In Pakistan, Khwaja Sira is an umbrella term for gender minorities, including transgender, nonbinary, intersex and gender nonconforming, often referred to as the “third gender.” Its definition has now become a national discourse as many argue who should be and not be included, and protected by law.
It is not a bad faith or cynical reaction most of the time, but it sometimes does make you wonder whether you have agency: if you were given an opportunity because you are talented and hard-working or because you’re a diversity hire, whether your success in an endeavor comes down to your excellence or the pity of an outsider.
Welcome to Lebanon. Here, criminals parade around as leaders and citizens slouch from place to place as criminals—the former glorying in their status as robber barons, the latter again trapped in a perverse polity in which they must engage in self-help or suffer in silence. This week, people used force to recover their bank deposits amid compounding crises. Are they robbers? Are they victims? Or are they both?
In previous years I had overtly rejected the term “Chi-Raq,” a wordplay combining Chicago and Iraq to express the state of lawlessness, violence and chaos in the former. I found it racist and inaccurate. Organized crime and state-sanctioned violence are incomparable, but watching “The Wire,” a fiction based on reality, has shifted my thinking. Not Chi-Raq but Balti-Raq, to quote one of the characters, Bubbles, “the west side is about to go Baghdad”. The contexts remain drastically different, but the parallels stand.
Raisi’s ambition is to be the man who saved his country from a long-lasting crisis without giving up its ideological posture, which puts him in the best position to be the Islamic Republic’s future guardian.
Women are constantly subjected to unwarranted advice about how to dress, how to sit, how to conduct ourselves when others are watching, or even in private—if such a space still exists in this day and age.
There is no shortage of clerics and government officials willing to fan the flames to improve their standing in their societies (as the Rushdie case and countless others before it have shown). It is incumbent upon individuals and conscientious members of the clerical establishment to fight this instinct for bloodlust, to seek outrage as an outlet for life’s challenges. It is also incumbent on them to realize when they are being used in this way to serve the interests of the ruling class. After all, if something as integral to the foundation of your identity as your faith trembles every time someone mocks it, it is perhaps time for some introspection.