Love in a Headscarf. A book by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed

This book got a warm recommendation by one of the biggest Danish news papers.

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed blogs at spirit21, and she is the winner of brass crescent awards for best blog and best female blog.She writes:

I took the book to a number of publishers whose commissioning editors loved the story, but couldn’t see it fitting with the existing mould of books about Muslim women. “We need an ‘alias’ of a book that is already out there so people understand how it relates to previous books,” they explained, meaning it should be either a forced marriage story or one of escape from Islam.

With such black and white views about the stories that Muslim women are permitted to tell, how can it ever be possible to create an understanding of our diversity and complexity?

I hope my book brings a fresh perspective to the discussion about Muslim women. But there is a serious question to be asked – will it provoke the Muslim community to look into itself and wonder why these lazy stereotypes exist? Sometimes as Muslims we lack an intellectual honesty about ourselves, and are not brave enough to tell our stories as human beings on a journey, with all our flaws. If publishers are guilty of monolithic misery memoirs, then Muslims must also take some of the blame for not sharing our universal experiences in a language and context that everyone can relate to.

To find out more, click here.

U.S. Academic Boycott Call

USACBI Mission Statement (excerpts)

Responding to the call of Palestinian civil society to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement against Israel, we are a US campaign focused specifically on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, as delineated by PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel). – see

PACBI and the entire movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (representing the overwhelming majority among Palestinian civil society parties, unions, networks and organizations) emphasize fundamental Palestinian rights, sanctioned by international law and universal human rights principles that ought to be respected by Israel to end the boycott. We struggle to achieve an end to Israel’s three-tiered injustice and oppression: 1) occupation and colonization in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory; 2) denial of the refugees’ rights, paramount among which is their right to return to their homes of origin, as per UN General Assembly Resolution 194; and 3) the system of racial discrimination, or apartheid, to which Palestinian (all non-Jewish) citizens of Israel are subjected to.

The principles guiding the PACBI campaign and the three goals outlined above are also points of unity for the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USCACBI). We believe it is time to take a public, principled stance in support of equality, self-determination, human rights (including the right to education), and true democracy, especially in light of the censorship and silencing of the Palestine question in US universities, as well as in US society at large. There can be no academic freedom in Israel/Palestine unless all academics are free and all students are free to pursue their academic desires.

We are also responding to the Open Letter to International Academic Institutions from the Right to Education campaign at Birzeit University in Palestine (January 17, 2009), calling on the international academic community, unions and students “to show support and solidarity with the people of Gaza by calling upon their respective governments to impose immediate boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel.” – see

As academics working in the US, we wish to focus on campaigns in our universities and in institutions of higher education to advocate for compliance with the academic and cultural boycott, a movement that is growing internationally across all segments of global civil society.

This call for an academic and cultural boycott parallels the call in the non-academic world for divestment, boycott and sanctions by trade unions, churches, and other civil society organizations in countries such as the US, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Norway, the UK, Brazil, South Africa, and New Zealand.

As educators and scholars of conscience in the United States, we fully support this call. We urge our colleagues, nationally, regionally, and internationally, to stand up against Israel’s ongoing scholasticide and to support the non-violent call for academic boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions.[...]

Endorsers (so far)

