Sectarianism, what?

If you’d have asked me 5 years ago what sectarianism is, I wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer. I don’t think it really mattered to me and I don’t think it was so widely discussed. Yet now, you cannot escape the term and the consequences. Sectarianism has, in my eyes, never been so prominent or eminent – not just in the Middle East – but also in the West. And it ain’t pretty. We – as humanity – have built up this desire and necessity to occupy ‘our’ countries and be of only one predominant, majority race/ethnicity/religion.

Israel-Palestine is a perfect example of this desire for a sectarian divide. It’s deemed impossible (not just by Israelis, but by Palestinians too), that they can co-inhabit the same ‘country’/area of land because one group are Jewish and the others are Muslim and Christian. Then there’s Iraq. Iraqi Shia’s suffered intense abuse under the rule of Saddam Hussein yet Sunnis and Shia’s appeared to live peacefully together. Yet now, those days seem to be long gone. Moreover, Syria – you have the Alaawite Shias ruling over the Sunnis for years and years and now – boom, explosion and no one can get along. Iran too, oppressing Bahai and Sunnis alike. Saudi Arabia, oppressing Shia. Regional ‘friendships’ built on who is Sunni and who is Shia. Lebanon – Sunnis, Shias, Christians… all in a melting pot.

Africa – Sudan – Ethnic Arabs and Blacks slaughtering leading to the potential genocide in Darfur. Then there’s Rwanda in 1994 – the Tutsis and the Hutus where almost 1 million people were brutally murdered in less than 1 month. Theres the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar who are constantly killed and oppressed for their religion.

So can these different religions/ethnicities and races ever get along? Are the ‘quiet’ stable nations all simply waiting to explode into some kind of hatred or is this just a ‘phase’ where different individuals will have to eventually learn to get along with each other and all will be fine and dandy like in the West? But is the West even fine and dandy? I mean, we have the rise of nationalism, of fascism, racism, hate crimes. We want to leave the EU ‘make Britain British again’ (whatever that means). We’ve got Donald Trump who hates immigrants and refugees and wants to make ‘America great again’. WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN?!

It all boils down to one thing right now. Apparently, we all hate each other and can’t live together peacefully if we have different religions, cultures and skin colours. We feel the need to ‘dominate’ others, we have to have power and oppress people who could have power just because they’re different from us. We LOVE power too much and we’re happy to resort to the worst kind of violence to maintain that power. I mean REALLY? Is that the sort of world we live in? Where we can’t integrate, we can’t just respect each other and be kind? We can’t live peacefully and harmoniously because we can’t possibly have someone who’s slightly different having power and control.

There are so many states in this world that are oppressing people for being different. For the fear of them having power. There is a lack of knowledge, respect and understanding of different communities across the world which is causing conflict and severe sectarianism issues. The attack on Kurdish Iranian teenager Reker Ahmed in Croydon shows our inability to respect difference.

When the power of love is greater than the love of power, the world will know peace. 

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Dear Donald….

Donald Trump is someone I’m sure we would all rather not have to talk about. I for one wish I did not have to waste my time thinking about the man, let alone let him bring me to writing about him. But it has become unavoidable. It’s time to face the man at the forefront of post-truthism. The concept of a Mexican Wall was bad enough, his so called ‘pro-life’ anti-abortion stance was bad enough. Yet for me, the final straw was his treatment of nationals from those seven particular countries. That sir, was one step too far.

As a proactive campaigner for refugees rights (and as someone who works weekly with refugees and asylum seekers), Donald Trump’s proclamation of banning the entry of anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia is an utter disgrace and outrage. Not only is it completely pointless when we come to America’s favourite subject – terrorism, its damn right obnoxious and heartless. So lets take a step back. ‘Terrorists’ that America seems to constantly be so scared about (despite the fact that you’re probably more likely to get shot by your toddler with the gun you casually keep in your house) have tended to be from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Surprise, surprise they’re not on the list. Of course, we must prevent ‘Islamic Terror’ unless they’re from a country that we’re so reliant on being friends with (I mean oil, hello). Therefore, for Trump to claim this ban to be because of so-called ‘terrorist’ threats is absurd. Yes Islamic State are real but over 90% of the people who have been killed by them are Muslim. In Syria or Iraq. You know, the ones who want to flee to safety?

