Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Iraq Crisis and Western Involvement

The current crisis in Iraq is being deemed by most as a result of the failures of western influence. The Sunni extremist group ISIS has pushed itself into Iraq from Syria. The sectarian group aims to topple the current Shia government and take over as the main regime in Iraq. Once ISIS began freeing people from prison, it allowed the group to maintain support by reuniting the prisoners with their families, portraying them as a movement that aims to aid the people of Iraq. Although by prolonging the conflict between the militant Sunni’s and the Iraqi Shia’s, the only result will be a civil war. At this point in time, the idea of a unified Iraq seems impossible; the country seems most likely to split up into separate states. Not only does ISIS pose a threat to Iraq, but it is also a major setback to western governments, as it produced a re-thinking of how to approach a group that is anti-western in a country that was not so long ago occupied by American troops.
Foreign involvement in the crisis has come through two main countries: Iran and America. As 90% of Iranians are Shia, stopping the sectarian group will help keep their own people safe. Although this comes alongside the history of discontent between both Iraq and Iran; it poses the fear of further Iranian involvement and the status of Iranian troops in Iraq once ISIS is subdued and no longer creates a threat to Iraq. This is also the case through American involvement. The last time America took an interest in Iraq, it left a wide platform for extremist groups to take responsibility in governing the war-torn country; American troops also remained in Iraq for 9 years after their initial invasion.

On the 19th June 2014, Obama stated that US forces “will not be returning to combat in Iraq”, but 300 officials will be sent to Iraq to guard the embassy and gather more information on the extremist group. President Obama’s statement can be perceived as both a positive and a negative. As the adamant position that Obama has taken into not placing US troops lessens conflict between ISIS and the west, it also presents the assumption that the US have gained an understanding of the repercussions that rapid involvement creates. On the other hand, sending 300 military officials furthers the gap between the Middle East and America. As the use military officials reinforce the image of a selfish and self-serving America, an America only cares about its embassy and not the people that fear for their lives. 

Edna Mohamed

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Oregon Becomes The 74th High School To Suffer Shootings

The shooting at a high school in Oregon has become the 74th school that has been associated with gun violence since Sandy Hook in December 2012. The need for strict gun laws has never been more of an issue in America. The availability of guns has meant that students are able to purchase and use these weapons with ill intentions. The backing that many gun-wielding Americans opt for is the Second Amendment; an Amendment that protects the right to keep and bear arms. This amendment should not supersede the right to a life, the irony that comes from the assumption that, to pro-gun wielders, having a weapon ensures ‘protection’ and by taking guns away it becomes a violation of their constitutional right. This was a constitution that was drawn up in 1787, which validated the right to bear arms as a form of protection against the Native Americans. This is no longer a threat to American society, and as such the need to acquire guns should not be a part of everyday life, as the widespread violence it creates that predominantly targets students and children, is evident that this should no longer be classed as a ‘right’. The policy of ‘gun-free’ zones is ultimately failing Americans, as most mass shootings occur on a campus or school grounds. The NRA and Congress need to impose stricter restrictions on the accessibility of guns. As mass shootings, which were something that only happened in extreme cases are now becoming a part of every-day life. As The Onion wrote, “’No way to prevent this’, Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

The events in Oregon echoed the need of mental health education, as the past shooters were unstable, and thought by shooting others it would make their own lives better. This presents the major holes in US democracy, as the increase in mass shootings and the lack of mental health care that they are not paying into. In essence, mass shooting has become a way in which people are trying to gain a ‘better life’ by taking away someone else’s.  The debate on whether America needs an overhaul on mental health was specifically brought forward by the shootings on a college campus in Santa Barbara. The 22 year old who shot 6 people to death, showed signs of mental instability. Through reforming mental health laws, individuals who require consolation will be granted, this could lessen the threat of issues such as the shooting in Oregon and Santa Barbara.

Edna Mohamed

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Emergence of Far-Right parties in European Politics

The recent European elections presented the increase in far-right parties. The most significant being the triumph of the Front National party in France. Le Pen described the votes as a ‘France for the French’, calling on Hollande to dissolve the French government. The win shocked many students in France and led to an all out protest denouncing Le Pen and her party. Many slogans held the sign: Dear Europe, we are sorry. This was coupled with UKIP coming out as the winning party for England. The key issues that both parties seemed to echo was anti-immigration; which is ironic as both are former colonising countries, which aimed to have the largest number of allies, so rather than allowing the countries that fought alongside them sovereignty, they are being forced out.

The gradual dissatisfaction with the EU is problematic. As European countries that claim multiculturalism are voting for far-right parties that not only discriminate but also refuse to vote.  With voter apathy being at an all time high it’s no wonder that these parties were voted in. In conjunction with this, times of hardship present extremism, explicitly displayed in Greece.  The EU is presented as being the driving factor for the rise of extremism, issuing a cry for change either in home countries or the make –up of the European Parliament.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Haruki Murakami

I have officially discovered my favourite author.  As an English student you always get asked what your favourite author is and why you like them. My answer has always been a string of 'ums' and 'ahs' and 'oh, it's raining in London again'. So you can understand my excitement when I say I've finally discovered my favorite writer.  In the past week I read After the QuakeAfter Dark and Sputnik Sweetheart, instead of revising for my exams. So far, my personal favourite, if I had to choose, is After Dark. I decided that I would not start with his most popular novels, so I could take my time through his collection and I'm so glad that I did. It gives me so much room to gain a higher appreciation for Murakami, as if that was possible, because if his lesser known novels were incredible, than his highly regarded ones must be, right?

I'm waiting for my Amazon order that has books 1, 2 & 3 of 1Q84, and I can not wait! Now I wish my life was as interesting and thought-provoking as a Murakami novel.

