Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 24th, 2014

Generation Y comic-strips from around the world – in pictures

Waraq Collective, Beirut, Lebanon
Waraq founders– Joan Baz, 27, Ashley Choucair, 28, David Habchy, 28, and Hussein Nakhal, 25

It is a multidisciplinary collective working in illustration, animation, art direction and performing arts.“We are a quartet that live and work in an old Beirut yellow house called Beit Waraq (House of Paper). This house has become an open cultural space for the community, hosting monthly workshops, screenings, performances and other cultural events.

As Lebanese have inherited religious and political consciousness from their parents, it is becoming a major the gap within our peers. This is an issue that starts in school, continues in university, and follows us all throughout our careers.

We are called the postwar generation, yet we live in a state of war. Maybe it is about time we choose what to inherit.”

Sofia Niazi, 27, London, UK
Sofia is an illustrator and editor who works on OOMK (One of my Kind), a magazine about women, creativity and spirituality. “I’m a bit obsessed with the internet and whether it’s going to fry our brains and turn our bodies to mush. So far research is inconclusive. One thing that a lot of people seem to agree on, though, is that the internet has resulted in an increase in our working hours. I feel like one of our new jobs – particularly important to a lot of young people today who have grown up with the internet – is ‘digital self-management’ or ‘reputation control’.”

Sam Wallman, 28, Melbourne, Australia
Sam is an organiser for a large trade union in Melbourne. He recently illustrated a first-person account of what it’s like to work in a detention centre for asylum seekers, run by the British company Serco. “Australia is a very wealthy country, and some people argue that this has led to an unquestioning, apolitical generation of young people – I reckon maybe there’s something else at work.”

Sumit Drew, 26, Delhi, India
Sumit is a cartoonist based in Delhi. He is the author of the graphic novel The Itch You Can’t Scratch, as well as Kashmir Ki Kahani, an online webcomic that narrates the history of Kashmir conflict, and he is passionate about Indian education. “The world’s largest youth population crams in dingy corners during the most important years of their lives! I think that’s absurd. What do you think?”

Ashley Choukeir and David Habchy from @WARAQ_Org in the @guardian how cool! http://t.co/ePt36sJXwi
Generation Y comic-strips from around the world – in pictures
theguardian.com

How ABC’s “Alice in Arabia” Is Racist?

Have you seen a US film that talk nice of “Arabs” or “Moslems”?

Have you seen a US movie or TV program that talk bad of Jews , Zionism or the State of Israel?

Do you think the narratives on Jews or about Jews are done by non Jews or anyone not supporting the State of Israel?

Do you know of a narrative on “Arabs” or Moslems in the US done by an “Arab” or a Moslem?

Do you know that the “Arab World” is constituted of two dozen independent States and this Arab World has at least four major differences, such as the North African countries, the Nile region States, the Arabic peninsula and the Gulf Emirates and the Syrian Nation (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine?)

The pilot, which riffs on the Alice in Wonderland tale, reinforces old racist tropes:   an American girl (presumably a white girl) is threatened by scary “other” people of color.

American Muslims have lost control of their narratives both online and in the media.

While violent Islamic extremists have grown increasingly adept at using social media to craft their messages – as have anti-Muslim activists – more normative voices from Muslims have been drowned out.

Rabia Chaudry posted this March 19, 2014

The lack of control over self-articulated narratives was exemplified yesterday with the announcement of ABC Family’s new pilot programs, which include a show that got the attention of Arab and Muslim Americans across social media.

One such pilot, “Alice in Arabia” — a title cringe-worthy in itself — has been described as follows:

“Alice in Arabia” is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian.

Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation.

Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.”

(Frequent regurgitated plot: no imagination when applied to the “Arab World” situation)

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Dieter Spears—Getty Images/Vetta

The Twittersphere exploded with the hashtag #AliceinArabia, as people tweeted their offense to ABC Family. The criticisms are plentiful and varied.

1. The show reinforces old racist tropes in which an American girl (presumably a white girl) is threatened by scary “other” people of color.

Considering the sordid history of Americans vilifying Native American men and then black men as dangerous to white women, it is a completely understandable objection.

2. The entire framework of the show is through the kidnap plotline, confirming the kinds of fears about Arabs, Iranians and Muslims that the movie “Not Without My Daughter” established decades ago.

3. The show certainly pits Americans against “Arabs” (tweeters pointed out “Arabia” is not actually a place), and we can assume the “independent spirit and wit” of Alice the American will prevail as triumphant over the lesser evolved Arabians. Thus the plot both bolsters the highly troublesome binary of us vs. them (Muslims being them), a factor linked to the growth of anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes in the US since 9/11, and confirms American superiority.

4. Not only will “Alice in Arabia” exacerbate the marginalization of Muslim and Arab men, it perfectly reflects Western attitudes towards Muslim women. Hear that sound?

It’s millions of Muslim women snorting as Alice attempts to survive “life behind the veil.”

The very idea that the veil is something to be survived strips Muslim women of their intellect and agency and makes them the subjects of this practice rather than sentient protagonists 5. of it.

5. The pilot uses the real-life difficulties faced by women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a platform for ratings, and diminishes the work of activists in and outside the country to effect meaningful reform.

An imported heroine, who is both the victim and the great white hope, not only smacks of Orientalism but frames serious issues through her narrative alone. In doing so, it reaffirms the fact that overwhelmingly the stories in the West of Muslims and Arabs are not actually being told by Muslims and Arabs.

The challenges of Muslims in the West are many, but there is no question that having control over our narratives and the messages about our faith are paramount.

These narratives shape public opinion, impact civil liberties, and even influence our foreign policy.

In failing to self-define ourselves, our culture and our faith we lose authority both to religious extremists and anti-Muslim bigots.

It can only be hoped that ABC Family and other media outlets are paying attention.

The American Muslim community is ripe with talent and voices who can actually tell these stories in relevant, meaningful, and authentic ways.

Portraying Muslims and Arabs as nuanced Americans instead of foreign caricatures would be a good first step for television.

Instead of reaching across the globe for “Alice in Arabia,” perhaps we should start here at home with “Ahmed in Austin”.


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