From Che Guevara to Malala

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In my humble (maybe not so much) opinion, Latin Americans feel a strong attachment to charismatic figures. Think for example, of Che Guevara. Che Guevara is drilled into our minds since an early age as a symbol of justice, leadership and true revolutionary Latin American spirit. In fact, even thinking about challenging the idea of what Che Guevara means to my Latin American identity makes me nervous!However, much of what we say about Che Guevara has more to do with what he means to our … [Read more...]

Death, Grief and Womanhood

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I must admit, I can’t wait until the year is over. I have had a difficult year first dealing with my partner’s passing, and then trying to figure out what follows the grieving process. Right after Saad’s passing, I found that my Muslim community had a rather complex and unexplored relationship with death. Many of my fellow Muslims did not only tell me that I should have gotten over Saad’s death after three days, as some traditions mandate; but some felt so uncomfortable having a young, “single” w … [Read more...]

“Their Patriarchy” is Worse

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A few years ago I wrote a piece on the media coverage of domestic violence issues in Spain and Latin America, and how Islam and the “other’s” culture are depicted as “worse.” The issue continues to be relevant today. A recent article in Reforma, a Mexican newspaper, reports on the incidence of “international romances” between Mexican women and Middle Eastern men. The story results from concerns arising from the Ministry of International Relations (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores), which has m … [Read more...]

What Do We Make of the “Indian” Converts to Islam

Women eating Iftar - Via International Business Times

There is a lot of talk recently about “Latin” and Spanish-speaking converts to Islam, particularly women, which I have discussed in previous posts (here and here). Female converts to Islam, in general, give us a lot to talk about; thus, my question in a previous post on “Are converts news?” Some converts are treated as “cool” and progressive members willing to speak to the media. Others are used to represent media obsessions with wild-girls-gone-Muslim stories, which many Muslims and non-Muslims … [Read more...]

Unintended Consequences: Minority Rights and Policy Making in the West

For many years now, countries around the world have been faced with the question of minority rights and religious accommodation. In Canada, where I currently live, questions about niqabs in courtrooms, voting stations and citizenship ceremonies have been raised in the past five years. Part of the debate has been the meaning of religious accommodation, the latest case being that of a student at York University who requested to be excused from working with females on religious bases. While the … [Read more...]

Are Converts News?

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Growing up in Mexico, I had a very rudimentary understanding of religion and religious diversity. While the national census showed that about 80% of Mexicans practiced Catholicism, I was raised an atheist. My parents, born Catholics, had left religion during their teenage years for various reasons. My paternal grandfather (who was never really religious either) still likes to tell his story: His grandmother had a painting of Virgin Mary in the living room and would tell my grandpa to say a small … [Read more...]

Sexy Fun and What’s Up with “Halal” Sex Shops

Snapshot of the online store. Source

Growing up in Mexico, immersed in a culture that debated “Western” values and was skeptical of its imports, I spent my early years in a society that taught me from the beginning that my sexuality was not mine, but someone else’s. Even when the institution of marriage started to crumble and common-law unions became more common, women’s sexuality was still viewed as taboo and their pleasure was considered unimportant. I actually recall my best friend’s grandma, in elementary school, telling us that … [Read more...]


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