“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”


Rosa Parks

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On 1st December 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama an African-American civil rights activist named Rosa Louise McCauley Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger and was arrested for civil disobedience. Though she did not know it at the time, her act of defiance became a catalyst to the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott and a prominent symbol for the modern Civil Rights Movement. The U.S. Congress called Rosa Parks “the first lady of civil rights”, and “the mother of the freedom movement”.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old African-American woman who worked as a seamstress, boarded this Montgomery City bus to go home from work. On this bus on that day, Rosa Parks initiated a new era in the American quest for freedom and equality.

She sat near the middle of the bus, just behind the 10 seats reserved for whites. Soon all of the seats in the bus were filled. When a white man entered the bus, the driver, James Blake (following the standard practice of segregation) insisted that all four blacks sitting just behind the white section give up their seats so that the man could sit there. Mrs. Parks, who was an active member of the local NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], quietly refused to give up her seat.

Her action was spontaneous and not pre-meditated, although her previous civil rights involvement and strong sense of justice were obvious influences. She was arrested and convicted of violating the laws of segregation.

At the same time, local civil rights activists initiated a boycott of the Montgomery bus system. The boycott began 5 December, the day of Parks’ trial. In cities across the South, segregated bus companies were daily reminders of the inequities of American society. Since African-Americans made up about 75 percent of the riders in Montgomery, the boycott posed a serious economic threat to the company and a social threat to white rule in the city. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the boycott, the beginning of modern Civil Rights Movement in USA.

In the South, city buses were lightning rods for civil rights activists. It took someone with the courage and character of Rosa Parks to strike with lightning. And it required the commitment of the entire African-American community to fan the flames ignited by that lightning into the fires of the civil rights revolution.

Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.

Thank you Rosa Parks for staying seated 57 years ago today!

Activism, Opinion

Unusual Bravery or Needless Provocation?

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While some have called her a heroine, others have opted for the term mentally ill. But however you see her, 20-year-old university drop-out Aliaa Magda El-Mahdy has managed to become a household name in Egypt in just a couple of days by posting naked photographs of herself on social networking Internet sites and sparked a global uproar after a friend posted a photo of her naked on Twitter with the hashtag #nudephotorevolutionary.

The tweet was viewed over a million times, while Aliaa’s followers jumped from a few hundred to more than 26,000. Between supporters and attackers, Aliaa’s blog, entitled “A Rebel’s Diary“, has received more than 4,400,000 hits since she posted the pictures.

In an interview with CNN, she has said: “I like being different. I love life, art, photography and expressing my thoughts through writing more than anything. That is why I studied media and hope to take it further to the TV world too so I can expose the truth behind the lies we endure everyday in this world. I don’t believe that we must have children only through marriage. It’s all about love.”

In closing, I will say that her ideas and thoughts are too radical and represent another extreme. It is hard for the society to give any iota of acceptance although her campaign cannot be put down as a mere titillating provocation. Her method of protest is definitely controversial. Also, she is not the first person to use nudity as a form of protest worldwide, she may be the first person in a country like Egypt. I personally agree that in a free society, every woman is entitled to her freedom, but just dropping clothes in public will not make them free from their exploitations and sufferings under the garb of some age-old, social practices, which have lost its relevance in this modern world.


Sila ki Jawani!

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In late 2010, one song – “Shila ki jawani” of a Hindi movie “Tees Maar Khan”, became a hot favorite with the Indian population. This song was on lips of almost everybody. This song/dance got some awards in India, also.

Now, in 2011, there is another Sila, who is buzzing nowadays. She is Sila Sahin. She is an actress in Germany. The reason for her being in the news is that she is the first Turkish Muslim woman, who posed nude for Playboy (NSFW), Germany.

This has naturally caused a lot of reactions from her family & her society. But, she is staying bold and has said that this is her declaration of independence. She said to Playboy in an interview that she was feeling like Che Guevara.

Well, this is another way to declare freedom …. “Sila ki jawani”!

“Sila azaad hui, Playboy tere liye…”