Shaheryar Ali

 

Understanding the issue of Gay liberation in Islamic Republic is a theoretically difficult and problematic notion for a variety of reasons!  Whilst the level of historical development as with other post-colonial states, ensures incomplete modernization, the existing union with international capital, forces a post modern sensitivity through out urban centers of Islamic Republic. It is still theoretically problematic to assert the existence of either “Gay” community or Gay liberation in the country. The pattern of “Men Having Sex with Men” and their women counterparts remains largely “pre-Modern” in the sense which Foucault elaborates as an “aberration” rather than “specie” (as is the case in industrialized societies). The pattern which exists mostly in the Islamic Republic takes form of Man/boy, Senior/junior and Macho/effeminate polarities and enjoys a level of social acceptability in almost all parts of Islamic Republic especially outside major urban centers but it could be dominant pattern even in these. The practice does not seem to induce “gay label” on the participants, which is especially true for the dominant polarity (man/senior/Macho). A common binary opposition which has been defined in these contexts is the one based on “performance” (Active vs Passive) where the “active partner” appears to enjoy a level of societal approval as this role is understood to be enshrined in the “Masculine identity” in many parts of the country. This also seems to suggest the “gay” label is only extended to receiving partner. This is the argument that one listens most from the urban gay activists but have always been a problematic notion for me to understand. Urdu has no word for “Homosexual” or “gay” nor does any of the regional language. “gando” the word commonly referred to in this context denotes some thing else. It does not strictly or exclusively denotes a passive partner. In Pre modern pattern “bacha” and Londa” are more important in this context. One can argue the extant of specificity these terms have as londa in vernacular denotes simply a “lad”but has been used in sexual context as well. Mir the foremost Master of Urdu poetry said “ Mir bare saada hein jis sabab bimar hue! Ussi Attar ke “londe” se dawa lete hein! Moreover there are no words for “Top” in in Urdu as such apart from words coined by urban chatters. Which represent more of constructed jargon than language! Language has been understood as “house of being” so I am not very convinced about this binary opposition. The trap here is too fall for what West has taught us.  The discourse on these matters is heavily laden with orientalist connotations. What is very conveniently forgotten In this regard is the fact that the same sex relations historically were more socially acceptable in East than in West. The Baghdad which is frequently alluded too by our moslem romantics was not only rich in philosophy science and Jihad but also in hedonism. Mutawakil had herm of thousands of castrated Roman lads and one Caliph had to explain to a visiting Mufti who was astonished to see his highness surrounded by cute youth that “he has never untied his trouser cord for what has been forbidden”. The European travelers to Ottoman empire were horrified to observe the openness of same sex relation in baths of Consentinople. Europe of middle ages remembered the Arabs and muslims as “sodomites”. Literature is full of such episodes. One ironic example is that of a Austrian lad who went to a handsome Turk prisoner of war and was utterly disappointed on his refusal failing to understand how a Turk not be a sodomite! Kohat observed frequent same sex wedding in Raj. Photographs exist in private collections. The “modern gay scene” is limited to only a handful of people mostly exposed to European society and westernized or semi westernized families. They are not representative of most of the “People who have sex with Same Gender” (PSSG) in the Islamic Republic. In absence of gay community the efforts to “liberate gays” might reduce the “social immunity” which a wide number of PSSG seem to have in Islamic Republic.

The so called pride event in USA embassy has in my opinion exposed these people to risk of death, social alienation and torture. The behavior which is indigenous will now become “western disease” which needs to be eradicated. Any one who is properly integrated in Pakistani society (not the isolated modern or semi modern Islands in Islamabad Lahore and Karachi) knows that homoerotic behavior is a significant part of local discourse and is not noticed or bothered much unless it crosses over from its designated sphere ie It is not worn on ones face or pumped up as a pride event.  Rather is often a matter of laugh, taunt or dislike by friends and usually does not lead to much serious consequences. (Apart from few cases in recent past which are result of more Gay visibility and emergent homophobia). The strategy of modern gay liberation in a society where modern lifestyles have not been universally accepted can be counterproductive. The orientalist approach in this regard must be discarded. The movement must be integrated with movement to secularize the country. The queer activists need to integrate themselves to the wider political struggle in the country. They need to be part of the rank and file of the resistance movement.  Winning the respect and acceptance of their colleges and comrades they need to introduce the agenda of sexual liberation in the emerging political leadership of the country. Not only this, they need to become part of this leadership.