Edna Mohamed

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Pseudo- Celebs

Everyone's helpful friend YouTube is not so friendly.

The recent unearthing that some British Youtubers were sexually pursuing young girls, came as both a shock and a disappointment. With YouTube having such a large platform, video bloggers that acquire enough subscribers are placed on a pedestal. This means that they obtain a following similar to that of a celebrity, with fans defending their actions to their last breath. But this is where is becomes problematic, as a majority of male Youtubers that are relatively good-looking have a young and impressionable fan base that is mostly made up of girls.

The manipulation that the Youtubers displayed to the girls they met at gathering, was disgusting. Here is a master-post of stories that explain how exactly they manipulated their female fans. Some Youtuber fan bases invalidated claims that their idols manipulated women under the impression that they are 'nice', and 'would never do something like that'. This mentality allows them to a weird sense of self entitlement that this is somewhat acceptable because of how much they've achieved through video blogging. In reality,  they are people who are good at what they do, their 3 and a half-minute videos do not grant them any form of exception , they portray an image, an ideal, a tool for the growth and success of their channel that ultimately leads to money. There are certain responsibilities that come from having a following, regardless if they are male or female, that is detrimental if you do not know how to handle it, in other words "if you can't handle the heat then get out of the kitchen."

Edna Mohamed

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Elite Five

Since going to bookshops is my favorite thing to do, why not compile a list?

1. Quinto & Francis Edwards Booksellers, 71 Charing Cross rd

The best thing about Quinto & Francis is the rows of books you see as soon as you enter. The bookshop has high shelves that seem to tower over you, but give the shop a warm and welcoming vibe. Location wise the bookshop has three other bookshops on the same street, Yay, more bookshops.

2. Primrose Hill Books , 134 Regent's Park Rd  Greater London NW1 8XL

Primrose hill books are a lovely bookshop that is situated two minutes away from Primrose Hill Park. The location of the bookshop is surrounded by dreamy houses and quaint restaurants/cafe. The best thing about this bookshop is the location, as what better way to enjoy a new book than at the top of Primrose hill whilst the sun sets.

3. Book and Comic Exchange, 14 Pembridge Rd, London, Greater London W11 3HL

This book shop has aisles and aisles of used and new books. The shop feels like a record shop with cool music, cool people and a row of comics in the middle. Accessibility wise the shop is a minute away from a Starbucks, so getting lost in the new novel is made easier by the availability of coffee and hot chocolate.

4. Daunt, Baker Street, Regent’s Park | 83/84 Marylebone High St, W1U 4QW.

Daunt is a must see bookshop in London. Once entering the shop the nostalgia of balconies make it impossible to not want to live in the shop.  Although Daunt is referred to as a travel bookshop, they have an extendable amount of fiction and non- fiction novels.  Daunt is personally one of my favourite bookshops in London, with different floors and balconies, escaping reality for a while is a lot more fun.

5.  London Review Bookshop, Holborn, Russell Square, 14 Bury Place, WC1A 2JL.

The London Review Bookstore combines books, tea and cake so it was obviously going to make this list. On the outside the store looks fairly small yet it holds 20,000 books on two floors; it even has a dumb waiter filled with books. The store has a range of essays, poetry and non-fiction books that you may not have even heard of. The London review bookshop is a proper bookshop that attends to all your senses, with the smell of paper reaching you as soon as you've walked in, where it’s quite enough that it’s not lonely or empty. If you are looking for a bookshop that sells tea and cakes alongside books then the London Review Bookshop is for you.


Tuesday, 9 July 2013


It’s more recently come to my attention, that words are used a lot more synonymously. Majority of us use synonyms to either replace a word or to simply make ourselves seem smarter. Although synonyms are now more frequently attached to either gender or religion. By way of ‘pussy’ and ‘dick’ being synonymous for strength/weakness and Islam likened to terrorism.

The gender association has been in more recent debate. The ‘pussy = weakness’ argument is completely arbitrary. As the strength that a woman has simply in her reproductive organ should not be regarded as weak, likewise, having a dick does not mean you are stronger (cue Merkle, who as a woman is stronger than most all male politicians ‘I think that a woman as chancellor can also serve as a good example’.) By attaching strength symbol to men simply reproduces a patriarchal society run on BULLSHIT! Furthermore, why are we even associating the words with gender? Rather than synonyms the words ‘pussy’ and ‘dick’ should standalone. Rather the basis of strength and weakness is formed by sexism.

The aspect of religion is a touchy subject, as it commonly has negative connotations. As time progressed less people have either given up on religion or perceive it as a form of state control. The most commonly associated religion there is is Islam. As the growth in extremism and terror attacks the followers of the religion have been subjugated and ostracised.

The Islam synonym grew out of the September ‘11 attacks when terrorism was no longer attached to the likes of Che Guevara.  The bombs that occurred were created out of these bombings and the unrestrained involvement of America on foreign soil. The fundamental basis of these attacks was formed on extremism which people fail to realise.  The generalisation occurs when outlets such as local news stations and papers do not make the distinction between believers and extremists (I’m looking at you Fox and CNN.) This negativity has been extended insofar that the oppression of Muslim women is presented as another reason why everyone should hate Islam. With organisations such as FEMEN claiming that all Muslim women are oppressed and need to be liberated (I never thought I needed to be ‘liberated’.) Lila abu Lughod’s piece named ‘Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?’ addresses the issue of liberation/oppression better than I could. The entire problem with this synonym is that the distinction that NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS is not properly portrayed to the public; people still undermine Obama’s presidency because he had an ‘Islamic’ background.

In essence, synonyms seem to have dual purposes. Whether it is due to a gendered association, or making a generalisation, they present detrimental consequences. The point of this was to address that individuals should use synonyms correctly.