Author: Bilal Ahmed
Bilal Ahmed is a writer and activist. He is currently preparing for his dissertation, which will compare tribal structures, and state relations, in Pakistan and Yemen.

While I was in Lahore, I met a relative for the first time. Noting my academic interest in Islamic militarism, he asked to hear my views. Eventually, this led to a blunt question: “So what do you think about the way the Jews control everything and ruin everything for people?” (More…)

Death is in vogue. Since the Taliban-led insurgency against NATO‘s occupation of Afghanistan began, Pakistan has fallen victim to a desperate security situation. Over the last decade, 15, 503 civilians have been killed in terrorist violence in addition to 4, 884 security personnel and 25, 347 insurgent fighters. (More…)

Gangnam Style is not a protest song. If anything, the 2012 hit, by Korean rapper Psy, is a celebration of meaninglessness, a musically repurposed novelty phrase, in a non-English language, cleverly paired with pedestrian, early ‘90s rave arragements.  Imagine Americans’ shock when its author, about to perform at the White House, was outed for inciting against the US military, back in 2004. (More…)

Immigrants who move to Western countries from the Middle East are frequently faced with a conundrum. Do we indulge Orientalist stereotypes in order to market our businesses? After all, there is an economic value attached to such caricatures, that foregrounds our identity in the Diaspora labor market. Should we risk cheapening ourselves? It seems we have no choice in the matter. (More…)

The Islamophobia Industry begins with a quote from the 1949 musical, South Pacific: “you’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year. It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you’ve got to be carefully taught.” The implication, which runs throughout Nathan Lean’s new book, is nonetheless a hopeful one. (More…)

Mitt Romney thinks disaster relief should be privatized. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the idea of fobbing off FEMA’s services has been rightfully focused on for its coldness. However, given that this policy position was announced months ago, it’s surprising that Hurricane Katrina was not immediately brought to bear in criticisms of Romney’s proposal. (More…)

We’re in familiar territory. Newsweek‘s recent cover story, Muslim Rage: How I Survived It and How We Can End It, is unsurprising given the ferocity of recent anti-blasphemy protests. Terrified, Western media have spent the past fortnight asking “Why are Muslims upset?” and, in reference to the Benghazi killings, “How can this happen in a country we helped liberate?” (More…)

The Syrian civil war has caused an explosion of political graffiti, cartoons, and flyers in the country’s many Diasporas. The following examples, which contain many Syrian slang words, were photographed in Berlin last month. They give an impression of increased bitterness and radicalization directed against an autocrat who, little over a year ago, was said to be unaffected by the Arab Spring. (More…)

Eighteen months ago, we flooded public squares across the Middle East. We sought to situate ourselves against the old order, en-nizaam – the regime. En-nizaam meant more than just Hosni Mubarak and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. It referred to an entire way of doing things, one that mired the region in dysfunction when the old empires finally collapsed.  (More…)

Shall I respond violently? No. The bloody mist that hangs above the ancient cities- Jalalabad, Quetta, Peshawar- reeks of vengeance. Shall I grieve endlessly? No. I am weary of perpetual sadness. I will not pout among clouds of opium like the ghosts of Khorramshahr. (More…)

I recently traveled to Tahrir Square in order to gain a richer perspective on the Egyptian Revolution. I was in Tahrir for the period immediately after the runoff elections, when the country was gripped with uncertainty regarding its final outcome. The graffiti on Mohamed Mahmoud street has been seen globally. These new designs are particularly evocative of the square’s current atmosphere. (More…)

He was a casually dressed man in his fifties. He greeted me colloquially, and asked me if I wanted anything to drink. “I’d love some orange juice,” I responded. Referring to the man behind him, he said: “Watch for the paranoid schizophrenic back there. He’s bothering that couple and they don’t know what to do about it.” (More…)