not all arabs are muslim

I want you all to know that an Arab Muslim from Tunis proposed the Theory of Evolution near 500 years before Charles Darwin even took his first breath. Don’t let them erase you.

I feel like I want to make some people SHOOK today, so here is a free mini-lesson for everyone (P.S: If you’re American then please pay close attention):

-There isn’t a single country in the Middle-East that has the word “stan” in it. Not a single one.

-And yes, that includes Pakistan & Afghanistan.

-Yes you heard me correctly, both of Pakistan & Afghanistan are not in the Middle-East, but instead they’re in South & Central Asia.

-Muslims don’t wear turbans, at all.

-Arabs/Middle-Eastern people also don’t wear turbans either, at all (In some Arabic countries there ARE types of traditional headwraps and they’re called “Emamah”, however they’re not called turbans and you can easily tell the difference between them if you bother learning).

-The only Religion/Culture whose people do wear turbans are called Sikhs, follower of Sikhism religion. And no, Sikhs are not from the Middle-East either, but are primely from India.

-There are over three muslim countries in Europe. And no, the muslims there aren’t immigrants but are in fact native white Europeans who are also Muslims (Yes white European muslims exist, since you know, Islam is a universal religion not an ethnicity or a race)

-There’s over 50 Muslim countries in this world and aside from Iran there isn’t a single muslim country in this globe that forces women to wear Hijab (Headscarf) By law. 49 out of 50 muslim countries don’t have laws forcing women to wear Hijab or face veils.

-A Muslim woman wearing a Burqa is an extremely rare thing that can hardly be found in any Muslim countries, so if you see a Muslim woman covering her face with a type of cloth then that piece of cloth is most likely a Niqab NOT a Burqa (Seriously, don’t bother saying Burqa cuz 99.9% of the time, the thing you want to describe is probably not a Burqa)

-Only 23% of the world’s Muslims population are from Arab/Middle-Eastern countries. Yes, there are more non-Middle-Eastern/Arab Muslims than there are Middle-Eastern/Arab Muslims.

-Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha wasn’t 7 when she married him, but was actually 19 at the time of the wedding (And this have been debunked for centuries now, yet it’s still used by Islamophobics till this day).

-Almost everything I have said in this post have been true for centuries actually, so if you didn’t already know at least one of the things from this list then you really have no excuse to be this deep in the dark.

3

These Muslim travelers were denied Global Entry cards. Now they’re suing the DHS.

  • Muslim travelers are suing the Department of Homeland Security for refusing to release records related to their Global Entry applications.
  • The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against DHS on Tuesday to see if there’s an internal policy within the agency to revoke Global Entry status for Muslim and Arab travelers. 
  • Dozens of individuals — all who have Muslim names or are of Arab origin — have reported problems with their global entry status, Abed Ayoub, ADC’s legal director, said in a phone interview.
  • “Without the information [requested from the FOIA], it’s difficult to gauge what happened, how many people are affected and if there’s a policy in place [in DHS] for Arabs and Muslim-Americans,” Ayoub said. Read more (4/18/17)

follow @the-movemnt

people in the fandom who suffer from mi: *said from the start they knew even was mi bc they could relate and saw the signs.*
gross people in the fandom: “STOP PROJECTING!!!”
canon: *even has bipolar disorder.*

muslims as well as people who like to analyse in the fandom: *connected all the dots about the hints being dropped in s3 about even and islam.*
gross people in the fandom: “FGS NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE ABOUT MUSLIMS. EVEN’S NOT INTERESTED IN ISLAM YOU’RE JUST READING TOO MUCH INTO SHIT!!”
canon: *even is so invested in islam that he’s not only got sketches of a hijaabi woman on his wardrobe in his room, but went so far as to learn the qur’aan in arabic, and has muslim friends too which all connected to his deep interest in islam.*

even and sana enthusiasts in the fandom, based off religious beliefs: *said from the start even and sana were connected and saw all the links between them through islam in canon.*
gross people in the fandom: “LOLZ DELUSIONAL PEOPLE BE REACHING SO HARD THEY’RE GONNA CRY TEARS!!!!”
canon: *even and sana have known each other all along all this time.*

people that in the fandom who relate to vilde: *are saying with personal experience that they can tell vilde is a lesbian.*
gross people in the fandom: *SHE’S BI!” “SHE’S HAPPY WITH MAGNUS!” “FFS SHE’S STRAIGHT GET UR LESBIANISM AWAY FROM HERE!!!!*
canon: …………….. i mean, do y’all gross people really wanna go up against being proven wrong when people with experience have time and time again been right?

