Marching Muslims, take a seat

For the love of God, please do us all a favour and get off the streets, put down your placards and sit the hell down. While I can appreciate that we’re in the year of marches and movements, and believe me, it turns me on just as much as the next socialist, but the flurry of ‘Muslim marches’ that happen every time a bomb goes off around the world is irritating at best and downright insulting at worst.

Over the last few years a pattern has begun to emerge. A bomb explodes somewhere in the Western world, someone with some kind of agenda slaps the label ISIS onto it, the media, as per usual, orchestrates an anti-Muslim hysteria and Muslims living in England and America begin to organise ‘Muslims against ISIS’ marches. Or Muslims against terrorism. Or Muslims against violence. Or whatever slogan best fists with the headlines latest accusations. And while I appreciate the need for humans to show solidarity with one another, what I don’t appreciate is an entire group of people buying into an islamaphobic narrative that does more harm than good in the long run.

Look, I get it. You’re angry and hurt and you want to express those feelings. The latest Manchester attack has left the entire country feeling enraged and upset, an overwhelming human desire to do something to fight back. But my latest Facebook notification inviting me to ‘Muslims March for Manchester’ does not express my hurt or anger, it just pisses me off. The more marches Muslims orgnaise like this, the more we are telling the world that we are not like those other Muslims. It tells the world that we do not condone violence. It tells the world that we preach peace and we stand apart from terrorist orgnaisations such as ISIS. And while they are all great and true things to tell the world, it also gives credibility to extremist groups. Most importantly, Muslims are apologising and explaining themselves and in doing so they place themselves as second class citizens, into a sub category if you will.

When the bomb exploded in Oklahoma and the dust finally settled, you didn’t find thousands of Christians marching along your roads with placards that declared they did not stand with people like that. Nor did you find hundreds of Christians explaining that their religion is fundamentally one of peace. They didn’t have to because they accept their place in this world and never question that they have a right to be here.

So why are hundreds of Muslims across the country falling over themselves to let everyone know that they’re marching against ISIS. Fuck ISIS. We spend far too much time giving credibility to a group of clearly insane and deranged individuals. Of course they need to be taken seriously and the right security measures need to be implemented, and that’s up to our government to do so, (even though the rise of British and American interference in the Middle East is one of the main reasons we now have more terrorist attacks on our own soil than ever before, but let’s breeze over that because that’s another argument altogether and no one is quite ready to admit that the two things directly correlate to one another), but consistently marching, protesting and explaining ourselves to the very country that we belong to is consistently placing us beneath non-Muslim Westerns. We are dehumanizing ourselves. And in doing so it opens the floor to questions like ‘what do ISIS want?’, which incidentally I have been asked many a time by highly intelligent people. I don’t know what they want, huge shocker there, but since we’re constantly explaining ourselves, other people believe we can explain them too. We can’t, and nor do we have to.

These marches do not show sympathy for victims, instead they’re constantly defending our position and it’s fucking annoying. You don’t have to have a ‘Muslims march for…’, just march.



Being a creative is hard as fuck. There is the assumption that it is all wild flowers, rose petals and pouring out your heart by candlelight. Needless to say it’s not.

It’s more lonely nights, blank screens and frustrated sighs as you can’t quite fit an ocean of feeling into one tiny paragraph.

But as long as you’re evolving, learning and trying new things, you’re mostly on the right path. And so throwing myself wildly out of my comfort zone, I created something new, with some wonderful people.


Somewhere between asking your father if he could walk you home from church and loose one night stands, something went terribly wrong between the sexes.

That’s not to say that one night stands and causal hookups are wrong, they’re perfectly wonderful and great if both parties are consenting and willing. But we haven’t actually created an equal playing field where both genders run around having casual sex free from any kind of ramifications. I mean, we’ve definitely tried, but instead we’ve given way to the rise of Generation F.

Groups of men who exist somewhere between wedding vows and mutually beneficial, ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ type arrangements.

