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Parvez Sharma also blogs at The Huffington Post,

Parvez writes for The Guardian

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29.1.11

Breaking News from Mohandessin in Cairo

I have another friend Yousry. (Different from the other amazing Yousry I just interviewed for a Mondoweiss exclusive) I have blogged about him in the past 72 hours on the Huffington Post and on Mondoweiss and on the Guardian's Brian Whitaker's blog.

I have just spoken to his sister who just finished talking to him.

Yousry and his friends were walking in Mohandessin and this is all still unfolding--so it was recent. They are armed and have guns. A car full of some thugs shot at them but they were not hurt. Seeven men then arrived on motorcycles and attacked them with swords. Yousry and his friends shot back at them making sure they were not killing them and once the shot-at bikers lost control of their bikes--they tied them up to a tree on the roadside.

Yousry and his friends have contacted several helplines and are trying to contact the army. They are still on the side of the road. The 7 now injured bikers who attacked them with swords are right there as well, tied to the tree.

This was way too long to tweet so I am putting it here in the hope that you will be able to share it.

It is becoming impossible to tweet this revolution in 140 characters or less so I am going to stop pretty soon and retire for the night--and try and get my life back--perhaps eat and try and have a shower and also try and save my laptop from eternal damage.

In any case my very powerful interview with the other Yousry says it much better than any tweet ever could and certainly better than many of the jokers being paraded on cable television in the United States. It is up on the front page of Mondoweiss right now. I am hoping that the Huffington Post will publish it as well--they have not responded to my emails or posts in the last 24 hours even though Arianna Huffington has recommended Mondoweiss to her followers for its LOTS OF GOOD RE-TWEETING ABOUT EGYPT GOING ON. I hope she or her staff have noticed that I have been doing about eighty percent of that re-tweeting atleast for the last 48 hours. Write to her though if you feel inspired by Yousry's Mondoweiss interview and feel it deserves to be read. If you don't that too is fine ;-)

Thank You All for your support and interest.

BREAKING NEWS FROM EGYPT/ IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS


American television networks and an endless parade of mostly white men pundits (brought out and dusted off with their cobwebs) should take lessons from Al-Jazeera in live reportage, in not having pundits talk over the chants of a mass of humanity, in having Arab reporters covering what they know best, in remarkably evocative and courageous camerawork and in just being able to cover history like no other television network has ever been able to do before. And yes, I also mean that CNN during the first Gulf War was not as good as this.
It is so important to remember that the vast MAJORITY of those on the streets around the country do not have the time, the ability, the resources (including smartphones) and certainly no access to working mobile phone service. This revolution is JUST NOT BEING TWITTERED by the people who are actually protesting.
The only people tweeting are either reporters with huge bureaus and live cameras to back them or people like me reporting from the cyber-frontlines talking to the few friends in Cairo we can reach on their landlines.
To tweet this revolution and Egypt’s complex back-story in 140 characters or less is impossible.
Interestingly Al-Jazeera which is doing a stellar job is also more interested in covering the revolution (amazingly) in what is essentially wide-shots to show the extent of the chaos. Ayman’s camera is focused on the thousands in Tahrir. Not many correspondents are able to get to neighborhoods like Rihab, Mohandasin, Zamalek, Maadi—which cyber-reporters/tweeters like me are able to do by talking only on landlines (mobiles are not working) to our friends—ordinary citizens. Hopefully this below, is an example of that.
I must mention that some amazing independent reporters like Ahmed Moor (who is writing for Mondoweiss and sometimes Al-Jazeera English) and Sharif Koudouss (of Democracy Now—who just flew into Cairo) are doing remarkable reportage, even though they are not necessarily backed by major news bureaus
My friend Fouad was able to get on the landline again. His body and soul are still bruised and yet he has never been more hopeful. His severe anger at Hosni Mubarak’s speech full of lies and his ambivalence about the appointment of Omar Soliman, the head of intelligence as the new vice president.
It a fragmented conversation on a still functioning landline. And as bullets do rain all around him, here are his bullet points. The thoughts and experiences of an ordinary citizen, not a reporter.
· Mohandaseen is burning—we are surrounded by looters, and the army is just watching
· They are looting houses and we have no idea who these looters are
· My parents asked army tank guys and they said we cannot intervene!
· Everyone here is saying that Mubarak is being spiteful-he wants looters so that he can say-Look I gave you calm for 30 years? OK now you want to get rid of me? Well see the chaos my going can bring-Enjoy the unrest and the looting. Only I could have protected all of you!
· I was driving and 3 men with knives attacked me near Sudan street—I had to sort of run them over
· Big rumor that Mubarak is releasing prisoners and arming them so that they can infiltrate neighbourhoods and loot them
· Maadi, Street number nine-huge vandalism happening—There is looting everywhere in Rihab city, in Mohandasin, in Shubra. In Heliopolis there are plainsclothes police
· My parents are organizing all the baobabs in our street and making blockades to stop the looters
· There are Balkageyah (thugs) everywhere—all rich neighborhoods are being attacked
· I think he is fucked up yaani--He didnt resign---his speech instigated the violence---now looters and the poor think that when you know there is no hope you might as well get as much as you can as long as the chaos lasts--people were hopeful that he would go
· Maybe in other governates--people are more organized and closer to each other as community members...so they will organize better, perhaps—In Cairo it is difficult to control the chaos and disorder—there are 19 million people in this city who often don’t talk to each other and are so separated by class and money—I am wondering how they can organize together?
· The people in Cairo are fighting two things--they are fighting police forces but also now fighting looters
· People prayed the Salat ul Genaza, the funeral prayer after the evening prayers in Tahrir—we carried a body through the crush of thousands—I was crying, so many of us were crying

Fouad's mother is now making Molotov cocktails to protect them-She is 60 plus.

