Welcome to the summer edition of the Asfar e-Journal!
This edition, without any particular prompting on my part, has come together mainly around the theme of identity. It is a theme that I always personally find fascinating, and it has produced some very interesting articles this time. I am particularly excited by Ameen Nasir’s article about his experience of having to leave Syria, and his struggle to adapt to new surroundings while holding onto his identity and culture. His message of resilience and defiance offers hope that he and his compatriots may eventually find a peaceful and prosperous future in their homeland.
Continuing on the theme of identity, our new Turkey editor Caitlin Miles covers the fiasco of this year’s Istanbul Pride March, contextualising the decision of the Istanbul authorities to crack down on Pride within a long tradition of political manipulation of cultural expectations and norms. As victories for LGBTI rights continue to make headlines worldwide, Pakistani social media users Mustafa and Mohsin share their experiences, discovering that merely identifying with the struggles of sexual minorities can provoke fury and a sense of cultural affront within their community.
Another article that draws attention to cultural tension and clashes of identity is Rich Quinlan’s piece on the ‘Draw Muhammed’ contests that have recently been taking place in the United States. He looks at some of the justifications given by those who insist that holding such events is not just a good idea, but a fundamental right, as well as sharing his own take on the issue.
Even amongst the more traditional fare, similar themes seep through. Hellen Gheorghe’s essay makes a decent fist of analysing the connections between haphazard attempts at ‘modernisation’ in late Qajar Iran and the Constitutional Revolution of 1905, and she raises an interesting argument about the key role that the Tehrani bazaari class played in articulating and leading protest. Even when looking back 110 years, this edition leads us back to questions of individual and group identity, and its repercussions as it is articulated in moments of controversy.
This edition also features the report and photographs from the recent Asfar Erasmus+ trip to Jordan. Thanks to Elizabeth Wiggin and Clare Sikorska for preparing and sharing this interesting insight into the Erasmus+ experience, which can only stand to recommend anyone considering taking part to get involved!
The full list of articles is as follows:
- From the Land of the ‘Caliphate’ by Ameen Nasir
- Reflections on the 2015 Istanbul Pride Parade by Caitlin Miles
- ERASMUS+ Youth Exchange to AMMAN, JORDAN diary by Elizabeth Wiggin
- Chasing the Rainbow: Social Media and Cultural Boundaries by Mustafa A & Mohsin H
- The Constitutional Revolution of 1905 in Tehran: a visible manifestation of the consequences of imperial modernisation in Qajar Iran? by Hellen Gheorghe
- Freedom Cannot Cloak Hatred by Rich Quinlan
- Amman in May by Clare Sikorska
A big thank you to everyone who was involved, and especially to all our contributors. We all hope that you enjoy this issue.