An Exercise in Reconciling Free Speech with Social Justice

         There was a point at which I realized what had happened. It was sometime after being asked leading questions to fit a neat narrative on conservative talk radio, essentially painting me as an unprincipled bridge. It was sometime before the end of Eugene Volken’s lecture about Free Speech on Campus. There was a point at which I realized the dilemma I could only see reflected in the enigma of a right wing campaign for more civil rights. At that point I asked myself: does free speech have to be the cost for social justice?

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Painted

Warm was the breeze, when they, towards me, dive
-ed a flock of Painted Buntings, all at once.
I watched, with taken breath, when they arrive
-ed back into the sky, a splendid performance.

How wonderful is their right to fly,
To leave, to seek, to experience, to find.
To no one they answer, on no one rely,
Nor by walls or ceilings are they confined.

Perhaps God gave us no wings, no right to fly,
Because we would leave each other, and find
The wrong laws of humanity to defy,
And disregard those of our own kind, behind.

And so the Painted Buntings soar ahead,
And I, my life, with sober people dread.

Religious Appropriation

A letter we send, we as the sons of the Sadr movement to each dirty
Malikian, Hakeemian and Jafarian…

With the help of Allah, and after monitoring and mapping for months, all
emails of those who are helping the government of the criminal Al-Maliki have been hacked
by the electronic monitoring department of the Sadr movement, the national
movement that is a true Iraqi movement which rejects the American invasion. And thank
Allah, this is one of them.

All of you, the tails of the Invasion will die burning along with your
families.

May Allah quicken the return of “Al-Mehdi” and aid us in gaining victory over the oppressors.

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Our dream is daylight
our days are work.
We possess imagination,
and imagination is our hope.
And life fills us with promises,
of a light at the end of the tunnel.
It invites us to forget,
pain we lived.
We surrender to life, but no,
as long as hope is a journey,
so we will live.

Fear

Fear
Creeps through you as you dream
You prepare, plan.. but without realizing it you also
Fear
The burden will weigh your shoulders down
Your legs won’t carry you to the end
Will you collapse?
Will your aspirations come down and crush you
As if to say…
You knew you would fail all along.
In between the borders of your thoughts, there crept
Fear

Dot, dot dot
An ellipses that contains all which I cannot
Overflowing
It burns on the way down
Like lava it overflows
Out of me, through my tongue
My fingers feverishly seek
My lips, dry and trembling
Eyes overflowing
Like the coastline at high tide
Elusive, as much as I try to be
Calmness eludes me
All which you can never
Yet you try to understand
Until you can’t
Dot… dot dot
Silence fills the dots
As it overflows
And drowns it out

I’m Here!

The picture above is the view from the highest floor of the gymnasium of Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane.

I’m finally in Morocco!

I arrived on August 23rd, and it’s been a very exciting several days. I’ve met countless other fellow international students and went shopping at the local “marché.” A couple friends and I also explored the local park, which also had some individual vendors with a variety of jewelry, decor, and home goods.

I’m anticipating many more adventures to come!

Scene

Do you see?
Into that window
Onto which still crawls remnants of last night’s storm
Racing down towards the ground
Sunlight peeks in
Landing on four sleepy eyelids
A fire crackling nearby
Warming two bodies intertwined in a blissful knot

Do you feel me?
Clinging on
After you’ve ceased to ache me, and began to heal me
When I had a stone hard core, you crumbled me
And filled the void
My love for you now permeates my every pore
Invades my innards
Claims every breath of my being

Do you see us?
My dry lips begging to be touched
By the tips of your fingers
To be wetted by the liqueur of your kiss
Our two lungs, breathing each other’s air
Do you hear our two hearts, beating slowly
As we look out to a world that we’ve conquered
United, unafraid.

On Feminine Terrorism

I’m almost certain it was the 2011 visit, when I was 14. My two sisters, mother and I went to visit my maternal grandmother and our hometown Baghdad for the second time since our settlement in America. We were at Uncle Fahad’s house, the one adjacent to my grandmother’s (they shared a wall). All the adults were in the guest room drinking the late afternoon tea with biscuits and catching up. My budding introversion compelled me to get away from the noise for a little bit, so I was watching television in the living room. For about an hour, I was staring absentmindedly at the 20 inch screen, the oddity of my two passport identity consuming my thoughts.
I was brought back by a phrase I heard coming from the TV; “I didn’t have a morsel of bread to feed my kids.”
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Title Pending

I could not be more excited! I finally got the ball rolling on my documentary. I have collected around 3 hours of footage, most of which is interviews, so far. That picture above is of my grandmother speaking about her husband. As I started reviewing the videos, I became really disappointed with the quality of my camera. I want this baby so bad. Hopefully I’ll save enough money to buy it by the end of the summer, because I will NEED it for Morocco!

Through a Lens

I was 15 and just couldn’t ignore how beautiful that single solitary flower looked sprouting up in between the stone steps. I crouched down and snapped this picture with my phone camera that afternoon right when I got home from school. The picture ended up catapulting me into an obsession I developed with photography and I spent a year and a half with my cheap Nikon around my neck 24/7. I sadly don’t take that many “inspired” pictures anymore but that will hopefully change soon when I leave the country.

Acrylic Dervish


You might have heard of the most famous Sufi mystic: Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet (side note: in my opinion translating his poetry is nothing short of a crime). Sufism is technically a tiny sect of Islam. Jalalul-din Al-Rumi and many other Sufi mystics have gifted us everyday Muslims and the rest of the world an invaluable store of marvelous love poems. This representation is my humble token of adoration for the beautiful teachings of Sufism… a note of gratitude for opening my eyes to the true, beautiful image of God.

A Night With Trevor Noah: The Liberator Spring 2017 Print Issue

I’m in print! The Liberator magazine’s Spring 2017 issue was released earlier this month, with “Power” as the theme. It includes an article I wrote inspired by attending Trevor Noah’s latest stand-up comedy tour (Noah is The Daily Show’s latest host – replacing Jon Stewart). The full print issue can be viewed here in PDF format. “Continue Reading” to view my full article!

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