Monthly Archives: November 2009

Akh’s Adventures in China – Part 5

As’Salaam’Alaikum,

Insh’Allah this reaches to find each and every single one of you in the best of health, spirits and the highest of e’maan.

The marathon will be soon at an end, I’m entering the home straight of my journey, and as such have been enjoying my first real break of the last three weeks with a few days of doing absolutely nothing in Shanghai.

I caught an overnight sleeper train from my last location and managed to get some much needed rest and sleep on the train, the nine hours soon whizzed by. I was expecting a funny coded knock on my cabin door, like the end scene in "Trading Places", unfortunately I wasn’t out here to manipulate the shanghai stock exchange’s futures market, there was no orange crop report, and no clarence beeks in sight, still the thought of this playing out in my mind kept me amused for a few minutes.

Leaving the industrial heartland of china behind me, I had a chance to process some of the sights, sounds and smells of the last few weeks. The industrial revolution I witnessed was on a scale that is difficult for you to process. Every city bar Shanghai had a minimum population of 5-6 million people. In England, Birmingham is considered the second city with a populace in the same region, and yet everyone I met was almost apologetic about the small size of their "towns" as they put it.

I can only imagine how this compares to the industrial revolution that England had, the stacks on the horizon bellowing clouds of thick acrid smoke constantly remind you that China is the place that manufactures for the entire world. One of the sights that first greeted me upon entering the country was that almost everyone had some sort of a face mask or cover across their face, I don’t blame them. The air quality is so bad out here, it makes downtown los angeles seem pleasant, even the sun seems to have trouble penetrating through a perma grey haze, and they’re off to Copenhagen to agree cuts on carbon emissions. With all the best hopes in the world, I really don’t know what targets they’ll agree to. With all the particulates floating around in the air, its little wonder that despite scrubbing my face clean twice a day, I’m beginning to resemble Sloth from the Goonies.

So, Shanghai can only be described in one word, a megalopolis, if you’ve ever seen the opening biker shot in Akira or seen any Godzilla movie, you’ll know what I mean. Despite both of these films being set in Tokyo, I keep expecting Mecha Godzilla to turn up breathing fire and stomping a few buildings at a moments notice, before retreating into the toxic south china sea to have a rest, probably due to the poor air quality, imagine an asthmatic mecha godzilla!

Alhumdullilah I had no drama at the rail station like last time round, and after catching a taxi to my hotel, having a long hot shower, I decided to get out and about.

As luck would have it I was staying in an area that is famous for its restaurants, places to eat literally a mile in each direction, and to suit every budget. Seeing I was in need of a good meal and a cuppa, I rested in a place only a couple of minutes walk away, and though it was the lunch time rush (lunch starts at 1130), but I was soon sitting down to a stuffed vegetable omelette that my father would be proud off, all washed down with a pot of tea, watching the Shanghanese go about their lives through the window of the restaurant.

An hour or so later I was ready to hit the road again, and opted for the Bund, Shanghai’s famous pedestrian walkway that allows you to really appreciate the skyline. Unfortunately, Shanghai is sprucing itself up for hosting the World Expo in 2010, and the entire Bund was a building site. I eventually jumped onto the ferry and crossed the river towards the financial district. I spent the majority of the day in the "Super Brand" centre, Shanghai’s largest shopping centre. It kicks Westfield into the shade, the place was huge, and packed with people buying overpriced crap they didn’t need.

Heading back to the hotel after dark, I found a Muslim restaurant, it was owned and run by a family from Kaxgar, in muslim china, bordering Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The food was all halal, was fresh, cheap and plentiful, and for the first time in three weeks I was able to get my chomps around some kebab type of barbecued chicken.

The next day I ended up in another shopping district, this time a place called Cyber Mart beckoned me. This place was a gadget freaks dream, 5 floors of all the tech you could imagine. Although I was interested (and quite badly need) a new laptop, the promises of a two year warranty were not believable, the caveat of buyer beware was at the forefront of my thoughts. So avoiding the big ticket items, I picked up a few leads, memory cards and spare batteries, all for next to nothing, well compared to London prices at least.

The most enjoyable part was the haggling. The seller gives you a price, you counter with a third of the price, then 10 minutes later you agree on a price just under half the original price quoted, but you do so with a smile on your face and plenty of gestures that his prices are unbelievably high, and then you walk off. Then the seller will tell you, "My friend, I give you best price" and if you’re not happy with that one, walk away, you will what you’re looking for, for the price you want to pay, it just takes perseverance.