1. Rabab Abdulhadi, San Francisco State University
2. Mohammed Abed, California State University, Los Angeles
3. Wahiba Abu-Ras, Adelphi University
4. Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Montclair State University
5. Lisa Albrecht, University of Minnesota
6. Hamid Algar, University of California, Berkeley
7. Naser Alsharif, Creighton University
8. Evelyn Alsultany, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
9. Floyd Anderson, State University of New York, Brockport
10. Ian Barnard, California State University, Northridge
11. Anis Bawarshi, University of Washington
12. Lincoln Bergman, University of California, Berkeley
13. Tithi Bhattacharya, Purdue University
14. Bruce Braun, University of Minnesota
15. Timothy Brennan, University of Minnesota
16. Steve Breyman, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
17. Robert Brooks, Cornell University
18. Anna Brown, Saint Peter’s College
19. Bill Buttrey, University of Southern California
20. Steve Cameron, North Iowa Area Community College
21. Scott Campbell, New York University
22. Rand Carter, Hamilton College
23. Piya Chatterjee, University of California, Riverside
24. Dennis Childs, University of California, San Diego
25. Bouthaina Shbib Dabaja, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center
26. Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University
27. Lawrence Davidson, West Chester University
28. Nicholas De Genova, Columbia Univ
29. Lara Deeb, University of California Irvine
30. Alireza Doostdar, Harvard University
31. Eleanor Doumato, Brown University
32. Ronald Edwards, DePaul University
33. Nada Elia, Antioch University, Seattle
34. Nava EtShalom, poet, University of Michigan
35. James Faris, University of Connecticut
36. Grant Farred, Cornell University
37. Sasan Fayazmanesh, California State University, Fresno
38. James Fetzer, University of Minnesota, Duluth
39. Manzar Foorohar, California Polytechnic State University
40. Paul Foote, California State University, Fullerton
41. Robert Frager, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
42. Cynthia Franklin, University of Hawaii
43. Keya Ganguly, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
44. Jess Ghannam, University of California, San Francisco
45. Bishnupriya Ghosh, University of California, Santa Barbara
46. Him Glover, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
47. Sherna Berger Gluck, California State University Long Beach
48. Avery Gordon, University of California, Santa Barbara
49. Marilyn Hacker, City University of New York
50. Christian Haesemeyer, University of California, Los Angeles
51. Elaine Hagopian, Simmons College
52. Sondra Hale, University of California, Los Angeles
53. Leila Hamdan, George Mason University
54. John Hartung, State University of New York, Brooklyn
55. Salah Hassan, Michigan State University
56. Frances Hasso, Oberlin College
57. Nicholas Heer, University of Washington, Seattle
58. Lyn Hejinian, University of California, Berkeley
59. Annie Higgins, Wayne State University
60. Chris Highley, Ohio State University
61. Jim Holstun, State University of New York, Buffalo
62. Sally Howell, University of Michigan, Dearborn
60. Mahmood Ibrahim, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
63. Ibrahim Imam, University of Louisville
64. Pranav Jani, Ohio State University
65. Amira Jarmakani, Georgia State University
66. Kenneth Johnson, Pennsylvania State University, Abington
67. Brian Johnston, Carnegie Mellon University
68. Pierre Joris, State University of New York, Albany
69. Mohja Kahf, University of Arkansas
70. Rhoda Kanaaneh, New York University
71. Tomis Kapitan, Northern Illinois University
72. Susan Katz, University of San Francisco
73. Kehaulani Kauanui, Wesleyan University
74. Assaf Kfoury, Boston University
75. Issam Khalidi, Independent Scholar
76. Kathleen Kinawy, University of Southern Maine
77. David Klein, California State University, Northridge
78. Yael Korin, University of California, Los Angeles
79. Dennis Kortheuer, California State University, Long Beach
80. Felix Salvador Kury, San Francisco State University
81. Mark Lance, Georgetown University
82. Werner Lange, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
83. Amanda Lashaw, University of California, Davis
84. David Lloyd, University of Southern California
85. Georgette Loup, University of New Orleans
86. Paul Lyons, University of Hawaii
87. Graham MacPhee, West Chester University
88. Shireen Mahdavi, University of Utah
89. Sunaina Maira, University of California, Davis
90. Harriet Malinowitz, Long Island University
91. Ahmad Malkawi, University of Kentucky
92. Khaled Mattawa, University of Michigan
93. Todd May, Clemson University
94. Ali Mazrui, State University of New York, Binghamton
95. Bryan McCann, University of Texas, Austin
96. Daniel McGowan, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
97. Jad Melki, University of Maryland
98. Martin Melkonian, Hofstra University
99. Mark Mendoza, Miami University, Ohio
100. Targol Mesbah, California Institute of Integral Studies
101. Ali Mili, New Jersey Institute of Technology
102. Jessica Morris, University of Louisville
103. Fouad Moughrabi, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
103. Aamir Mufti, University of California, Los Angeles
104. Bill Mullen, Purdue University
105. Donna Murdock, University of the South
106. Mara Naaman, Williams College
107. Marcy Newman, An Najah National University, Palestine
108. David O’Connell, Georgia State University
109. Judy Olson, California State University, Los Angeles, CFA-LA
110. Sirena Pellarolo, California State University, Northridge
111. David Naguib Pellow, University of Minnesota
112. James Petras, Binghamton University
113. Kavita Philip, University of California, Irvine
114. Julio Pino, Kent State University
115. Edie Pistolesi, California State University, Northridge
116. Deborah Poole, The Johns Hopkins University
117. Gautam Premnath, University of California, Berkeley
118. Jessica Quindel, Berkeley High School
118. Peter Rachleff, Macalester College
119. Aneil Rallin, Soka University of America
120. Junaid Rana, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
121. Adolph Reed, University of Pennsylvania
122. Steve Roddy, University of San Francisco
123. Ilia Rodriguez, University of New Mexico
124. Sonia Rosen, University of Pennsylvania
125. Suzanne Ross, United Federation of Teachers, Clinical Psychology
126. Marty Roth, University of Minnesota
127. Lori Rudolph, New Mexico Highlands University
128. Steven Salaita, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
129. Rakhshanda Saleem, Harvard Medical School
130. Basel Saleh, Radford University
131. George Salem, University of Southern California
132. Rosaura Sanchez, University of California, San Diego
133. Eleuterio Santiago-Diaz, University of New Mexico
134. Bhaskar Sarkar, University of California, Santa Barbara
135. Aseel Sawalha, Pace University
136. Simona Sawhney, University of Minnesota
137. Seleem Sayyar, Emory University
138. Robert Schaible, University of Southern Maine
139. James Scully, University of Connecticut
140. Evalyn Segal, San Diego State University
141. Anton Shammas, University of Michigan
142. Matthew Shenoda, Goddard College
143. Setsu Shigematsu, University of California, Riverside
144.Magid Shihade, University of California Davis
145. Snehal Shingavi, University of Mary Washington
146. Ella Shohat, New York University
147. Yumna Siddiqi, Middlebury College
148. Andor Skotnes, Sage College
149. Scott Sorrell, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
150. Ted Stolze, Cerritos College
151. Patricia Stuhr, Ohio State University
152. Kenneth Surin, Duke University
153. Simone Swan, The Adobe Alliance
154. Juan Carlos Vallejo, State University of New York
155. Stefano Varese, University of California, Davis
156. Dorothy Wang, Williams College
157. Richard Wark, University of Maryland
158. Brad Werner, University of California, San Diego
159. Jessica Winegar, Temple University
160. Mansour Zand, University of Nebraska, Omaha