Second of all, conflict, terror or human rights abuses significantly affect all the states that Trump has taken issue with. Syria and Yemen are both in the midsts of deadly civil wars that appear to have no end in sight. Sudan has experienced political turmoil for as long as can be remembered with past genocides, sectarian issues and human rights abuses. Somalia – after escaping war, has seen itself divulged into a fight against Al Shabab (an offshoot of Al Qaeda). And Libya. Libya, Libya. After overthrowing Qaddafi, has seen itself in civil war as well as fighting off an offshoot of Islamic State. Last of all, Iran. Iran might not have an issue with civil war but the human rights abuses are unreal. Kurds, women, Sunnis, Bahai. You name it.

All because they’re Muslim? Some might be Christian, Jewish, Bahai. Is that even relevant?

So now lets get real. There are millions of people displaced globally right now. Estimates put half of them as children. Yet ‘the land of the free’ calls them ‘terrorists’, or people who are not worthy of being safe or free from oppression. Yet Donald Trump gets up on his high horse proclaiming that he is ‘pro-life’. PRO WHOS LIFE? You don’t care about the millions of people across the globe, persecuted, shot down, struggling to get by. Many of them who have seen their only families die behind their own eyes. Families who send their kids for safety in hope of giving them the future they could never have.

But we will not be silent. The world will not sit back and watch one vulgar human being treat humanity like this. We will not rest until justice is served. We must not rest until humanity is free and these borders that are nothing short of social constructions are destroyed. We are all human beings. We are all one. This is not about politics, this is about humanity. And anyone who cares about humanity will shout until there is no need to shout anymore.

Trumtanyahu?

The success of Donald Trump in November 2016 was definitely one of the more interesting turns in events this year. After the horrors of Brexit, many of us had the attitude that anything could happen and indeed, it can. Luckily, as a Brit I don’t have to call him my President elect, just the moron across the pond who has already made it clear that he’s not worried at all about declaring war or infuriating many ‘allies’. In the UK we can now (jokingly) be glad that we’re not the biggest idiots of 2016 – America you won that one.

All joking aside, nothing about this future President is funny. He’s divided his people which has led to numerous protests across Democratic states and the US people have seen a serious rise in hate crimes with Nazism appearing to be on the rise. In a country where a race war already seemed likely, the future looks rocky.

It’s not all bad though – Trump will have some friends; Mr Putin & Mr Netanyahu. Although the potential relationship Trump and Putin will have is fascinating and could change the international dynamics considerably, I doubt it will have the devastating impact of ‘Trumtanyahu‘. In the past week, Donald Trump has voiced that ‘things will change’ when he takes office in January 2017. The UN Resolution condemning Israeli building of settlements in the West Bank was originally put forward by Egypt. However, reports on the 22nd/23rd December reported that Mr Trump ‘had words’ with Egypt’s President Sisi leading to the withdrawal of the resolution. One can presume that Egypt’s reliance on American aid and ‘diplomatic’ ties was enough to persuade Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that the Resolution was not in his or his allies best interests.

Thankfully (unless you’re Netanyahu/Trump/Zionist), New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal stepped up to the podium and ‘took one for the team’. There is no other way to put it considering Benjamin Netanyahu’s later actions involved him saying he would ‘willingly declare war on New Zealand’. It was a miracle in itself that the resolution passed – Samantha Power being the one to deliver the blow to Israel that the US was abstaining and for once, would not be the veto power. The US government action is undoubtedly too little too late in the Israel-Palestine conflict and Obama’s administration with his legacy in the conflict being two failed peace talk attempts but it’s about to get a lot worse for the Palestinians under the next administration.

Donald Trump had previously made it clear who he favours in the Israel/Palestine region with his intentions of Jerusalem becoming the capital of Israel – the most contested area in the conflict – but this week, Donald Trump has tweeted his showing his support for the nation and condemning the actions of the current administration, with similar support being shown for him from Netanyahu. Along with this, Trump’s desire to ‘support’ (or not condemn) Israeli settlement is not only a change in policy from Obama but a giant kick in the teeth for the UN who maintain that the settlement building is illegal and even worse for the Palestinians, who face yet another hurdle in their quest to regain statehood.

The future for Palestinians seems doomed – as if if could be anymore bleak than it already was. Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump are destined to make a deadly pair. It seems likely that conflict is on the horizon as the Palestinians may perhaps feel more and more frustrated with the situation leading to Hamas picking up rockets again and even the possibility of another intifada on the horizon. We all know how this story goes – retaliation to all out war and bombardment – it could be a dangerous five years in the land of Palestine.