As mentioned before, the prices of big brands are too expensive, the electronics were cheap, but probably fake, the amount of street hawkers out here are ridiculous. Fake rolex’s, iphones, designer bags and leather wear are the ones I got hit with constantly, all i wanted was a chairman Mao style cap!

I also managed to get a good traditional foot, leg and head massage, done during the day in a reputable establishment, none of those dodgy back alley places in the middle of the night for me, after all there is a reason Shanghai was once known as the "Whore of the Orient".

I even got my head shaved at a traditional Chinese barbers, the experience was nervous, I barely trust myself with a fool proof gillete razor, but a complete stranger with a cut throat, I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a relaxing experience, or one designed to help your bowels become loose.

That about wraps up this update, chances are this may well be my last post from china. I’m off to Doha for a couple of days before catching the red eye back to london on friday morning, Insh’Allah in time for Eid.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my travellers log, it certainly does make it easier than sending out bulk emails, I’ll get a selection of pictures up for you in my next post.

I guess that’s over and our from Shanghai, but normal service will be resumed on the blog from next week, once the jet lag and the feedback sessions at work wear off, so please do come back and let me continue to serve you up with some thought provoking information big media doesn’t cover.

Jazak Allah Khairun for keeping me in your duah’s and thoughts, just as this traveller holds his people in his heart.

Ma’Salaama

This is Akh the Angry Academic Activist

And I approve this message!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Experiences

Akh’s Adventures in China – Part 4

As’Salaam’Alaikum,

Insh’Allah this reaches to find each and every single one of you in the best of health, spirits and the highest of e’maan.

Apologies for the time taken to update.

I was able to make out the new moon today, though it was three or four days old, by my guess It’ll be Eid next Friday/Saturday in the UK.

To proceed….since I last wrote, I’ve travelled some several hundred kilometres, heading generally in a north westerly direction, into the heart of the Chinese heavy industry heartland. The weather has gotten progressively worse the further north I’ve gone, the temperature at best gets to 0c, yesterday with the wind chill factor, I had it at -5c, thankfully I had prepared for this, so on went the layers of thermals to help keep the chill out, despite my best efforts though, I have been hit with flu, just the normal type, though I bet I’ll have fun arriving at heathrow with a runny nose, a cough like a braying donkey and a constant stream of sneezes. TWM is a phenomenon I experience all the time…being accused of having the swine flu will be another bow to add to my growing strings of accusations, but if you combine the two…a terrorist who has THE flu and is intent on passing it on to everyone else…I guess I’ve been watching too many crappy movies.

Come to think of it now it’s not a fear of flying that I suffer with, I’ve learnt to accept that I’m being fired to my destination in a tin box full of other people’s farts, but it’s the whole security element.

Infact the level of security itself frightens people more so than the actual flight itself.

You’re not allowed any fluids on board in case you make a bomb out of lucozade and an i-pod, come on, who’s training Al-CIAda these days, McGyver?

You see it’s OK for all you whitey’s out there, but airport security is even tighter if you look vaguely middle eastern, if you’ve got a turban and a beard, I reckon you’re about six months away from having to fly naked on a plane made out of clear plastic.

I always fear our own government agencies more than terrorists, you may be looking for possible muslim extremists on the flight, but i’m looking out for guys who look like they used to be in the army, I tend to spend the whole flight time eyeballing people who are holding any kind of electronic device, which may double up as a detonator. This particular chappy was reading the bible, which didn’t help me, people say they find prayer reassuring, but if the pilot came on the intercom, told you to buckle up, would you be happy to hear a few verses of "Our Father"?

It got me thinking even more, what is typical behaviour for people who are going to blow up a plane?

I remember american airlines were working on a system where they would install camera’s on board planes to monitor our faces to check for signs of nervousness. Good job they weren’t installed on the flight I took, otherwise I’d be rotting away in a CIA secret prison somewhere.

With this said, I had my first negative experience in China.

At all rail stations there are baggage scanners like you have at airports, so when my bag went through I was asked to open it. Asked is putting a fine touch on it, as that would mean I was being spoken to in English. Imagine communicating in gestures alone, they kept pointing to one particular area of my suitcase. I got nervous, I had bought an item of chinese art, and though that perhaps I wasn’t allowed to, don’t ask me why I thought that, after all the closest thing I had got to anything close to an indiana jones type of escapade was ducking and diving the bull frog soup and dog meat rolls served for breakfast at the buffet.