in short, when people who have personal experiences are telling you they can relate to a character and their situation, and can pick up the signs, you shut up, sit down, and you listen to their valid reasoning.

fan-of-all-trades  asked:

Hi! I just want to tell you how huge a fan I am of your books. I'm sure you hear this a lot, but you are an amazing author, and your books and characters are so well written and interesting. I just wanted to ask if you've ever thought about including or will include an Arab/Muslim Shadowhunter family/character in one of your books? I'm an Arab Muslim, and it would be nice to see good Arab Muslims in Western media, considering all of the stereotypes against us. Thank you for reading this message.

Thank you for your kind words! 

In the Last Hours, Cordelia and Alastair’s mother Sona is Persian. Her kids are biracial and were born in what was then Persia. (TLH is set in 1903.) 

The thing is, Shadowhunters have their own religion. They worship Raziel, and as such, they can’t be Muslim or Catholic or belong to other religions the way mundane humans can. However, they do live spread out across a world that contains many different beliefs, and bits of regional culture do bleed over into the lives of the Nephilim. Jem speaks often of beliefs (reincarnation, the Wheel of Life) that are specific to Buddhism. Though Cristina prays to the Angel Raziel literally, there is a lot about her beliefs that is tinged with Catholicism and echoes of the culture she grew up around. So in essence, Cordelia and her family have absorbed some of the surrounding culture and religion, like Jem did when he was growing up in Shanghai. So you won’t be seeing Muslim Shadowhunters quite yet (not in 1903), but you will see Shadowhunters whose lives are tinged with Islam and stories from the Koran. There may also well be Muslim Downworlders!

I hope you will like Cordelia and her family! And if you get a chance to read Magisterium, the female lead character, Tamara, is an Iranian-American Muslim girl.

LGBTQI Muslims on Tumblr

I made this post because of [this] lovely anon. I had a lot of fun talking to you all and thank you to everyone who replied to my msgs and thank you for agreeing to be on this list! I hope you know how amazing and helpful that is for LGBTQAI Muslims who think they are alone. Special thanks to leighcuen & allahmademequeer for sharing the Queer Muslims Masterpost with me xx

LGBTQI Muslims:

