A wall at a Human Rights Conference at Gothenburg, Sweden, where people are leaving their thoughts behind. Photo: Saad Adnan Khan
In the Centre of Things
Saad Adnan Khan
The past few weeks have been exciting, for the world, for me. Egyptian American journalist, Mona Eltahawy, in one of her interviews, said that we are living in a very exciting era. I couldn't agree with her more. One of the perks of studying abroad is that you meet people from all over world, and when you engage in political discussions and arguments with them, it's a different dynamics. When the Egyptian revolution was taking place, my Egyptian friend sat next to me, frantically reading news items on almost every other website. We were seated inside our cozy campus cafeteria in St Louis, Missouri, snow fell outside, while fire and chaos reigned streets in Egypt. My friend's father was in the police force, she spoke to him erratically, getting bits and pieces of news from back home.
Here in Sweden, I come across a Syrian bus driver. I communicate with him to find out if he has family members back in Syria right now. I talk to my Iranian corridor-mate; we talk about the currency crisis in Iran and her financial support from back home. My African-American friend moved to Sweden, because college education for him in America was too expensive. Since he had a Swedish father, education for him in Sweden is free. I think of Obama's policy of bringing down the cost of higher education.
A few days ago, I attended a talk by Bahraini human rights defender, Maryam Al-Khawaza, who spoke about human rights violation in Bahrain, and how the overthrow of the King will be the beginning of the end of several other regimes. I whatsapp with my Bahraini friend living in Bahrain, and get a different view on the Bahraini politics. Two other young, women bloggers and activists from Syria and Gaza talk about how women, along with men, are present on the forefront of revolutions. I attend a two-day long human rights conference, where Dr Ruth Manorama talks about the ongoing discrimination towards Dalit people and her activism with the Dalits in India. I listen to Bilal Tamimi from West Bank, Palestine, who shows us clips (that he shot) of Israeli civilians and soldiers harassing and beating Palestinians. His camera has been broken by the soldiers many times, he has been jailed and beaten several times, but that didn't deter him from continuing to video document. You can find his video stream on YouTube. I listen to an openly gay LGBT rights activist from Uganda, who talks fiercely.
It's been some time now that young people have started to comment on politics on social media. Views, harsh criticism and radical thoughts fill my Facebook news feed and Twitter home page. This is exciting. Maryam Al-Khawaza advocates by saying that when there are so many people doing so much, what right do we have to not do anything at all? Denying our political side is sad and unwise. It's always dangerous to make political statements. But it's even more dangerous to not make political statements at all. Let's continue to put up political statuses and post tweets. You might just start a revolution, you never know!
(The writer is Reporter, Star Campus, currently doing Master's in Gender Studies: Intersectionality and Change at Linköping University, Sweden.)