They wanted me to open up my bag, which I did under protest, by protest I mean shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head, eventually as the case was about to open, to my mix of horror and disgust there was a whole crowd of people who had gathered to witness what this foreigner was carrying in his luggage.

The offending article….

My can of shaving foam.

They wouldn’t allow me to board the train because of a can of shaving foam.

What did they think I was going to do with it, give every one a quick shave and a columbian neck tie?

Eventually after much gesticulation on my part, like I was playing charades high on crack, I was allowed to put the shaving foam can back into my suitcase…and I was looking forward to bringing my role as sweeney todd to china’s train system too.

OK, I seem to have digressed somewhat, so lets get back on track.

I had the best part of yesterday free to spend as I wished, so with my bodyguard/driver/friend in tow, I proceeded downtown, to see how the locals wile away their weekends.

I ended up in a huge american style mall…you think parking is difficult in England…boy you need to experience parking your car in china, I wasn’t even driving and I was getting road rage.

The mall is everything that China seems to aspire towards, a rampant, corpulent consumer culture, where you are the products you own.

Now I wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t show you the dark side, yes their is a dark side, and as I do on every trip I always stray away from the boundaries that have been allocated to me. You see it’s all good me talking to you about the economic prosperity of China and how everything is so marvellous, when you are flitting between identikit clone 5 star hotels, you’re in the high rise board rooms of major industrial players, and you’re backside is sitting in the finest automobiles that europe can offer.

But this boom time is missing a whole bunch of people out of the equation, economists who talk about "trickle down effects" and yet never leave the boundary of what I’ve described above have no clue of what goes on for ordinary people. See China has a population of roughly 1.5 billion people, that’s 1500 million. If we take a conservative number of 3% living a "hand to mouth" existence that’s 45 million people that the system has failed. 45 million people that live on the fringes of society and are disaffected, means that a few years down the line, when the economy gets off its steep trajectory, there are going to be a whole bunch of very angry people. China has had a history of rebellions, a 21st century rebellion will be on a scale the country has never witnessed before.

A typical conversation with people over here goes like, what’s your name? where you from? what’s your age? how much do you earn? For the Chinese, the capacity to earn is at the forefront, while in Britain it’s a taboo to ask what you earn (I don’t know how much my fellow friends from uni are earning) but over here, they’ll ask with no hesitation.

The average university graduate takes home 500 USD a month. Go to one of these malls and see how far that would get you. The same jeans I was wearing were being sold for…brace yourself…an eye wateringly expensive £185, trainers similar to mine where on sale for in excess of £100, even everyday basic high street chains like h&m, zara and next operate here, but sell for double to triple the rate. Despite the fact they are selling products made in China, and electronics are no better, just as well I bought my camera in the UK before I headed out, as the same camera here costs at least £80 more.

My take on this is simple, we in the West consume everything that gets made in china, it gets made in china because its cheaper than making it in our own countries, in fact we don’t make anything in Britain anymore, we have no industry, just services, all our utilities are owned by foreign powers, we don’t mass manufacture any cars, we are reliant on imports of food and energy, without which we’ll be back in the stone age, and you wonder why britian plays lapdog to america? it’s all about the control of resources in all their shapes and forms.

The Chinese export on the cheap, because to us, all the fancy fashion and hi tech gadgetry are essentials, for the chinese they are high end lifestyle products, and thus come with a price band to match.

Note to self: opening up a primark here would do wonders.

I’ve seen how people who serve westerners in their hotels and serve them food, and open up their car doors and carry their bags live, and I’ll tell you what, it ain’t pretty. I went out to what can best be described as an old colonial style cantonment, and for all talk of china’s economic miracle, the vast number of people who live on the margins of society is a saddening sight to witness. I’ve seen kids picking through rubbish in many a country, and I know that the benefits of aid and trade that our western liberal sensibilities often trumpet are nowhere to be seen, the notion that the chinese live in a "people’s republic" is anything but, it’s the same system in play but with a different face on, the face of market forces and capitalism.

At least we British are upfront about our dishonesty, we’ll stick adam smith’s picture on our money, the godfather of modern day economics, the chinese have chairman mao, whose cult lives on…his pictures are omnipresent…you know what i’m talking about if you’ve ever been to an arab country, the ruler’s picture stares at you from every wall space, same thing over here.

It’s only been my stiff upper lip that’s kept me from taking pictures, as i’m a stranger in a strange land, I have to respect their customs and remain polite. Although in one particular hotel there was something on the menu that I’ve never seen anywhere.

