Some thoughts from popular (and awesome) Muslim poet and nasheed artist Dawud Wharnsby, who lives in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on recent events and bigger issues.
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It is time for Americans to acknowledge that when we prioritize our interests in foreign lands over the interests of the citizens of those lands, in many instances, those citizens are starved, politically disenfranchised, tortured and sometimes killed. We have to realize that this is not only true in the Middle East, it is just as true in the Congo, Haiti and elsewhere.
Tunisians and now Egyptians have bravely stood up and challenged the hypocrisy, brutality and illegitimacy of their rulers. It is blatant hypocrisy for America to pontificate about the need for peaceful political reform in the Middle East and then support the violent repression of peaceful reformers or circumvent internal reform all together by imposing political change through the gun-barrel of an M1 Abrams tank. It is time that the people of this country stand up and challenge that hypocrisy. The masses in Tunisia and Egypt should be a source of courage and inspiration for us in this regard.
A “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions”:
A “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions” is unfolding in flood-hit areas of southern Pakistan where malnutrition rates rival those of African countries affected by famine, according to the United Nations.
In Sindh province, where some villages are still under water six months after the floods, almost one quarter of children under five are malnourished while 6% are severely underfed, a Floods Assessment Needs survey has found.
“I haven’t seen malnutrition this bad since the worst of the famine in Ethiopia, Darfur and Chad. It’s shockingly bad,” said Karen Allen, deputy head of Unicef in Pakistan.
The survey reflects the continuing impact of the massive August floods, which affected 20 million people across an area the size of England, sweeping away 2.2m hectares of farmland.
Somalia, the worst place to go to school:
It came bottom of a table of the world’s 60 poorest countries, just behind Eritrea, Haiti, Comoros, Ethiopia, Chad and Burkina Faso.
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Senegal, Pakistan and Afghanistan ‘are turning to Islamic banking to spur economic growth by encouraging people to take out loans and open savings accounts’.
Welcome to Haiti:
Years ago, he announces at some point in the evening, there were only two mosques in Haiti. Now there are 41. Eyes go wide, head-shaking and murmurs of “I didn’t know that.” Sentences that start with “I don’t have anything against Muslims, but…” “If you want to come to my house as my friend, you are welcome, but if you come to my house as a Muslim who wants to convert people to Islam, stay away.” Et cetera.
And to think some of my friends were worried I was going to get culture shock.
Niger ‘teeters on a knife edge’:
When I last reported from the country in June, the world’s poorest nation was in the grip of a long running drought that continues to plague large swathes of the country.
With half of Niger’s fifteen million people needing food aid, many here prayed for rain. Now it’s come but not in the way they wanted.
Floods have swept away desperately needed crops, destroying homes and some roads. Getting aid to the many millions who need it will now be harder than ever.