White American present at Boston, Paris, & Brussels attacks… and he’s not a suspect


Having finally obtained a degree in Journalism & Media Studies (and having worked at multiple news outlets along the way), I can’t emphasize enough how manipulative news outlets can be in affecting our perceptions of current events.

While treading through late-night Twitter looking for commentary to retweet onto my woefully ignored feed, I came across a few tweets pointing out an insane double standard in coverage of the recent tragedy in Brussels. The tweets linked to an article entitled “Mormon Missionaries From Utah Among Belgian Bombing Survivors”. The article talks about three Mormon Elders who were injured in the attacks.

Here’s an excerpt about one of the missionaries, 19-year-old Mason Wells who is having surgery for damage to his foot, that makes it more interesting:

This was not Wells’ first brush with terror. He was in Boston to watch his mother run the marathon in 2013 when two Chechen immigrant brothers set off shrapnel-filled bombs that killed three and wounded scores more, his family said.

Wells was also in Paris this past November when the French capital was attacked by Belgium-based terrorists, the family said.


Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 2.15.06 ق.د.

Mason Wells, 19-year-old American present at Boston, Paris, & Brussels attacks.

What the hell, NBC? You get a hold of a guy who was present at three recent terror attacks that completely dominated headlines, and you choose to make the story about how three missionaries were hurt?? Talk about burying the lede!

But that’s just it. This wasn’t the lede. These two paragraphs were so nonchalantly nestled in the middle of the article that it would be easy for readers to miss them. Imagine if this man was Muslim instead of Mormon, or even just of a Middle Eastern, South Asian, Eastern European, or African background.

What would be the headline then?

Speaking as a journalist, as someone who’s studied media and criticized the hell out of it, as someone who constantly consumes it, this is the kind of story that media outlets thrive on. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, social media took to identifying suspects simply from video of the bombings (and news outlets predictably followed suit in reporting on these). These misidentifications led to multiple people fearing for their safety. Most infamous was Sunil Tripathi, an Indian-American student who had been missing for a month prior to the bombings and became a “stand out suspect” after social media users, most notably on Reddit and Twitter, posted about it. Sunil was found dead days later, and his family could have done without having to deal with these baseless accusations on top of his disappearance.

When people like Sunil and his family are subjected to the witch hunts like this, how is it that a man who was present at three different attacks is barely given notice?

I’m not saying he should be subjected to a witch hunt too (because he shouldn’t), but the difference is striking. I do see a few articles covering the story from this angle, but how is it that a major news outlet like NBC is not? A post on the front page of Imgur makes light of the situation, whereas if the man were of a non-white background, they’d be expressing suspicion instead (as with Boston). Even moving on from news outlets and social media, why isn’t any government looking into this?

I’m not being a conspiracy theorist here (although conspiracies do exist and go read a book about the CIA if you think otherwise). I assure you that, were this man not a white American, I would still say this needs to be looked into. I’m also not saying he’s definitely involved, so don’t be like the Redditors who screwed it up with the Boston bombings. I’m just saying you need to pay attention to how biased your news outlets and your governments are. And you need to demand that they change.

#MuslimGirlArmy: #BlackInMSA


My latest for MuslimGirl was published yesterday, and it takes on the experience of black Muslims in the Muslim Student Association with a Twitter roundup of the hashtag #BlackInMSA.

The thoughts and ideas shared are very insightful and, often, heartbreaking. Black Muslims constitute over a quarter of American Muslims. Before 9/11, the image of a Muslim in America was black. Still, we’ve managed to marginalize them in an already marginalized community. As stated in my article: 

Muslim students come to Muslim Student Associations (MSA) seeking safe haven and belonging, but black Muslims find further alienation instead.

So please, take a look and share/retweet! I’ve heard accusations of those taking part in the hashtag “airing out dirty laundry” (why does this always come up when someone’s calling their community out?), but I think the response I’ve seen so far to the hashtag and this roundup is heartening. Too many people were unaware, and hopefully, this awareness that’s been brought about can bring a new change, which will lead to unity that will help us alleviate our current struggles in the ummah.

My mother’s first dance with bigotry as a doctor


While indoctrinating my 10-year-old brother last night by reading him Goblet of Fire, I received a phone call from my shaken up mom, telling me something had just happened to her that she had never experienced in her 25 years of practice as a doctor.

A patient refused to see her because she’s Muslim.

Now, I’ve told plenty of people not to see my mother due to this reason. But this was often because they are also Muslim, and as a result, I know they won’t be as open with her about their habits regarding the fun stuff: drugs, sex, and alcohol. The patient in question, however, was not a Muslim nor afraid of my mother judging them for their love of getting shitfaced or stoned out of their mind. This person was simply a bigot.