Currently, now more than ever, the majority of my female friends are struggling with relationships as they try to scrape together some semblance of a love life in an arid modern world that doesn’t leave much room for romance to bloom. As they sat and complained about guys and their latest love agonies, I noticed similar traits appearing again and again. Despite different ages, jobs, backgrounds and cultural heritages, the men all display the familiar symptoms of a classic fuckboy.

An inability to commit. A fear of loving someone other than themselves. Selfish nature. A deep rooted need for emotional connection, ego stroking and love, yet an intense fear of giving any of that back. A complicated past that involved some kind of heartbreak they’d refused to let go of, and a whole lot of vulnerability that they attempt to fuck away with different women every night. It sounds pretty tragic, and the reality of it really is, but that’s not to say that every fuckboy is a bad person necessarily. They’re mostly hurt, upset, confused and don’t possess the right language or emotional ability to even begin to work through the things that have got them into this set of behaviors in the first place.

Changing sociological patterns, financial insecurity, the rise of technology and we women all contribute to making a fuckboy what he is today. I say ‘we women’ because we’ve been complicit in the very thing that now ails us. We’ve spent years buying into the narrative of the ‘cool girl’, attempting to be belching boys on the sofa who automatically transform into beauty queens who fuck like porn stars the minute the lights are dimmed, and it’s completely fucked up the idea of male/female gender relations.

We’ve also stayed silent a lot, and that hasn’t helped. The social pressures of double texting, being the girl with feelings or somehow possessing a need that is other than sexual is so damning that you’ve almost convinced yourself you’re dying alone if you so much as tell a guy you like him. After all, elaborate games must be played, the exact formulaic time must have passed before responding to messages and a casual indifference to intimacy must be employed at all times. We’ve all played those games and it’s the reason we’re now in this sorry situation. A lot of fuckboy situations happen because two people were unable to voice their needs and desire and so everyone just went along with it instead. Inevitably along the way feelings happen, someone gets hurt and someone is always left crying on the bathroom floor.

It doesn’t help that feminism and the narrative of womanhood and female power continues to roar on while the discussion around masculinity remains alarmingly absent. All these women are running into a future confident and strong, financially independent and aware of themselves, but they’re doing it alone. Alone because the men haven’t started to have those conversations yet, they’re misplaced and powerless, unsure how they fit into the lives of these new women. They’re aware that they don’t need to provide money or traditionally protect them, and without possessing the right language, they’re just uncertain, shuffling around, refusing to answer text messages and using sex as a power play because really, it’s the only bit of power they’ve got left to grasp on to, and because they literally, haven’t got a fucking clue what else to do.

And here’s the thing, sex is a powerful tool and it will always work, and because of ticking biological clocks and spinster stereotypes, the men do still hold, for the most part, the power. But I also know that there’s hundreds of fuckboys out there who are lost in the woods of Tinder, looking for connections and meaningful relationships, but stuck in familiar patterns that are hard to break. At some points both genders need to start realigning themselves, even if only for our own self-preservation.

And the answer isn’t that women need to close their legs more or online dating needs to be eradicated. These things are not problems. Our silence is the problem.

Men need to start having conversations about modern masculinity, women need to stop trying to be ‘cool girls’ because we’re only perpetuating a myth and we all need to dig down deep and find some courage. The courage to say what we want, walk away from the things we don’t, be honest about the way we feel and brave enough to take a chance on another person.

You do not have my thanks

As the world begins to burn and racism is the new order of the day (I’m joking, it’s always been the order of the day), we’ve watched as the people stand up and march for one another. Donald Trump’s extreme and inhuman actions have caused a tidal wave of movement across the world, and his latest immigration ban suddenly has everyone rushing to the defence of Muslims. And yes, this is all brilliant and wonderful and we can all sing kumbaya around the fire later, but what I will not do is thank the rest of the world for coming to my defence.

I’ve watched as countless Muslims continue to thank non-Muslims for marching on their behalf, for standing up on their behalf, or thanking them for writing inanely stupid statuses like, ‘I stand with my Muslim friends’ on social media.

I absolutely, unequivocally will not thank you for standing up for basic human rights. I will not thank you for doing what any decent human should. I will not thank you for choosing right over wrong. I won’t thank you for doing anything that is a simple act of normalcy.