Short of Terror? Plant ‘em!

From Islamophobia Watch

On 7 January the Sun’s front page splash, under the headline “Terror Target Sugar“, quoted claims by “anti-terror expert” Glen Jenvey that online Muslim forum was being used by extremists to target leading British Jews in revenge for Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

The Sun subsequently removed the story, which carried the bylines of John Coles and Mike Sullivan, from its website.

The Sun story named Sugar, singer Amy Winehouse, producer Mark Ronson and Labour peer Lord Levy as among those allegedly being targeted by Islamic extremists. It quoted a contributor on the forum called “Abuislam” asking: “Have we got a list of top Jews we can target? Can someone post names and addresses?”

However, in another posting on, it was alleged that Abuislam was in fact Jenvey himself and claimed this had been confirmed from his IP and email addresses. The Bloggerheads website also claimed Jenvey had posted the comment himself.

BBC on the Burner

BBC refused to air request for Gaza aid to “maintain neutrality“.

Masud advises:

You can register your own complain here:

Here is what I wrote:

I wish to complain about the BBC’s decision to not allow the DEC appeal for Gaza to go ahead. This is a very disgraceful decision and will cost lives on the ground. I do not buy the BBC’s official line that it affects its impartiality since this was not a concern for other similar appeals. I can only think that the BBC has succumbed to some external pressure from a foreign government. This is the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation and as a license fee payer I am angry, annoyed and disgusted at this decision for which there is no conceivable reason. Could you please publish the minutes of the meeting in which this decision was made and why and I would like to know which of the directors/trustees decided against the DEC appeal?

EVERYONE I have spoken to, regardless of their ethnic or religious background, cannot understand this ludicrous and cruel decision, it would seem that the overwhelming majority of the BRITISH public do not agree with you. In fact I think it is safe to say that given this it is the BBC that is currently not acting impartially.

Yours angered, annoyed and disgusted.

Masud A. Khan

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(Video via MR)

All the more reason to support Al Jazeera.

Quote of the Day: Obama’s Inauguration Day

This half-Luo tribesman from Hawaii whose African father had no connection whatsoever with the West African ancestors of American slaves, was not imbued, but rather hued, with significance. His melanin carried the meaning, which is to say that he was judged by the color of his skin rather than the content of his character, in a precise reversal of Martin Luther King Jr’s famous phrase.

America’s African Americans, who have failed to produce a credible leader in the two generations since the Civil Rights Act of 1965, broke America’s last color bar, hailed this carpetbagger as a savior. For a generation of white liberals raised on the notion that skin-color aversion is the original sin of American politics, the confusion is understandable. The African Americans in attendance should have known better. In a way, they did. If not for Aretha Franklin, the day would have been a total loss.