The example of 20th century has explained to us the limitations of the identity politics in general. Whilst African communists and ANC were able to end apartheid in South Africa at level of the bourgeois state, the segregation in the society has not been abolished. The overwhelming number of Africans still lives in abject poverty without any access to the social standards which a White South African enjoys. Xenophobia has emerged as a dangerous consequence of the discontent which the “liberated” Africans feel. Same could be said about USA where the historic civil rights movement apparently ended the legal segregation but failed miserably to achieve social integration. An African American has become president of USA but the socio-economic and health indicators of the most advance nation of the world demonstrate a divergence which is startling to say the least! The poverty and health indicators of parts of USA are comparable to African states. African Americans are still more likely to have no access to health care and are more likely to be in prisons than the white Americans.

Though Gay rights have been granted in Europe and USA, Homophobia in the society effectively nullifies these gains. Homosexuals still face discrimination, exclusion and violence in USA and Europe. The most problematic aspect of this is the fact that these legal reforms tend to discriminate on a class basis. Where more socially advantaged classes seem to get benefit from these reforms but those from under privileged classes suffer exclusion. From the perspective of a social activist who is interested in emancipation it presents itself as an existential dilemma , where one tends to stand at the same point where he started before the “victory”. The criticism we are offering to the “liberal” model here is frequently misunderstood and sometimes described deliberately by our liberal friends as “deference” of the Question of Rights! This essentially is not the case!  This is essentially is a criticism of the political approach which deferred the question of “Human emancipation” indefinitely in favor of certain legal protections which practically have favored a small minority of oppressed communities thus resulting in actual increase in discrimination and social segregation. This is a criticism of the fragmentation of progressive movement which plays one oppressed community against another! Jews vs Blacks Vs Hispanics in USA.  Women vs Gays etc and favors the dominant sections of society to effectively remain in control. This is the criticism of the approach which sees “reforms’ as the endpoint of the struggle rather than emancipation. Reforms are certainly desirable and should be encouraged but only in a context of a holistic political agenda which seeks to unite people in struggle for socio economic emancipation or we will keep having “victories” without effect and ‘changes” without change!

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AAGN001278I recently discovered
a very interesting blog, its called (mass)think!. The blog is a
treasure for those who are concerned with “radical philosophy”. Avant-garde
works regarding Marxism, Post-structuralist theory, radical feminism and Gender
theory are available to read and learn, on the top of it are the Aesthetics and
Arts which illuminate ones being. This story written by Ryan and Aless on
(mass)think! Which can be reached here
is important because it aesthetically deconstructs the romantic discourse of
love in western tradition of metaphysics and aesthetics which pre-conceives
essentialist notion of gender as spirit of love. The relationship between myth and
knowledge and its ramifications on culture manifest through the title “Romio
and Julio”. This in turn establishes a non essentialist, non temporal link between
the pre-modern and the post modern. Those who are interested in contemporary approaches
to textuality and narrativity will find it to be a treat. With Judith Butler’s contribution
into non essentialist understanding of Gender and sexuality as primarily “performative”,
the story is interplay of logic, rhetoric, passions and desire. Enjoy

Shaheryar Ali

Romeo and Julio

Ryan and Aless, (Mass)think!

“Let’s leave. Tonight.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you have any idea how
much it kills me whenever you get jealous of me? Talking to a girl, or talking
about them? Don’t you think I see? Don’t you think I saw just now—And that
wasn’t even a friend!”

“You don’t know what you’re
talking about.”

“I can’t have any more of it.
I won’t have any more! I wanna be with you. I wanna try it. So let’s go. Leave.
Just go for it!”