  1. afghanalgorithm
  2. forever-untill-theend
  3. middleeasternlesbian
  4. swagyoulater
  5. biculturalist  
  6. malumelon
  7. 40secondstovenus  
  8. reasonsaresimple
  9. a-view-so-cruel
  10. gayjasmine
  11.  darkmixedpale
  12. i-dare-to-dream
  13. 2am-hurricanes
  14. yasmine69soliman
  15. myheartisstrongerthanever
  16. @spaceprism
  17. croissanted
  18. allahmademequeer
  19. academiqueer (recently converted to Islam)
  20. theunbreakablexvx
  21. princessmiakitten
  22. life-is-my-playstation
  23. immortal-euphoria
  24. polysymorous 
  25. zahhaked
  26. postrhythmicarabesque
  27. @shiroshakar
  28. erythrophyll 
  29. hippiehijabi
  30. mohammad-hegazy
  31. tagyo
  32. ishtar-siduri
  33. xrgxsmic
  34. priorincantatems
  35. r-radishspirit
  36. oshondavalwa
  37. yourunlikelyhero
  38. photoloverex
  39. howgayami
  40. @thisfitna
  41. aesorybur
  42. qalbee
  43. chirikli
  44. schakira
  45. allhalethespark
  46. kickingsigns
  47. themindislimitless
  48. whatamievensaying
  49. bows-n-beanies
  50. saddned
  51. xochilpilli
  52. whimslcott
  53. takemetoheaven77
  54. courtney-lamonte
  55. maskrosprins (Transgender)
  56. oualidali
  57. jank-homme
  58. tradeyouforchaai
  59. queerhijabi
  60. arosemorose (converted to Islam)
  61. hordanian
  62. thatalainlesbo
  63. angelslustdevils
  64. vanillasweets
  65. for-cryingg-out-loud
  66. elleandsaphina (blog run by an adorable couple. One is Muslim)
  67. haramdaddy
  68. twelvewhispersandbooks
  69. samwinchestrash
  70. unconventionalmuslim
  71. not-your-average-lesbian
  72. voguedemigod
  73. angrymeninist
  74. pierre-anthon 
  75. dragonsandmisandry
  76. frostd-snow
  77. eats-basics-for-breakfast
  78. @racistpikachu
  79. @novennber
  80. negelirelden
  81. if4rted
  82. croatsandbosniansandserbsohmy
  83. flowerofstone
  84. dis-clarity 
  85. justimagine-4 
  86. @tapeddreams
  87. @h-o-t-and-bothered (trans revert)
  88. @muslimlesbians
  89. @absentzindagi
  90. rosestem
  91. deadconscious
  92. @emmaizwaf
  93. @whxt-a-life
  94. @queerlysad
  95. couragemurieleustace
  96. thegamesthatplayedus
  97. whowantsbongripsandcoffee
  98. @livelifesimple9188
  99. @redsurvivor
  100. @queerlypalestinian
  101. @glxxmyplvme
  102. ausernameisuseless
  103. @psychicghostninja
  104. @otsuchigumo
  105. @rainbowsonmyway
  106. @chatta77
  107. @blushingvoid
  108. @deitygaze
  109. @5ullen
  110. @ssarahteaandbooks
  111. @minamina0013
  112. @downworllders
  113. @myeongwol
  114. @ciyaalsuuqad
  115. http://rainbowredo.tumblr.com/
  116. @rteou666
  117. http://lunaetstellas.tumblr.com/
  118. @minalesca
  119. @raz-the-dreamer
  120. @splashofcolorinaseaofgray
  121. @imitationknife
  122. http://aliveria.tumblr.com/
  123. @danny–phandom
  124. @amalkeyf
  125. http://firdo0s.tumblr.com/
  126. https://maloneyofnepa.tumblr.com/
  127. @mangostans
  128. @petite–girl
  129. @pakistans
  130. wolfwithpostivevibes
  131. @iimr-spockii
  132. @amalkeyf
  133. @desert-lesbian
  134. @iamzahraa-inari
  135. @hijabikathy
  136. @tinyfigner
  137. @batgrrrl
  138. @rnanon
  139. lukegaroways
  140. @really-bruh
  141. @drami
  142. tobearaconteur
  143. @pakgaystani
  144. @lamarea
  145. @firetomypride
  146. @enrevant-desailes
  147. @deathhcattforcutie
  148. @dsm-v
  149. @toabetterlife
  150. @jurassicbird
  151. @punkiepandaxoxo
  152. @ace-deuce-bi
  153. @potatoatheart
  154. @seriously-get-alife
  155. @mechalexa
  156. @youawakenedme 
  157. @miraculousmiral
  158. @rajny + @trans-muslim
  159. @kiss-of-beauty
  160. @iaintyourstosave
  161. @yasminezeunicorn
  162. @fuxxkking
  163. @rainbowmuslim 
  164. @mangosnbluntz
  165. @ace-space-princess 
  166. @thatnonblonde
  167. @rapturedinfreedom
  168. @tataranutas
  169. @t0mbrxider
  170. @archeozoic
  171. @n7abek
  172. @sherrizoldyk
  173. @tele-vision

and of course there’s me, arabiandyke. if you are an LGBTQIA Muslim/ah and would like to be added to this list please msg me xx

Blogs for LGBTQI Muslims:

  1. queerabs (Run by two Muslim Lesbians)
  2. trans-muslims
  3. youknow-youreaqueermuslim-when
  4. queermuslims
  5. @tawseet-al-sharq (Supports & promotes LGBTQI/Arab Artist, send your art to him!)
  6. arablgbtq (Support all arab lgbts from all faiths)
  7. saudilgbt 
  8. queersoflevant 
  9. @lgbtqafghans

Posts you can refer to:

Queer Muslim Masterpost

NOTE: This post was created on April 24, 2015. Last update was in June 31, 2017

youtube

Last month, Nike released a new digital ad targeted to women in the Arab world. It features different women athletes in the Middle East, including figure skater Zahra Lari from the United Arab Emirates; fencer Inès Boubakri from Tunisia and boxer Arifa Bseiso from Jordan.

For me, there was one scene, portrayed by actors, that struck home. As a young woman in a hijab skateboards along a street, stared down by a middle-age woman, the narrator asks, “What will they say about you?”

Commentary: Nike’s New Ad Asks A Question Arab Women Know All Too Well

A Cat, a Fox, and a Bee walk into a Bakery 26

“Mom?  Dad?  Can I talk to you?” Marinette shuffled nervously, fidgeting with the hem of her shirt.

Tom and Sabine shared a look, then nodded as Sabine briefly washed her hands to clean up from where she had been assembling dumplings.  “Of course, Marinette.  You know you can talk with us about anything.”