It just wasn’t their day. I mean that literally: it was a day on which a dark-skinned man became president who had nothing to do with them. The son of a Kenyan economist and an American anthropologist walked off with the blood-stained mantle of seven decades of civil rights struggle. If the black poets and clergy offered a counterfeit of real emotion, it is hard to blame them. They were just the extras on Obama’s stage set.

[not a friend of Spengler, but he is right about that!!]

Barack Obama and the African American as World Citizen

[but first, let me highlight this section from the article:

In the Vietnam era, many black GIs came home with stories that their lives had been directly spared by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese fighters at close quarters who could have killed them, but seemed to single out white American soldiers instead. When Iranian students captured the US embassy in Teheran, they offered to let the black Americans go.


by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

We have proven at long last that a black man can be elected president, a lesson for little black boys, and perhaps even little black girls to carefully consider as they begin their life’s journeys. At the same time, we have also put a black face at the head of a host of detestable policies in Africa that offer military aid and arms to dozens of African regimes instead of aiding their civil societies and promoting the real growth and prosperity that his inauguration speech claimed as US policy in the developing world. What this means for the image of African Americans on the world stage is not yet clear. But a new era has dawned.
Barack Obama and the African American as World Citizen
by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

It’s completely appropriate to celebrate the election of the first black president, just like we celebrated the first black mayors in Newark, Gary and Cleveland in the sixties, of Los Angeles and Atlanta in the seventies, and New York and Chicago in the eighties. When the doors were forced open, when the demographics were right, enough money was raised and sufficient numbers of black voters mobilized, thousands of African Americans were elected to school boards and city councils, to state legislatures and congress, to county boards and statewide offices. And now, an African American has taken the oath of president of the United States.

As one of many who worked day and night for three years in the early 1980s to elect Chicago’s first black mayor, I can understand the undefineable tears shed by many last November, and the shiver some felt when Barack Obama laid his hand on Abe Lincoln’s bible. We danced and wept and prayed and rejoiced in Chicago a generation ago, and in other places too. But eventually the party was over, and this one will soon be too, for most of us. For many of us, it’s already time to take stock. Were the hopes and dreams and prayers and effort put behind the Obama campaign a wise investment? And what does the election of Barack Obama mean for the position of African Americans as global citizens?

Until now, black Americans have always enjoyed, on the world stage, a presumption that we as a people and as individuals were not responsible for the lawless and criminal acts of the US government around the world. In the Vietnam era, many black GIs came home with stories that their lives had been directly spared by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese fighters at close quarters who could have killed them, but seemed to single out white American soldiers instead. When Iranian students captured the US embassy in Teheran, they offered to let the black Americans go.

Polling data has consistently shown African American communities to be less sympathetic to US military adventures around the world, and to harbor more healthy skepticism of war aims and claims than any other sector of the electorate. Immediately before the Iraq invasion, a Gallup poll showed black America opposing the war almost two to one, the opposite of white America. No wonder our international image is dominated by figures of courageous moral opposition to empire like Muhammed Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King. But with the election of Barack Hussein Obama, and the explicit targeting of Africa as a battleground for American control of the world’s resources and markets, that is definitely about to change.

The moment Barack Obama took the oath of office, he became commander in chief of America’s far-flung global empire, more than 800 military bases strung across the planet, and at least a million and a half uniformed personnel, secret prisons, torturers, and looters of whole economies. The US spends more on arms than all the rest of the planet combined, and in spite of our economic woes, Obama is not committed to reducing this. He may ask us to cut “entitlements” and tighten our belts, but reducing the military budget, the production of arms and the training of bloodthirsty proxy armies in poor countries all around the world is not to be questioned under an Obama administration.

In Africa, perhaps the best example, civil societies need the freedom to organize health care and education. They need control over their own national resources, and they need an international monetary system that does not facilitate the wholesale looting of their economies. They need clean water, low-priced anti-HIV drugs.

Barack Obama instead is identified with fundamentalist preacher Rick Warren, responsible for funding and training African pastors who hold condom-burning rallies and lead marches and rallies to threaten gays and so-called ‘witches” with arrest and death.

Rather than seek allies in the vibrant civil sector of African societies, Obama’s advisors are enthusiastic supporters of the Bush-created AFRICOM, which works to strengthen the least productive sector of African societies — Africa’s rapacious military machines.