“You have a girlfriend.”

“So? I’ll break up with her.”

“You’re crazy . . .”

“So what? Isn’t that,
according to you, the hallmark of love? Its inexplicability, its irrationality
. . .”

“You’re not even gay.”

“Wasn’t it you who told me
that sexuality is but a performance, that it’s just a convenient, how did you
call it, ‘molar’ way to represent in collectivity the everyday actions we
perform, that in truth we are all polymorphously perverse, capable of anything,
capable of connecting to everything, that over the years we’ve just been
rigidified by social codes that normalize us so we forget our multiple
potentialities and become the boring, monomaniac machines that we are?”

“You
don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“So you’re saying all those
late-night phone calls, all those conversations . . . All those theories were
not meant to convince me? Make me believe?”

“I . . . simply articulated
what I believed . . .”

“Look, I don’t know if I’m
gay—but as you said, it doesn’t matter. I know what I feel for you. I know, at
the end of the night, I wanna call you. I know, at the end of the day, despite
all the other people around me, I wanna come home to you . . . Wasn’t it you
who said that we’re all capable of anything? Everything? Of being both sexes.
Of being all the sexes! It doesn’t matter what we do now, who we sleep with. It
matters who we can do what with. How we feel. My body parts can learn. In fact,
they’re able. They just need to be awakened. And they will. My heart knows . .
.”

“What are you saying?”

“I wanna try it, see if my
parts can resonate with yours. There is no other person that I admire, no other
person that I . . .—I’m not gonna let the way I’ve been sexually trained to
hinder what I feel for you, limit me—most of all, hurt you . . .”

“It’s crazy. I’m leaving
tomorrow. I got a job . . .”

“So? Forget it. F**k it! I’m
leaving my girlfriend.”

“I . . .”

“Leave your commitments.
Let’s just go! Leave. Leave everything behind . . . Isn’t that what people do?
For love . . .”

“No, no . . . I’m not this
disturbed anymore. A year ago, I might have done this—”

. [kiss] . .

“I know what you feel. I felt
what you want. What do you say?”

“Yes, yes . . . Let’s go . .
.”

This letter was written to the editor of PTH and my dear friend Raza Rumi. He was kind enough to publish an edited version of this letter.

The basic aim of this letter was to highlight the fact that intellectual and progressive history shows that Fascist, Far-Right and Conservatives have over time built a highly offensive system of “witch-hunt” against those who have stood up for equality. The stereotype was to brand every one who stood up against the system as “Communist”, “Jew” or “Homosexual”. More often all these were part of a wider “stereotype” which in United States where even Liberals were called “commies”. Hilliary Clinton for examples states in her autobiography how she was slandered as a “commie” in deep south. Pinko is one such derogatory term used by American Right against progressive and civil right activist many of those lost their life and honor during McCarthy era. “Pinko-fag” is a term one often hears in USA while talking to bigots. The point of the letter was should a publication which claims itself to be progressive and secular-humanist and liberal allow language of American Right especially one associated with hate crimes during McCarthy era. Weather we should rise above “Niggers”,”Pinkos””commies” and “fagots” or we should celebrate one of the greatest “witch-hunting” by keep associating with it. Its neither about “communism” nor about “homosexuality” , any one who has read history knows McCarthy and Red Scare targeted people who were not all communists. Arthur Miller is perhaps the only writer who has  truly captured the mania of Red Scare and witch hunt in his remarkable and celebrated classic Play “The Crucible”. Its my failure , my personal failure that i couldn’t convey to my friend that i only didnt wanted to live in a “Salem”