“Well… um…” Marinette took a deep breath, unable to meet their eyes.  “I may… kinda sorta… be dating Adrien.”

Tom was just opening his mouth when Marinette continued.  “… And Alya.  And Nino. And Chloe.”

Sabine blinked.  “All at the same time?”

Marinette nodded, her throat closing up.

“And they’re all okay with it?” Tom asked.

“We’re kinda… all dating each other,” Marinette mumbled.

Tom and Sabine shared another look, then smiled as they both pulled their daughter into a warm hug.

“So long as you’re all happy, we’re happy for you,” Sabine reassured her daughter.

“We know it won’t be easy for the five of you, but we’ll always have your back.  All of you,” Tom added.

Marinette relaxed into the hug, almost limp with relief.  She squeaked as Sabine playfully poked her side, where she was ticklish.

“So… when is the wedding?” Sabine teased.

“Mom!”

***************

“Hey, Mama?” Nino didn’t look up from where he was chopping vegetables for dinner, his tone deliberately nonchalant.

Of course, that didn’t fool his Mama, as he had expected it wouldn’t.  She frowned slightly as she looked up from the chicken she was in the middle of slicing.  “What is it, Nino?”

Nino took a deep breath, held it a couple heartbeats, then let it out to calm himself.  “I’m dating someone.  Several someones.  Four people from my class.”

His Mama slowly and deliberately put her knife down, washed her hands, dried them, then turned to Nino. “Do I know them?”

“Yeah.  You’ve met Adrien, Alya, and Marinette.  The only one you haven’t met is Chloe.”

“She the same one that bullied you and Marinette for years?”

Nino winced, but nodded. “Yeah, but she’s gotten a lot better lately, Mama.  Really cleaned up her act.”

His mother sighed, rubbing at the bridge of her nose with two fingers.  “I don’t approve of you cheating-“

“It’s not cheating!” Nino burst out, feeling a flush of anger.  “We’re all dating each other!”

His Mama shot him a stern look, and Nino wilted slightly, abashed. “Sorry, Mama.”

Her expression softened, and she pulled him into a hug.  With a small start, Nino realized that his last growth spurt had put him taller than her. He hadn’t noticed until now.  “Oh, Nino.  I just worry about you, habibi.  I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I know, Mama.” He tightened his hug a little.  “Just… trust that I know what I’m doing, and that I’m happy with them?  Please?”

His Mama sighed.  “I can’t approve right away, Nino, but I will reserve judgement.  I hope, for your sake, that things work out.”

“Thank you, Mama.” That was about as good as he was going to get, so Nino would take it.

A very personal piece, be strong all my fellow muslims and family!! it was a contribution for donations by the lovely @hankgreen on twitter, thank you again!!

come on julie, pull through and deliver the goods. my door is open. i’m all ears, have been since 16th december 2016.

tell me about even and islam.

his past with it. his current, present stance on it. would he like to revisit it and go back to it now, with sana/the balloon squad? what are his thoughts about islam right now? where does he place himself alongside it? is he at peace? does he feel shame and like his last attempts to connect with islam are invalid? does he want someone to talk to about it with in the form of long deep discussions? does he have questions? is he still curious? what does he remember? the drawings and the sketches? “not all muslims are terrorists”? learning the qur'aan in arabic? what are his thoughts on converting? would he ever? would he never? what did islam mean to him then? what does islam mean to him now? if he was to hear the qur'aan be recited in front of him, or see someone pray salah in front of him, or mention Allah or ramadhan or the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) or mention about a masjid … what would his reaction be? a smile showing a feeling of familiarity, or eyes wide in an overwhelming feeling of appreciation?

there’s so … many … questions i have.

and i’m ready. pen and paper in my hand ready to note it all down and analyse the hell out of it. i /need/ answers.

rising-star-steven  asked:

What exactly is Zionism and Anti-Zionism, I hear people talk about it but I'm not sure what it is.

It’s honestly the most ridiculous terminology. And I’ve said it before, but I hate having to use the term “Zionist” to describe myself, because I think that it’s completely unnecessary. 

Zionists are basically people that think:

  • Israel has a right to exist.
  • Israel is the world’s only Jewish state.
  • Israel has a right to defend herself.

And I think that the term “Zionist” is ridiculous because I feel that way about every country.

  • Countries have rights to exist.
  • Countries are allowed to have their own culture and identity.
  • Countries have a right to defend themselves.

It’s how I feel about the UK.

