Search

band annie's Weblog

I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

Tag

racism

First Christmas abroad ;-(

source

 

 

Like many others, we were filled with excitement and expectation about our first Christmas abroad. Neither of us could have imagined that this simple dream would turn into our worst nightmare.

On Christmas Eve in a local pub at Durham, Durham, my Palestinian friend and I were harassed, insulted, and physically assaulted for by a group of British men we had never met before.

At around 8pm on Christmas Eve, we went to the local pub called ‘The Happy Wanderer’. As soon as we entered into the pub we became aware of being stared at by some men standing at the counter which made us very uneasy.

Soon after we sat down at a table, a man around 40s stepped out his group and made his way towards us. Without any invitation or introduction whatsoever, he took a seat next to us and blurted out: “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” Not knowing what his intention was, we told him that we’re from Egypt and Palestine, to which he instantly replied: “EGYPT, PALESTINE. SO, YOU ARE ALL MUSLIMS… ARE YOU SUICIDE BOMBERS?”

Within the next half an hour, this strange man hurled at us all sorts of horrible insults without any provocation. For example, he asked us what you are doing here. We mentioned that we are postgraduate students at Durham University He replied you must be so rich then! At one point he stood in the middle of the bar and repeatedly shouted at us to ‘GET OUT OF THE PUB!’. While the man was insulting us for no reason at all nobody in the pub did or said anything to stop him. Not wanting to cause any disturbances, all I did was smiling at home and said: ‘Okay, thank you.’
We were so humiliated and helpless at the same time. It got to the point that we realized that we could not stay in the pub any longer for fear that something bad would happen, and still no one (including the people working at the bar) cared enough to interfere.

When the young girl bartender finally seemed to be approaching us, we felt a sense of hope surging over us, but she stopped at the next table and started collecting the empty glasses without looking at us. No words of comfort, no apology, nothing.

Only one young man from that group came to us and apologized. He told us that the man insulting us was ‘a good man, but jut had couple of drinks’ as if that could justify all the harassment and insults we had endured helplessly.

As we stepped out of the pub we immediately became apprehensive because the same man and his mates were standing outside. All we wanted was to get out of that place and away from these people. It was Christmas after all and we just wanted to have a good time. However as soon as we walked past that man he screamed at us: “Fuck Allah, Fuck Mohammed, and Fuck Islam”.

My friend walking a few steps behind me responded to him by smiling and saying “Merry Christmas to you and I hope you enjoy your night.” The next thing I knew another man from the group hurled his pint glass with all the force he had into my face. With a split second I tilted my head which miraculously saved me from getting struck.

After this violent act which took us by great surprise I told them that “I am calling the police now” and shouted at them to “STAY AWAY” again and again while they were chasing after us. My friend took out his phone and told them he was going to film them.

They followed us to the other side of the road and it was then we both sensed that we were in danger but with no way to escape. I shouted to my friend who was behind me to watch out and it was at that moment I saw the same young man who apologized to us in the pub on behalf of his friend attacking my friend. He sprang forward and punched my friend hard in the face. I saw my friend falling backwards onto the ground with a thump. I saw the men kicking him over and over all over his body.

It was dark but I could see people walking by. I screamed at them to ask for help. I shouted “please somebody call the police!” while running towards my friend who was lying on his back, badly wounded.

When he finally managed to get away from them, my friend was no longer able to walk and fell down and lost consciousness. I stood next to him, appalled and shaking with outrage. The only woman who stopped to help took my phone and called the police. These people who assaulted us still tried to spring at us. I screamed at them to back off. Eventually they went back to the bar and had fled before the police arrived.

It was like I was living my worst nightmare. And the hardest part is witnessing my friend being beaten to death in front of my eyes. We went to the pub to celebrate our first Christmas and left with injuries, pain, tears and rage. Why and how did it happen to us?!

It was a very long and sleepless night. After the outrageously violent attack, my friend and I spent the rest of the Christmas Eve moving back and forth between the police station and the hospital. My friend was left with terrible injuries and bruises all over his body and suffered a concussion (I’ve included here a picture of his leg and a picture of the pub).