Apparently, after my mother already spent time going over their charts and preparing to see them (which isn’t a minimal effort, mind you), the patient, upon meeting her, asked her about her ethnicity. After my mother replied that she is Pakistani, the patient asked her if she was Muslim. When my mother told her that she was, they told her “very respectfully” that she did not wish to be seen by a Muslim doctor.

First of all, it breaks my heart that my mother for some reason needed to tell me how respectful this person was being. Nothing about this was respectful. My mind worked quick as my mother talked. If a doctor refused to see a patient because of their religious or ethnic background, they would face severe consequences. But there isn’t any type of repercussion for a patient doing the same, other than potentially losing out on good treatment.

You can say that there will always be some awful people who act like this, but the fact that our politicians speak like this doesn’t help. Herman Cain was very vocal about not wanting to see a Muslim doctor or appointing a Muslim to his thankfully never-formed cabinet. Ben Carson has repeatedly expressed that Muslims are unfit for the presidency. I could go on. My point is that Islamophobia, Islamobigotry, anti-Muslim sentiment, whatever you want to call it (because I’ve actually heard people try to derail the conversation by saying they aren’t scared of Muslims, they just don’t like them) is on the rise. The fact that this happened to my mother just days after the attacks in Paris is not a coincidence.

It’s a sign. It’s a sign of frightening times for my Muslim brothers and sisters. So I ask you to be please be careful. The days ahead will be rough for all of us, and we need to stick together. Please reach out to each other, reach out to me, and don’t ever think you have to apologize for those who are not of us. The only thing you need to do is to keep spreading awareness of our own struggles, our own faith. May God be with us.

#MuslimGirlArmy: angry white nerds and Star Wars diversity


So I realized I don’t really post on my blog when one of my articles goes up on MuslimGirl.net. It’s a great site started by a dear friend, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, that has become the 3rd largest blog for Muslims (last I heard) and is one of the biggest Muslim startups to keep an eye out for.


My latest post was on the #BoycottStarWarsVII movement on Twitter, dubbing the slightly more diverse main cast as an act of “white genocide”. Yep, you read that right.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the world of science fiction and fantasy, many have made the point that racial diversity being unrealistic is ridiculous. But that’s the point. These white boys turn to Star Wars for fantasy. With people of color in the background, if even existent, and women serving to please rather than fight is their fantasy. How dare anyone disrupt that?

Check out the full article at the link above. You can check out more of my articles on MuslimGirl here. I’ll be sure to keep updating as I write more there.

Our secret’s out: us American wizards don’t use the word ‘Muggle’


While my mother always bemoaned my unseemly (by her standards) obsession with Harry Potter growing up, my dad absolutely enabled it. I still remember when he first bought me my copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I truly delighted in the hilarious annotations by Harry and Ron, and I read it so much that my copy is currently quite tattered. (It’s lying somewhere in my basement among a bunch of boxes, safe from me, but I must dig it out again.) For anyone who doesn’t know, 1) where the hell have you been?? 2) Fantastic Beasts is a required textbook at Hogwarts, which J.K. Rowling took the time to write and publish for a charity back in 2001. It’s now being made into a film, much to the delight of Potterheads everywhere.

Just tried digging through my basement and library, and my copy is nowhere to be found... but it's about as old and shabby as this copy of Sorcerer's Stone-- the book in Harry is first assigned the text.

Just tried digging through my basement and library, and my copy is nowhere to be found… but it’s about as old and shabby as this copy of Sorcerer’s Stone– the book in which Harry is first assigned the text.

Yesterday, I managed a glimpse of a poster for the upcoming film and noticed that in the corner it read, “Newt Scamander only meant to stay in New York for a few hours…”


What I hadn’t realized, as I’ve been in a bit of a shell and not really keeping up with all of my obsessions the way I used to, is that the story is set in New York City. Apparently, Jo had sent out a cryptic tweet last year (which I saw) and a fan eventually managed to decipher that it was an anagram for this exact tag line (that update I missed.)

Anyone who knows me knows how much of a nut I am for Manhattan. It’s a city that’s been one of the few constants in my life, and it’s the world hub of media and everything a Karachi-born girl could hope for this side of the globe. My mother believes I make excuses to go to the city to see my fiancé, when it’s really quite the other way around. The fact that we’re going to see a Wizarding World story set in 1920s New York has me positively jittering.

But of course, Jo has to do it to us all over again.

In her typical wonderful way of seriously fleshing out the worlds she creates, Ms. Rowling has dropped the knowledge on the world that Americans don’t use the word Muggle, as we have our own slang for non-magical folks, thank you very much. We say No-Maj.