28.1.11

EGYPT RIGHT NOW

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @parvezsharma where I am live-tweeting the NOT SO JASMINE REVOLUTION currently exploding all over EGYPT

I HAVE LIVE FEEDS AND ARTICLES ON HUFFPO ON MONDOWEIS and on the excellent blog of Guardian Editor Brian Whitaker

Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, Keith Olberman, All of FOX need to take LESSONS IN JOURNALISM 101 FROM AL-JAZEERA, the network which I am ashamed to say--cable providers in New York refuse to carry.

5.12.10

NY TIMES REMOVES OFFENSIVE IMAGE AFTER THESE POSTS AND TWEETS-SEE IMAGE BELOW


At about 11:13 am the image (see below and above) was GONE.

Timeline of events:
At about 9:15 am I noticed the image.
At 9:30 ish I posted the fact of its existence on my Facebook home-page.
By 9:45 I sent them my first email. (I sent three in total after being asked to provide my contact details from an automated response).
On my Facebook I posted the image at 10:30 am.
Friends started writing that they were emailing them.
At around 10:45 am I presciently posted the following on my Facebook page saying:

Here is the offensive NYT Sunday am photo-before they remove it and say it never existed! See thread below for details.



I even posted a quick column on Huffington Post. (Their young blog editors are probably still hungover from the weekend. Lets see if HuffPo publishes it).

At 10:40 am or thereabouts I tweeted this below-

Blatant Islamophobia on display in the NY Times Sunday web-edition @NYTimes http://bit.ly/hTfU6a


This is the power of us watching the media, folks. Thankfully I was able to take a screen grab of the image and hopefully it now exists for posterity and can go viral, as it should. Post your comments here or connect with me and/or the links on Facebook and Twitter.

A *New* New York Times Faux Pas


The Gray Lady is wearing her Islamophobia on her sleeve this morning.

Sunday morning, like most mornings I opened from years of habit-the home page of the Times. Peering at the lead story without my glasses I was horrified to find the image of Muslim men praying near Mecca-next to a cable excerpt from (the now hard to access) Wikileaks-the Times had decided this was the top story for us this Sunday.

However next to the excerpt which began: "Terrorist funding emanating from Saudi Arabia remains a serious concern...." there was the unmistakable image of Muslim men praying near Mecca wearing the requisite Ihram during pilgrimage.

Is the Times saying that all Muslim men who go for the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages to Mecca are a part of terrorism emanating from Saudi Arabia? Are all Muslims stepping into that holy (and unjustly Wahabi controlled land) getting classes in Terrorism 101 ?

Living in the US, I am now not surprised by the Islamophobia of others. I cringe when cartoons depict our (undepictable) Prophet. And yet as a moderate Muslim, I always fight for freedom of expression (I usually attach the rider-"with responsibility")

Throughout history words and images used together convey powerful meaning. All dictatorships, genocidal regimes and problematic systems of power know this. Journalists and photo-editors should know this better than most.

I often defend the NYT to Muslim friends elsewhere who don't trust it.

Now, I am not so sure.

I wonder if I am the only one to notice what I hope is a lapse of judgment and not an editorial decision.

Below is my hurriedly written letter to the Times. The image grab can be found on my Facebook and if I am able to include it, with this blog-post as well.


To the Times.

As a Muslim writer and filmmaker based in NY, my home-I have always turned to this paper as my primary source of information. In my travels through Muslim majority nations, I have also been very aware of the untrustworthy label easily assigned to your reportage, which I have often defended. This more from a place of knowing that you are also much reviled by the right-wing here in America as being part of some imagined "progressive conspiracy." However, this Sunday morning--like every Sunday morning when I opened the paper in my web browser I was horrified to see an image of Muslim men praying during the Hajj, wearing the requisite "Ihram" next to a Wikileak cable excerpt that says "Terrorist funding emanating from Saudi Arabia remains a serious concern..."

This is blatant "Islamophobia", which your editors surely know is currently much in fashion. Surely a less provocative image can be found to depict a nation, which for many of us moderate Muslims-remains a place we deride for its hypocrisy and totalitarianism but respect as being the home of our two holiest cities. I wonder if the current climate makes it acceptable to use Muslim males in prayer as a suitable image for them usually being branded "terrorists" or singled out at most airports in the world.

Words and images together, convey powerful meaning. Your editors, your web-editors and your photo-editors, I hope know this better than anyone else.

In the past I have considered myself fortunate to have been profiled and written about in your paper. Now I am not so sure.


Thank you.

Parvez Sharma
New York
December 5, 2010

22.9.10

My new article in The Guardian

I write about the appalling distaste of a "Slum" birthday cake for Bollywood film star Shabana Azmi's 60th birthday in the British newspaper - The Guardian

Please comment on their website and the link is here

First Screenings in Arab World, LA Times and Al-Akhbar articles

I write after a long time and realize now more than ever, how relevant "A Jihad for Love" is. Two weeks ago we returned from Beirut where the Heinrich Boell Foundation organized the first ever public screenings of the film in any Arab nation-there were two screenings-one at The Beirut Art Lounge and the other at Hamra's Zico House. Both were packed and the response was amazing.