Shaheryar Ali

Dear Raza Rumi,

After reading one of the articles on Pak Tea House I have been forced to write this letter of protest to you. The reasons are my great personal attachment to you and Pak Tea House Blog-zine I have always considered you not only a dear friend but also a mentor and spiritual companion in my quest for truth. The importance Pak Tea House has in my life is clear from this simple fact that I wrote my first ever “public article” for this internet publication. I am neither a professional writer nor I intend to be one I like some other people who can be called “dysfunctional neurotics” or “impractical Romantics” etc write only for one reason to voice our conscientious opinion. We neither claim “neutrality” or “impartiality” nor do we believe in “hegemonizing” the opinion. Our commitment to our values could be judged from the fact that the first target of our criticism is “Self”, in my case you are aware that I have always targeted intellectual expression of the “my self”, my country, my religion, my gender and my sexuality. I have been vocal critic of the things which according to the essentialist point of view are very nature of my being. I have been a vocal critic of Pakistani nationalism, despite the fact that I grew up with green flag on my chest and that I love this soil more than anything else in my life, I was born in a muslim family and have a deep emotional attachment to holy family, sufi mystics and other Islamic traditions but I have also been a passionate supporter of those who want to subject Islam to a libertarian critique. I am classified biologically as a “Male” who have XY genotype, but I reject the essentialist notion of Gender in line of philosophers like Bulleh Shah “Kanjri ban.ne meri izzet na ghati , mein ten ach ke yaar manana” Jacques Derrida , Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. I am a “homosexual” but I reject the modern “Gay” label and associate my self with “Queer Movement”

The reasons for elaborating my intellectual history are to show our firm commitment to “Freedom of Expression” and “Right to Dissent”. Having said that, I come to the issue at hand; Mr Yassir Latif Hamdani’s latest article which has been written in response to a critical piece by “Freethinker” . I was shocked to read it. Now , its not that I have no expectations from Mr Hamdani when it comes to petty offenses, the reasons of my shock and outrage are that such a violently bigoted “hate speech” has been allowed at Pak Tea House. I here want to make one thing perfectly clear that Mr Hamdani’s right to express himself remains inalienable and non negotiable. The debate of “Freedom of expression” and “Hate Speech” is an ongoing debate and this letter is not the proper medium to revise it. Pak Tea House Blog is not a “free-publication”, it exercises an “editorial control” which means that it recognizes “Offence factor” or “The Harm Factor” and regulates speech which it considers either harmful or offensive. When Pak Tea House is exercising editorial control, it becomes a matter of “intellectual freedom”, how that control is being asserted. The generally accepted Progressive/Liberal position is to fight bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, and gender discrimination at “social level”, at work place, offices, schools, churches, mosques and publications. The point is raising of consciousness at mass level to bring about “social –change”. The consensus is of protecting the “marginalized” groups, blacks, Jews, gays, transgender, etc for this the progressive establishments adopt “Affirmative actions” and “Pluralistic settings”. The issue of “state regulation” of this offensive speech is controversial amongst Left/Liberal/Civil Rights lobbies and activists. The more advance positions have been to resist any “state control” even if it seems to be protecting “marginalized community”. Because state control has the potential of being abused. This can be elaborated by the position of “American Civil Liberties Union”, which may occasionally plead for a “Neo Nazi” hate mongerer when he has been detained by authority but it will at social level fight hate mongering. It itself will never use its platform to spread hate; will never use offensive bigoted language. Noam Chomsky will sign a petition condemning removal from services of a French Professor who is Holocaust denier but he himself vehemently oppose anti Semitism, holocaust denial and will never use his website or articles to engage in “hate-mongering”. In this way issue of “freedom of expression” and “Hate mongering” are put in perspective. It’s fought at social level, at intellectual level, in streets but state is not allowed to restrict speech.