  • The UK has a right to exist.
  • The UK is a Christian state.
  • The UK has the right to defend herself.

There are plenty of non-Christians in the UK. We’re just as British as Christian Britons. But the UK has an underlying Christian culture to her. And that’s great. That’s how the nation is, and I’m proud of being British. I still criticise the UK. I still criticise our politicians. I still think that the UK is imperfect. I’m not obsessively over-patriotic. I don’t defend the UK when the UK has done wrong.

And that is exactly the same way that I feel about Israel.

The problem is with “anti-Zionists.” They don’t want Israel to exist. They don’t think that Israel has a right to exist. 

Now, there are degrees of people on both sides, ranging from complete evil-supporting psychopaths to fairly moderate. There are absolutely far-Right Zionists that are utterly abhorrent. But just because there are far-Right supporters of the UK, that doesn’t mean that every supporter of the UK is suddenly evil and far-Right.

“Anti-Zionists” paint Zionists as all murderers that hate Palestinians, want them all dead, or hate all Muslims and/or Arabs, as bigots, as hateful, as people that constantly use antisemitism as a shield when there’s no reason to do so. And sure, you will absolutely find horrible people like that (because there are horrible people in every group), that is just untrue for the majority.

I’m a Zionist. I criticise the Palestinian leaders. I get angry at acts of antisemitism from Palestinians. I get upset that there is so much institutional antisemitism in Gaza and the West Bank. But most Palestinians are just people trying to get by, doing their own thing. And I can’t reasonably hate anyone in that situation when there is institutional antisemitism, because that would be unfair. Like I said, if you’re brought up in that environment, if you’re surrounded by that environment, how can you break free, right?

So my hope is – and it’ll happen eventually, I’m positive – that there’ll be a two-state solution. A fifth of Israel’s population is Arab, and no, it’s not perfect there, but Jews, Arabs, Bedouin etc, they’re all Israeli and they just get on. Like it’s not perfect in the UK, but there are white people, black people, Asians, Arabs, Jews and we generally just get on, too.

The problem with “anti-Zionists” is that many of them are just incapable of being fair. There was a story last year or the year before going around claiming that Israel had deliberately flooded Gaza by opening dams. Which sounds terrible, until it turned out that no such dams even existed, and there just so happened to be a storm that caused a flood. Nothing nefarious, just a tragedy due to bad weather, but Israel was magically blamed for it. And that’s beyond ridiculous.

And that kind of thing happens a great deal.

I’m sure that a lot of “anti-Zionists” aren’t bad people. There are, I’m sure, people that don’t actually know what’s going on, who read terrible headlines, who don’t do research and end up believing the worst. But they end up propagating antisemitic lies cooked up by the virulently antisemitic “anti-Zionists.” And those lies end up harming Jews and anyone that supports us – or even people that just don’t automatically condemn us.

What makes this so galling, though, is the fact that no, of course I don’t want anyone to be hurt. When Israel does something bad, of course there should be condemnation. But I also want fair condemnation of the other side, too. I want steps towards accepting that there need to be heavy compromises on both sides for lasting peace. 

I want all Israelis to live in a country that has Jewish culture at the heart – like the UK has Christian culture at heart, like other countries have Islamic culture at heart – and have Israelis live in peace as happily as they can there, whether they’re Jews or Arabs or from Mars. 

But if you believe “anti-Zionists,” then all you’ll hear is about how much of an evil, Islamophobic, murderous, racist, white supremacist I am. And that’s not fair.

I want everyone to drop the labels. I want people to accept that history is done and dusted, and that right now, there are Israelis and Palestinians. I want people to accept and celebrate the good things that both sides do, and criticise the bad things that both sides do. I want people to be fair and honest. 

And what the worst part actually is? You can’t fairly criticise Israel right now, because nobody’s hearing what Israel is actually doing. There are sometimes kernels of truth behind massively manipulated stories, but most of the time, it’s “anti-Zionists” claiming something, Zionists going, “That’s not true, here are some sources,” “anti-Zionists” then sourcing genuinely antisemitic websites or just calling us evil bigots, and nothing actually gets done. 

Innocent Palestinians have been murdered by their leaders for being “suspected” of collaboration with Israel? Palestinians are being abused in other Muslim countries? No, sorry, here’s a claim that an innocent Palestinian was mercilessly murdered by evil Zion–oh, no, that individual stabbed someone and they were shot to stop them killing anyone else.