There is an interesting and short interview with the LA Times here, and the comments section remains, well, interesting!

There was a strong reaction in the Arab media, as expected and leading Left newspaper Al-Akhbar published a piece here and the comments were not all as friendly (though some were).

22.8.10

Why I am against the "Ground Zero Mosque"

You can find this entire post at The Huffington Post. I encourage you to comment there.

I had always been taught to believe in the homogeneity of the pious. But a year after September 11, as I snuck into a Thursday afternoon zikr at the Masjid al-Farah twelve blocks from the still smoldering Ground Zero, I was not so sure. It was Ramadan and the tradition of breaking of the fast, the iftar was going to happen after the zikr, or Sufi chanting.

Looking around, I felt this was hippie for the Muslims. It was like the Muslim Woodstock or Burning Man. Clearly the congregants would prefer granola bars to kebabs. They wore all manner of what my neighborhood mosque in Nizamuddin, New Delhi, would consider un-Islamic clothes. Men and women were together. It was beautiful and affirming and yet strangely foreign. "Only in America," I thought, "can I enter here as a gay and Muslim man," and yet I felt no sense of connection with the place. It was strangely new-agey. In the center sat the tall Sheikha Fariha Friedrich, a gaunt Caucasian woman in all white, who was the first female leader of this order (the Nur Ashki Jerrahi) in 300 years. It was time for iftar and all manner of micro-greens and broccoli came out. Used to dates, greasy kebabs and butter-layered rotis for this kind of meal, I fled.

A few weeks later, I visited the Manhattan apartment of one Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan. I was a spiritual orphan launching on a journey of trying to document homophobia within Islam and I was looking for a home. Imam Faisal was dapper and articulate and spoke in carefully calibrated soundbites. His wife, Daisy, a lovely host, was also, it seemed to me at that time, getting ready for prime-time television. Throughout the zikr I could not shake off the feeling of being part of a project that would present Sufi Islam as a credible alternative to the mindless violence of the Sunni/Wahabis who had killed three thousand people at what was by now already called Ground Zero. I did not know how much at that time if America could be fooled into thinking that Sufis had any credibility with orthodox Muslims. Traditionally they had been the bastard children of Islam. Everyone in the room spoke in hushed whispers of an Islam that was a religion of peace. I was still not at that time sure of this line (I was able to refine and reach my own conclusions after seven years of study and travel to Muslim communities around the world, but this was way before that).

Sure enough, in a few months, whenever there was a PBS special on Islam--and there were many--Imam Rauf would be paraded about as the face of moderate Islam. He was not the only one jumping on the Islamic bandwagon. Islam was hot and sexy and later the success of my own film on homosexuality and Islam, A Jihad for Love benefited from that very sexiness.

Over the years I heard still unconfirmed rumors and whispers of a vicious power struggle that had raged within this Sufi order between the Sheikha Fariha and the Imam Feisal, who had been a regular prayer-leader there since 1983. It was widely believed that the Sheikha emerged victorious and that Feisal Rauf was thus trying to build his own following, which he clearly did.

Knowing Islam as intimately as I do, I have always found it extremely difficult to paint this complex religion of more than a billion followers with broad brushstrokes.

Even after a decade of living here, I still feel relatively fresh-off-the-boat in this country and, to me, seven years in New York make me a new New Yorker. Many of the mosques I have experienced, in more than twelve Islamic nations around the world, do not manufacture pithy sound bites about peace. I have often had to sit through deranged diatribes against women and minorities. And yet I love mosques, for the spiritual sustenance they have always given me.

On the other hand, most of the Muslims I have encountered in my own family and elsewhere are just ordinary folk, not really following fatwas and diktats issued by Islam's self-appointed ruling elites, be they the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or the predominant Deobandi School of Islam of the Indian sub-continent (and, ironically, the school of Islam that the Taliban comes from). Most Muslims seem to be just ordinary people trying to get by in life and hoping for better futures for their children.

I have also lived in America for ten years as an out and proud Muslim. I have faced "Islamophobia" only twice. Once was in Washington, DC, when a group of white boys in a speeding SUV yelled "Fucking Arab" at me. I realized, unshaven as I was and wearing my favorite and trademark kaffiyeh (Yasser Arafat's distinctive Palestinian scarf), I could pass for Arab pretty easily. The kaffiyeh came to haunt me again in 2004 outside a synagogue on 14th Street in Manhattan, when a bearded, young, Jewish man called me "Palestinian Terrorist" and then thoughtfully added "Go back." I muttered "I am Indian" and ran.

The arguments against the xenophobia and the re-victimization of the "other," the continued demonization of all Muslims and the right wing's hysterical evisceration of what they think constitutes Islam continue to be made on cable television and pretty much everywhere else. Right-wing, anti-Muslim vitriol has been spilled everywhere and in this hot summer of election politics this "Mosque/Cultural Center" has clearly become a wedge issue and a potent one at that. So I don't need to add to the rhetoric emanating from the mostly White men of cable television, like the Keith Olbermanns of the world, as they tie themselves up in knots defending the Constitution and the unfortunate tendency of xenophobia, with righteous anger and pain at the level of discourse in America. I certainly don't need to add anything to the fears at Fox and Friends of a Muslim takeover of this deeply Christian nation.