This is not what we expected for our first Christmas in the UK. This is not what we expected for being international students in Durham. This is not what we expected at any point in our lives. Who deserves to get almost beaten to death for doing nothing, for just being who we are, or in this case, for wishing you a merry Christmas???

We will not be silenced. We will not give up our rights, and we will proceed with legal action and hold them accountable for what they have done in every possible way. Most importantly, what’s been done to us could have happened to any other international students here in Durham. That’s why we believe that awareness must be raised, our voices must be heard, and justice must be served.

We will not tolerate racist and religious hate crime.
Durham will stay a safe place and one of the most students’ friendly cities in the UK.
#hatecrimeindurhum
Photo Credits: Newcastle Chronicle

Little boy who gave $20 to vandalized mosque receives a special surprise

the-muslim-guy.jpg

Jack Swanson receives a “Thank you” package in the mail after doing a good deed.

A little boy in south Texas did something pretty great last week, and the news spread quickly across the world, via social media. Seven-year-old Jack Swenson took $20 from his piggy bank and decided to give it to a community mosque that had been grossly defaced during a Muslim hate crime.

Twenty dollars might not seem a lot to some, but to Jack Swanson, it was a life’s savings.  And to Faisal Naem, a board member from theIslamic Center of Pflugerville, Jack’s gift was comparable to “$20 million” to the Muslim community.

Screen_Shot_2015-11-19_at_5.39.14_PM.png
Jack Swanson shakes hands with Faisal Naem, a board member of the Islamic Center of Pflugerville, TX after presenting the mosque with his treasure.

What many didn’t know last week was that Jack Swanson was saving his pennies for an Apple iPad. Ardalan Iftikhar heard about the story and said he was moved to tears. Known to some on social media as The Muslim Guy, Iftikar contacted Jack’s mother, Laura Swanson, and within days, Jack received a package in the mail along with this note from Iftikhar:

‘Dear Jack, you had saved $20 in your piggybank for an Apple iPad. But then a local Islamic mosque was vandalised. So you donated your $20 to this local Texas mosque. Because of your amazing generosity & kind heart. ‘Please enjoy this Apple iPad with our sincere thanks :-). Love The American Muslim Community.’

Jack Swanson will most likely always remember how his kindness was received by many around the world. What a wonderful lesson to learn so young — that when we give to others, from our hearts, expecting nothing in return, the good often comes back to us, multiplied. Thank you, Jack, for this lovely reminder.

My Racist Encounter at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Seema Jilani

Physician reporting from Afghanistan

Posted: 05/07/2013 3:00 pm

The faux red carpet had been laid out for the famous and the wannabe-famous. Politicians and journalists arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, bedazzled in the hopes of basking in a few fleeting moments of fame, even if only by osmosis from proximity to celebrities. New to the Washington scene, I was to experience the spectacle with my husband, a journalist, and enjoy an evening out. Or at least an hour out. You see, as a spouse I was not allowed into the actual dinner. Those of us who are not participating in the hideous schmooze-fest that is this evening are relegated to attending the cocktail hour only, if that. Our guest was the extraordinarily brilliant Oscar-nominated director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin. Mr. Zeitlin’s unassuming demeanor was a refreshing taste of humility in a sea of pretentious politicians reeking of narcissism.

As I left the hotel and my husband went to the ballroom for the dinner, I realized he still had my keys. I approached the escalators that led down to the ballroom and asked the externally contracted security representatives if I could go down. They abruptly responded, “You can’t go down without a ticket.” I explained my situation and that I just wanted my keys from my husband in the foyer and that I wouldn’t need to enter in the ballroom. They refused to let me through. For the next half hour, they watched as I frantically called my husband but was unable to reach him.