I see that you’re thinking what could this be?

"The Rape"

Now i’m a pretty open minded kind of guy, and I understand that East has to cater for all kind of pedo’s the west has to offer, after all gary glitter was hiding out in thailand and vietnam, but there’s a line which you cannot cross, and offering "Rape" on the menu sends shudders through my body. I asked the waitress what exactly the "Rape" was but she couldn’t explain it, oh to have another english speaker at the table with a sense of humour as bad as mine!

On that rather strange note, I have to go for a dinner appointment (let’s hope "rape" isn’t on the menu), I’ll try and get one more update done for you in the next couple of days.

Remember me in your duah’s as this traveller remembers his Ummah.

Ma’Salaama

This is Akh the Angry Academic Activist

And I approve this message!

1 Comment

Filed under Experiences

Akh’s Adventure in China – Part 3

As’Salaam’Alaikum,

Insh’Allah this reaches to find each and every single one of you in the best of health, spirits and the highest of emaan.

Firstly Jazak Allah Khairun for all of your kind words that I’ve received, sorry I cannot approve your comments (yep…the great firewall of china has got me blocked off) or reply to your emails right now, but I am appreciative of your love and support.

To proceed….since I wrote last, I have moved on some 400 miles north west to the city of Xuzhou, and just as I was getting used to a nice temperate climate, it has literally been raining cats and dogs (a phrase one of my chinese conterparts loves to use) coupled with a cold northerly wind it has been bitingly cold…close your eyes for a second, you could be in shepards bush on a typical winters day.

But bad weather and british people go together like china and rice, so it’s on with the cold clothes I packed…YES! I actually feel that my decision to lug around this huge suitcase is vindicated with the bad weather…a bit perverse being happy that it’s cold and rainy.

So now that my jitters have been well and truly exorcised, my trip to China has, Alhumdullilah, turned out better than I dared hope before I set out, and Insh’Allah it continues to do so. However an issue still niggles me, one that I should have vanquished by now.

So what is this great bugbear?

My incomprehensible inability to get to grips with the money.

How much does stuff really cost over here?

Is the guy who is trying to sell me something from the back of a bicycle outside the railway station attempting to rip me off, or is he an honest trader offering great value for money and a few seconds of warm friendship to a stranger in a strange land?

So I’m going through a challenging (for me it is) process of figuring out how much everything costs by converting RMB into a money I am familiar with.

It should be pretty simple…Sterling to RMB is just over 1:10, so you simply divide by ten, or knock off the unit.

But then I’m actually carrying Euro’s, so now whenever I’m buying something, I have to figure out Euro to Sterling to RMB.

It’s getting pointless.

As of today, I’ve stopped wasting time standing around with a pained expression on my face doing mental arithmetic…I look bad enough as it is…try doing this in a crowded rail station…and it takes on epic proportions of drawing attention to yourself.

The mantra now is, everything I need to buy, is great value for money!

The Chinese so far have been very honest in their pricing…I’ve been to some parts of the world, that as soon as they see a foreigner, they ramp the prices up…that hasn’t been the case thus far.

The train journey itself was another eye opener.

Before I left, a friend of mine was aghast when I told him I’d be travelling internally in China via rail and not by air. I stand by my decision, the greatest way you can judge a cross section of the popultation is to travel by rail, not only do you get to see the lay of the land, but the way that ordinary everyday people interact with one another.

So getting onto the train and finding my seat, which was very quickly vacated when I showed the young chap who was occupying it my ticket, was a doddle. The train was absolutely packed as it rolled out of the main terminal, its final destination some 2000km away…thankfully I wouldn’t be around until the end of the line…otherwise I would have got my self a private cabin, complete with fold out beds.

There was a family sat in the 5 seats around me, and they took notice of me. I was reading a magazine (it was a 3 hour journey) and the young lady sitting next to me seemed interested in my reading material.

Now what would you do back home, if you’re sitting on a train and someone’s trying to catch a sneaky peak at your reading material of choice.

I actually turned it towards her and asked if she could read English, which she replied in good English (good meaning, its better than my Mandarin Chinese) yes, and read out a few words, before I gave her the magazine.

So I struck up quite a conversation with her.

Pretty soon she was acting as a translator for the other 5 people in the imminent vicinity. They were all interested to know where I had come from, and what I thought of their country. Before I knew it people were peering over from neighbouring seats, joining in the discussion, even people in the aisle were getting words in…man I wish I spoke the language…I would have sold tickets!

