I thought a lot about writing about this day — or not writing about it — this past month. I negotiated between celebrating in pride and holding a mirror to the mockery that’s been made of our freedom in many ways by the same people who brought it to us. I deliberated between love and disdain, like how one would with a child that didn’t live up to the dreams of everyone that came before it. But isn’t that how one loves a country? Always in between, always in a constant space of questioning and accepting, of loving and pushing…

Disintegration. By Noshin Begum

This month, we collaborated with New Yorker Noshin Begum to create illustrations of Bangladeshi Identity Project team members, as seen on our Instagram page. At 18, Noshin is creating a stir with unique strokes and bold artwork. We caught up with her.

When and why did you start your craft?

I have drawn for most of my life. A distinct memory in my mind is when I was four years old, and my mother taught me how to draw a flower. That was the start of my journey. In 10th grade, I decided to get serious because I was considering…

“Disbelief” By Rohena Alam Khan

There is a certain kind of blissful madness in the chaos art can create. To be able to stand in front of it, let it speak to you as though their color and your tongue speak the same language, is power. And it takes a certain kind of madness, as an artist, to relay such a message so eloquently, evoking chaos on the mind of the person absorbing the art.

That is how Rohena Alam Khan relays her message through her paintings — colors, chaos, from the streets of her home in Dhaka, to politics of gun violence and immigration…

Naureen Akhter. By The Photo Wala

Naureen Akhter didn’t prepare for a career in politics. And then, the 2016 elections happened.

Following the election of President Donald Trump, Akhter started a group to cater for Muslim Americans called Muslims For Progress, where they held voter registration drives, and created social media groups to discuss local issues and policies.

Prior to that, she was a primary caregiver to her children and ran her food blog (which, if you’re clicking on this link, good luck). Then she heard Alexandria Ocasio Cortez speak at a rally in summer 2017.

“I found her message super refreshing,” Akhter recalls. “The kind…

We have one message for Hussain: Stop.

Nadiya Hussain. Source: BBC.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Whenever you feel wronged by life, remember that there are people like Nadiya Hussain who have never tasted kalojam in life. Let that sink in.

This was in 2016, when The Great British Bake Off (2015) winner Hussain (in)famously claimed that “desserts aren’t a big feature of mealtimes in Bangladesh,” collectively shattering many hearts because it made us feel like we’d eaten post-dinner lies for an entire lifetime, and making us momentarily question ourselves.

Bangladeshis in a post Nadiya Hussain-world.

On Tuesday, she was…

When novelist and beauty entrepreneur Tanwi Nandini Islam visited the Bay of Bengal a few years ago, she was so mesmerized by the waters that she decided to dedicate a whole palette to it.

And it’s here. Last Sunday, as the world celebrated Earth Day, Islam launched her latest collection — Matí as a homage to mother nature as well as her parents’ motherland.

Islam’s parents are from Bangladesh, where “matí” literally translates to “soil” and also symbolizes one’s roots. …

When I first moved to New York two years ago, and began exploring the stories of immigrant taxi drivers, Raisuddin “Rais” Bhuiyan’s name came up quite often. Bhuiyan is a hero among local Bangladeshi immigrants (he is based in Texas), with his story deeply woven into the narratives of immigrants’ struggles and of Islamophobia.

Rais Bhuiyan. Image: Twitter

A former worker at a mini-mart in Dallas, TX, Bhuiyan was victim of an Islamophobic attack 10 days after 9/11 . He was shot in the face by a self-proclaimed “Arab-slayer”.

But he survived. And he chose to use his second chance at life to fight…

(Kati Szilágyi for The Lily)

Editor’s note: This story contains sensitive stories about childhood sexual abuse. Some of the women who came forward in this story could face negative repercussions within their communities for sharing their experiences. The Lily has chosen to protect their identities by not using their real or full names.

Bina really believed Samiha was going to come home that night.

It was a cold Wednesday evening in November 2016. Bina* had just gotten off the phone with her 23-year-old cousin, Samiha Khan, who assured her that she was on her way home.

“I told her what I always tell her when…

Afghans returning home from Pakistan find few prospects for education and jobs

Last August, at the crack of dawn on the day after Pakistan celebrated its 68th anniversary of independence, Nowshad Asghar and his extended family of 19 got on a bus in Peshawar with their belongings and took off.

They were on their way to Afghanistan — a place they called home, but a place that was a foreign land to them.

Asghar says his family’s journey from Peshawar to Jalalabad took nearly twelve hours

“We put our family on the bus and outside [on top] we put the…

Photo: Creative Commons

The sun is about to set on Manhattan. The crowd downtown is on a Sunday evening rush with hurried goodbye kisses and last-minute grocery shopping. My Uber driver is late.

He’d told me he was running late because of his evening prayers at a mosque downtown.

After waiting forty minutes, I see him pull up across the road. He motions to me from inside his car. His name is Muktadir. Like me, he is from Bangladesh. He is wearing the traditional Islamic topi, or cap, and has a long thick beard that frames his face. He is twenty-eight.

Muktadir is…

Samira Sadeque

Reporting on refugees, south Asian diaspora, migration, mental health, sexual violence. Writer, middle child, and poet. More here: www.samirasadeque.com

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