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. The British and American lexicons are so different in the non-magical world, why wouldn’t it be the same for wizards and witches? Of course, a lot of fans are a bit upset about this revelation. To be honest, I think some of them just want to use “muggle” because it’s the cool, British term. Either way, I’m seriously excited to see what else will be revealed about the Yanks of the Wizarding World! What do you all think?

Extra Thoughts:

  • Fun fact: (SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t read the books!) Newt Scamander later has a grandson, Rolf Scamander. A magizoologist in his own right, Rolf goes on to marry our very own Luna Lovegood! (Sorry Luna/Neville shippers!)
  • Doesn’t no-maj sound a bit derogatory? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s meant to be– muggle-borns and muggles are probably treated a lot worse in the U.S. Perhaps there’s a movement to get rid of its use, like with other slurs.
  • What’s the word for “muggle/no-maj” in other languages?
  • Colin Farrell and Jon Voight have reportedly signed on. What other big actors are we going to get? Would love to see some big U.S. names going forward!
  • Why’s the cast of Fantastic Beasts so white? I mean… it’s in New York.
  • When will Jo Rowling come around on the Palestine BDS issue? (I haven’t forgotten… Still wrapping my head around it/crying about it, so I haven’t written anything.)
  • Can I convince my dad to take me to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?
  • What are some classy ways to do a Harry Potter-themed wedding? I’m asking for a friend.

Oy with the poodles already!


Is it unprofessional to write an entire blog post in all-caps? If so, I DON’T CARE BECAUSE THEY’RE THINKING ABOUT BRINGING GILMORE GIRLS BACK!

One of the biggest crimes in TV was The CW letting go of Amy Sherman-Palladino as a writer for Gilmore Girls. GG was her baby. GG sucked without her, as evidenced by the klaüsterfökken that was season 7. Could it be that we can retcon that entire debacle?

The revival will be on Netflix (I swear, the good that Netflix has done in this world… it’s like the cotton gin or J.K. Rowling or the iPhone), and it will be four 90-minute movies, rather than a series, according to Variety. Of course, these rumors have always gone around, but this sounds more serious than before.

Gilmore Girls is my all-time favorite TV show. However, lately I’ve been reflecting on how damn white it was. I mean, the color representation was the kind of racist and just-plain-not-accurate story line of Lane and her mother Mrs. Kim… Oh, and Michel, who was more French than anything.

Maybe Gilmore Girls will come back 9 years later with more color? Maybe it’ll come back with more Jess? (I still think he was end game, and Milo Ventimiglia screwed it up by not taking the 8-year contract). Maybe April will never have existed? What do you guys think? (Crickets as no one reads this anymore…)

We’ll see. Copper boom, Netflix!

The Problem with #MuslimLivesMatter


Maybe not enough people realized this during the uproar over Ferguson. Nearly everyone who uses the hashtag means well. But #AllLivesMatter is a problematic hashtag, full stop. And in the same line, so is #MuslimLivesMatter.

Hashtags matter. They’re not only a way to bring attention to a specific issue or current event, but they are now also used as political statements.

Saying #AllLivesMatter is inappropriate in that it ignores the message that #BlackLivesMatter is conveying. It’s a hashtag that is a reminder— a reminder that black lives matter, because the lives of white people are never in question. Saying “All lives matter!” assumes that everyone is equally targeted, everyone in as much need of protection.

Now, of course, Muslim lives are also very much under threat in this country. Those of us who have been hollering about Fox News, the Republican Party, Bill Maher, Zionists and co. inciting violence against Muslims have been proved horribly right. But by using the #MuslimLivesMatter hashtag, we are appropriating the black struggle, the movement against police brutality towards black men and women. That is not to say that Muslim lives don’t matter, of course. We simply need to recognize that while our struggle is similar, we do have our own and we cannot co-opts others’.

The family and friends of Yusor, Deah, and Razan have adopted the hashtag, #OurThreeWinners, taken from their Facebook page of the same name. We should show our love and support for them, and our respect for the Black Lives Matter movement, by doing the same.

I apologize if my argument isn’t making sense. I’ve been in a daze since the night it happened, a daze that has only overwhelmed me more and more since. This hits home. It hit home when I saw that it occurred in a town not far from my father’s, in a university that some of my relatives attended. It hit home when I saw a couple relatives post about knowing the victims or their families. It hit home when I spent the day with friends wearing hijabs, worry for them spinning in the back of my mind where it should never have to be. It hit home because it could have been any of us, it could become any of us. Unless we refuse to stay silent.

Our Three WinnersAlways,


P.S. Here are a couple links to explain the problem with co-opting the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag: