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  • I'm a blogger, a filmmaker and a butcher,

  • and I'll explain how these identities come together.

  • It started four years ago,

  • when a friend and I opened our first Ramadan fast

  • at one of the busiest mosques in New York City.

  • Crowds of men with beards and skullcaps were swarming the streets.

  • It was an FBI agent's wet dream. (Laughter)

  • But being a part of this community, we knew how welcoming this space was.

  • For years, I'd seen photos of this space being documented

  • as a lifeless and cold monolith,

  • much like the stereotypical image painted of the American Muslim experience.

  • Frustrated by this myopic view,

  • my friend and I had this crazy idea:

  • Let's break our fast at a different mosque in a different state

  • each night of Ramadan

  • and share those stories on a blog.

  • We called it "30 Mosques in 30 Days,"

  • and we drove to all the 50 states

  • and shared stories from over 100 vastly different Muslim communities,

  • ranging from the Cambodian refugees in the L.A. projects

  • to the black Sufis living in the woods of South Carolina.

  • What emerged was a beautiful and complicated portrait of America.

  • The media coverage forced local journalists

  • to revisit their Muslim communities,

  • but what was really exciting was seeing people from around the world

  • being inspired to take their own 30-mosque journey.

  • There were even these two NFL athletes

  • who took a sabbatical from the league to do so.

  • And as 30 Mosques was blossoming around the world,

  • I was actually stuck in Pakistan working on a film.

  • My codirector, Omar, and I were at a breaking point with many of our friends

  • on how to position the film.

  • The movie is called "These Birds Walk,"

  • and it is about wayward street kids

  • who are struggling to find some semblance of family.

  • We focus on the complexities of youth and family discord,

  • but our friends kept on nudging us to comment on drones and target killings

  • to make the film "more relevant,"

  • essentially reducing these people who have entrusted us with their stories

  • into sociopolitical symbols.

  • Of course, we didn't listen to them,

  • and instead, we championed the tender gestures of love

  • and headlong flashes of youth.

  • The agenda behind our cinematic immersion was only empathy,

  • an emotion that's largely deficient from films

  • that come from our region of the world.

  • And as "These Birds Walk" played at film festivals and theaters internationally,

  • I finally had my feet planted at home in New York,

  • and with all the extra time and still no real money,

  • my wife tasked me to cook more for us.

  • And whenever I'd go to the local butcher to purchase some halal meat,

  • something felt off.

  • For those that don't know, halal is a term used for meat

  • that is raised and slaughtered humanely following very strict Islamic guidelines.

  • Unfortunately, the majority of halal meat in America

  • doesn't rise to the standard that my faith calls for.

  • The more I learned about these unethical practices,

  • the more violated I felt,

  • particularly because businesses from my own community

  • were the ones taking advantage of my orthodoxy.

  • So, with emotions running high, and absolutely no experience in butchery,

  • some friends and I opened a meat store

  • in the heart of the East Village fashion district.

  • (Laughter)

  • We call it Honest Chops,

  • and we're reclaiming halal by sourcing organic, humanely raised animals,

  • and by making it accessible and affordable to working-class families.

  • There's really nothing like it in America.

  • The unbelievable part is actually that 90 percent of our in-store customers

  • are not even Muslim.

  • For many, it is their first time interacting with Islam

  • on such an intimate level.

  • So all these disparate projects -- (Laughter) --

  • are the result of a restlessness.

  • They are a visceral response to the businesses and curators

  • who work hard to oversimplify my beliefs and my community,

  • and the only way to beat their machine is to play by different rules.

  • We must fight with an inventive approach.

  • With the trust, with the access, with the love that only we can bring,

  • we must unapologetically reclaim our beliefs

  • in every moving image, in every cut of meat,

  • because if we whitewash our stories for the sake of mass appeal,

  • not only will we fail,

  • but we will be trumped by those with more money and more resources

  • to tell our stories.

  • But the call for creative courage is not for novelty or relevance.

  • It is simply because our communities are so damn unique and so damn beautiful.

  • They demand us to find uncompromising ways to be acknowledged and respected.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I'm a blogger, a filmmaker and a butcher,

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B1 TED muslim meat film ramadan mosque

【TED】Bassam Tariq: The beauty and diversity of Muslim life (Bassam Tariq: The beauty and diversity of Muslim life)

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    CUChou posted on 2015/04/28
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