Posts tagged ‘muslim activists’

January 12, 2012

On Being Muslim, the Hijab, and Social Activism

Editor’s note: we are republishing this entry as it sheds light on something that happens all too often – tokenization.

Originally published at shergawia

I’ve spent some time at Occupy LA in the past few weeks. I was there as an observer and journalist, not as an Occupier but the movement has my respect — as do the people keeping it alive. I identify with their grievances and admire their spirit which is why I will include this disclaimer before I say what I need to say: not all Occupies are alike, nor all Occupiers alike, and this is not a criticism of the movement.

But some of my experiences at Occupy LA are indicative of prevailing attitudes towards Muslims from non-Muslim/non-Arab activists and are consistent with my experiences in other social activist communities. I have met some incredible people through this movement and some not-very-incredible people through this movement and I have this to say to all of them:

Stop treating me like your Token Muslim Friend.

I know you mean well. I know you’re trying to make me feel welcomed. I know you want to tell me how “great, really great” that a Muslim girl, like me, a hijabified brown girl wearing dirt-grazing skirts, would make it out to “our” movement/protest/charity event. I appreciate the thanks and the gratitude. I know you’re not trying to make me uncomfortable.

But I am. 

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December 12, 2011

Why I Am Protesting at Occupy

By Hena Ashraf

A piece written by Ayesha Kazmi, aka AmericanPaki, called “Why I am Not Protesting at Occupy”, has been making the rounds amongst my circle of friends and with people involved and curious about the Occupy movement. In her blog post Ayesha explains why she is not protesting at Occupy because she is at risk of being targeted by law enforcement agencies, because she is Muslim.

I want to first acknowledge that I genuinely appreciate what Ayesha wrote and that she made her concerns public, because stories like Ayesha’s need to be told and heard. She has experienced questioning by the FBI, discrimination in her personal and professional life post 9/11, and raises very real points about how Muslims are targeted in this country at the hands of federal and local law enforcement.

As for me, I am a visible Muslim woman of color. By visible, I mean that I wear hijab. I’ve been politically engaged and involved with various causes and groups since I was a teenager, around issues such as militarization, Islamophobia, and Palestine solidarity. Growing up during the Bush administration, I felt that my faith community was under attack by the mainstream media and the government, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the passage and practice of oppressive domestic policies. There is war abroad and at home. Attacking and occupying Muslim countries had a boomerang effect of defaming and targeting Muslims here domestically, and these practices are still in place today. Under Obama’s watch, the United States is militarily aggressive in six Muslim countries (and Iran might be next, making it seven) and now openly assassinates American Muslims, and has just passed the terrifying National Defense Authorization Act.

So, I understand where Ayesha is coming from. Though my own personal experiences of Islamophobia do not mirror hers, I understand the sentiment of a need to be careful because there are real risks for Muslims who are politically involved – or honestly, in just being Muslim, as we have seen with the NYPD infiltrating mosques, Muslim student associations, and even local restaurants. Muslims are monitored, followed, screened, tracked, defamed, entrapped, incarcerated, abused. These horrible realities are facing Muslims, and have affected many oppressed communities before us.

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October 27, 2011

Reflections on Muslim Prayer at OWS

By Linda Sarsour

What do we have to do with Occupy Wall Street? What’s so Islamic about Occupy Wall Street? Are we just going to show up or were we actually invited to be there? These were just some of the posts on the facebook event’s page for the Friday Prayer at Occupy Wall Street last week. I was shocked that there was so much doubt, uncertainty and lack of clarity as to what was the role of Muslim New Yorkers in Occupy Wall Street.

First off, Muslims have been part of and many have supported OWS since day one. Second of all, we were invited to have Friday prayer at OWS and graciously accepted that invitation. Friday prayer is the most sacred part of our lives to share with our fellow Americans. Muslims all over the world congregate in mosques to pray together, shoulder to shoulder, rich and poor, educated and non-educated to bring themselves closer to God. Third of all, it is our obligation as Muslims to stand up against injustice and to defend those who are defenseless.

photo by Naqeeb Memon

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October 14, 2011

Lessons from OWS

By Hena Ashraf

What I’ve learned in the last few weeks at Occupy Wall Street:

I now know how to locate friends in a crowd of thousands of people.
I now know how communication can be amplified without any equipment, via the human microphone.
I now know that we truly do not need mainstream media in order for us to get attention.
I now know how hard it is to find crucial information about the next mobilization, in a movement that is mostly leaderless.
I now know that a significant strength of a leaderless movement is that there are no immediate easy targets.
I now know to be wary of disrupters and those who cause distractions in the space.
I now know how hard it is to fight oppressions such as racism and sexism in a space that’s supposedly anti-oppressive.
I now know how solidarity with critique is at times desperately needed.
I now know how two-faced our mayor truly is.
I now know that once our movement started to connect the struggles, the authorities attempted to shut us down.
I now know what its like to leave my home in the middle of the night to join a mass mobilization.
I now know what it feels like to be in a crowd of thousands during the early hours of the day, waiting for action.
I now know the euphoric feeling of what people power feels like.
I now know that these experiences have already changed me and will stay with me.
I now know what its like to experience a little bit of the immense challenges the protesters in the Arab uprisings have been enduring for months.

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October 7, 2011

Photos from Occupy D.C.

Nafisah Ula and Juhi Aggarwal went to at Occupy D.C., on October 6th, 2011, and snapped a few photos.

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