On the margins: a look at race, culture, and world affairs


Jihadists dancing with guns in Syria. Photo: Getty
Reading poetry written by jihadists could shed new light on extremism
By Samira Shackle - 10 July 16:04

The "extracurriculur" activities of terrorist groups can reveal how extremists think and behave.

A Syrian refugee waits to cross the border into Turkey. Photo: Uygar Onder Simsek/AFP/Getty Images
Is the way the media reports Islamic State’s treatment of women making things worse?
By Samira Shackle - 29 June 14:26

As in any war, the “rape crisis” in Syria and Iraq is complicated, and the way it is reported shapes the false assumptions and stigma women face.

A British Muslim teacher teaches his British Muslim pupils. Photo: Getty
Is teaching a counter-terrorism curriculum the best way to stop young people being radicalised?
By Samira Shackle - 24 June 17:43

As a Muslim community organisation launches a special counter-terrorism curriculum this week, will theological teachings help the UK challenge extremism?

An elderly Somali woman sits outside a kitchen in the Hagadera sector of the Dadaab refugee camp, north of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images
What it’s like to be a Somali refugee in Kenya
By Samira Shackle - 22 May 10:45

Hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees have fled Al-Shabab across the border. But in Kenya, they face racial profiling, police searches and the constant threat of repatriation.

Islamic State faces a complex web of militant groups and violence in Pakistan
By Samira Shackle - 23 April 10:14

The signs of Islamic State moving into Pakistan are there, but what difference does this make in a nation already subject to similar horrors?

Leader of the AAP Arvind Kejriwal at a rally in Varanasi in May 2014. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
What is behind the resurgence of the AAP, India’s radical anti-corruption movement?
By Samira Shackle - 13 February 9:30

The Aam Aadmi Party, led by Arvind Kejriwal, has won 67 out of 70 seats in Delhi’s elections.

Activists commemorate the second anniversary of the Delhi gang rape. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty
Two years after the infamous Delhi gang rape, India’s women still aren’t safe
By Samira Shackle - 17 December 9:55

India is only just beginning to understand the scale of its sexual violence problem. The public discussion in the wake of the Nirbhaya case has been encouraging, but until it translates into action, little will change.

Soldiers protect schoolchildren rescued from the site of the attack. Photo: A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
In Pakistan, fear has become mundane – will the Peshawar attack change anything?
By Samira Shackle - 16 December 13:26

Over a hundred people are dead, many of them children. Even in the terror-stricken context of Pakistan, this attack is shocking.

Arsenal Ladies celebrating their 2014 FA Cup win. Photo: Getty
The rebirth of women’s football: more than a century on, it’s a game worth watching
By Samira Shackle - 17 October 12:43

The FA is out to make women’s football the second most popular sport in the UK, displacing men’s cricket and rugby union. Samira Shackle explores the long history of the game, from munitions workers in 1917 to the first salaried national players just a few years ago.

The beach in Mombasa, Kenya. Photo: Getty
In Kenya, al-Shabab is using terror as a way of destroying the economy
By Samira Shackle - 20 June 11:12

The group’s long-term strategy is to destroy Kenya’s reputation as a safe tourist destination, damaging its economy and weakening its ability to successfully fight terrorism in Somalia.

Smoke drifts over grounded planes at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi after the attacks. Photo: Getty
For people in Karachi, the airport attacks show once more that fear has become a fact of life
By Samira Shackle - 09 June 10:05

It is mind-boggling that such an audacious attack should be possible in such a major airport in a major city. What does it say about the state of Karachi, and of Pakistan, that it was able to happen at all?

No way home: Syrian refugees sleeping outside the Centre for Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI), in Melilla, Spain, 2 April. Photo: Getty
“My heart aches for Syria. I don’t think people think about that”
By Samira Shackle - 29 April 9:40

While 2.6 million Syrians have fled the country, few have so far come to Britain. Yet the current anti-immigration climate ignores the desperate circumstances of those forced here.

Victims of spite: acid attack survivors at an anti-violence rally in Dhaka. (Photo: Rex Features)
Acid attacks: a horrific crime on the increase worldwide
By Samira Shackle - 01 April 12:10

Around 1,500 cases are recorded every year but the real figure is probably far higher.