This principle has been violated at PTH. Mr. Hamdani’s article is titled “Brownies for Pinkos: Freethinking Paki Style”. Being a philosophy student “language” is my obsession and “etymology” my Passion Now this “Pinkos” have a very special significance for us “Commies”, “fags”, “sissies” whose genders is so “indeterminate” that we be addressed as “His/Her”. The term is literally drenched in blood. First appearing in Time Magazine, in 1926. Reference sources will talk bout its contemporary use as a “derogatory term used for those with sympathies with “communism”. A little detail will shed more light: The politics of colour. Those who used and popularized this term are those who saw “communism” in every emancipatory movement. But for “communist” the favored term was “Red”. I will remind you of the Spanish Civil War where General Franco and his “patriotic nationalists” read “Fascists” gave the Slogan “Better Dead than Red”. For them “Red” was every one who was on other side, poets, intellectuals, liberals, Anarchists, Socialists, Trotskyites. And than it all had a complete package “Jews, Fags Commies”. Communism was a “Jewish conspiracy” and their method to destroy a nation was to spread evil, atheism and homosexuality. By making the honour loving brave men of the nation “Homosexuals” the Jews/commies were destroying the nation. You remember Lorca, the Spanish poet, who Neruda laments in his poem on Spain. In Andalusia when he was captured the great patriotic men of Catholic non violent morality tortured him. He was asked to bow and say he was a “communist”. He was shot. Two shots were fired on his butt because he was a “Homosexual sissy” as well.

Now leave these Reds or commies aside, let’s come to Pinkos. Now in United States, those sissies who were not communists because they criticized USSR and totalitarianism but because they use to talk about “Peace”, “non violence”, ”Civil Rights” those long haired, hippies, sociopaths, they had to be commies so they coined the term “Pinkos”. Pink being the lighter shade of “Red” of communism and Pink also the colour of Gay Liberation. Of course who could forget Adolf Hitler the great made us wear “Pink Triangles” before killing us in Gas chambers? Now for American Right the Liberals were all commies and fags. A complete stereotype was created.

The great Time Magazine who coined this term used it in a specific perspective. Joseph J Firebaugh in his “Vocabulary of Time Magazine” says “Term has been used along with “Parlor Pink” for people with Left sympathies with a special implication of “effeteness”.

Now this “effeteness”, the Latin root of this word is “effetus”, fetus, fruitful, “More at Feminine” Impotent, sissy, faggy, Fruit” is yet another term for us “sissy boys” in American High schools.

From Time Magazine we come to Wall Street Journal , they used this term in 1920 , they talked about the “complete package” used the word “Pink” while describing supporter of progressive politician La Follete:

“Visionaries, ne’er do wells, parlor pinks, reds, hyphenates [Americans with divided allegiance], soft handed agriculturalists and working men who have never seen a shovel” so coming to point “Sissy Lefties”

Speaking of bigotry how could we forget another hero of Mr Hamdani , Richard Nixon , who using the same bigoted and sexist line , used this during Senate campaign against Helen Douglas , its one of the most infamous usage of this word “She is Pink right Down to her underwear”. The term was used most frequently during the worse times of United State History known as “The Red Scare” and McCarthy Era” where many Pinkos were tortured, killed, their lives ruined. Ku Klux Klan burned many long haired pinko sissies who stood up for Black Rights

The great Term was also being used In Apartheid South Africa, the ANC after all was “commie” and “Pinko” How many “Pinkos” were murdered and tortured there I leave it to you.

The real assault on the “Pink” happened in Germany with Homosexuals being killed en mass during Holocaust .They were asked to wear “Pink Triangles” to assert their “homosexuality” and “sissy-ness”.

Now let’s come to “Paki”. The great Pakistani “Patriot” Mr Hamdani uses this overtly “Racist” word. “Paki” has been declared by courts in UK to be “racist”. Just 2 days back Prince Harry made a public apology for using this term. Yahoo News says:

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s Prince Harry apologised Sunday for any offence caused after a self-filmed video was released showing him calling an army colleague a Paki and telling another he looked like a “raghead”. Politicians condemned his remarks and welcomed his apology, but Muslim youth organisation the Ramadan Foundation said the comments were “sickening”. The Ministry of Defence said it would not tolerate “inappropriate behaviour” and Harry’s commanding officer would look into his remarks. Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper said the clips, posted on its website, were made in 2006 when the prince was still an officer cadet. footage begins as Harry is waiting with his platoon in an airport departure lounge for a flight to a training exercise in Cyprus. Touring the room with a video camera as his colleagues snooze, he spots a colleague of South Asian ethnic origin and says: “Anybody else around here?… Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed.“”Paki” is a racist term for Pakistanis or other South Asians.