Then something remarkable happened. I watched as they let countless other women through — all Caucasian — without even asking to see their tickets. I asked why they were allowing them to go freely when they had just told me that I needed a ticket. Their response? “Well, now we are checking tickets.” He rolled his eyes and let another woman through, this time actually checking her ticket. His smug tone, enveloped in condescension, taunted, “See? That’s what a ticket looks like.”

When I asked “Why did you lie to me, sir?” they threatened to have the Secret Service throw me out of the building — me, a 4’11” young woman who weighs 100 pounds soaking wet, who was all prettied up in elegant formal dress, who was simply trying to reach her husband. The only thing on me that could possibly inflict harm were my dainty silver stilettos, and they were too busy inflicting pain on my feet at the moment. My suspicion was confirmed when I saw the men ask a blonde woman for her ticket and she replied, “I lost it.” The snickering tough-guy responded, “I’d be happy to personally escort you down the escalators ma’am.”

Like a malignancy, it had crept in when I least expected it — this repugnant, infectious bigotry we have become so accustomed to. “White privilege” was on display, palpable to passersby who consoled me. I’ve come to expect this repulsive racism in many aspects of my life, but when I find it entrenched in these smaller encounters is when salt is sprinkled deep into the wounds. In these crystallizing moments it is clear that while I might see myself as just another all-American gal who has great affection for this country, others see me as something less than human, more now than ever before.

When I asked why the security representatives offered to personally escort white women without tickets downstairs while they watched me flounder, why they threatened to call the Secret Service on me, I was told, “We have to be extra careful with you all after the Boston bombings.”

I explained that I am a physician, that my husband is a noted journalist for a major American newspaper, and that our guest was an esteemed, Oscar-nominated director. They did not believe me. Never mind that the American flag flew proudly outside of our home for years, with my father taking it inside whenever it rained to protect it from damage. Never mind that I won “Most Patriotic” almost every July 4th growing up. Never mind that I have provided health care to some of America’s most underprivileged, even when they have refused to shake my hand because of my ethnicity.

I looked at him, struggling to bury my tears beneath whatever shred of dignity that remained. They finally saturated my lashes and flood onto my face. Shaking with rage, I said, “We are all human beings and I only ask that you give me the same respect you give others. All I am asking is to be treating with a dignity and humanity. What you did is wrong.” They stared straight ahead, arms crossed, and refused to even look at me. Up came the cruel, xenophobic, soundproof wall that I had seen in the eyes of so many after 9/11. Their eyes, flecked with disdain and hatred, looked through me.

The next affront came quickly thereafter. “You were here last year, weren’t you? You caused trouble here last year too. I know you,” they claimed, accusing me of being a party-crasher. Completely confused, I explained that this was my first time here and that I had no idea what he was referencing. Clearly, he had assumed all brown people look the same and had confused me for someone else.

I wonder what their reaction would have been to a well-dressed white woman trying to reach her husband. Would she have struggled for over an hour while they watched and offered to escort others in? Would they not have extended an offer to help, bended over backwards to offer assistance, just as they did with the woman who “lost her ticket”? Would the Boston bombings even be mentioned to a white woman?

Let’s stop this facade that we are a beacon of tolerance. I don’t need you to “tolerate” me. I don’t want you to merely put up with my presence. All I ask, all I have ever asked, is to be treated as a human being, that bigoted jingoism is not injected into every minute facet my life, that there remains at least the illusion of decency.

Despite being a native English speaker who was born in New Orleans and a physician who trained at a prestigious institution, all people see is the color of my skin. After this incident, I will no longer apologize, either for my faith or my complexion. It is not my job to convince you to distinguish me from the violent sociopaths that claim to be Muslims, whose terrorism I neither support, nor condone. It is your job. Just like when a disturbed young white man shoots up a movie theatre or a school, it is my job, as someone with a conscience, to distinguish them from others. It’s not my job to plead with you to shake my hand without cringing, nor am I going to applaud you when you treat me with common decency; it’s not an accomplishment. It’s simply the right thing to do. Honestly, it’s not that hard.