Three weeks ago, in Delhi's old Muslim quarter around the Jama Masjid, I was shopping for my kaffiyehs. The controversy of the "Ground Zero mosque" had been raging on my Facebook messages, already with many asking me to come out and write against the "right-wing nuts". As the merchant and I bargained about whether the kaffiyeh should be a dollar or two, I asked the older gentleman selling me the scarves why he would want to sell them at inflated prices to me. "Because you come from 'Amreeka,'" he said. Clad in kurta pyjama, without a hint of an American accent (which I have tried and failed to cultivate) I was surprised he thought I was "Amreekan." "They can sense it," said my friend accompanying me, sotto voce. "It's about how you carry yourself now, that you have been away ten years." Clearly, my demeanor would give me away. I asked him what he thought of Obama. "Obama," he said with a smile that elongated his henna-dyed beard substantially, is a bhai, brother. I wondered if this was just the kind of sentiment I had encountered in Arab countries after 2008, when most discussion about Obama's positive Muslim cred would stop at his middle name, as if that was enough.

I must confess here that my middle name on Facebook since October 2008, when a particular voter with questionable hair-drying techniques spat out "He's an Arab!" at John Mc Cain, has been Hussein. I have proudly proclaimed to my Facebook friends that the moment I lose faith in him, the middle name will go. I haven't yet.

Fact is that any discussion of Obama's religious affiliations makes me deeply uncomfortable. I am profoundly proud of this president and have personally experienced how people in Muslim communities around the world treat my choice to continue living in America differently after his election.

But I also know the Islamic laws of patriarchy rather well. They have been used to disabuse me of my own Muslim identity, by so many fellow Muslims in the past. Obama, unlike me, was born to a Muslim father who may or may not have been religious. But for some who narrowly interpret Islam's laws of patriarchy, this means that at best he is a Muslim and at worst, a murtad, or apostate. Obama has made his preference for Jesus over Muhammad rather well-known, in which case I guess for the "right-wing nuts" in Islam, he would deserve the death penalty for abandoning the religion he was born into.

Meanwhile, in the mindless chatter of cable television news, mostly White men sit around these days throwing about poll numbers in which one in four Americans apparently think that their President is a Muslim. Occasionally the ones on the Left (read MSNBC) will parade a "Muslim" guest like Irshad Manji--to many moderate Muslims I know, she is a much reviled figure and an "Islamophobe" herself--who will speak in pithy soundbites, with usually American, Canadian or British accents, about a cultural universe they may know little about, having grown up Muslim in the first world. (And this I have always said-there is a huge difference between North American/ "accented"/ "first-world" Muslims and people like Usman, who you meet below or the kaffiyeh seller in Delhi).

Rarely do we hear from fresh-off-the-boat Muslim immigrants who do not have the invisibility of their accents, the types who populate the halal food carts that can be found on every corner of Manhattan now.

I spoke to one on Sixth Avenue. Usman is a rather handsome, young, Egyptian man whose audio system belts out Beiruti diva Fairouz's lyrics from his halal Food cart in this very commercial district, as he churns out lamb gyro platters. "I don't want this mosque," he says. "I have one in Queens. We pray in a basement and we are happy and left alone." He adds, "How can I go and pray in a place that will cause so much pain to so many people?"

Usman, I wish you were on cable television instead of Irshad Manji and all the other North American Muslims brought to air this political season.

Usman, I agree with you. It's simple, really.

I, a mosque-loving Muslim, am against this mosque. (And like many of you I detest Sarah Palin's rhetoric but at the same time have little patience for Keith Olbermann's theatrics on this issue.) This leaves me in a very uncomfortable (and probably not popular) middle.

Within the discipline of prayer and the sense of brotherhood and awe I have felt in mosques around the world, I have discovered whatever little spirituality I still possess. At the same time in America, I have also been vocal and critical about everything that ails modern Islam and have certainly had no time for the hateful rhetoric of the Rush Limbaughs of the world that paints all Muslims with the same terrorist-red brushstrokes.

I still remain undecided about whether post-September 11 rhetoric in America is just simply Islamophobic and whether this fundamentally is a Christian nation.

What I am certain about is this: I do know that the mostly tolerant fabric of the city, which is now my home, is being damaged, irrevocably perhaps, in this discussion.

Only in New York can I take the 1 train downtown and have a Rabbi with his Torah sitting close to a North African man clutching a pocket Quran with a scantily dressed Columbia University student reading Proust sandwiched in the middle of them. But this same New York is now divided around this rather expensive Cultural Center aka Mosque aka Culinary school, two blocks from Ground Zero.

In a nation that is notably short on history (compared to many of the Islamic civilizations that predate it), Ground Zero definitely is sacred ground. It is also a unique American space, where what seemed like hours after the attacks, T-shirts and models of the towers were to be found for gawking tourists, who eagerly posed for photographs amidst the destruction.

My father always says there is a time and a place. My mosque-loving Muslim self doesn't feel this is the time or the place.

I don't want to give the lunatic fringe of Islam (the Al-Qaedas and the Talibans) reason to gloat. I do not want America's mostly tolerant fabric destroyed by a structure so divisive that it will be hard for someone like to me even go there and pray during Ramadan.

I come from a nation where Hindu-Muslim "communal" riots have been part of life and where more than a thousand Muslims were massacred in their ghettos in the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad by angry Hindu mobs in 2002. I wonder how the Muslims of those neighborhoods would react to a prime real estate Hindu temple being built in the vicinity of their ravaged homes and lives?

