The gurgling noises of the pouring rain hitting the pavement outside almost matches my inner tears of sorrow as I sympathise with the needy people of the world. Everywhere I turn, I see organisations appealing for donations. I see NGOs, leaning on the sturdy shoulders of Ramadaan’s great blessings, “cashing in” on this time of the year. Continue reading
As it stands, we sit with just over 2 months until the authorities will turn off water supply to most of the city; an event termed as “Day Zero”. Capetonians will then have to queue at collection points daily to collect just 25 litres per person – which is deemed the bare minimum for us to survive… Continue reading
Note: This was not written by me, but I found it too powerful to not share. Original writer is Faz Ali (who I know nothing about).
You’re 29 years old with a wife, two children and a job. You have enough money, and can afford a few nice things, and you live in a small house in the city.
Suddenly the political situation in your country changes and a few months later soldiers are gathered in front of your house. And in front of your neighbours’ houses.
They say that if you don’t fight for them, they will shoot you.
Your neighbour refuses.
One shot. That’s it.
You overhear one of the soldiers telling your wife to spread her legs.
Somehow you get rid of the soldiers and spend the night deep in thought.
Suddenly you hear an explosion. Your house no longer has a living room.
You run outside and see that the whole street is destroyed.
Nothing is left standing.
You take your family back into the house, and then you run to your parents’ house.
It is no longer there. Nor are your parents.
You look around and find an arm with your Mother’s ring on its finger. You can’t find any other sign of your parents.
“But asylum seekers have so many luxury goods! Smartphones, and designer clothes!”
You immediately forget it. You rush home, and tell your wife to get the children dressed. You grab a small bag, because anything bigger will be impossible to carry for a long time, and in it you pack essentials. Only 2 pieces of clothing each can fit in the bag.
What do you take?
You will probably never see your home country again.
Not your family, not your neighbours, your workmates…
But how can you stay in contact?
You hastily throw your smartphone and the charger in the bag.
Along with the few clothes, some bread and your small daughters favourite teddy.
“They can easily afford to get away. They aren’t poor!”
Because you could see the emergency coming, you have already scraped all your money together.
You managed to save some money because of your well paid job.
The kind people smuggler in the neighbourhood charges 5,000 euros per person.
You have 15,000 euros. With a bit of luck, you’ll all be able to go. If not, you will have to let your wife go.
You love her and pray that you the smugglers will take you all.
By now you are totally wiped out and have nothing else. Just your family and the bag.
The journey to the border takes two weeks on foot.
You are hungry and for the last week have barely eaten. You are weak, as is your wife. But at least the children have enough.
They have cried for the whole 2 weeks.
Half the time you have to carry your younger daughter. She is only 21 months old.
A further 2 weeks and you arrive at the sea.
In the middle of the night you’re loaded onto a ship with other refugees.
You are lucky: your whole family can travel.
The ship is so full that it threatens to capsize. You pray that you don’t drown.
The people around you are crying and screaming.
A few small children have died of thirst.
The smugglers throw them overboard.
Your wife sits, vacantly, in a corner. She hasn’t had anything to drink for 2 days.
When the coast is in sight, you are loaded onto small boats.
Your wife and the younger child are on one, you and your older child are on another.
You are warned to stay silent so that nobody knows you’re there.
Your older daughter understands.
But your younger one in the other boat doesn’t. She doesn’t stop crying.
The other refugees are getting nervous. They demand that your wife keeps the child quiet.
She doesn’t manage it.
One of the men grabs your daughter, rips her away from your wife and throws her overboard.
You jump in after her, but you can’t find her again.
In 3 months she would have turned 2 years old.
Isn’t that enough for you? They still have it too good here and have everything handed to them on a plate?
You don’t know how you, your wife and your older daughter manage to get to the country that takes you in.
It’s as though everything is all foggy. Your wife hasn’t spoken a word since your daughter died.
Your older daughter hasn’t let go of her sister’s teddy and is totally apathetic.
But you have to keep going. You are just about to arrive at the emergency accommodation.
It is 10pm. A man whose language you don’t understand takes you to a hall with camp beds. There are 500 beds all very close together.
In the hall it’s stuffy and loud.
You try to get your bearings. To understand what the people there want from you.
But in reality you can barely stand up. You nearly wish that they had shot you.
Instead you unpack your meagre possessions:
Two items of clothing each and your smartphone.
Then you spend your first night in a safe country.
The next morning you’re given some clothes.
Among the donated clothes are even branded ‘label’ clothes. And a toy for your daughter.
You are given 140 euros. For the whole month.
“They’re safe here. Therefore they should be happy!”
Outside in the yard, dressed in your new clothes, you hold your smartphone high in the air and hope to have some reception.
You need to know if anyone from your city is still alive.
Then a ‘concerned citizen‘ comes by and abuses you.
You don’t know why. You don’t understand “Go back to your own country!”
You understand some things like “smartphone” and “handed everything on a plate.”
Somebody translates it for you.
And now tell me how you feel and what you own?
The answer to both parts of that is “Nothing.”
With the unrest in Egypt at the moment – including rampant sexual attacks against women in the recent protests – it’s hard to be positive. However, Shaykh Navaid Aziz shared some wise words which I wish to share here, so that we may take positives from the situation:
“I generally refrain from commenting on politics just due to the fact that I don’t know much about it. However, what happened today in Egypt had very little to do with politics and more to do with the plight of humanity.