And that might sound like me just complaining, but it’s not just Israel that suffers from lies and deliberate omissions. Because every lie that’s out there is another genuine story that’s not even mentioned outside of individuals on the ground talking to each other, never to be even murmured in the media. And how the hell are actual Palestinians going through something unfair ever supposed to get any real justice when that’s going on? They can’t. And that’s not fair.

It’s just so much bullshit, you have absolutely no idea. And it’s equally angering, frustrating and downright upsetting. For every innocent person.

anonymous asked:

I wish more people would acknowledge Cher as the first person of ME descent to win an oscar for best leading actress

This could be because either 1) people don’t know that Cher is Armenian 2) people don’t consider Armenians to be middle eastern because of a racist & islamophobic stereotype that middle easterns are all Muslim and all Arab which leads to the erasure of religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East. But yes, I agree with you.

And it’s great that she’s the first middle eastern because not only does she represent middle easterns, but minorities in the Middle East both in religion and in ethnicity, which are a persecuted people (persecution of MENA Christians & Armenian genocide). Just like with Mahershala Ali and Asghar Farhadi representing not just Islam, but minority sects that get persecuted. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s nice to see people who are minorities even within their race (cher by being a non Arab & non Muslim middle eastern) to be so successful.

-Sanaz

On Diversity: A Snapshot of My America

My main job is taking pictures of homes for real estate agents.  While most of the homes I photograph are in the upper-middle to high-end price range, I do take pictures in what can be described as blue-collar, working class areas.  One of my shoots yesterday was in one of these neighborhoods.  A neighborhood where the average home price is below the local median average.  A neighborhood where people take pride in their homes even when they don’t always have the time or money to make them look as nicely as they want.  It was in just such a neighborhood that I was reminded not only what has always made America great but just how wrong and dangerous modern-day conservatives are to what really makes America great.

As I pulled up to the house, it looked like a thousand others in the area, a nicely landscaped Cape Cod with an American flag softly waving in the breeze from a pole in the front yard and a black Ford F-250 parked in the driveway.  I fully expected the owners to be the typical white, blue-collar working class people who heavily dominate this particular part of town.  When they opened the door, all I could think of was, “Never judge a book by its cover.”  Instead of the white, blue-collar worker I’d expected to see, I was kindly greeted by a Muslim woman in her early 40s wearing a hijab.   She introduced me to her equally kind husband and the two of them proceeded to be more friendly and helpful than any home sellers I’ve interacted with in months.  They offered me water.  They offered me coffee.  They offered me cake.  They moved with me from room-to-room making sure bedspreads were straight, pillows were fluffed, blinds were pulled, lights were on…  Usually, I cannot stand sellers even in the house when I take pictures, let alone bird dogging me.  If other sellers were as nice and helpful as this couple, I’d completely change this attitude.  

While how they treated and helped me stood out, I still couldn’t stop thinking about the contrast of the “book” and the “cover.”  While the outside of their home said, “All-American,” the artwork, paint colors, Qurans, and back addition with Arabic seating area of the the inside said, “All-Muslim.”  As I was going from room-to-room taking pictures, I kept thinking about the contrast of the home’s external to internal characteristics.  I’ve shot many a home where the outside was very traditional but the inside was very contemporary.   The outside not jibing with the inside is nothing new.  However, this was very different.  This wasn’t a contrast between architectural/design styles.  The more I thought about this particular contrast, the more I loved it.  I loved the blending of cultures because this is exactly what America is supposed to represent.  From China Town in San Francisco to the Polish part of Detroit to the Irish parts of Boston to the Mexican neighborhoods of Los Angeles, America stands for people coming from other lands, becoming part of the whole but still maintaining a love and appreciation of their heritage.  

If all I had experienced was the contrast of the exterior to the interior of the home, that would have been more than enough to reaffirm my faith in what America is supposed to represent.  What happened as I was taking the exterior shots took these feelings of diversity, what America really represents, and just how dangerous and evil the rightwing hate machine are to the entire system.

While I was outside taking pictures, the owners came out to make sure things were picked up.  While they were in the front of the house straitening out a couple of chairs on the front porch, a couple of their neighbors who were out in their yards doing work came over to chat.  By the time I worked my way around to the front of the house, standing on the front sidewalk were the Muslim owners, an African-American man in his early 30s, and an older white man in his late 60s having a conversation that ranged from landscaping to auto repair to kids/grandkids to restaurant suggestions.  If I described the scene and read you the text of the entire conversation with a Texas accent, it would read like a “King of The Hill” script.