Truth is that the media-savvy Imam Rauf, of Cordoba Initiative fame, has come upon a public-relations gold mine. I have not met him for years and am sure he would not even remember me. But I wonder if becoming a nationally discussed and debated figure is such a bad thing for anybody. He could well become "America's Imam," just as a certain former mayor of New York has appointed himself America's spokesperson for all things 9/11.

21.12.09

Public Screening in Dhaka !

For some time now, the film has been widely shown in Muslim countries-including a multi-city tour in Indonesia, where even protesters showed up at a screening and a hugely successful screening in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia attended by many including the former Prime Minister's daughter, who was reduced to tears.
The latest is the following screening in Dhaka, Bangladesh-where I had filmed as well.
If you are in Bangladesh, please go and tell all your friends to go as well.Click on this link below for details.

A Jihad for Love in Dhaka, Bangladesh

19.10.09

50 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World

I am honoured and excited to be named one of 50 visionaries by the leading progressive journal, UTNE Reader. The list which includes people far more deserving than me is headed by the Dalai Lama.
Read more about it here

22.9.09

Lost in (translation) in Bishkek!

Yes, I am in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan!
Will update when I can find the internet-
For now-
Sweet Sixties bar in Bishkek- My bar buddies-An Uzbek couple, a Mongolian filmmaker, a Serb, a Russian and a Croatian Czech-scintillating conversation veers from Putin's sexiness to Balkan politics to Brezhnev to Shashtri's statue in Tashkent to Obama's unpopularity in the CIS-this is the life ;-) Coming up tomorrow-Horse meat for lunch! On TV now-Church TV!!! (The only English language channels are Church TV and "Fox Crime")-and yes Russian MTV, Russian News or Putin News, and Tajik TV, and Turkmen TV and Kyrgyz TV.
Got to love it.
My ethnic Russian-Kyrgyz translator informed me how much locals (especially the older ones) long for a return to Soviet times. I can see why.

16.8.09

GET JIHAD AND ROCK YOUR CAMPUS!

Thousands of students across the United States have participated in fierce and urgent discussions and engaged in an amazing learning process with "A Jihad for Love" accompanied by filmmaker Parvez Sharma. These lecture/town hall screenings take students and faculty into a surprising world of an Islam that is poetic and erotic and sensual and dogmatic at the same time.

In his inimitable style Parvez takes the audiences through a riveting journey at breakneck speeds through 14 centuries of Islamic history!

CLICK HERE AND BOOK THE FILM NOW FOR FALL 2009

READ MY LATEST FEATURE ON THE DAILY BEAST HERE ON A SHOCKING NEW REPORT FROM IRAQ

THIS IS ALREADY ONE OF THE MOST READ AND SECOND MOST EMAILED STORIES ON THE IMMENSELY POPULAR WEBSITE!

9.8.09

My Live Chat on NDTV

This is the text of my live chat on NDTV with viewers, a few hours ago. (The abusive questions are not reproduced).

NDTV 24X7 is the TV broadcaster that has just shown "A Jihad for Love" to millions of viewers across the world.