Next thing I knew, the five people in my section of seats, all began to take out all manner of food, drink and snacks and offered them to me, and shared them out with one another.

Subhan’Allah

Imagine being on the 1730 out of Paddington and having a bunch of complete strangers being so hospitable to you, this would never ever happen in England and even went to some lengths to explain this to her.

I asked the young lady to thank her family for being so kind towards me, what she said next was even more surprising.

“This is not my family, I’ve never met any of them before”

I had real trouble getting my head round this.

The collective good will they extend to one another and to me is something that we in the west cannot even begin to comprehend.

Most people in the UK will avoid eye contact with you, like you’re some kind of demented pedo, but over here its totally different, in fact she even offered one of her headphones to me to listen to music on her mp3 player on, something I used to do to my own mates when I used to ride the bus to school.

The other amusing anecdote I have to share is, the amount of props i’m getting for my appearance. Back home i’m accused of looking
aggressive, a borderline terrorist, to being accosted by an “uncle” for having the appearance of a “trendy-muslim”…because I rock a shaved head and a full beard.

But over here the Chinese seem to have trouble growing any kind of facial topiary, so to have a full beard, Subhan’Allah, gets you noticed in a positive way, so there is always Hikmah to holding onto the Sunnah, even if we don’t always see it.

It’s getting awfully close to me having to do a dinner working appointment (no chicken chow mein…you know who you are 😉 ) but before I leave you, I have to tell you that something happened today that left me like a 5 year old school girl….I met a full bonafide SHAOLIN MONK!

Now before you call the bida’h brigade on me, just hold tight, the monk was in full robes, and could speak broken english, abd carried a mobile phone, not the kind of Shaolin Monk i had seen in the shaolin kung fu flicks and all the Shaw Brothers productions i had watched down the years…you see “The Akh” is a huge Kung Fu flick fan, so to see a real life shaolin monk was unexpected to say the least.

He said he could see kindness in my face and that my trip to China would have much bounty, he then proceeded to take a golden card from his robe and give it to me, I think it’s some kind of blessing or good luck, and with a closed fist gesture and a nod of my head, which the smiling monk reciprocated, I walked off with a bounce.

Remember me in your duah’s as this traveller remembers his Ummah.

Ma’Salaama

This is Akh the Angry Academic Activist

And I approve this message!

1 Comment

Filed under Experiences

Akh’s Adventure In China – Part 2

“Akh’s” Adventure in China Part 2

As’Salaam’Alaikum,

Insh’Allah this reaches to find each and every single one of you in the best of health, spirits and the highest of emaan.

Apologies for not updating sooner…judging by the “abuse” i’m getting via text it seems that I have a lot to answer for on my return.

As i’m sending this straight via email, i can’t embed pictures directly, so you’ll have to click through to them. apologies…my connection is intermittent…i’ve had to type this on word then copy and paste as the connection keeps dropping, so sorry can’t give you any pictures.

The answers to some of your (deranged) texts are:

– Yes

– No

– Soon

– If I do find a wife, I’ll make sure she has a sister for you 😉

Work out if I have answered your questions yourself!

Right..back to the matter at hand…work has been the prime focus, so really havn’t had much of a chance to get out and about.

Whenever I do get out, I realise i’m the “Chinaman” not the rest of the population…i’m used to getting stared at back in the UK (usually by the police) but to get stared at by damn near a billion people takes getting used to…I was warned about this before I left…guess too many of our kind don’t make it out to these here parts.

A lot of friends and family constantly tell me that Dubai or Qatar are the places to be, that they are the future.

No…China is the future.

I travelled via train from Shanghai to Hefei…bit like London to Glasgow…and we did it in less than 4 hours…why? the trains here are fast, cheap and reliable…sorry Dilla, but your boys ain’t got nothing on the chinese 😉 they have the Maglev train which can reach speeds upto 250mph…and when the train says it will depart at 14:49, you better beleive its departing at 14:49, not 14:48, not 14:50, it leaves precisely on the second it’s meant to leave…and arrives eaxctly the time, to the second, that it’s supposed to arrive!

Getting back to the point (there’s a point to all this you ask?) along the entire stretch of the journey, the horizon was littered with cranes and huge buildings being erected…it seemed to me that Shanghai almost never finished…it just morphed into the next city, and then the next city.

The scale of the construction kicks what’s happening in dubai into the long grass…the entire scale of the whole thing is simply
unbeleivable.