1- We are our own worst enemies. Time and time again Allah will bless us with favors and we will go out an sabotage these favors. While Morsi is far from perfect, he was a big blessing to the people of Egypt. They have no one to blame but themselves for what is to come.
2- What we witnessed is a growing dichotomy between secularism and religion. What people fail to realize is that when your government has no greater authority to respond to except for itself you will always see oppression. Our rulers need to be answerable to God himself, that is the only way they will be kept in check. When people lose the fear of God they lose all sense of morality. Our religion is a way of life and not just something we practice in our homes or mosques.
3- Up and until we change our own internal states, the physical changes will make no difference. Few are the people that represent us in government that actually want what is best for us, as oppose to their own personal interests. The revolution must begin from within before the external one is sustainable. As a point of benefit their is a great wisdom behind the fact that most supplications that ask for victory usually begin with recognizing our relationship with our creator and seeking his forgiveness.
4- Make it a litmus test of your faith to see how much you are praying for the people of Egypt, Syria, Burma, and the rest of the lands filled with evil and oppression.
5- I was down and depressed all day today after seeing what had happened in Egypt. However, I came across a verse that I feel is very applicable to our situation right now: “Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said,”When is the help of Allah ?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.” 2:214
Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Burma be patient a little while longer as victory is just around the corner. Stay positive and optimistic!”
While it’s fine to discuss the situation and read more and more about it, know that all of this will achieve nothing for the people of Egypt. It’s only when we turn our thoughts into actions – via dua for them, and our own inner change – that things will happen.
So, let’s spend less time caught up in the news, and more time in deep reflection and plead with our Lord for the millions of people – in Egypt and elsewhere – who are suffering as a result of political tragedies.
I hope you’ve learnt a lot and felt compelled to take action during this week’s series of posts. There’s more that I could say, but in this series, I’ve kept the words to a minimum, and allowed the videos to speak and more accurately represent the reality of what’s going on.
There are many, many groups, organisations, and individuals out there doing great work to help the victims of Israeli Apartheid. While you’re free, and have the time, resources, and ability to make a difference, please do.
It’s our duty as human beings to care about what’s going on to others – regardless of their religion, race, or culture. Land grabs and ethnic cleansing didn’t end when Nazi Germany fell, or once the Americans wiped out so many of the Native inhabitants of North America. It still happens today, and Palestine is the most prominent example of this.
For further information and testimonies, here are a few links you may want to check out:
- B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
- Breaking the Silence: Israeli soldiers talk about the occupied territories
Feel free to add your own links in the comments section – if you know of websites or organisations that are active in the cause. (And please do not add any extremist / terrorist links. This blog does not promote violence or injustice, and I will not allow such ideologies to be spread via the comments section.)
Hebron is a Palestinian city in which Jewish settlers are particularly aggressive against the locals – with the full backing of the Israeli occupation forces. This clip covers various aspects about the oppression going on in the city of Hebron:
Hebron also houses the famous Shuhada Street – which Israeli forces have divided, with one side for Jews, and the other for Palestinians.
One of the most inhumane parts of the occupation is the Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement in their own country. In this video clip, we see the attitude of Israeli border police, who point blank display the racist attitudes embodied in so many of these oppressors: “We’re humans; they’re animals.”
It’s also worth noting that, at these checkpoints, many suffering Palestinians – who need medial attention – are denied access to the areas they need to get to for hospital care. Many Palestinian mothers are in labour at such checkpoints, and many give birth there – only to find their babies dying there.
One of the saddest parts of the conflict in Palestine is that innocent children suffer due to the brutality and greed of adults. In this short video, several children are interviewed. As you watch – particularly the outraged little girl – just imagine these were your children, and this was your reality.
Previous segments: Part 1.
Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, music shows, films and workshops) held in cities, communities and campuses across the globe.
IAW raises awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies toward the indigenous Palestinians and serves to garner support for the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign which seeks to bring an end to Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law.
For us South Africans and our liberation, people of the world mobilized in their hundreds of thousands – if not millions. During the 1980s, they held protests, music concerts, free Nelson Mandela events, lectures, film screenings and a host of other events to raise awareness of Apartheid South Africa’s racist policies and to build support for the successful boycott, divestment and sanctions against South Africa campaign.
Today, we have the opportunity to “give-back” by joining the international movement in solidarity with the indigenous Palestinian people (and their progressive Israeli allies) against Israeli Apartheid, and participating in Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is one such form of solidarity!
Find out more about Israeli Apartheid Week and how you can get involved here: www.bdssouthafrica.com/2011/02/israeli-apartheid-week.html
To help set the theme, here’s a short animated video introducing the conflict:
You can also view the full schedule of events across South Africa here.
It’s said that a picture says a thousand words, so this new series focuses on portraying messages via imagery – whether those be cartoons, photos, or other types of visuals. Text may be included, but the visual is the primary focus.
Part 1: Context is everything
“Telling half the story is just as bad as not telling it at all. To suggest that the Israeli attacks were due to the rockets fired by Hamas is a blatant lie. And if so, did anyone in the British media establishment care ask why Hamas fired the rockets in the first place? Does it matter at all that the Palestinians are a nation under Israeli occupation, and Gaza has been under siege for 4 years? Context is everything.” – Anas Altikriti
(Image source: Real Eyes Realize Real Lies)