The high cost of ineffective anti-terror measures

When will politicians consider the safety of the people to be more important than avoiding criticism?

The high cost of ineffective anti-terror measuresOn Nov. 29, 2019, two people were fatally stabbed and three injured by convicted terrorist Usman Khan. The attacker was shot dead by the City of London Police, after members of the public restrained him. Khan was convicted in 2012 of planning a terrorist attack. He was released from prison in 2018 after serving six…

Exposing the roots of racism through song

As an artist and an academic, Arsh Khaira explores the power of music to overcome divisions

Exposing the roots of racism through songMusic has a major role to play in the fight against systemic racism, according to newly minted music PhD Arsh Khaira. The Edmonton-based musician and University of Alberta instructor, who graduated on June 12, wrote his thesis on how the trauma of ethnic conflict is passed down through generations. He focused specifically on the ways…

Global conflict never far away: Iranian student

New U of A graduate Asal Andarzipour found herself in a leadership role in the wake of the Flight 752 disaster

Global conflict never far away: Iranian studentIn the days following the tragedy of Flight 752, Asal Andarzipour desperately held things together. Two missiles struck the Ukraine International Airlines flight on Jan. 8, killing 13 Iranians with connections to the University of Alberta among the 176 victims. As president of the Iranian Students’ Association, Andarzipour was suddenly thrown into crisis management, fielding…

If we’re laughing together, perhaps we can bridge the gap

I have to do all I can for peace and truth, even posting my Middle-Aged Middle Eastern Guy rap on YouTube

If we’re laughing together, perhaps we can bridge the gapSometimes you need to risk appearing foolish to speak a very deep truth. As a person of Middle Eastern ethnicity, I’ve long felt a tie to all peoples of that area of the world. As I watch the news, I see a horrible conflict between the Christians, Muslims and Jews of this region. Perhaps it’s…

We need to discuss the darker side of some Muslim tenets

People everywhere should be able to worship as they please or not worship at all

We need to discuss the darker side of some Muslim tenetsThe massacre of Muslims at prayer in New Zealand on March 15 is yet another appalling example of the horrors of extreme hatred. In this case, the mass murderer was a deluded white supremacist. Other recently targeted victims have been Jews at worship in Pittsburgh, or just anyone who chose to come to the wrong…

A ray of hope after a brutal week

A multicultural student haka in New Zealand radiates something positive in a world that seems all too sick

A ray of hope after a brutal weekWhen you write a weekly column in the relatively unrelated realms of culture and politics, you rely on independent stimuli for the idea that eventually becomes the piece. Frankly, the idea that becomes the column doesn’t often strike until just after the previous week’s work appears online each Sunday morning. Then, as if ordained by…

We can escape the heart of darkness and violence

In Christchurch, South Carolina, Pittsburgh and elsewhere, we've seen what hate brings if we don't find common ground

We can escape the heart of darkness and violenceOne of Charles Dickens’ most beloved books is A Tale of Two Cities. The novel focuses on several characters, including Dr. Alexandre Manette, who was imprisoned in the Bastille in Paris, France, for 18 torturous years. His long-held desire was to join his daughter, Lucie, a brilliant physician who lived in London, England, and had…

Religious freedom benefits everyone

But hard secularism and the marginalization of some Canadians are reducing our deep pluralism and chipping away at our freedoms

Religious freedom benefits everyoneIt’s a safe bet that Asia Bibi – a Christian woman recently acquitted of blasphemy charges in Pakistan but still facing mob violence – would say religious freedom makes Canada a better country. Indeed, it’s because Canada enjoys religious freedom that this country may even grant her asylum. Chances are that Muslim Rohingyas fleeing Burma or…

Sympathizing with minorities, with a twist

Sociologists have convinced us to think of people solely in terms of their census categories and their victim credentials

Sympathizing with minorities, with a twistWhen an acquaintance accused me of being unsympathetic to minorities, I was indignant. I’m a member of a much-maligned minority ethnic group, with which I identify strongly. And both of my children are visible minorities: my son was adopted from Thailand and my daughter was adopted from China. In this cultural moment, to be unsympathetic…

What comes after multiculturalism?

Of all the alternatives that have been tried and rejected, nationalism seems like the best possibility

What comes after multiculturalism?You don’t have to be an anthropologist to understand that multiculturalism as the cohabitation of multiple distinct cultures is a non-starter. If ‘culture’ is understood in its simplest meaning, as a distinct way of life, then the idea of many distinct and mutually contradictory ways of life sharing the same space is obviously nonsensical. One…

The truth about the roots of most terrorism

When Muslim attackers and terrorists claim they’re acting to defend and advance Islam, westerners put their fingers in their ears

The truth about the roots of most terrorismGreat news! The Washington Post says, “Terrorist attacks are quietly declining around the world.” Citing a University of Maryland report on terrorism, the author points out that there are fewer terrorist attacks since 2016. So nothing to see here, folks – move along. Not so fast. I’m not sure we’re quite ready to celebrate the fact…

A spiritual leadership grounded in reality

When your last name is Arab and you’re not a Muslim or terrorist, you defy a few Islamophobic stereotypes yourself. I’m Arab in name, but my father’s religion is Maronite Catholic – an early branch of the Roman Catholic Church. I was brought up Roman Catholic and indoctrinated in papal infallibility. So the idea of…

Waiting for enlightenment in fundamentalist Islamic law

Religious authorities still hold on to their power, insisting that completely outdated concepts must stay

Waiting for enlightenment in fundamentalist Islamic lawShariah law is based on the Qur’an and the Hadith, the collections of sayings attributed to Mohammed. Islamic fundamentalists believe that Shariah courts should decide virtually all disputes, based on that law. Such courts are a fixture in Islamic countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some fundamentalists even want to see them established in North…

Debunking the myth of immigrant assimilation

Language, religious laws and practices, cultural and culinary traditions all function to discourage, prevent or, at the very least, slow down assimilation

Debunking the myth of immigrant assimilationThere are approximately 260 million immigrants in the world. An immigrant is defined as someone residing in a country other than their place of birth. Of that number, roughly 50 million are “illegal immigrants” who lack official authorization to reside in their host country. In 2017, roughly 3.4 per cent of the world’s population of…

Polar opposites: where’s the middle ground in politics?

By better understanding how various political factions differ, perhaps we can help close some fundamental gaps in society

Polar opposites: where’s the middle ground in politics?North American political polarization is on the rise. Those on the left appear to move ever further to the left, while those on the right find less and less in common with fellow citizens. The political rhetoric has escalated to a toxic level. Half of Americans are labelled sexist, racist, homophobic and Islamophobic; a basket…