What really struck me wasn’t the nature of their conversation, it was very similar to ones I heard growing up in rural Idaho.  It was very similar to ones I’ve heard in the neighborhoods of Chicago.  It was very similar to conversations that take place every day across the country from Girdwood Alaska to Mobile Alabama.  In spite of the diversity of the participants-their ages, their religions, their cultures, their backgrounds…, they had fundamental experiences, wants, needs, desires… in common.  What struck me was this scene being played out in an average-sized town in the Rust Belt is the direct opposite of what the right-wing and white nationalist hate machines spew out non-stop every day.

The scene I witnessed is what America really is all about and what modern-day conservatives and their very overlapping Venn Diagram counterparts, white supremacists fear the most.  They fear this kind of neighborly camaraderie.  They fear that diversity really isn’t a problem because they are beholden to their ignorant beliefs and hate that have been passed down to them by their ancestors and meticulously cultivated by fear mongers and grifters.  White flight didn’t happen because minorities moving into predominately white areas caused problems.  White flight happened because whites were afraid of people that didn’t look like them, didn’t have familiar sounding names, had different points of view.  When white flight wasn’t an option, whites hemmed minorities into very specific areas through redlining policies and practices.  

The racist and bigoted fears Donald Trump tapped into to win the election are based on lies about minorities and about the natural status of whites.  The scene I witnessed on the sidewalk of a quiet, little neighborhood was perfectly natural.  It was a scene that is played out across the country every day between neighbors.  When it played out between only whites the reason isn’t because minorities don’t know how or want to participate but because they haven’t been welcomed to the neighborhood/town.  The wants, needs, fears, concerns… of people who have similar economic situations don’t vary from one another very much.  This isn’t a revelation.  Many studies have been done showing that people who live in multi-cultural, diverse areas are much more tolerant and have less racist/bigoted views than those who live in less diverse areas.  People exposed to other cultures and heritages are not as overly protective of their own.

As much as I admire and appreciate people celebrating their heritage, it is something I’ve never personally experienced. I’m an Anglo-Saxon mutt.  My heritage is mostly English and Scottish and my ancestors came to America many, many generations ago.  I personally feel no love or bond with this heritage.  I feel closer to the culture and people of Japan from living there for two years than I do to my Western European roots.  This could be because I truly lived and experienced the one and not the other.  The Japanese culture is more ingrained into my psychological matrix than something I only have a distant genetic connection to.  

Like all people and cultures, the Japanese have great traits and serious flaws. Because I’m a pragmatist at heart, the one trait they have that I admired the most is their ability, as a culture, to take an idea or behavior from another culture that is good, incorporate it into their own culture while not losing who they truly are.  I call this Ala Carte Culture.  You pick and choose what you like from other cultures, leave the bad aspects of these cultures behind, and absorb the good into your own culture in a way that doesn’t diminish who you are.  

A good example of this in Japan can be found in the saying, “In Japan, you are born a Shinto, married a Christian, and buried a Buddhist.”  When I first heard this saying, being a typical American, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it.  Imagine someone in America telling you, “My kids will be born Jewish, married Lutheran, and buried Mormon.”  If someone told you this, you’d stare at them wondering what the hell they were talking about. In Japan, their phrase gets no such reaction from other Japanese.  It is accepted as being true.  “In Japan, you are born a Shinto, married a Christian, and buried a Buddhist,” bothered me for months until someone explained it to me. “Shintoism celebrates being born. Christianity celebrates getting married.  Buddhism celebrates death. The best celebrations and parties are what the Japanese adopted into their culture for each of these events.”  

I love this idea. Why not take the best of other cultures and incorporate it into your own?  It’s an idea that should fit perfectly with a country like America which was founded on cultural diversity.  If a homogeneous, often isolated country like Japan can do this, a country that is the “Great Melting Pot of The World” should not only be able to do this easily, it should be aggressively doing it.  Unfortunately, the open, diverse, all people are created equal society is the one resistant to learning from other cultures and the where the dominant group fears and demonizes those outside their group who want to honor, cherish, and incorporate the best parts of their own cultures.