14:30
NDTV.com: The forum is now closed for questions. But do keep sending us your comments on the film, A Jihad for Love.
14:06
Parvez Sharma: The DVD can be bought at www.ajihadforlove.com where links guide you to buying it outside the US and Canada! All your friends and family need to see it as it is a valuable resource for those who still live in fear or feel that they are alone and have no role models to look up to.
14:05
Parvez Sharma: Thank you everyone! I applaud NDTV's courage and vision for showing a film like this and in generating a debate that is critical. Believe me not many broadcasters would have dared. So you should all support NDTV for its courage and you should please spread the word widely about the film, buy it (it has subtitles in 8 languages including Hindi and Urdu), vsit my blog and the website and if you wish-talk to me on Facebook and Twitter! Thanks again!
14:01
Parvez Sharma: Hey Peter
I certainly think the film tried to cover way too much! Islam is complicated and I wish I had just made the film about the closeted gay Muslim penguin on the beach in South Africa (for those of you who have not seen the film yet, this happens in the first 20 minutes!) But seriously-this is a complex issue and I think the film covers pretty tricky terrain rather well
13:59
[Comment From peter ]
Did the film try to cover too much?
13:56
Parvez Sharma: Hey Miraj:
My Jihad continues in many many ways. Do visit my blog all of you at www.ajihadforlove.blogspot.com and you will see how. I have been doing a lot of work with the situation in Iran as well for example. And tonight (or this morning, after this) there will be a Jihad for sleep ;-)
13:54
Parvez Sharma: Hey Deepak! Please watch the film again! Its a documentary-not a fiction film (though sometimes it does seem a little bit unreal!) Its almost 4:30 am here on the East coast in the States, so maybe my tongue is way more in my cheek than it usually is as well!
13:52
Parvez Sharma: Hey Rahul
I am not very good at predicting the future! I dont think in our lifetimes we will see a worldwide acceptance of homosexuality, not from the Vatican and certainly not from Islam or even lets say the RSS/BJP gang. Now my own future? Thats way more interesting. There is a book in the works. I travel a lot and speak way too much around the world and people seem to listen so far (so thats a good thing) and honestly I am plotting a return to India to make a subversive Bollywood film-that is if they can deal with a completely out and proud homosexual filmmaker! (so many in that town are completely in the closet ;-)
13:48
Parvez Sharma: Hey Komal
The greater Jihad in Islam is the Jihad ul Nafs, or the struggle within the self. This can manifest in many ways and most of them are ones of faith and contemplation. Jihad has been used variously through Islamic history-for example a particularly rich period of Arab (mostlt Egyptian) literature was referred to as the Jihad of the Pen. However there are also those who claim that Jihad is just Holy War and equate that with killing innocent people and that is the kind of interpretation that needs to be challenged by many more Muslims and condemned publicly by more Ulema in the Muslim world.
13:45
Parvez Sharma: Hey McLovin: I seem to get a lot of McLovin from most Muslims, most of the time! I am mostly fatwa-free still and there is a reason for that. Unlike "Muslim" opportunists like Irshad Manji I do not attack my own religion and I feel that people value that. There are way too many people like her who have made an industry out of working with right wing conservatives in defaming a 1428 year old religion while having pretty much no understanding of it.
13:42
Parvez Sharma: Eisha: Islam has a very large heart and more Muslims need to pick up cameras and tell our stories unfiltered!
13:40
[Comment From Komal ]
My view-- "jihad" speaks not of holy war but of spiritual struggle...do you agree ?
13:38
[Comment From Eisha ]
Does islam have room for this kind of cinema
13:37
Parvez Sharma: Hey Athar
A simple google search will correct the many falsehoods in your question. Homosexuality is NOT a major factor in HIV-infact the largest number of infections happen in heterosexual populations. My film DOES NOT show Islam as a backward religion because the people in the film are true believers who love their Islam. And as far as condemning homosexuality as a Muslim goes Athar, I agree that most Muslims think it is wrong.
13:35
Parvez Sharma: Tina: Fundraising is a huge challenge and young filmmakers like me struggle a lot. I hope things become easier with the huge success of this, my first film. But independent filmmaking is tough. It took us years to get the big broadcasters on board even though the subject matter for them was "sexy". A record number of foundations also funded this film. And we were extremely lucky to get distribution in theaters in the US and Canada atleast
13:33
[Comment From Tina ]
Hi Parvez, does money ever become a constraint for a young filmmaker like you ?
13:33
Parvez Sharma: Manisha: I lived through eight years of George Bush when the values of democracy and free speech were a mirage! So America was not the greatest place to be in. Its only now, after Obama that it feels a little bit (and not always) like the promised land again! I even took on Obamas middle name as my Facebook name when he won (and I was not alone). Lets see what he does with Muslim issues. With immigration. With healthcare and yes "gay marriage"
13:33
[Comment From Michelle ]
Any part you wish you had shot differently ?
13:31
Parvez Sharma: Sure Saurabh: I did feel like running for cover because I was always filming undercover anyway! Whenever I was in tricky situations I was able to bribe the police and found that the bribe system works as well in Cairo as it does in your local police station in Gurgaon!
13:30
Parvez Sharma: Hey Yashika
The film has been playing around the world. You can see it on NDTV now and it is also on DVD which you can buy when you click on www.ajihadforlove.com
13:29
Parvez Sharma: Vijay:
I agree that calling homosexuality "unnatural" in 2009 makes no sense! However we have to understand that for the majority of people all over the world, cultural and/or religion dictate the heterosexual norm. I am able to understand the other side (and it took me a long time to get there). It is also interesting as I said earlier that Hindu and Muslim "leaders" in India can agree on little, but definitely seem to agree on the sin of homosexualty!
13:29
[Comment From Saurabh ]
Hi Parvez, did you while filming at any point in time feel the desperate urge to leave your camera behind and run for cover !! Just a fun question !!
13:28
[Comment From Yashika ]
Hey! When does the movie release and where?
13:26
Parvez Sharma: Hey Saurabh
The reaction in the West has been amazing! This film has now been seen in 49 countries by more than 4 million people at last count (and I dont have the NDTV numbers yet). I think for Western audiences the film has also been a primer on Islam, almost like an Islam 101
13:24
[Comment From Saurabh ]
How has the western world reacted to your film ?
13:23
Parvez Sharma: Lokesh: All three monothesims condemn homosexuality and let us not forget that even in America there are large sections of the country that are deeply moralistic, conservative and Christian-and disapprove of homosexuality in ways that mirror Islamic disapproval. I think the problem lies in a nation like Egypt, where a supposedly "secular" but dictatorial regime carried out a pogrom against gay men and whenever the state starts policing peoples bedrooms we have problems
13:21
Parvez Sharma: Hey Muneera:
Its about time a prehistoric law like 377 was sent to the dustbin of history! Its the worst thing the British left in India,Pakistan, Bangladesh. It is outdated and creates huge problems. I am not sure how this will play out at a governmental level and I am very interested in seeing how the ruling by the Delhi High Court will be seen in Pakistan and Bangladesh especially.
13:20
[Comment From Lokesh ]
Parvez, if the world’s most popular religion denounces homosexuality, what sets this brand of anti-gay sentiment apart from others?
13:19
Parvez Sharma: Hi Carla: Yes racism and Islamophobia are a way of life in the West, post September 11. Interestingly in Muslim communities/countries I was invisible because I looked like everybody else but it was always coming back to the US when the visas in my passport lead to fun times at the airport!
13:17
