always live as Cartesian succour.

 

Title: Leaving. Learning. Life. Losing? (date: 28.09.15)

Emotional. Weeping This day
hits me. Travelling waiting my
breath deceives me. Sick of
this sickness that  ails me. Sick
and… Tired of the wishing and
wanting that is snatched from
me. Backward facing travel in a
glittering life. How much
longer will u/I hide?

Tired of the wanting that is snatched from me.
Wishing against wishes that hopes weren’t constant dreams.

 

MDX LGBT Society Talk About their Film Awareness Video

Collating my work for the blog. It seems so long ago that I was at Middlesex with a entire gang of guys, gals and in-betweens who enjoyed engaging with the university life. As well as having a sense of ownership of the atrium spaces in the Grove. Beautiful place to film within, it really should feature more in productions.

The Literary Gazette

Sometimes the best events come from the simplest of ideas.

Ahead of the North London Literary festival, Middlesex students are hard at work at many creative endeavours.  Though we hunger for news on the highly anticipated app, other creative committees and students are conducting their events earlier in more public forums. 

On the 1st of February, a few intrepid equality and liberation activists or in other-words Middlesex University’s LGBT Society (MDX LGBT) banded together to create a Campaign Video.

I, the secretary of MDX LGBT, caught up with the President and Treasurer to find out more about why and how the video was created as well as their future aspirations for the Middlesex Society.

I am joined by Peter Dillon, 20, the President of MDX LGBT and Tom Stock, 26, the Treasurer of MDX LGBT, who share their views and journey on leaving a lasting legacy.

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Waterloo: Knowing my Fate is to be with You…

Waterloo, London on a crisp Winter’s morning, is it winter yet? If it is the last day of sunshine I am sure of it. As my photojournalism module kicks off the enthusiasm for the visual side of life has seeped back, finally!

It’s been two years of living in London and turning me back on the artistic dream, only now I have taken the plunge and re-immersed myself into the finer things. By allowing myself to view how others express their creative selves on a more international level, I hope to be able to strengthen my visual discourse and communicate it clearly.

Jersey Boys

So in October, just before my anniversary, I had a little relationship bump. My amazing but at times irritating boyfriend seemed as all men do distant. Now I admit at times I am not the best person, I may not always know or want to talk but I do want action!

He did his best though with his limited funds and who knew my initial reserve would be so wrong.. so, so wrong!

I apologise wholeheartedly to the universe for thinking that The Jersey Boys would be a waste of my evening.

From the Ray Liotta accents, the teddy boy looks and the unusual singing arrangements and number.. the Jersey Boys Production has the edge of London Musical Theatre.

If you’re ever stuck in London and want to see a musical, but not a long-winded one full of unnecessary segues into songs – much like a b-class Bollywood movie, then Jersey Boys is for you! The songs and dance routines flow so easily, making the theatre feel more like an intimate club. The use of screens, animation and edited footage also helped to keep the show modernised despite it’s vintage aesthetic.

THE MUSUEM OF CURIOSITY, SOHO

Imagine a collection of densely pack streets, full of warm, friendly people, neon signs, gay sights and enticing smells and you have started to get a small inkling of what it means to find yourself In Soho.

In my present state I can’t really explain the excitement of  treading those semi-cobbled pathways. But I do want to describe the strange conversation and reaction I had to this image:

DSCF4888
Yeah.. It’s a stuffed Ostrich. Or is it?

So there we were, me and Pete, in Leceister Square with 2 hours to kill for the next viewing of Skyfall at the big Odeon. What to do? the ‘Queerly Night Out’ at Escape in Soho would undoubtedly suck our last pennies from us, but a quiet bevvy wouldn’t hurt.. Off we trotted around Soho to find a kitch (and cheap) place for a quiet cheeky drunk or two.

Up and down disorientated by the colourful flags, banners and neon signs, not to mention the saucy window-fronts to the sex shops. Until imagine my double-take at that one particular window on Batemen Street. Two men were exchanging tired words as one walked back into the well-lit bare shop, bare save the large stiff ostrich centrally taking up all space in the room.

As I asked the man now slowly savouring a cigratte for permission to take a photograph, Pete in his surprised and most inquisitive air asks the obvious “what is a large stuffed ostrich doing here?”.

Only for both of us to be told it’s not stuffed but embalmed. And worth more than our wallets and bank accounts combined. Not gastronomic amounts but about the price of a great car.

The Ostrich was owned by an 18th century Italian family who upon discovering the creature in Australia. Then with the newly known techniques of preservation  they commission the ostrich to be perfectly embalmed for the pleasure of their lives back in Italy. Not to mention a great gift to future genrations,  true sticking point when it came to writing their wills and testimonies I expects.. “Papa, why must Louis get the big bird, I was the best at cleaning it.. “. Silly little stories in my head, now off to bed I trot, Adieu.

The crazy sights of London

So equipped with an annoyingly messed up Fuji camera, destroyed after a night out to some notorious student halls in North London (wood green halls), I am trying to document my third and perhaps final year in the great city that is London.

Having discovered how to create a gallery on WordPress (yay me!) here’s a snippet of what I collected today.

Work and University schedules permitting I hope to take more excursions around London.

Bonfire Night!

Bonfire Night 2012

In search of a free fireworks show (being poor students who wanted something better than staying in and getting drunk) we contemplated everything from a night-time picnic on Hampstead Heath to just taking a plunge and setting some off in the back garden.

However my good friend Tom pulled through and found a free exhibition in North London a short bus ride away, in Roundwood Park in Harlesdon.

Here are some terrible quality photographs:

Celebrating the fire of Rebellion and Plot in our Hands
Celebrating the fire of Rebellion and Plot in our Hands