Hijab-wearing Muslim’s bold response to Islamophobes: I’m not the one that’s not human

Video grab of Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan performing on Roundhouse stage. (Photo courtesy: YouTube)
Updated 15 July 2017
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Hijab-wearing Muslim’s bold response to Islamophobes: I’m not the one that’s not human

JEDDAH: With the growing rates of Islamophobia across the world, Muslims often find themselves in a position where they feel obliged to apologize for any terrorist attack carried out by so-called Muslims, but Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan has a different take on this matter.
The unapologetic 22-year-old Muslim took to the stage to express her frustration in a powerful message to Islamophobes. “If you need me to prove my humanity, I’m not the one that’s not human.”
Manzoor-Khan’s eloquent poem, titled “This is Not A Humanizing Poem,” took the Roundhouse Poetry Slam’s stage by storm as she won second place.
“This will not be a ‘Muslims are like us’ poem. I refuse to be respectable,” Manzoor-Khan said in her poem. “Instead, love us when we’re lazy. Love us when we’re poor. Love us in our back-to-back council estate, depressed and washed and weeping.”
Manzoor-Khan said that her poem was overwhelmingly well-received by the audience. “The reaction so far has been phenomenally generous and very supportive,” she told Arab News. “I think the poem really resonated with people as I’ve seen a lot of comments and shares where people are really happy I put something they’ve been feeling for a long time into words.”
Manzoor-Khan, who has been performing for three years, usually writes poems that, to some extent, touch her very essence as a Muslim. “I think being Muslim is bound up with being who I am so all of my poems have relevance to being Muslim to some extent,” she said. “But this is the first poem which does so explicitly.”
The deep message Manzoor-Khan wanted to send through her well-spoken performance was to capture how suffocating it is to always have to respond to negative narratives and to be able to only exist as either a “good” Muslim, or a “bad” one, she said. “I wanted to provoke and show people that the burden of proving our humanity should not rest with Muslims, but that the narratives which dehumanize us, and the politics and wars and surveillance they enable — are what we need to focus on more,” she stressed.
“Love us high as kites, unemployed, joy riding, time wasting, failing at school. Love us filthy, without the right color passports, without the right-sounding English,” she said while performing on the Roundhouse stage.

Initially, Muslims were not the target audience the second place runner-up was addressing through her poem, but “non-Muslims as the aim of the poem was to provoke and unsettle,” she explained adding that she is ”very glad and humbled that it has also become somewhat of a point of solidarity for other Muslims.”
Hijab-wearing Manzoor-Khan has often been subjected to profiling in her surroundings like many non-white Muslims. “I am always instantly read and judged as all people are, but because I am visibly Muslim and not white, that judgment is often made within a wider context which portrays Muslims as threatening and problematic,” she said, “[a context] that portrays Muslim women in particular as submissive and passive,” which leads people to often underestimate her capabilities or “make insidious remarks and assumptions about my heritage or religion.”
The three-minute video of Manzoor-Khan’s bold performance has been viewed 1.7 million times on Facebook alone. “My mother texts me too after BBC news alerts. ‘Are you safe? Let me know you’re home okay.’ And she means safe from the incident, yes, but also from the after effects,” she said.
Britain suffered three consecutive terror attacks this year, one of which targeted Muslims near the Finsbury Park Mosque killing one man and injuring at least ten people during the holy month of Ramadan.


Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

Empty seats of the United States delegation are pictured one day after the US announced their withdraw during a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 June 2018
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Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal

GENEVA: Diplomats from across the globe defended the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday after the US withdrew from a body it branded an anti-Israel “cesspool.”
Slovenian ambassador Vojislav Suc, who currently holds the council’s rotating presidency and has been pushing a faltering reform drive, described the Geneva-based chamber as the best place to trigger action on dangerous rights crises.
“Let me say it very clearly, if human rights issues are not discussed here, in this very room, they have little chance to be dealt with meaningfully anywhere else,” he told the council’s 38th session, hours after Washington announced its pullout.
Suc further praised the 47-member council as the “only intergovernmental body responding to human rights issues and situations worldwide.”
Once he receives formal notification of the US withdrawal, Suc said he would arrange for the American seat to be removed and work with the General Assembly to elect a replacement member. China, which has on multiple occasions voiced support for multilateral institutions abandoned by US President Donald Trump, portrayed the council as “a major body... to promote the realization of human rights.”
“All delegations attach great importance to this body,” said Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yu Jianhua.
China currently sits on the council and rights groups have repeatedly criticized Beijing for seeking to stifle criticism of its own conduct.
The EU assured that it “remains steadfastly and reliably committed to the Human Rights Council,” and said it would continue to try to fix the body’s problems despite the US withdrawal.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN ambassador Nikki Haley announced the decision on Wednesday, making good on a threat Haley made in Geneva a year ago.
They said their calls for change, notably to fix “hypocrisy” and “unrelenting bias” against Israel were ignored.
Membership of the council, established in 2006 to replace the disgraced Human Rights Commission, has long been controversial.
Current members include Burundi, the Philippines and Venezuela — all nations accused of massive abuses against civilians.
But the main US objection was the council’s Agenda Item 7, which mandates discussion of Israel at each of the three annual sessions.
Israel is the only country recorded as a dedicated agenda item.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal, experts and diplomats have noted that without US pushback, resolutions approving investigations of Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Palestinian Territories could multiply.