Parvez Sharma: Hey Roshan: For me the gay Imam in South Africa with the three children was the most intelectually engaging. However the two women you see in Egypt were the most compelling (Maryam and Maha) because their struggle was just so impossible-Maryam infact said repeatedly that in order to feel that she was a good Muslim she felt she needed to be punished. That was tragic and also at the very heart of the film.
13:15
Parvez Sharma: Dear Mr Coorg:
I am actually a great defender of Islam! Have you seen my film or read any of my interviews easily available on the web? Infact I think it would be very wrong to compare me to the people you mention. Please see and absorb "A Jihad for Love" and I promise you that your conclusion will be different.
13:14
[Comment From Mishi Raina ]
Your film fails to address the issue of how has homophobia evolved in the Muslim world? Could you elaborate?
13:13
Parvez Sharma: Hey Rahul: Most filmmakers will look at their work in critical ways and I am no exception ;-) If I was to do the film again I would have done the parts in Iran completely differently and perhaps I would also have let some of my current pessimism shine through a bit more. Because now, after a year of traveling I do not think that there can be a Quranic or theological "solution" to the "problem" of homosexuality (please do note the quotes) that is acceptable to one billion plus Muslims. I also do not think that any religion is going to be "comfortable" with homosexuality in any of our lifetimes.
13:11
[Comment From mr.coorg ]
Those who write against Islam will always become famous! tatz what history tells us! example: salman rushdie, naipul, tasleema and there will be no doubt next in the number will be U, can u please comment on this?
13:11
[Comment From Roshan ]
Who was the film's most compelling subject ?
13:10
Parvez Sharma: Tanmay: I do not feel there is a sense of Muslim brotherhood at all! Islam is way too diverse and for most of the time Muslims cannot agree on most things. I certainly feel no brotherhood with Bin Laden or Kassab. And I think this lack of unity worldwide has created tremendous problems-but the complexity of what is the worlds fastest growing religion (Islam) makes it pretty impossible for there to be any kind of unity
13:07
Parvez Sharma: Shailija: I have traveled very widely around the world with this film, in more countries than I can even remember and yes that travel and exposure to diverse cultures (and also the diversity of Islam) has lead me to believe that one persons terrorist can be another persons freedom fighter. It may not be very kosher to say this in India, but Kashmir is a perfect example where people across the border look at the same situation in completely different ways.
13:04
Parvez Sharma: Noopur: In some ways it took a lifetime, of trying and understanding parts of my faith and parts of my mixed heritage and my own sexuality. And in reality I started filming in 2002 right after September 11. I dont live in India anymore, but I do feel it is easier to be gay in India today. I came out at a young age when I was in India, but at that time not many people were able to do so. However strong cultural and religious barriers remain. And isnt it interesting to see right wing Hindus and Muslims speak in the same voice to condemn the Section 377 ruling? I always say-nothing unites Hindus, Muslims and Jews more than their fear of homosexuality!
13:01
Parvez Sharma: Imran: Nothing has given me greater pleasure than seeing Western audiences go up to the box office here in the US for example (the film was released in theaters across the country) and say "Can I have two tickets for Jihad please?". This is why I chose the title. To take the discussion of Islam away from just violence. To reclaim some of the true meanings of words that we have been taught to forget and that includes Jihad which really means an inner struggle (Nafs) to be a better Muslim. And to put Jihad and Love right next to each other is a powerful statement for a powerful film.
12:59
Parvez Sharma: Salam alaikum Yassir- I have read the Holy Quran very well and do consider myself a good Muslim. Let me ask you this-where in the Quran does Allah swt ask us to judge the faith of other Muslims? Is he not the one who will decide finally? Lets respect the basic tenets of our religion and believe me when you see the film, the respect for Islam is what you see.
12:56
[Comment From Naman ]
If Islam is okay with polygamy, why not homosexuality?
12:32
[Comment From Yasir ]
I want to ask, just one thing. Have you read the Quran or are you a Muslim just by name? You need to follow Quran and Islam to be called a Muslim.
12:31
[Comment From Imran ]
I want to ask you the sole meaning of keeping this name
12:11
[Comment From Noopur ]
Parvez how long did it take you to make the film? Do you feel it's easier to be gay in India today as compared to say 7-8 yrs ago?
09:18
[Comment From Surekha ]
Parvez, even while exploring the religous and cultural differences of the gay community across Islamic countries, how did you manage to retain the commonality in all of them: that of Jihad?
09:10
[Comment From Carla ]
Have you ever been a victim of racism, manifested mostly in just getting around with your muslim names in western nations ?
09:10
[Comment From Shailja ]
One person’s terrorist is another persons freedom fighter- do you believe that's true ?
09:10
[Comment From Tanmay ]
Parvez, do you believe there still exists a sense of Muslim brotherhood around the world ? Any instance that makes you believe that ?
09:04
[Comment From Akshit ]
Parvez, through this film, could you reclaim the Islamic concept of a greater Jihad? What is Jihad, please explain.
09:04
[Comment From Muneera ]
Your film comes at a time when Section 377 of the Indian penal code has been successfully challenged. Do you believe acceptance of the film will now come by more easily ? also what's your view on the judgement
09:04
[Comment From Rahul ]
Parvez, do you disagree with any part of your film and feel you could have executed it better ?
08:32
[Comment From Suhail Ahmed ]
Kudos to Parvez to highlighted this thorny issue of homosxuality. Its natural desire one cannot deny it.
18:52
[Comment From rahul ]
the film is great. But what's the future?
11:56
[Comment From Nadeem ]
Almost of third of countries worldwide still criminalises same sex relationships and seven carry the death penalty for the offence. Parvez, what in your opinion will ensure a change in mindset?
11:56
[Comment From Sunaina]
Your film is an intelligent and honest appraisal of Islam as a multi-denominational religious experience. Share with us your most memorable thoughts or discoveries while shooting the fim?
11:56
[Comment From Miraj Qureshi ]
Parvez, we Muslims are members of the world's fastest growing religion, indeed the second largest. We are all waging several jihads within ourselves. Does the Jihad still continue for you?
11:56
[Comment From Manisha ]
Values of tolerance, of democracy, of free speech-- is that why you chose America?
11:07
[Comment From vijay ]
I am not sure about what the scriptures say, but both muslims and hindu fundamentalists are against homosexuals, much like Hitler was. We dont know yet if homosexual traits are conditioned or are genetic. Whatever the case may be, calling it un-natural is foolishness. If humans really blv in natural living then we should stop wearing clothes, using technology, cooking food, etc. since all this is un-natural too. What's your take?
09:49
[Comment From Athar ]
Well homosexuality is not illegal but prohibited not only in Islam but other major religions like Christianity, hinduism, etc. It is a major factor in rising cases ofHIV/AIDS. So don't know why we are promoting such an evil and that too by using Islam as a scapegoat and displaying it as a backward religion which has not upgraded but in fact it is a way of life decided by the creator (who knows much more than we do) and when HE commands us not to indulge then why do we question it when there are so many scientific proof out there. Parvez why are you trying to show that muslims will have to accept homo stuff, if we want to coexist? What is your take Parvez?
16:19
[Comment From McLovin ]
Hi I was wondering how the Muslim community reacts to the fact that you are gay and a Muslim? Considering the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Islam.
13:14
[Comment From Deepak ]
Parvez does this reflect your own thought with actors playing it out or are they projecting their own struggles?