This year, Quvenzhané Wallis took the world by storm with her staggering performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild. At several award ceremonies, reporters refused to the learn the accurate pronunciation of her name, and one reporter allegedly told Wallis, “I’m gonna call you Annie,” because her name was too difficult to pronounce. If reporters can learn to pronounce Gerard Depardieu and Monique Lhuillier then surely they can take the time to learn how to pronounce Quvenzhané. It’s not hard; it’s just not deemed worthy of your energy because she is someone of color.

A school child recently threatened my 12-year-old niece claiming, “I’m going to kill you Miss Bin Laden.” Again, it is not my job to teach your children manners and social justice, to remove the disgusting threads of racism that you have woven into their hearts with your insecurities. Last week, a 39-year-old Muslim American cab driver who served in the Iraq war was attacked and had his jaw broken in a hate crime. The assailant, an executive from an aviation company, told the veteran “I will slice your fucking throat right now.” I suppose the “support the troops” rhetoric by the right only applies to white veterans.

It wasn’t enough that I have had to prove my “American-ness” at every step of my career, but now the next generation is suffering as well. It wasn’t enough that I was asked whether my father taught me how to make bombs, or that I was told that I was doomed to the seventh circle of hell during my medical school interviews. I was also asked whether I would wear a burqa or if my parents would arrange my marriage during interviews. It is outrageous that I have to actually prove to the world how horrified I am that an 8-year-old boy was brutally murdered by a terrorist bombing. Any normal human being feels this agonizing grief with the rest of the country. I do not have to prove to you that, I, too, find it morally reprehensible. Of course I do. I have a heart. I am human.

So, I no longer want a seat at your restaurant, where you serve me begrudgingly, where I am belittled for asking for food without pork, where I endure your dirty looks at my hijabi friend. I want my pride intact, I want this struggle of mine to be recognized, for you to look me in the eye and acknowledge that yes, this tumor called bigotry is indeed rivering through your veins, polluting your mind, and is so malignant that it compels you to squash my dignity.

It’s the little indignities that slowly devastate your soul. The ones where your guard is down, and you just expect to dress up, look pretty, and enjoy an evening as a newlywed, or at the Oscars, but instead end up humiliated and snubbed. The ubiquitous racist slap in the face is thinly veiled just beneath the carefully crafted façade. This filthy, highly infectious plague is transforming our nation into one of unwarranted suspicion and anguish inflicted on disenfranchised, voiceless people of color. And now, it is no longer my job to enlighten you. To quote what you so often tell ethnic communities, “It’s time for you to step up to the plate, take responsibility, and stop taking what I have earned,” my integrity, my dignity.

source

When an Israeli soccer game looks like a Klan rally

By

|Published November 2, 2012

It’s hard to say which is worse – the behavior of racist fans, or the tacit approval they get from Israeli sports officials and media.

I like to think that if you discount for the century of fighting with Arabs, Israel is still plenty racist, but no more than most societies. I remind myself that even the absolute worst display of Israeli racism – the chanting of monkey noises (“hoo-hoo-hoo!! hoo-hoo-hoo!!”) and the throwing of bananas at black players during soccer games – has been going on in Europe, too, and probably elsewhere. But what happened this week to Nigerian-born Israeli player Toto Tamuz shows a level of callousness to blatant, raw racism that I wonder how many countries could match.

On Monday, Tamuz scored the go-ahead goal against Beitar Jerusalem in the capital’s Teddy Stadium, and right afterward looked out at the crowd and put his index finger up to his lips to shush them. Immediately the referee penalized him for unsportsmanlike conduct: “provoking the crowd.” Since this was Tamuz’s second penalty of the game, he was automatically disqualified. His team, Hapoel Tel Aviv, went on to lose, 3-2.

It was only after a day of sports reporters and commentators praising the Beitar crowd for firing up the atmosphere with their mad-dog spirit that it became known why Tamuz tried to shush the crowd in the first place. He told Yediot Aharonot:

I’ve never seen such racism in my whole life. … [two other black Hapoel players] and I were the last ones on the field. When we came out of the tunnel they started throwing bananas at us. We heard curses and racist chants. … [During the game] I heard their regular song, ‘Give Toto a banana,’ and a lot of other things I’m embarrassed to mention.