How have we gotten to the point in which standing up for a group of people belonging to a particular religion is some kind of commendable act? It’s not. You do not deserve a Nobel Peace prize and you haven’t done anything amazing. You merely did what you’re supposed to do.

And let’s not forget that everything is linked. The years of religious discrimination, white supremacy and extreme islamophobia that has been orchestrated by the media and the governments of this world, including the British government, has all lead to this very moment in time. Donald Trump is only able to say the things he can, and do the things he’s done, because of foundations laid years ago.

When terrorist attacks trembled across countries and the headlines called for the genocide of Muslims, where were the marches then? Where were your placards and slogans and statuses in support of us? They were nowhere to be found and instead your silence resonated across the world. There were no statuses telling me I had a home and safety no matter what happened. There was only suspicion, narrowed eyes and ridiculous fucking questions like, ‘what will ISIS do next Salma?’ or, ‘what do these terrorists want Salma?’ Because naturally, as a Muslim, I hold the answers to both those questions.

The complicit silence of the masses, the stupid questions, the ignorance and the lack of awareness around sharing articles, links and messages on social media has delicately crafted Muslims as the latest sub-human category and led us here today. So no, you do not get some special prize or a thank you for doing what is the right thing. There are no prizes for taking part here.

My thanking you also suggests that you are somehow validating my position here. For helping me be seen as any other human should. As if you have helped raise me from inhumane, to someone with basic rights. It suggests that I was somehow below you, and of course in the eyes of the West, I always have been. Just because you’ve suddenly opened your eyes and realised that Muslims are also human does not earn you my breathless gratification. Well done, you’ve finally become a better person but don’t get your kicks and notions of a good Samaritan from me, get your cheap thrills elsewhere.

Do not misunderstand me, you should absolutely march. Every day if you have to. Write as many slogans as you can, scream every defiant chant that’s available and always fight. When I see hordes of people on the street shouting for justice it warms my heart and reminds me that there are still so many good and wonderful people in our world. People who are willing to stand in the cold and the rain because it’s the right thing to do.

But my fellow Muslims fawning over the efforts of those who stand by our side are not helping the narrative here. I will not apologise for my religion or the atrocities of people who call themselves Muslim, and nor will I trip over myself in gratitude for every non-Muslim who smiles kindly in my direction. This is just the very start of something, and someday soon we’re all going to have to stand arm in arm on the barricades, but we’re fighting for basic human rights here, and often, it’s a thankless task.

I know how to pick them

Women have been saying this for years, and we say it like it’s some kind of badge of honor. A verbal smear of war paint emblazoned across our bodies. It lets everyone know that we’ve been through a bad relationship, and we repeatedly pick men who aren’t suitable.

We’re fully aware of how wrong these men are for us, believe me, WE KNOW, but despite the fuck ups, the fights, the drama and the downright trauma, we’ve pursued them, or let them into our lives anyway. Therefore, our only saving grace is to emerge like some kind of broken, warrior queen who accidentally always falls for the wrong guys. Like damn, we just know how to pick them!

That statement is also the only acknowledgment of responsibility that we lay on ourselves. As if recognising  that you’ve picked someone bad, absolves you of all blame in the situation, and the rest is in the hands of fate.

But fate is nothing but a collection of our decisions, and it’s long past time we started taking responsibility for the men we let in our lives. I’m tired of dismissing it as some quirk of nature, or my lot in life, or whatever else it is that we need to tell ourselves to sleep easily at night.

The real question is; what’s in me, or what’s lacking in me, that I allow these men in? And we’ve all done it. There are hundreds of women out there emotionally tied to men that are unavailable. Whether they’re married, unable to commit, a fuckboy, living in a different country, in prison, or just emotionally shut off, we like to pick what we can’t have.

As you assemble female pow-wows and collectively try to understand the latest act of stupidity carried out by your man, someone will always chip in with the, ‘you just want what you can’t have’ line. It’s the second phenomenally stupid thing we tell ourselves. It’s permission to continue pursuing the man that you already know you can’t have in some kind of weird competition with yourself. You promise that as soon as you ‘have him’, you’ll walk away.