The place where i’m staying right now..Hefei, is the capital of An-Hui province, an area which is considered to be not as glamourous as the so called bigger cities. Not that you can tell, it has a population of over seven million and has more hi-tech skyscrapers then London does…and the construction work continues.

The weather out here has been balmy to say the least…25c is probably better than our summer’s, although with the constant cover of smog, you don’t really get to see the sun much…just a gauzed out little red dot.

We were on a tour of a plant today, and all of a sudden all the workers downed tools, turned towards us and started clapping…it really was bizarre, I was a bit embarrassed, and not knowing the decorum, I simply clapped back, which in turn raised a few smiles, and they clapped back even more thunderously.

Maybe they told the workers that I was a rich arab buying the factory and was giving them a bentley each…who knows?!

I’ve been very careful with what I eat, breakfast is the main meal, i stock up at the buffet on fruit, juices, toast, cereal, tea and eggs, and then eat again depending on if I fancy what’s on offer. I may as well be fasting.

Our clients have been very good with us, being kind and considerate enough to accept my apology beforehand that I don’t consume alcohol or meat, as i’m a Muslim….even had a chance to do some dawah to explain what halal meat was….if it means I don’t have to eat fried bullfrog (i’m not kidding) that i’ll apologise til the cows come home.

On a much sadder note, the chinese executed nine muslims, who they suspected of leading the revolt in urumqui earlier this year. These are Muslims who have a similar situation to the Palestinans, but I bet this news didn’t even get a whole minute of coverage on the 10’o clock news. For far too long Muslims have lived under treachorous
conditions, but slowly they are rising up and demanding they be given their rights. History will be the best judge of all the people who fight for the cause of the betterment of their people. We in the west look for the lamest of excuses not to get involved in politics so that we can make life for Muslims around the world just that little bit easier…shame on us.

I was hesitant on coming out here for obvious reasons, stated above, but it’s been a good thing that I did. The people out here have been welcoming, and i’ve picked up a few words in Mandarin which help to make things more pleasant.

For those that know me, can attest that i look like a Muslim, whatever that actually means, and I guess thats where the staring comes into it. I stand at 6’1″, my appearance (YES I have a beard!), walk and dress is different, so I’m beginning to understand why I get looked at. The best thing about being openly Muslim, is that I have had several complete strangers offer Salaam to me, which fills me with complete joy to hear and reciprocate.

I met a brother out here today…and despite none us being able to speak each other’s language…the bond of islam was evident…i was drawn into his takeaway as i could see the shahadah written in gold lettering across a huge chinese fan.

when i walked in to the place, it was pretty empty, and everyone stopped and double taked…like i was a gun slinger in an old cowboy movie.

all the muslims out here are recognisable by the fact tht they all wear “topi” type salaat hats…so i was sure he was one of us.

I said “As’Salaam’Alaikum” and he returned with “Wa’Laikum’As’Salaam”

there was a huge smile on my face…which mirrored his…he shook my hand…like a friend who hasn’t seen you for a very long time does…and showed me to the table…he didnt even let me order…just served me up the best tasting bowl of beef noodles and vegetables i’ve ever had.

I wasn’t sure if the meat was good to eat or not…and he sensed it…he came over and said “Halal…Halal!”

Subhan’Allah

I’m ten thousand miles away from home, and yet i’m greeted by a stranger as if i’m his brother.

He did not leave my side while I ate, I kept gesturing for him to sit with me but he wouldn’t.

Once I was done, he kept pointing to the Shahadah fan, I assumed he wanted me to say it, so I said it with a firm voice.

Alhumdulillah, i’ve never seen a wider smile!

He disappeared and came back with a camera, and insisted he take my picture…normally i do everything i can to avoid getting my picture taken, but on this instant i could’nt refuse.

In fact I got a picture with him too.

To top it all off, he refused to accept payment for the food, no matter what i tried he just kept shaking his head.

He had his young daughter with him, so I went and gave her the money instead.

For me this is what Islam teaches us, the welcoming of a stranger with open arms, never have I felt so welcome by someone I have never seen before (and probably well never see again), who’s skin colour and language was completely different to mine, and yet the bond of Al-Islam is what binds us together.

No matter how much the “powers that be” try and highlight our differences amongst us, to divide us, to rape, pillage, torture and murder us, we have to realise that whether its our Muslim brothers and sisters in China, or the Muslims in Palestine, Kasmir, Chechnya, Iraq, Phillipines, Afghanistan or any other place on this earth, our common denominator is our Deen, the Deen Al Haqq – The Religion of Truth – Al-Islam.