Another black Hapoel player, Eric Djemba Djemba from Cameroon, told the newspaper:

When they call you ‘kushi’ [‘nigger’] … and throw bananas at you, it’s not exactly pleasant. I like this country and I’m happy to be here, but this is impossible. I didn’t know things like this happened in Israel.

From the media coverage I saw (which was not by any means comprehensive), these remarks were treated as “their side of the story,” but the “objective” story was mainly about a hugely exciting soccer game in which there probably was a bad call by the ref, along the lines of:  you shouldn’t throw a player out of the game for “shushing” the crowd, but then those are the breaks …

What’s shocking about all this is that everyone in Israel knows that what Tamuz and Djemba Djemba described is what happens at any given game in which black players are on the field, especially if they score a goal. I witnessed it myself at a game in Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium in 2006, one of the very few Israeli soccer games I’ve been to. When an opposing black player would get the ball, a few Maccabi Tel Aviv fans several rows up from me would start chanting the monkey noises. (Neither I nor anyone else in the stands said a word to them. I was there with my two young sons, and I was afraid to confront them for fear of having to fight them all, which I imagine was in the minds of many other fans.) Later, when one of the black players on the visiting team scored a goal, the section reserved for several hundred hardcore Maccabi fans erupted with loud, furious, sustained chants of “hoo-hoo-hoo!! hoo-hoo-hoo!!

This sort of thing has been going on at Israeli soccer games ever since the first black players arrived from overseas almost 20 years ago. The racist chanting against opposing Arab players has been going on ever since Arabs came into the league. Everybody knows this – and everybody knows that the worst, most psychotically racist fans in the country are those of Beitar Jerusalem, and that the atmosphere in Teddy Stadium when there are Arab or black opponents on the field is something out of a Klan rally. (I’ve sat in the stands with Beitar fans; they sing “I hate all the Arabs” with as much ease and familiarity as they sing Happy Birthday to You.)

Anybody who knows anything about Israeli soccer knows that Tamuz, who used to play for Beitar Jerusalem, was telling the truth – that he was trying to silence the racial mass hysteria going on in the stands. The same exact thing happened to him about two years ago in a game against Beitar – the monkey noises, the singing of “Give Toto a banana” – only that time the Israel Football Association had the decency to penalize Beitar, even rather severely, in soccer terms. But that was the exception; the rule is to accept what’s going on, to pretend it’s not happening, and the rule was in force this week.

The story wasn’t the Beitar crowd, but rather Tamuz. When the referee made him the villain and kicked him out of the game for his shushing gesture, the question in the media was whether the referee had been too harsh, not whether such a thing could have really happened, not whether we were all living in some Stephen King story.

And it didn’t end there. When the referee threw Tamuz out, the 24-year-old made some parting remarks. Tamuz says he told the ref that the crowd was the guilty one, not him. The ref says Tamuz called him “a shame and disgrace.” For that, Tamuz had to go before an Israel Football Association judge, attorney Yisrael Shimoni, who banned him from Hapoel’s next two games and put him on probation for two more.  ”There is no connection between, on the one hand, the atmosphere in the stands and whether racist expressions were made or not, and, on the other hand, the insulting remarks to the referee,” said the judge.

Beitar Jerusalem, the pride of the Israeli right, the only team in the league that has an unwritten but ironclad ban on hiring Arab players, said the claims by Tamuz and Djemba Djemba were an “orchestrated campaign of lies.”

Hapoel Tel Aviv, the pride of the Israeli left, the only predominantly Jewish team in the league to have an Israeli Arab captain, provided the only note of decency and honor in this episode. It announced: “The team will give full backing to its players who fall victim to racist attacks from rival fans. The next time the team’s players are victimized by racist, demeaning behavior from the fans of any team – all of [Hapoel’s] players and officials will leave the field immediately.”

source

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