Harry’s office issued an apology, but insisted the prince had used the term without malice. “Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause,” a spokesman said. Cabinet minister John Denham condemned Harry’s language, saying: “People have changed their attitudes, people realise how offensive it is and I think the fact he has apologised so quickly shows that he’s recognised it.” David Cameron, leader of the main opposition Conservatives, said Harry’s comments were “completely unacceptable” and it was “right” he had apologised, but did not call for him to be reprimanded” Sun, 11 Jan, 2009

This is the normal response to “bigotry” which I feel PTH has failed to show. What I want to remind here is all this fuss is created in UK where this remark “Paki” was uttered by Prince Harry for a friend in a situation which could be dismissed as a “joke”. Prince also pretends to call Queen in the video. But all this was not enough to let him off the hook. What is more important is that all this “did not happen because the person who was called “Paki” complained. He never did. He never was offended. This is also not about “discrimination” because the person who was called “Paki” was a cadet at Sandhurst academy, he Mr Ahmad Raza Khan was Prince Harry’s colleague and friend and was one of the best cadets and was presented with “Overseas Sword” by Queen Elizabeth herself in 2006 for being the best cadet. So there was no question of “legal discrimination”, even than British Society forced Prince Harry to apologize publicly. It was all about Language.

I don’t want to go into the academic merits of Mr Hamdani’s article and his Gandhi bashing. What I find ironic is a man who builds this case on the premise that Gandhi was a “sexist”, “Racist” “fascist” and “castist” thus masking his bigotry and communalism in Liberal ethos and impeccable English will use terminology as overtly sexist, racist and homophobic as “Pinkos” and “Paki”?? The most outrageous part is the nauseously sexist assault on “free thinker”, Knowing very well “freethinke’s” views on Gender and sexuality [His blog] and also knowing “free thinker” is a boy , even than he writes “Freethinker wants to prove “himself/herself” a freethinker” This “him/her shit goes on. Now my dear friend he has seen “freethinker’s” blog, he knows where he is hitting. Freethinker , my self and many others consider the essentialist notion of Gender a very oppressive social construct. The modern discipline of Gender theory is based on this concept. The whole discipline is of course of “pinkos”, feminists n faggots. Its no wonder the traditional Vanguard of all reaction in west Pope Benedict had recently condemned the whole academic discipline of Gender theory. It all may sound not very appealing to you but my dear friend people like us who grew up struggling with issues of gender and sexuality, who have been bullied at schools for being “sissy” and “fags” pushed to the point of suicide and nervous break down this is the matter of our life and death our freedom and liberty. What respectability English language grants to bigotry. This “Pinkos” and “Paki” , “Him/Her” is not very different to us than “Hijra”, “khusra” etc. Cant our ideas be vehemently criticized without judging us for who we sleep with, how we talk and walk and do we wear lipstick? I asked Mr Omair Raza to write for PTH, I was under impression that discussions will be on issues and ideas and not on our race, religion, gender and sexuality.

With this sort of bigotry being allowed what happens that we loose our intellectual freedom, let me give you an example. The techniques by which Mr Gandhi becomes “castist”, “sexists”,” fascist” and “racist” , every known man in history could be shown to be. I for example if uses this methodology could write about Voltaire being racist. If Hindu nationalists want to write on PTH about Prophet of Islam, with respect to Islam and Woman emancipation and sexuality, we all know the age of Hazrat Ayesha mentioned in reputed Islamic texts when the marriage was consumed. Jesus can be demonstrated to be a virulent racist and hate mongerer . What moral justification we have to “control” this hate speech and not control one which favors Pakistani muslim stra8 guy’s bigotry against other marginalized groups??

What should I expect after my post on Homosexuality at PTH that a fellow writer writes “Brownies for Commie Fagot”??

