Archive for Terrorism

FBI Love (Sung to Tune of Drake’s “Crew Love”)

Posted in Activism, Art, Islam, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2012 by irydhan

FBI Love (Sung to the tune of Drake’s “Crew Love”)

[Verse 1]
Get your nose out of our masjid board
What you bothering us for?
There’s a room full of Pakis
What you following me for?
This aint no damn terror plot
So what you trying to entrap us for?
Cause you think we gonna blow like a C4?
Nah, sorry we cant afford to blow like a C4
Undercover agents keep the case going
with their Fake ID’s – throw em in the trash
we going straight to the top
and complaining to the President
With a hand full of dead presidents
nah we all not born foreign
Law enforcement’s been poisoned, from media flowing
so-called Terrorist experts pushing out excrement
they need to clean out their colon
Yea i said, clean out your colon, why?
Cause

[Hook]
They Hatin the Truth

[Verse 2]
Smoking Hookah under star projectors
I guess we’ll never know what FBI friends gets us
But seeing our people get spied on
Took the place of that desire to have police certificates on the wall
And really, I think I like who I’m becoming
There’s times where I might talk like it’s nothing
There’s times when I might blow up
For all my soldiers just to see the looks on all they faces
all it took was patience
I got a lotta friends to come up off the block for me
The same ones that’ll come up off the hip for me
The realest pakis say I’m an ABCD
I told my story, and made history
Tell them I’mma need reservations for 70
I’ve never really been one for the preservation of ego, nah
Much rather be humble and speak the truth while i’m breathing
That FBI and PoPo is everything you believe in, I know

[Hook]

[Outro]
We aint blowing like a C4
Sorry we too poor to blow like a C4
(If you broadcast your concerns, Paki, then your phones gonna be tapped)

Copyright 2012, Irfan Rydhan

Review of 2012 Golden Globe Winner for TV Drama: “Homeland”

Posted in Islam, Media, TV/Film with tags , , , , , , , on January 16, 2012 by irydhan

Recently, I watched the whole first season of the Golden Globe Winning TV series Drama, “Homeland” and was both impressed and also disappointed. The cable series which originally premiered in October 2011 on the Showtime channel is based on an Israeli TV series called “Prisoners of War,” But “Homeland” is about an American Marine Nicholas Brody (played by British Actor Damian Lewis from “Band of Brothers”) who is captured in Iraq and his held captive for 8 years, only to be found by a Delta Force raid on a compound belonging to an Al Qaida terrorist (a character named “Abu Nazir” – played by Iranian-American Actor Navid Neghaban). The main protagonist of the show is CIA agent, Carrie Matheson (played by Claire Danes), who is the only person who thinks Brody is a turned sleeper agent for Al Qaida.

“Homeland” is a lot like “24”, with its moments of intense drama dealing with terrorism, politics and relationships between people.  The show also has excellent writing and great acting.  Because it’s on Showtime, it does contain profanity and adult language as well as some brief nudity – which makes the show much more realistic than “24”.

I was really impressed with the acting of Claire Danes (who won for best actress in a Drama at this year’s Golden Globe awards) and Damian Lewis (Nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes). Claire is very convincing as a paranoid CIA operations officer, who although suffers from Bi-polar disorder (unknown to her supervisors), is the only person who is capable of figuring out what Brody is actually up to.  She tries very hard to convince her mentor and boss at the CIA, Saul Berenson (played by Actor Mandy Patinkin) that Sgt. Brody is a sleeper agent who is about to carry out an attack on the U.S.  Damian Lewis is excellent as his role as an American Hero turned Potential Terrorist who struggles coming to terms with his wife sleeping with his best friend (who both thought he was dead in Iraq), his two young children who barely know him, and the media and government officials who put him on a pedestal as a “War Hero.”

WARNING SPOILERS BELOW

Damian also did a great job at learning Arabic – specifically Sura Fatiha, for when he recites his prayers early in the morning and late at night (He converted to Islam while held captive for 8 years – and “there were no Bibles around” like he explained to Claire’s character when she questioned him about his conversion).

What I liked about the series is that they try their best to show that Terrorism is not as Black and White as most politicians and leaders (on both sides of the world) try to make it out to be.  It’s complicated and involves all kinds of people – from religious, to secular, to family people, to lovers, to government officials, to normal and sane people, who may have been pushed over the edge and sometimes the motive is not politics, but just simple revenge.

In this case, Damian’s character of Sgt. Brody is forced to teach English to Terrorist leader Abu Nazir’s youngest son, while he is held in captivity.  Brody has a young son who was only a few months old, when he went off to Iraq for the War, so naturally a bond develops between Brody and Abu Nazir’s son, as they spend a lot of time together.  Then, like what has happened in real life many times, a US drone attack, which attempts to take out Abu Nazir’s hideout, misses and destroys a madrassa, and kills all 83 children, including Abu Nazir’s son. Sgt Brody is hurt emotionally by the death of an innocent child he has grown to love as his own, and becomes consumed with anger when the Vice-President of the United States is shown on international TV denying that the drone attack even happened. This is when Brody decides that he wants to help Abu Nazir mete out justice to the United States government for killing innocent children.

What I don’t like about the show, and was disappointed in seeing, was that whenever Sgt. Brody makes wudu (cleaning himself with water before doing prayers), pulls out his prayer rug, or reads Tasbeeh (rosary) on his hands – they play dramatic music in the background and imply that he is doing something sinister and about to kill someone (when in reality he is just praying or getting ready to pray to God).  It seems like the writers and producers of “Homeland” are implying that a Muslim who prays is a potential terrorist!

