The Daily Beast recently featured an article about a female drone operator nicknamed Sparkle, who, with the use of a bedazzled headset, kills Afghans from 7,850 miles away. The article, which was written by journalist Kevin Maurer, describes in great detail how Sparkle targets men in Afghanistan, watches them crawl with parts of their bodies missing, die, and be buried. Sparkle speaks about how, after these strikes, she takes her dog for a walk in the park, congratulating herself for “protect[ing] a world where we can spend lavish amounts of money on recreation places for our animals.”

The article, together with the ensuing celebration of Sparkle’s “badassery,” is yet another example of the impunity and nonchalance with which murders are perpetrated in the Global War on Terror. As a part of this war, drone strikes have become one of the most devastating devices in the U.S. arsenal. While touted for their precision, they have infamously caused the deaths of countless civilians. Though it is impossible to know exactly how many strikes have been carried out or precisely how many people have been killed, in Afghanistan, civilians are ten times more likely to be killed by a drone than by a manned aircraft. …

On Feb. 12, the Muslim Student Association at UCLA hosted a vigil to commemorate the lives of Yusor Abu-Salha, her husband Deah Barakat and her sister Razan Abu-Salha. These three Muslim students were shot execution-style by their white male anti-theist neighbor in their home in a hate crime.

They were students like us, and like many in our communities — Muslim students our age who were involved in their campus MSA, who volunteered for the organizations we volunteer for, who lived lives similar to ours. …

Muslim women wear the hijab for a variety of reasons: worship, convention, or perhaps a desire to exist outside of a reductive male gaze. Often, we are told that we should wear hijab so that we don’t get reduced to our looks anymore and in that sense, it is ironic that the hijab leads to just that — being reduced to what they wear, how they wear it, what color, camel bump or not, turban or not, abaya or not.

It’s frustrating enough that Muslim women have to face policing by non-Muslims regarding whether or not they should wear hijab and how an integration into a “Western” society should be characterized by stripping yourself, quite literally, from your own religio-cultural identities. However, that discussion is for a different day, as the focus of this piece lies elsewhere: I take issue with the policing within the Muslim community — the shaming, the discouraging, the backbiting and the incessant judging. A woman’s piety seems to be dependent on whether or not she wears hijab. And ironically, a woman cannot seem to exist outside the parameters of that hijab. If she wears it, she gets a whole new identity: she is a “hijabi” now, with all the expectations and obligations that somehow come with that. Either she lives up to those expectations and continues her existence on a dehumanizing pedestal that doesn’t leave room for shortcomings or she fails to meet those unwritten standards and is considered a hypocrite unworthy of the hijab she wears. And if she doesn’t wear hijab, then she is a “non-hijabi” and, somehow, must be lacking in her commitment to her faith. This kind of binary thinking is problematic because it disregards any nuance that exists between the two extremes of the perfectly pious “hijabi” woman and the gone astray “non-hijabi” woman. …


Sarah R.

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”