This resistance and fear of other ideas and cultures are at the root of America’s long, unjustifiable history of racism and bigotry.  “If it’s white, it’s right,” is the default mindset for white America. Who is allowed to be called “white” has been arbitrary throughout our history.  Jews were once not considered white.  Neither were Italians.  Neither were Germans.  Neither were the Irish.  Only once a group has been accepted as “white” are their cultural ideas and celebrations accepted.  White suburbia now doesn’t give a second thought to their kids celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at school but if the school decided to celebrate Kwanzaa with as much enthusiasm, they’d lose their damn minds. Irish-Americans love and honor their heritage to the same degree as Mexican-Americans, Muslim-Americans, African-Americans…  The main reason we, as a country, don’t care about or think twice about Irish-Americans or other “white” nationalities celebrating their heritage is because they have been accepted into the “white club.”  Celebrating and honoring one’s heritage isn’t the problem for racists and bigots.  It’s who gets to do it.

In the America that claims to be the “Great Melting Pot,” where for the first time in history a government was formed on the idea that all people are created equal, where diversity is supposed to be our greatest strength, the tableau I witnessed represented everything America can and should be.  It was also stark counter-evidence to one of the main claims of white nationalists and the right wing that multi-culturalism can’t work because non-whites won’t/can’t assimilate.  There are many problems with this claim: 1-it presumes white culture is the dominant one that everyone must assimilate to; 2-the entire notion of “white culture” is riddled with problems; 3-the evidence in diverse areas completely contradicts it.

My America is what I witnessed the other day on a sidewalk in a Rust Belt city.  My America isn’t afraid of others celebrating their heritage.  My America isn’t white-centric.  My America is the real America and no one will ever convince me otherwise.   The youth of my America know and feel this better than my peers.  This gives me hope for my children.  If only my generation gives them the opportunity to live up to what it means to be a real American better than my generation.

Tbh the Muslim community is way too Arab-centric, Muslims worldwide expect Muslims as a whole even the non Arab ones to be aware of what is happening in Syria, Palestine, iraq etc… (Basically what we consider to be ‘Arab issues’, though it goes without saying Arabs aren’t the only ethnic group actually living in those countries) but Arab Muslims aren’t expected to know (or really I guess care) about the issues of non Arab Muslim majority countries like Nigeria for example (which just like Arab-majority, Muslim majority countries has had to deal with extremist groups of its own, namely Boko Haram) or Muslim majority South Asia and the non Arab ‘Muslim south asian’ fight for Kashmiri independence, or EVEN Muslim-majority Iran and the constant dehumanisation of its Shia and Persian-majority population. There’s also Burma (Myanmar) in east Asia where the Rohingya Muslim minority population of the country are experiencing what Rohingya themselves have described as a genocide at the hand of the many Buddhist extremist groups who also live there but I have yet to see anyone who cares about 'Muslim Arab issues’ also care about all those other non Arab 'Muslim issues’ I’ve just mentioned…. All I’m basically trying to say to all the Muslims who follow me (specially the Arab ones) is to please also take an interest in the struggles of other Muslim communities, As Arabs we’re not the only Muslims and actually (or should that be ironically) we’re a minority when you take into account all the non Muslim Arabs that exist and the fact not everyone in North Africa and the middle east even ARE Arabs (many are imazighen in North Africa’s case and in the middle east’s case many are actually Kurdish, Turkish, Persian, Pashtun, Azeri etc….) and obviously I don’t expect every Muslim to know everything about the struggles the people of every Muslim majority country face that’s near impossible but really it is fair that as Muslim Arabs we also bother to AT LEAST have a common (even if basic) understanding of the struggle of other Muslims the same way so many non Arab Muslims have bothered to learn a little about all of our 'Arab Muslim’ issues.

I just had an extremely important conversation with an Iraqi colleague whom I respect, and I want all my friends in America to know.

She said: “You know, we thought for all these years that you Americans really hate us Arabs and don’t want us in your country. And now, thanks to your President Trump…”

And I waited, thinking I knew what she was going to say. She continued: “Now we know we were wrong. That you do care about us and you do want us there.”

I almost cried, and told her how happy I was to hear this. I imagine my friends are feeling a lot of frustration about how to fight back, feeling like one march or protest after another feels great but won’t actually change things (and you can certainly imagine my frustration at not even being able to do that). But all you people at home need to know that the Arab and Muslim world is watching and they are not only seeing the hatred and bigotry of our president and his supporters. They are also seeing on the news these images of tens and thousands of Americans demonstrating, saying “refugees welcome” and chanting “USA!” when the Syrian lady makes it through the airport and so on. They are also seeing the America that we love, the America that comes out to the streets for what’s good and decent.

So… just a kind word of encouragement from Iraq. Even if there’s no concrete resolution in sight, your message matters so much. Please keep making me proud.

—  The text of an image attached to a tweet by jshieber. The tweet said, “This is from an American friend of mine working with the UN in Iraq.”