New Canadian Media

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Hadi Wess abandoned pre-med studies in Syria due to the civil war to come to Canada with his family. He currently studies psychology at the University of Ottawa, where he is also the Vice-President-Social for the university’s Student Federation (SFUO).

He helped to organize a vigil on June 13th honouring the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. SFUO condemned homophobia, transphobia but also Islamophobia at the vigil, where the tragedy was framed as a hate crime against the LGBTQ community as opposed to a terrorist attack.

Hadi spoke at the vigil about the impact of the shooting on Muslim communities amid fears that this incident would be used to justify further Islamophobia. He also discussed the importance of marginalized communities being allies to one another. Here is his speech.

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Muslim Link

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Published in Commentary

by Maria Assaf in Oxford, England

Imagine being a child bride in pre-revolutionary Iran – suffering abuse on a daily basis, being forced into a joyless marriage and having children at the age of 13. There is no law or organization that can protect you, as the entire affair is perfectly legal.

Now, imagine having a beautiful husband and children, a mother and father, and then losing them all in a genocide.

What hope could remain in a human heart after enduring such calamities?

Could an intense desire to right the wrongs or change the world bring back life to a suffering soul?

In Amity, author Nasreen Pejvack makes her reader wrestle with such questions, page after page, as she recounts both the painful and happy memories that form the lives of her two main characters: Ragusa, a survivor of the Yugoslav ethnic conflicts of the 1990s, who is on the verge of taking her own life, and her unknowing rescuer, Payvand, who is an Iranian activist with a tragic life story of her own.

Paradox of the West

Amity shows that there are moments in some peoples’ lives in which hope does not materialize from suffering. There are times when the soul has been so utterly shattered, that the mere suggestion of finding meaning within its pain is insulting.

Pejvack presents a panorama of a Western world – with its affluence and the seeming peace of its clean streets – which hides many truths and stories of refugees or others who have fled conflict and reached what seems like a safe haven.

As the stories in Amity show, the suffering of many of those individuals will not cease once they have a Canadian passport.

As the stories in Amity show, the suffering of many of those individuals will not cease once they have a Canadian passport or British citizenship. The marks that their pasts have left on their souls will accompany them forever, like a shadow surrounding the most trivial moments of their lives.

Yes, many of them have been saved; the lucky few have even re-married in their new countries and found jobs and successful careers. But who can take away the pain of the memories, the tears, and the nightmares that keep survivors trapped in their minds as if in a prison of their pasts?

Pejvack’s book is heartfelt throughout. It is honest and direct and her phrases are simple, clear, and concise.

For those readers who are fortunate not to have suffered the misfortunes of war, oppression and tragedy, this book will provide insight into the lives of the millions of people worldwide who are experiencing similar fates as Ragusa and Payvand.

Understanding each other, and the world

Amity is a testament of sympathy with victims and the experience of sharing an understanding of tragedy and pain; of expressing empathy towards those who feel that no one could possibly understand the depths of their suffering. 

This book grabs the audience’s attention rapidly, with its strong life stories and its vibrant political, economic and historical debates, made intentionally easy to read.

Her book is incredibly timely and relevant in the context of the present turmoil in the Middle East.

The writer’s political debates illustrate the evils that have plagued Iran and the nations that formed the former Yugoslavia, creating strong sentiments between two women who shared impassionate days and brought joy to each other in their pain.

The book succeeds at making the audience care about global politics and the way it creates wars that lead to the kinds of crises that have made these two protagonists suffer so much in their lives.

As Payvand tries to pull Ragusa back to life by telling her stories, this book also grabs the reader’s attention and curiosity from the beginning by making us want to learn more about the fascinating characters Pejvack describes in each chapter.

For those interested in the histories of the places where conflict has struck recently, this book embarks on detailed accounts of Iran’s recent past, explaining how the country came to be what it is now.

Pejvack’s explanations are nuanced and politically knowledgeable. Her book is incredibly timely and relevant in the context of the present turmoil in the Middle East.

… Pejvack writes in a way that is every bit poetic as it is political and invites people to care, to take action, and to participate in her revolution.

Call to action                        

Each of Pejvack’s characters is an activist in her own right.

Ragusa, a Croat, married a Serb – something inconceivable during tense times in which Croatian and Serbian populations were at war.

Payvand, an Iranian revolutionary, had to see her comrades die and experience the disappointment of witnessing the onset of what she calls an ignorant revolution.

From the portrait of violence Pejvack presents comes a call for revolution. Formerly a writer and poet for an underground activist publication in Iran, Pejvack writes in a way that is every bit poetic as it is political and invites people to care, to take action, and to participate in her revolution.

The call for unity regardless of nationality and other differences is one of the most beautiful premises this book proposes. This work is a must-read for inspired young citizens of the world, as Pejvack appeals to those who are trying to make a difference and are in need of some accessible guidance on how to contribute positively to the world.

Maria Assaf is a Colombian-Canadian freelance reporter who writes for Latin American, Filipino and other immigrant publications in Canada, including New Canadian Media. She completed her bachelor's degree in journalism at Ryerson University and is currently pursuing a master's degree in development and emergency practice at Oxford Brookes University, where she is researching refugee freedom of expression.


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Books

Kollam (Kerala) (IANS): Two days after the fireworks tragedy at Puttingal Devi temple in Paravur in Kollam that left 109 people dead and more than 350 injured, police on Tuesday recorded the arrest of six temple officials. Five officials who surrendered before police late Monday night include P.S. Jayalal (president), Krishnankutty Pillai (secretary), J. Prasad, […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in India

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (IANS): An Indian woman from Telangana was among the 717 people killed on Thursday in a horrific Haj stampede in Saudi Arabia, the worst tragedy to hit the world’s holiest Muslim pilgrimage in 25 years. Another Indian, from Lakshadweep, was among the 805 pilgrims injured in the disaster that took place on […]

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Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Arab World
A famous saying attributed to Edward Bulwer-Lytton states that “Genius does what is must, talent does what it can.” In the case of Hawksley...

Greek Reporter

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Published in Arts & Culture
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:01

The Tamil Tragedy

In the last week of April 2009, an unexpected telephone call from a long-lost friend woke me up in the early hours. For me, those were the days of continuous trauma, relentless protests in the streets of Toronto and constant ‘bombardment’ by horrific images from the war zones in the Vanni region of Sri Lanka. The request from my friend was simple and direct: Several hundred people here are going to surrender to the Sri Lankan army. We do not know what will happen to us but I have no confidence that I will survive. I have, somehow, at great risk, managed to send my kids outside Sri Lanka a few weeks ago. Please take care of them…

Tamil Canadian

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Published in Commentary

 Canadian grocery chain Loblaw has announced that it will compensate the families of victims of the factory collapse that occurred this past May in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza. The building housed a number of garment factories, including some that made garments for the Canadian retailer’s Joe Fresh line of clothing. The building housed garment factories, including […]

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Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

   The following is a first person account by a Canadian couple, Laj and Surinder Prasher, who caught caught in the great flood in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, in which nearly 6000 people, most on their pilgrims to the Hindu holy site, perished. Starting in February, the Himalayan snow and ice melts as the [...]

The Weekly Voice

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Published in India

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

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