There is a responsibility to protect marginalized groups at work place, clubs etc United Nations has recently passed a resolution to end discrimination against Homosexuals and Transgender people. Criticism and racist –sexist slandering are two very different things. I have been taught to stand up to and oppose bigotry and that I will do. I only expected that PTH editorial policy would have followed normal protective mechanisms against racist and sexist offenses. If PTH chooses to keep allowing racist/sexist and derogatory language in general especially to be used by Writers against fellow writers merely for intellectual difference, I will be forced to consider it as “Abuse” and in that case will not be able to keep associating my self with PTH. My mother taught me that one can criticize Malcom X’s violence without calling him “Nigger” and I think our views can be criticized without us being “Pinkos” “Pakis” and “commies”

I am sure you will understand my pain. At the personal level I am feeling very uneasy after writing this knowing that you personally are not for all this, I want to apologize for any pain and letdown my letter may have caused you. But Raza I will be not be a party to Abuse.

I am waiting for your reply and action. I thank you and Pak Tea House for giving me chance to write and for grooming my thought. For that I will always be in debt.

Yours Faithfully

Sherry

[Shaheryar Ali]

Shaheryar Ali

I was just surfing the blogsphere, when i came across this very good progressive blog by the name of “Bradistan calling Archives”.It contained a post on a Moslem Gay Poet. Ifti Nasim, who is a life long anti war and anti imperialist activist. He as one can understand, had to wage a existential battle against religious orthodoxy and cultural bigotry which plagues Moslem societies.

These men are now the rare creed of “radical subversives” who are increasingly becoming an endangered specie in Moslem world.

Ifti Naseem , must be called a “cultural Hero”, because if ever a Modern Progressive Culture developed in the moslem world , he will be hailed as a hero. He comes from the Pakistani city “Faisalabad”. A city which was robbed of its soul, identity and being by re-naming it after fundamentalist King of Saudi Arabia, King Faisal.

Naseem was aware of what Michel Foucault calls the “absolute difference”, and he never tried to hide it. He spent time with the Eunuchs in Pakistan as a young boy. Associating with “Hijras”, the local Eunuch and cross dressers, is considered an ultimate insult for Pakistani males. When he went to meet the greatest of the Urdu writers, Quratulain Haider, he was wearing a lipstick.

This is celebrating the difference, which is the only way to make non-fascist societies where difference is celebrated not killed in name of conformity.

I can re-call some thing from Foucault, which perhaps depicts the similar dilemma, why some one needs to assert  his or her absolute “difference”

“But there is another kind of loneliness which is terrible to endure.”
“He paused.
“And that is the loneliness of seeing a different world from that of the people around you. Their lives remain remote from yours. You can see the gulf and they can’t. You live among them. They walk on earth. You walk on glass. They reassure themselves with conformity, with carefully constructed resemblances. You are masked, aware of your absolute difference. That’s why I always live in the bars — les lieux de drague — simply to be among the others who were like me.”

It was this which took Naseem to the Hijras, the Eunchs. Naseem lives in USA, but he is not happy, its not the USA he came to. The naked imperialism of USA haunts him, and he does not remain silent. This moving poems tells us how pure the heart of this moslem “fag” is:

The Iraqi Children

you wanted a villain
so you got him
you wanted to create a monster
so you did
life is not a Hollywood movie
and the desert was not a backdrop
of a studio
Armed forces were not the extras
(They are now suffering from the desert storm syndrome)
there were no props and cuts
Baghdad was not a movie set
Where the real bombs were dropped
Did you ever go back to see if the splinter
Of bomb had licked the life of a civilian
or a child.
what do you care you just wanted to show
your military superiority
so you did.
A little country smaller than your toe has
Kicked you so hard that you have to invite the whole world To attack her.
Was it an experiment of a new weapon?
Baghdad is a not laboratory. Baghdad is a history.
The economic embargo is the biggest racist notion.
I have ever seen in the modern history.
Iraqi children are drinking milk and eating food
Laced with your arsenic.
You have sown a crop of hatred and I am afraid
When it is going to be the harvest time.