I also found it interesting that the character of Saul Berenson (Carrie’s boss at the CIA) is Jewish (who even talks about growing up as a religious minority in a Christian majority town in the storyline), who is shown to be the most fair-minded, intelligent and respectable person in the CIA. This is not that surprising, because it seems that most of the writers and producers of the show are Jewish, but one would think that they should know better than to scapegoat a whole group of people (Muslims) because of the actions of a few.

I look forward to watching season 2 of “Homeland” (currently being produced), because I enjoy it’s suspense, action and acting, but I hope the writers and producers start to focus less on the “exotic” religious rituals of Muslims, and instead continue to develop the storyline in exposing why people become terrorists and how it can be better understood and in turn better combated.

Three Cups of Tea

Posted in Activism, Islam, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2009 by irydhan

3cupstea1I recently finished reading “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.  My first reaction after reading the story of Mortenson’s 15 + year story of building schools for the impoverished children of Pakistan and eventually Afghanistan’s mountain villages was – why do the Non-Muslims do Allah’s work without making any excuses, but we Muslims just argue, cheat and fight amongst ourselves?! 

For those who don’t know Mortenson’s story – he was a mountain climber who in 1993 after a failed attempt to climb K2 (the world’s second largest mountain), came across an impoverished Pakistani village who nurtured and helped him find his way after he got lost and stuck in the middle of the Karakoram mountains. In return for the villager’s kindness, he promised to build them a school for their children, after seeing them sitting in an open-air “classroom” of dirt and using sticks in the sand for their lessons. 

What makes the story an interesting read (I’m sure a documentary or feature film will be made eventually) is the fact that Mortenson, who worked as a medical assistant in Berkeley at the time, had no prior knowledge of the construction business (especially in Pakistan), and was not too familiar with Pakistani culture, the faith of Islam (which majority of Pakistanis follow) and did not speak Urdu or any of the other Pakistani languages!  Besides all of this, he had no organizational help, funding or contacts when he first began this mission of peace.  He had to sleep in his car, struggle and scrape to save every little penny and his girlfriend at the time even left him before he got the first school built.

Of course in reality, Mortenson did have many Muslim people who helped him along the way, such as Mouzafer Ali, the renowned Balti porter who led Mortenson safely off the Baltoro Glacier, Haji Ali, the head of Korphe village and Mortenson’s mentor and Syed Abbas, supreme leader of northern Pakistan’s Shia community, who vouched for Mortenson after he received two fatwas against him.

Not only did he have to deal with having two fatwas issued against him which eventually got overturned by higher authorities (yes, there are some intelligent “Mullahs” in Pakistan), but he was also kidnapped by some North West Frontier Tribal villagers who held by for eight days (they released him after they realized who he was). But his most difficult trial, in my opinion, was  right after the attacks of Sept. 11th, 2001 (Mortenson was in Pakistan – near the Afghanistan border at the time), when he  had to deal with the CIA questioning him and trying to use him as an “informant”, which he declined to do. Not because he was trying to protect his friends, but because he was doing the right thing by keeping the trust he had gained over the 7+ years of working in the remote tribal areas of Pakistan, which he knew had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks, but also would still be in need of schools being built, after the U.S. government and military got involved with the “War on Terror.” Mortenson knew (and still preaches the same today) that the real way to end Terrorism is to provide education (especially for girls), basic needs of people (access to clean water, etc.), and the ability to provide for their families (vocational training, etc.).

Mortenson also had to deal with many hate letters and emails from his fellow Americans shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11th, because they thought he was helping the enemies of the United States.  This really got him depressed and down, but at the same time, it forced him to go out into the public and make slideshow presentations about his work.  In the beginning, at these presentations he had only 1 or 2 people in the audience.  Eventually when his name became more well known (after being featured in several prominent media outlets in 2002 such as the Washington Post, the New York Times and National Geographic) he had large audiences at his speaking appearances.  With the help of positive media coverage and the support of his fellow mountaineers, Mortenson was able to help educate the general American public about the work he is doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan and also raise much needed funds for his Central Asia Institute to build more schools.

It’s amazing to read the real life story of a regular American guy, who not only stuck to his word of building a school for the children of Korphe (the village in Pakistan whose members assisted Mortenson during his hiking ordeal), but went above and beyond what he promised to do and as of 2008 has built over 78 schools in some of the most remote and dangerous areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Over 28,000 children, including 18,000 girls have benefited from the education they have received at the schools that Mortenson and his Central Asia Institute (www.ikat.org) have built over the past 16 years.

“Three Cups of Tea” is an inspiring story, which I highly recommend everyone to read, especially those of you who are trying to do some good work in your own community and are sometimes discouraged by the obstacles in your way.  After reading Greg Mortenson’s story, no one can make any more excuses or say that one person can’t really make a difference in the world today – because he has proven that without a shadow of a doubt you can! 

You don’t have to be a wealthy person, a popular politician or a well connected businessman – anyone can help those less fortunate than themselves.  You can start right here in your own backyard, since there are many poor and needy people in the United States.  Giving in Charity (“Sadaqa” in Arabic) is a teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and it is even better to help build a mosque, school or water well, since they are considered “Sadaqa Jariyah” (continuous charity), as they continue to help the people and their families who use them for many years to come.  But if we cannot help to build a school or a bridge in a poor area of the world ourselves then at the very least we should show our support for people like Greg Mortenson, whether they are Muslim or not, because helping humanity is not limited to people of one religion or cultural group.  It is what makes us all human.