What actually happens, is that you’ve spent months pursuing someone, you end up in bed, on a date, or whatever else you define the ‘getting’ as, and then you realise nothing has changed and he’s still as unavailable as he was at the very start, but now you can’t let go. You’ve just spent six months competing in the man chasing Olympic games that are apparently going on in your head, and once you’ve started that race, there’s no stopping. The finish line is fluid and it’s constantly changing. First it was getting him to reply to your texts, then it was calls, then it was dinner, then it was sex (often that came before the dinner), and then it’s emotionally connecting, and then it’s meeting his friends and you can see where I’m going with this. It goes on and on and on, the competition never ending.

The cold hard truth is we do it because we don’t love ourselves enough. Often that isn’t your fault. We live in a world which makes it incredibly difficult to love yourself. You pop out of the womb a happy, innocent thing, and then people start bringing over pink baby grows and tutus, and it all begins. The world starts to place you into a very specific job role, and nowhere in the description is loving yourself a criteria. So it’s easy to keep going after the man we can’t have because it keeps you asking questions like, ‘what’s wrong with me’ and, ‘am I not good enough’. And as long as you’re asking those questions, you’re playing the role you were born for. It’s also a way of validating yourself. If you’re competing in these games, and if you somehow win the prize (the man), then you’re finally worthy.

God forbid there’s no chase and no self-doubt, and instead just a wholehearted, beautiful love in which you bloom and feel fucking fantastic about yourself. And by the way, it does exist. There’s hundreds of women in relationships with wonderful men who are completely available.

So when the drama starts to gets too much, and he’s not there, physically or emotionally, walk the fuck away. You already know you deserve better, because you say it to your girlfriends’ every time you’re sobbing on the bathroom floor.

Let’s stop spitting out these enabling behaviours in the form of comforting sentences and we’ll all be doing each other an incredible service. And let me clarify, these behaviours aren’t just because you love the hunt, or you get a kick out of the chase, or you’re strong enough to handle all the drama because you’re a Spartan queen, or whatever else it is that you tell yourself. Because you hate the hunt, the chase is stupid, the drama exhausting and these are not battles you should be fighting anyway.

The death of life and the discontent of a nation

By nation, I mean the whole fucking world. Reality seems to have been suspended, indefinitely, and we’ve accepted a new kind of world, one that is strange and lonely, broken and a little bit empty.

On one side of the pond we’ve just kicked ourselves out of the EU. America is on the brink of voting in one of the most ludicrous presidential candidates the free world has ever seen. Right wing sentiment is getting more airtime than it ever has before. The Great Barrier Reef is dead, which literally tells you everything you need to know about climate change. Consumerism is at an all time high and we’re just so very tired.

We work twelve-hour days at tiny desks while the air conditioning circulates dead dreams and failed ambitions. We don’t like the people we report to and we like our colleagues even less. All the hours we work never seems to amount to hard cash and we’re still broke. Pensions are a relic of the olden days and retirement is basically a myth. On tired train journeys home we look at BuzzFeed articles with titles like; ‘All the mansions you could afford to live in if you lived anywhere but where you currently live.’ While BuzzFeed is hilarious at times, I could swear it’s sole purpose is to make you feel shit about your life. It’s a conciliatory place to laugh your troubles away with everyone else who is in an equally bad boat as you. As for love, it’s become so accessible via tiny apps on your phone that nobody wants it. We’ve saturated the market and people aren’t buying anymore. Instead we just jump from bed to bed, throwing away relationships as easily as we do our phones the minute the latest iPhone hits the market.

Something is terribly wrong. The stench of discontent clings to everything and I am no longer sure if we’re living, or existing. Can you remember the last time you lived? Like really lived with a reckless, happy abandon, full of joy and hope for the future? I can’t remember the last time I felt anything but fear for the future. What debt university tuition fees would bring, what job I was going to get in the recession, how I was ever going to get on the property ladder, would I ever find anyone to swipe right to on Tinder, what Brexit means for me, what happens if Trump gets in, and on and on and on.