The hell which is being the “other” both in USA for being Moslem and Gay, and also being the “other” in Pakistan for being a Progressive and a Gay, is a  dual hell, Naseem’s poem expresses this pain, when he talks about his “otherness” in USA. A poem that touches ones heart.

Why the Children did not Knock on My door

There was no knock at the door
My cats were waiting in the foyer,
Listening to the steps passing by.
Children were knocking at door
of the apartment in front of  mine.
“Trick or treat. Trick or treat”
My money jar full of quarters
looked so empty.
What happened? Who played
These dirty tricks on me?
Thirty one year as a law abiding citizen
I am still a foreigner. Foreigner
With a crude face and features of
a terrorist. My color two shade
Darker than an average white man
Is not accepted anymore.
My café ole color, once I was so proud of,
Is a guilt trip for me now.
My ethnicity has become a crime.
Mean streets of Chicago have become meaner.
“Go back to your country. Go back to your country.”
They yell at me.
And I am a citizen of USA
with no country.

Airports, train stations, shopping malls, schools,
Hospitals wherever I go, I am watched and scrutinized.
I yearn for the freedom I came here for.
Right now I am worst than a slave.
I am tired. I am tired. I feel like Rosa Park
and there is no bus for me.
Because I am not only two shade darker
than an average white man
But I am also a Muslim

Ifti Naseem has no country, just like a Palestanian, becase he is a Moslem, Gay and Progressive. He is the “other” in USA because he is a Muslim and he is an insult in Islamic Republic of Pakistan because , to quote him “God made me Gay so—-“

Ifti Naseem is a Cultural Hero, he is pure and honest , he is more brave than any male chavunist will ever be, he is living a dual hell, and he is proud of it.

The Bradistan entery can be reached here

http://bradistancalling.blogspot.com/2007/07/coz-allah-made-me-gay-ifti-nasim-editor.html

A particularly beautiful Ghazal can be reached here, for those who enjoy the traditional ursu poetry

http://www.kamli.com/poetry/poetry_detail.asp?poetry=412&poet_id=59&title=Taq%20par%20jazwan%20may%20lipti%20duaenrah%20gayin

Several nations with sizable gay communities have not signed up to a declaration on the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to be presented at the UN this month.

 

 

The French initiative is backed by all EU nations along with Norway Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In the Americas the most notable absence is the United States.

Canada has signed up alongside Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.

Three African nations – Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau – are committed to the declaration alongside New Zealand, Israel, Armenia and Japan.

Louis Georges Tin, the founder of the Inernational Day Against Homophobia, is behind the universal decriminalisation declaration.

He met with Rama Yade, France’s minister of human rights and foreign affairs, earlier this year.

In September she confirmed that she will appeal at the United Nations for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Until the end of 2008 France will speak for all EU member states at the UN General Assembly, as they hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union.

The French initiative on decrminalisation will take the form of a solemn declaration from UN states, rather than a vote in the UN on the matter.

France will submit a draft declaration at the UN General Assembly between December 15th and 20th. The British government already advocates universal decriminalisation.

More than 80 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances.

The maximum punishments range from a few years jail to life imprisonment.

In nine countries, or regions of countries, the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution.

More than 50 nations have signed up to support the initiative, but the Vatican has attacked it and claims that as many countries have not signed up, it they are in the right.

“It’s not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone,” a Vatican spokesman said earlier this week.

The Holy See does not have a vote at the UN, but its observer has tried to claim that “states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure,” as a result of the declaration.

Mr Tin said:

“If your government has not yet signed the text, and if you think it is relevant to ask them, you could then lobby the Foreign Ministry in your capital.

“It might be also useful to copy any message to your country’s Ambassador at the United Nations.

“You can explain that it is a declaration (it is not compelling), it is only about decriminalising homosexuality (there is no link with marriage) and that more than 50 countries have already signed.

“If your government has already signed the text, you may ask them to contact other close friend states. For instance, Canada and UK might contact other countries of the Commonwealth, Mexico and Spain might contact other countries of Latin America

Source : Pink News