Wednesday November 21, 2018
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Was the Orlando Shooting a queerphobic attack? Here is what the Queer Muslims have to say

Many queer Muslims took to social media to remind others that they exist, too.

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Image Source: Buzzfeed (Dylan Martinez / Reuters)
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  • The debate on whether Muslim communities need to be more welcoming of gay people left the queer Muslims at the epicenter of the conversation
  • Many queer Muslims took to social media to remind others that they exist, too
  • Being Muslim and queer are not mutually exclusive

While the world is mourning over the deadly mass shooting in Orlando that left 49 killed and 53 injured, it is true that this incident has become more of a blessing for the queer groups who are often abandoned by the society and their religion. Post this incident, the Islamic Organisations who keep mum about the LGBT issues, has shown some sense of responsibility towards this community.

The American Muslims have condemned the shooting and the shooter. American Muslim groups issued statements expressing their solidarity with the LGBT community and emphasizing tolerance as they brace themselves for the sadly familiar backlash that they have come to expect in the aftermath of such events, said a Buzzfeed report.

The debate on whether Muslim communities need to be more welcoming of gay people left the queer Muslims at the epicenter of the conversation.

“I hope we empower and uplift our LGBT Muslim brothers and sisters, who often suffer in silence and have been ostracized and demonized by multiple communities in America for their sexuality, religion and ethnicity, “says popular U.S. playwright and journalist Wajahat Ali on his Facebook page on Sunday, June 12.

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“We will not be erased in this tragedy. We will not be pitted against ourselves and others — we are both and all things. It’s not ‘queers versus Muslims’ and it has not been historically,” said Jordan Alam (24), a queer Bengali American writer and activist living and working in Seattle.

Izzaddine Mustafa(24), a trans man living in Brooklyn, New York while speaking to Buzzfeed said,“being a Muslim and queer are not mutually exclusive. We are here, we exist — and we are here to help bridge the divide that the politicians and corporate media makers are creating among our communities.”

“Millions of my Muslim sisters and brothers are queer and millions more of us believe in equality. This scumbag and his bullets don’t speak for us, “lashes out Saladin Ahmed on twitter.

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Street Protest. Image Source: The Atlantic

Zaynab Shahar, a queer, black doctoral candidate at the Chicago Theological Seminary is also a co-founder of the Third Coast Queer Muslims of Chicago and runs a Tumblr for queer Muslims. She speaks to BuzzFeed ,“Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti says in his last sermon ‘love all and hate none’ is ‘but never refuse to bless and help the needy and the poor, the widow and the orphan, if they come to your door. This is your Mission of Peace, to serve the people.’ […] I take this very seriously as a Sufi Muslim. If I can live a life of service to ending oppression, if I can live a life dedicated to writing and embodying activist theologies, making space for queer Muslims and queer people of faith at large to connect with the divine and each other, then I will have lived a good life.

I want people to know that our community, like any other, is a symphony of stories, whose complexity and diversity are like the notes on a page. No one note is more important than the other, they are all essential. But it only begins to unfold if you take the time to truly listen,” said a Buzzfeed report.

While it is easy to blame and bring one community against another, it takes true strength to stand up and fight for other’s rights and defend one’s faith from false accusations. It is required of us to have a broader mind to see things as they are,resist the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia and Islamophobia.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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  • devika todi

    It is required of us to have a broader mind to see things as they are,resist the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia and Islamophobia.

    I could not agree more. Isn’t it high time we lived peacefully and harmoniously, with equal rights?

  • Karishma Vanjani

    Terrorists cant be singled out from the haystack of Muslim Community. Terrorists have no religion to belong to a community.

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  • devika todi

    It is required of us to have a broader mind to see things as they are,resist the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia and Islamophobia.

    I could not agree more. Isn’t it high time we lived peacefully and harmoniously, with equal rights?

  • Karishma Vanjani

    Terrorists cant be singled out from the haystack of Muslim Community. Terrorists have no religion to belong to a community.

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Refugee Communities Can Be Built By Tech Industries

Mikkelsen said the initiative was a win-win as it would also benefit companies by slashing costs.

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Refugees
Congolese families sit at the Kyangwali refugee settlement camp, Uganda, March 19, 2018. A California company is testing an app in Uganda that lets refugees earn money for AI training. VOA

Companies could help refugees rebuild their lives by paying them to boost artificial intelligence (AI) using their phones and giving them digital skills, a tech nonprofit said Thursday.

REFUNITE has developed an app, LevelApp, which is being piloted in Uganda to allow people who have been uprooted by conflict to earn instant money by “training” algorithms for AI.

Wars, persecution and other violence have uprooted a record 68.5 million people, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

People forced to flee their homes lose their livelihoods and struggle to create a source of income, REFUNITE co-chief executive Chris Mikkelsen told the Trust Conference in London.

Rohingya, Myanmar, refugees
Rohingya refugees cross floodwaters at Thangkhali refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. VOA

“This provides refugees with a foothold in the global gig economy,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s two-day event, which focuses on a host of human rights issues.

$20 a day for AI work

A refugee in Uganda currently earning $1.25 a day doing basic tasks or menial jobs could make up to $20 a day doing simple AI labeling work on their phones, Mikkelsen said.

REFUNITE says the app could be particularly beneficial for women as the work can be done from the home and is more lucrative than traditional sources of income such as crafts.

The cash could enable refugees to buy livestock, educate children and access health care, leaving them less dependant on aid and helping them recover faster, according to Mikkelsen.

Rohingya, Myanmar, refugees
Rohingya refugee women wait outside of a medical center at Jamtoli camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. VOA

The work would also allow them to build digital skills they could take with them when they returned home, REFUNITE says.

“This would give them the ability to rebuild a life … and the dignity of no longer having to rely solely on charity,” Mikkelsen told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Teaching the machines

AI is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.

It is being used in a vast array of products from driverless cars to agricultural robots that can identify and eradicate weeds and computers able to identify cancers.

Refugees
In this Aug. 27, 1994 file photo, U.S. Coast Guard crew from the cutter Staten Island are hindered by rough seas in the Florida Straits as they attempt to rescue Cuban refugees. VOA

In order to “teach” machines to mimic human intelligence, people must repeatedly label images and other data until the algorithm can detect patterns without human intervention.

REFUNITE, based in California, is testing the app in Uganda where it has launched a pilot project involving 5,000 refugees, mainly form South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. It hopes to scale up to 25,000 refugees within two years.

Also Read: Rohingyas Repatriation to Myanmar Scrapped by Bangladesh

Mikkelsen said the initiative was a win-win as it would also benefit companies by slashing costs.

Another tech company, DeepBrain Chain, has committed to paying 200 refugees for a test period of six months, he said. (VOA)