And it’s easy to sit and grumble about your trails and tribulations. Hell, I could write for days about how shit everything is right now, but no, this isn’t one of those articles that bemoans everything. Honestly, there is enough of them out there as it is.

This is a call to arms. This is an action. A shout. A cry for help and a plea for change. It’s me standing up and saying let’s build the barricades and come and stand with me. It’s a hope and a prayer. It’s getting off the carousel and putting my head above the parapet. It’s a dream. A vision. A call to humanity. A stand. A revolution, and it’s long past time we had one. It’s a desire and a want for something more than whatever Instagram is selling us this month. This is the acknowledgement that the way we’re living isn’t right, and it’s time for change.

It’s easy to see the catastrophic events that are happening around the world in isolation; from wars, to economic crashes, police brutality and dead Syrian babies washed up on empty beaches. But in reality, they are part of a complex structure, intertwined and run by the neoliberal financiers of this world to create a system of power. A system of discord and uncertainty that keeps us all afraid, guessing and constantly unhappy. Fear, uncertainty and misery are powerful weapons to command.

Fearful people don’t know what to stand for and when no one is standing, there stands no opposition. A miserable nation constantly buys houses and cars, watches and bags in an attempt to grasp happiness. Our pursuit of happiness happily feeds the economy. An uncertain population does nothing. They sit and continue to read ridiculous articles about how awful their lives are while sharing the latest viral post of ’10 instances of genuine human kindness’. Or something like that. I know you roll your eyes when you see these kind of titles on your Facebook feed, but did you ever stop and wonder why you see so many articles like that? Yes they’re mostly rubbish, but articles like that go viral because we’re all craving basic human values that we seem to have lost in this new world.

Money is all we aspire to. Love is disposable. Loyalty interchangeable and kindness is weak. That is our existence today.

There may be clowns on the street but Batman isn’t going to sweep in and clean the city up for us. It’s on us. It’s time to stop accepting this insane reality we’re living and start doing something.

And that sounds terrifying because a revolution means rebels and rebels die a lot of the time. But no one is asking you to start throwing rocks at tanks or living on the streets. That’s not the revolution we need. We need a human change that revolutionises the things we hold dear. We need to shift our values onto a better cause than our materialistic possessions. The ‘Top Ten Fall Outfits of 2016’ is absolutely, unequivocally not something worth fucking fighting for.

Instead, what if we started acknowledging that there is a problem. Silence is the most effective way of controlling the masses and by talking about things we normalise behavior and create spaces for change.

What if we realised we didn’t need as much as the brands want us to have.

What if we started valuing time with friends and family over money earned.

What if we accepted that we didn’t need to own houses, because we can’t take them to our graves anyway.

What if we actually stopped working at 5:30 and left our work phones in the office.

What if we all started telling our managers and bosses that twelve hours was unnecessary and not acceptable.

What if we didn’t spend ten pounds in Starbucks every day and gave it to a cause instead.

What if we fundamentally changed the makeup of our day with small actions that were based in kindness. The kindest to give some of your wealth and time away, because we don’t need as much as they’ve tricked you into thinking you need.

What if, every little thing we did, started to change the foundations of our society and we became a country rooted in community and the pursuit of living. Right now our society thrives on ownership and individualism. Everyone is so busy ‘making it on their own’ and trying to be some sort of hero as we accumulate more and more, or at least, die trying.

But here’s the thing that we’re all drastically missing. We weren’t built to be alone and humans thrive in communities. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, when a beautiful sunset lights up the sky you still stop and stare in wonder. The money, the cars, how many followers you have on Instagram, it doesn’t fucking matter. None of it matters. What matters are those sunsets and who we share them with.

It’s time to give the system your middle finger because it’s already taken most of your life. It doesn’t deserve anymore of it. And above all things, you deserve better. We all deserve to live better. Whatever it is that we’re all doing now, it’s not living. It doesn’t even come close.


This article was originally written for the #Uncreative movement. Head over to C&I Agency and check what they’re all about because they’re amazing and it’s the right thing to do. 