7.8.09

GET JIHAD AND ROCK YOUR CAMPUS!

Thousands of students across the United States have participated in fierce and urgent discussions and engaged in an amazing learning process with "A Jihad for Love" accompanied by filmmaker Parvez Sharma. These lecture/town hall screenings take students and faculty into a surprising world of an Islam that is poetic and erotic and sensual and dogmatic at the same time.

In his inimitable style Parvez takes the audiences through a riveting journey at breakneck speeds through 14 centuries of Islamic history!

CLICK HERE AND BOOK THE FILM NOW FOR FALL 2009

5.8.09

Jihad in India, UAE, Africa, Middle East, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and more!

Hello everyone
NDTV 24x7 is doing a great job promoting the second broadcasts of "A Jihad for Love" this coming weekend.
Check it out-visit the site-chat live with me at 1 pm India time on Sunday and much, much more.
Spread the word. This is the first chance that people in many countries will have a chance to see the film and react. For me personally this is very significant as India is my home country and I also know that enormous numbers of Muslims will now be able to watch the film easily. Click on this link below and even see Part 1 in the region (only available for a limited time)

A Jihad for Love : Being Gay and Muslim ONLY ON NDTV!

1.8.09

STILL ALIVE AS MY FILM DOESN'T ATTACK ISLAM

That, my friends, is the screaming headline on the front page of the Bombay newspaper Midday today. I must clarify that there are several misquotes, which is a fact of life I should be getting used to, having spoken to media all around the world. For example, I did not say "Fatwa-fine" but I said "fatwa-free." I did not speak about family at all. The quote, "Leaving it means leaving your food, music," is a simplification of a more complex quote in which I said leaving Islam is like leaving your family, your community, your culture and even seemingly small things like what you eat, the kind of music you listen to, how you view the world, etc. And there are several more. However, I must also give credit to the journalist who did spend a considerable amount of time with me on the phone, though she did not manage to get all of my quotes just right.
Here it is; the abusive comments are already on there. Decide for yourselves.

MIDDAY article and interview on the Indian broadcast

Here are just two of the recent comments:

You r an Ignorant and Abnormal person
Dear Parvez
NO harsh words but an advice: DONT MESS WITH THE NATURE OR NATURE WILL MESS WITH YOU
Have u ever seen a lion mating a donkey? a snake mating a rat????? then why on Earth are you bent on making this obscene act as worthy and ok to carry on???? Go and make the movie but why are u using a religion in between???? May Allah Guide you and Show you the Right Path and give you strength and wisdom to accept and follow the Right Path. amen.

and then this, a more positive one.

WELL DONE
I THINK BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH US IS THAT WE ALL ARE HYPOCRATS.WE DON'T WANT TO FACE THE REAL WORLD.WHATEVER PARVEZ IS SHOWING IT EXIST IN THE SOCIETY AND WE SHOULD APPRECIATE HIS EFFORTS.

Followers

This JIHAD IS ON FIRE

September 2007 is when I started (with a finished film, my first) and now some 49 countries and 8 million people later, the whole world is talking. The movement around this work has begun worldwide. We will be screening next year around the world and yes in Muslim countries as well.

For more updates email me at parvezsharmaATgmailDOTcom and post your comments here as well.


Imam Muhsin Hendricks and his website for the Inner Circle

Director/Producer Parvez Sharma

Director/Producer Parvez Sharma
All the Breaking News around 'A Jihad for Love' is at this blog address. You can email Parvez directly at parvezsharmaATgmailDOTcom

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