The sooner we all realise this, and know that we are all involved in the same struggle – so ALL Muslims the world over do not have to fear to proclaim
La’Ilah’ha’Il’Allah’Muhammed’Ar’Rassol’Allah.

Remember me in your duah’s as this traveller remembers his Ummah.

Ma’Salaama

Akh the Angry Academic Activist

3 Comments

Filed under Experiences

Akh’s Adventures in China Part 1 – TWM Travelling While Muslim

China Travel Log – Day 1 – TWM Travelling While Muslim

Alhumdullilah I arrived safe and well in Shanghai, the journey though was an arduous
one!

Prior to departing, the one nagging doubt at the back of my mind is always the
projected hassles associated with flying. The post 911 phenomenon of TWM
(Travelling Whilst Muslim) means that I know that I’m going to get a tougher time
than most people do at security and immigration, one my co-travellers laughed off at
my expense, telling me that I was too paranoid.

Well, just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean that they are not out to get
you!

Once I had cleared security, minus my belt and shoes, looking less than
composed as I struggled to walk whilst hoisting up my jeans from avoiding having
them end up around my ankles, I was approached by a slender looking woman. She
announced she was with airport security, and if I would answer a few questions.

"Yes of course" I hurriedly replied, as I was putting my belt back through the loops
on my jeans. She asked for my passport and asked my name, luckily for me I was
clever enough to remember my own name and passed the first part of the test, before
she went on about where I was going, although she had my boarding card in her hand,
and whether I had a visa, again stamped in my passport.

I don’t know whether they ask these rudimentary questions just to confirm what they
know, or if they are really stupid, or if it’s just a wind up, or perhaps they are just naturally born wind up artists, delivering their lines with the deadline acerbic wit of an american who doesn’t get irony. By this time my travelling colleagues had noticed that I was being questioned and decided to walk back to see if they could help out….more fool him!

"Everything alright?" one of them asked, next thing you know the woman switched
her attention onto him, and began with the same line of questioning.

So after the pair of us had satisfactorily answered her questions, we got a move on,
my colleague looked at me with the you were right all along sort of look, I nodded
and shrugged, "you’ve just been racially profiled, ain’t it a beautiful thing" we both laughed as we walked towards the boarding gate.

The flight itself was fine, it seems it’s become a standard operating procedure to
ensure that everyone remains seated for as long as possible. No longer where we in
the air, that drinks were being served, than a snack, then a meal, I had the feeling I
was a turkey being fattened up for Christmas.

Seven hours later we landed in the humidity of Doha, where we would be in transit
for a couple of hours. The heat was overwhelming, stepping out onto the tarmac
where it was upwards of 30C was a bit of a shock to the system. Once inside the
airport the air con soon had me feeling a bit better. Getting myself a cold drink, I sat
down, on the next table were these four American mercenaries, I mean contractors. It
wasn’t hard to tell, two of them had special forces tattoo’s on their arms, and all of
them were wearing danners and dogtags.

Broadcasting their conversation to the world, the four of them were bragging about
their "tour", the money they had made, and how stupid the A-Rabs were.

I agreed on the last comment.

Cutting them a dirty look, I got up and began to walk to my gate that had been announced over the tannoy. Before long, I would be in the air heading to Shanghai.

I always keep a couple of books with me when I travel, I picked up a copy of Frankie
Boyle’s autobiography, "My Shit Life So Far", a bit different to my usual reading matter, but as previous journeys have taught me, it can prove troublesome to carry books on certain topics, especially when you know your carryon is going to be searched. Getting a few pages into the book, Frankie talks about how he was censored by the BBC;

"Amusingly, amidst all the horror of the world, I was censured this year for daring to
make a joke about Israel. I think it was ‘I’ve been studying Israeli army martial arts, I
now know sixteen ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back’ I was pulled up
about this as civilians were being killed by Israeli troops in Gaza. This was on a show
called Political Animal on Radio 4. That’s where producers like to focus the edginess
in their shows into the title. But what I find incredible is that the Israelis say they can
build housing in the West Bank because the Palestinians weren’t productive enough
with it. So if a bunch of occupiers start building flats on your patio, you only have
yourself to blame.?

I think I’m going to like reading this book.