The informative blog Crossed Crocodiles tells of a January 18 multinational miltary seminar held in Dakar, Senegal to hand out American gadgets and treats to African armies in support of US goals for the continent, “… cement(ing) the US Africa Command in place as an imperial colonial power organizing and directing proxy armies, controlling the tools, techniques, perhaps the language of their communication….”

From Congressional testimony by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, in July 2008:

The ‘train and equip’ idea is not new. In fact, it has a very bad history in Africa – a history that harkens back to the proxy wars of the Cold War and U.S. support for illegitimate or corrupt regimes.

In the 1980’s, the U.S. spent $500 million to train and equip Samuel Doe in Liberia. According to a report from the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, “every armed group that plundered Liberia over the past 25 years had its core in these U.S.-trained Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. There is thus a fear that when the United States withdraws support for its security sector reform program and funding for the AFL, Liberia will be sitting on a time bomb; a well-trained and armed force of elite soldiers who are used to good pay and conditions of service, which may be impossible for the government of Liberia to sustain on its own.”

AFRICOM’s value as a structure for legitimizing African armies should therefore be called into serious question. The long-term ramifications of irresponsible training and equipping should be taken into consideration before the U.S. military is awarded more power in Africa. PMC’s should be debated and scrutinized by the African people and parliamentary bodies in every country should be encouraged to enact legislation against their operations. Propping up and arming corrupt leaders is no path to stability in Africa. The U.S. must act as a credible force for peace, not an overzealous superpower that employs private contractors to conduct military operations in Africa.

Many question the idea of training and coordinating African militaries at all. Many African military forces are primarily used against their own people in order to keep the current regime in power.”

Many Africans question this policy, as do those Americans who are aware of it. Barack Obama and his advisors are certainly aware of it. Many of them helped design it, and Obama has hired them for what they know and what they do. The question now is what will we do, and what will we help our fellow citizens, especially African Americans know about our longstanding and deadly intervention on the African continent.

Through the Pentagon and the CIA, according to Asad Ismi and Kristen Schwartz in the Ravaging of Africa, the US has fueled no less than fourteen separate African wars in recent decades. We have sent weapons, military training and military aid to more than 50 of Africa’s 54 nations, aided both sides in several wars, and more than two sides in Rwanda, the Congo, and Somalia. We are the authors of a war in Somalia in which a million people have perished, a capital city has been deserted, and several million more are homeless, destitute and on the verge of starvation. US forces regularly fly missions in support of the Ethiopian invasion force in Somalia, which sits atop a lake of untapped oil.

Our economic looting and militarization of African societies prevents them from setting up education and health care systems that would retard the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Our predatory trade agreements prohibit African countries from rational public sector wealth building, and even seek to prevent African farmers from saving theirr own seeds to plant as they have done for millenia. Our banking system makes it possible for multinational corporations and corrupt Africans to take vast amounts of wealth offshore for injection into Western economies.

Some black Americans have been quoted in the media saying that they finally felt they could unpack their bags here in the U.S, that they could finally fly the American flag with pride. Good for them. We should let them know what that flag is standing for around the world, with or without a black man in the White House. We used to be regarded as a people of struggle, innocent of the crimes of our government. That era is over. It’s time to wake up after the party and wonder what will become of the international image of African Americans in the wake of an Obama presidency?

Bruce Dixon is managing editor of Black Agenda Report and is based in Atlanta.


Resist AFRICOM is a campaign comprised of concerned U.S. and Africa-based organizations and individuals opposed to the new U.S. military command for Africa (AFRICOM).

With the establishment of AFRICOM, the Pentagon attempts to increase access to Africa’s oil and to wage a new front in the Global War on Terror without regard for the needs or desires of African people. Enabled by oil companies and private military contractors, AFRICOM serves as the latest frontier in military expansionism, violating the human rights and civil liberties of Africans who have voiced a strong “no” to U.S. military presence. We reject this militarization of foreign engagement. Instead, our vision is a comprehensive U.S. foreign policy grounded in true partnership with the African Union, African governments, and civil society on peace, justice, security, and development.

Click below to watch the Resist AFRICOM film, then send the link to your family, friends, and community!

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Another War, Another Defeat

The Gaza offensive has succeeded in punishing the Palestinians but not in making Israel more secure.

By John J. Mearsheimer

But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead. The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them….And if Israel were genuinely interested in creating a viable Palestinian state, it could have worked with the national unity government to implement a meaningful ceasefire and change Hamas’s thinking about a two-state solution. But Israel has a different agenda: it is determined to employ the Iron Wall strategy to get the Palestinians in Gaza to accept their fate as hapless subjects of a Greater Israel.