I have been invited to blog all day on October 2nd at Why Democracy?
This is the global news and analysis blog of Why Democracy House, part of the largest factual multimedia event in the world-where 10 of the world's best writers and bloggers have been invited to donate a day of their time to the site-and yes I am honoured to be one of them.
I reproduce below, the invitation from the amazing people over at this project.
" Greetings from Cape Town. I'm the media project manager for a project called Why Democracy? -- the largest global documentary broadcast in history, which will see 10 films made by 10 top directors shown in over 200 countries to hundreds of millions of people in October.
We've enjoyed Parvez Sharma's blog and we'd like to involve him in one blog component of this project. Several of our filmmakers, including Alex Gibney and Kazuhiro Soda are taking part, as well as an Indian economist, a popular Norwegian blogger, an underground activist from
Zimbabwe and a former US secretary of labor.
Our project's goal is to engage people in conversations about democracy (what works, what doesn't, how it can be improved, where it's needed, where it's abused, how it relates to other issues like the environment, human rights, etc.). The films are excellent, hard-hitting, critical and challenging -- some have already won festival awards in the past few months.
We're inviting a small number of smart, interesting bloggers and writers from around the world to act as guest news bloggers on a specific day leading up to and during the broadcasts of the films (from Sept. 24 through Oct. 18). We've got some of the best and brightest people on the planet, all effectively donating a day of blogging to the project.
Our site has a news page at http://www.whydemocracy.net
In return, we'll include a short profile (if you wish), link back to his own site for the duration of the project, and connect him to a group of prominent, intelligent bloggers and filmmakers as well as expose his site to the large global audience we will gain as this event is covered by the media.
This project is going to be quite massive -- it's backed by the BBC, CBC, SBS, SABC and many other networks. But it's also being run on a shoestring (there's always more money for reality TV than for civic engagement.)
I'm donating my time to this project and I hope Parvez will see the value and potential of this effort and be eager to donate a day of blogging as well. "
This is a remarkable opportunity, and not being one to turn it down-I am donating a day of my time to what is already a huge broadcast event that will resonate from Cairo, to Tehran, to Delhi, to Tokyo, to LA and Rio de Janeiro.
And finally-in these times of virtual Jihad-the love arrives in different ways, usually email.
Wajih Choudhury, definitely a fellow Muslim, in an email title GO TO HELL (subject line) writes (the punctuation and caps lock key on his keyboard dont seem to work as fast as his emotion)
" you guys contribute nothing to helping the world. you only focus on
yourselves. i hope more and more of your faggots are persecuted."
I invite you all, dear readers to react to Mr. Choudhury's comments and then we can email him.
On another note, I met two Muslims (yes all of two) in Brazil and Yasmin from Rio writes this beautiful email. (Words like hers are the ones I choose to remain focussed on).
" Assalamu Aleikum.
Mr. Parvez Sharma,
I hope you're fine and in best health when you read this, inshallah. I met you yesterday, september 26, after i saw your movie at Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro.
I'd like to pay my complements to you and your team for the documentary "A Jihad for Love". I really liked it, wallah! Specially because it shows the conservative perspective in a respectiful way, the reality of those who live this difficult situation in Islam, and also shows how people are learning to deal with it together with Islam. I liked that it shows the need to review the muslim societies in a better way for the human being - as it is the greatest creation of Allah, but as we know that's not a problem only with the homosexuality, it's a problem with all the marginalized people in the muslim society, including women in general. It's interesting that the movie shows that the homosexuality isn't accepted by any divine religion, but I felt it makes an urgent request for the muslim society to become more tolerate with their brothers and sisters who have a different sexual peference.
In Brazil, although we are a secular country and we have a huge gay community - and gay tourism is growing widely specially in Rio de Janeiro - we have a very patriarchal social system. Most muslims here are converted and others came here running away from the wars in the Middle-East. Without prejudice, but I believe the converted muslim are more tough, intolerate - or may be, even, fundamentalists. And, because of our particular culture where man is the head of the family, etc, the prejudice against homosexuals is really big in the muslim brazilian society. Inshallah, this will change one day, and people will learn to be more tolerant with the other. But untill a straight man or woman keep seeing a gay or lesbian as someone different from him/her, tehre will still be prejudice and violence against those discriminated people.
My father's father side of the family come from Lebanon and my father's mother family is catholic, originated from Portugal. My mom's entire family is catholic, originated from Italy and Brazil. As you can see, brazilians are a very diversified, LOL. As my dad passed away when my mom was pregnant, she raised me in the catholic believes (and way), but I always had many questions that only Islam was able to answer me. Anyway...God is only one and "There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger".
Inshallah this movie will be a great success! I wish you the best!
On my last day in Brazil-surrounded by teeming crowds near Santa Teresa, two men approached me at a cafe. This is as city of almost twenty million people and they recognized me from the previous night's screening ! They said:
"Parvez, thank you for making this film. We are not Muslim and know very little about Islam, but this film was about our lives".