Nine hours later and with a bump and a screech of the tyres we were in China. While
on the flight I was given a disembarkment form to complete. The Chinese seemed to
be pretty strict on wanting to know about people’s movements. This form was handed
over to the immigration control, who took forever to process me through the
system, apparently I didn’t look like my picture on my passport, and when you’ve
been travelling for the last 18 hours and have had no sleep, you can understand I was
in no mood for small talk. With a disdainful look on my face, I explained that there
was no problem with the passport and that all my paperwork was in order. It didn’t
help matters, in fact it seemed to make it worse.

The woman behind the counter hit a button and what I’m guessing was her supervisor
magically appeared. I say magically because when you have had 6 hours sleep in the
last 48 hours, you can be forgiven for seeing things appear and disappear.

15 minutes later, and after viewing my passport through a microscope I was allowed
to go. Great first experience of China!

My only thought now was to get to the hotel and get some sleep, and that’s precisely
what I did, after a quick shower, I hit the sheets and was knocked out.

Also my suspicions have been confirmed – the great fire wall of china is in full effect mode – thankfully I planned for this eventuality and am publishing this direct via email.

Ha ha, you cannot stop "The Akh"

Please do remember me in your Duah’s.

Jazak Allah Khair

Ma’Salaama.

3 Comments

Filed under Experiences

Anyone For Tennis? Israeli Style That Is!

Palestinian Volleys An IDF Tear Gas Cannister Back To The Izzies

A brilliant photograph of a Palestinian volleying back a tear gas grenade launched by the izzy death squads.

Resistance by all and any means.

Leave a comment

Filed under Humour, Palestine, War Crimes, Zionism

Israel Denies Water to the Muslims in Palestine

640_amnesty_israel_denies_water_to_palestinians

The racist, terrorist state that masquerades as israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says.

In a report, the human rights group says Israeli water restrictions discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It says that in Gaza, Israel’s blockade has pushed the already ailing water and sewage system to “crisis point”.

Israel says the report is flawed and the Palestinians get more water than was agreed under the 1990s peace deal.

‘Basic need’

In the 112-page report, Amnesty says that on average Palestinian daily water consumption reaches 70 litres a day, compared with 300 litres for the Israelis.

Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water.

It says that some Palestinians barely get 20 litres a day – the minimum recommended even in humanitarian emergencies.

While Israeli settlers in the West Bank enjoy lush gardens and swimming pools, Amnesty describes a series of Israeli measures it says are discriminating against Palestinians:

* Israel has “entirely appropriated the Palestinians’ share of the Jordan river” and uses 80% of a key shared aquifer

* West Bank Palestinians are not allowed to drill wells without Israeli permits, which are “often impossible” to obtain

* Rainwater harvesting cisterns are “often destroyed by the Israeli army”

* Israeli soldiers confiscated a water tanker from villagers who were trying to remain in land Israel had declared a “closed military area”

* An unnamed Israeli soldier says rooftop Palestinian household water tanks are “good for target practice”

* Much of the land cut off by the West Bank barrier is land with good access to a major aquifer

* Israeli military operations have damaged Palestinian water infrastructure, including $6m worth during the Cast Lead operation in Gaza last winter

* The Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza has “exacerbated what was already a dire situation” by denying many building materials needed for water and sewage projects.

The report also noted that the Palestinian water authorities have been criticised for bad management, quoting one audit that described the sector as in “total chaos”.

“Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality, subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford,” Amnesty’s Donatella Rovera said.

“Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water.”

‘Fair share’

Ms Rovera also urged Israel to “take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources”.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said “the idea that we’re taking water away from someone else is simply preposterous”.

He argued that Israeli fresh water use per capita had gone down since 1967 due to efficiency and new technologies, while the Palestinians’ use had increased and more than a third of their water was wasted.

If there were allegations of military wrongdoing, those would be investigated, he said.

He also rejected the claim that Israel was preventing Palestinians from drilling for water, saying Israel had approved 82 such projects but the Palestinians had only implemented 26 of them.

“They have received billions of dollars in international aid over the last decade and a half, why have they not invested that in their own water infrastructure>?” he asked.

The report also criticised the Oslo Accords, which the Palestinians agreed to in 1993.

It said that under them, the Palestinians gained the responsibility for managing an “insufficient” water supply and maintaining “long neglected” water infrastructure.

Also, the deal left the Palestinians paying Israel for half of the domestic water used in the West Bank, despite the fact it is extracted from the shared aquifer.

Mr Regev said Israel provides the Palestinians with more water than it was required to under the accord.

As originally reported by the beeb

Leave a comment

Filed under Racism, Reports & Findings, War Crimes