The emptiness of being alone

When there is no one, and the lights have been switched off by the last man to make a home in you, an emptiness settles upon you.

It’s the feeling of being completely alone. There is no one to think about, or worry about. There are no calls to make at the end of your day, and you don’t need to check in with anyone. Your energy and emotion flows straight from you, into you.

It’s a strange and unknown feeling for the most part. It took me a while to pin it down and understand it. I had to touch it, taste it, feel it roll around my mouth to really know it.

Since puberty, and long before, our energies are channelled into boys and men. Maybe not knowingly, a lot of the time unwillingly, but they flow towards a tide of testosterone either way.

We’ve been programmed to wonder what they think of us. We’ve been engineered to want their approval, whether it’s the whistles of builders as you walk by, or accolades in the academic or professional world. These are things delivered by men, that were initially constructed for men, and we strive to get them. And then there’s love, and that brings a host of approval and male acceptance all of its own.

There is nothing more excruciating than wanting the attention of a man. It doesn’t make you less of a woman, as the world would have you believe, but it does mean that your thought processes, wants and energies become inexplicably tied to him. In reality, he consumes your thoughts and drives your emotions.

This isn’t even something us women like to admit. No one in fact, likes to admit that they check their phone so many times in a day in the hope that his name will flash across the screen. No one likes to admit that we feel happier in our day, when we’ve received contact, and acknowledgment of some kind, from the man we desire. Especially those strong willed, ‘fuck em’ type of women. We hate admitting any of those things. But it is in fact, a truth universally unacknowledged, that a woman in love craves validation and attention from a man.

That’s not to say the same isn’t true for men, of course they experience similar feelings. But the point is, they haven’t been raised in a system that requires them to seek our approval, and so the wants and desires they feel, are remarkably different. It doesn’t have the same tinge of hysteria about it, and I don’t give a fuck about the feminist outrage as I say that, there is hysteria. Many a good and sane woman has been driven to hysteria by a man.

As I lay completely and utterly alone the other night, my world revolved solely around me. It felt a lot like standing in a vast marble hall and having the freedom to walk any which way I chose. I could feel the emptiness in the air. I could feel my time and energy, my thoughts and concentration, flowing from me to me.

I’m not saying I’ve been in relationships my entire life, because naturally that’s absurd. But I’m a younger sister, and since the day I was born, I have sought the attention of my big brother. I then sought the attention of his friends. Then boys and boyfriends. That turned into colleagues and partners. Fiancées and lovers. I have either sought approval in a male dominated society, or I have been in a relationship looking for acceptance, recovering from the love of a man, or falling for the next one.

There were years of being alone, but they were years of healing and I found my energy still running into the man that had either hindered or helped me.

But once you’ve picked up all the pieces, and you’ve let go of the things that were consuming you, and there’s absolutely no one on the horizon, there is an emptiness, an emptiness that feels a lot like bliss.

Not everyone will be alone in that way because not everyone wants to be. And certainly, that’s not the solution. But I wonder if perhaps I hadn’t been a product of a society that called for me to comply with testosterone, I might have found this blissful self-awareness earlier. I might have found time to give me more of me, instead of packaging it up in different ribbons for the different men that stepped into the frame.

Empty denotes something negative, the idea that you had something, and now you’ve lost it. But I’ve learnt recently that empty is the lack of a male presence in my head. I am empty of worrying if he will or will not call. Empty of concern for his emotions and well-being. Empty of worry regarding his actions. This might just be called letting go, or moving on, or any number of things. But I also realised that I have reached a place where male validation, whether it be professional or personal, has no baring on me any longer. And I have grown in a world where so much emphasis has been placed on that male acceptance, that I am suddenly empty.

I don’t know how long it will last, I hope forever, but I’m also not that naïve. I know that I’ve been a product of the system far too long to shake it off in a day. What I hope for above all else, is that we can somehow pass the message on to girls today, that the emptiness of being alone is a wonderful thing. That when you’re not worrying about male acceptance and attention, it leaves time and space to create so many incredible versions of yourself. If we could only raise a generation that didn’t need male approval, and a generation that didn’t ask for it, what a wonderful world we could create.