One of the “I, too, am Oxford” campaign images. Photo: itooamoxford.tumblr.com
The “I, too, am Oxford” whiteboards aren’t perfect, but they’re better than nothing
By Samira Shackle - 19 March 10:44

Of course, whiteboards do not have the space for the full complexity of the arguments about racial insensitivity, not do they represent everybody’s experiences, but they can start an important discussion about the micro-aggressions that make it difficult to express offence.

How legal aid cuts are harming the voiceless and most vulnerable
By Samira Shackle - 13 January 12:01

Increasingly, some of the most vulnerable people in our society, such as young people in care, the homeless and migrants, are being forced to represent themselves.

Mandela's right–hand man and prison mate on his “elder brother and mentor”
By Samira Shackle - 06 December 10:39

Ahmed Kathrada went to jail with Nelson Mandela, and in Mandela's later years sometimes acted as his spokesperson.

Can you be a Muslim and a feminist?
By Samira Shackle - 12 November 14:02

It is astonishing that “Muslims”, and Muslim women, are so frequently spoken about as a monolithic block. If you actually listen to what Muslim women have to say on the subject, you find that many of them have no difficulty reconciling their faith with th

New Statesman
Why another high profile rape case in India will fail to tackle the causes of sexual violence
By Samira Shackle - 31 October 13:34

“The trial in the Mumbai gang-rape case has opened to a drowsy and ill-attended courtroom, without the crush of reporters who documented every twist in a similar case in New Delhi in which a woman died after being gang-raped on a private bus.”

New Statesman
Why would anyone believe in the "Islamophobia industry"?
By Samira Shackle - 03 October 15:37

Two years ago, Sayeeda Warsi warned that anti-Muslim prejudice had “passed the dinner table test” and become socially acceptable. Yet we still debate whether Islamophobia exists at all.

Why are we still relying on decades-old stereotypes when we talk about the Middle East?
By Samira Shackle - 13 September 11:49

Media narratives and the stereotypes they employ matter because they frame the way the world understands events. The reporting of Middle Eastern conflicts has the potential power to impact western political responses.

The other Guantanamo
By Samira Shackle - 05 September 9:31

As the US withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches, what will happen to Bagram prison, where many prisoners are held without charge, trial, or even access to a lawyer?

A to B: Cars like tanks
By Samira Shackle - 21 August 12:15

Travel through Pakistan is intimately segregated by class, writes Samira Shackle. If you're rich, you just keep driving.

The Twitter jihadis: how terror groups have turned to social media
By Samira Shackle - 15 August 8:45

Pakistan’s militant and extremist organisations are increasingly aware of the importance of the internet, says Samira Shackle.

A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a young child
The struggle for a Polio-free Pakistan
By Samira Shackle - 25 June 12:22

What is behind the the sudden upsurge of violence towards polio vaccinators in Pakistan?

The elections in Pakistan: After the street parties, will it be politics as usual?
By Samira Shackle - 13 May 12:51

The general election in Pakistan saw the largest voter turnout since the 1970s. But what of the accusations of vote-rigging and violence, and what does the future hold for Imran Khan?

Campaigners protest the killings of Ahmadis at a mosque in Lahore.
The Pakistan general election is fast approaching - but one community will not be casting votes
By Samira Shackle - 10 May 13:10

Samira Shackle talks to members of the Ahmadiyya, a minority numbering 4 million. The Ahmadis are branded as "non-Muslims", suffer violent attacks on their mosques and will boycott this weekend's elections.

Ruquiya Hashmi.
“I am a double target because I am a woman and I am Hazara”
By Samira Shackle - 09 May 14:30

The Hazara are a Shia minority who face constant persecution in Pakistan. Ruquiya Hashmi - the first female Hazara candidate for the national assembly - faces death threats daily.

On tour with Imran Khan, Pakistan's wildcard candidate
By Samira Shackle - 08 May 14:18

With Khan laid low by an accident at a rally, Samira Shackle reports on his campaign so far.

Lubna Lal in her home in Jhelum.
Politicians of the third gender: the "shemale" candidates of Pakistan
By Samira Shackle - 07 May 10:35

The Pakistani trans community is unlike the West's: hijras, as they are known, consider themselves a third gender, neither male nor female, and refer to themselves as "shemale". Samira Shackle meets Pakistan's first hijra electoral candidates.

New Statesman
Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, prosecutor over Benazir Bhutto assassination, murdered in Pakistan
By Samira Shackle - 03 May 10:43

Ali was gunned down in Islamabad’s G9 area this morning as he drove to a court hearing for the Bhutto case.