Alia Youssef is the creator of The Sisters Project.
The Sisters Project: The Photography Series Offering a Different View of Muslim Women In Canada
Discovering the Beauty and Modesty of Muslim Fashion
Bahrain Islamic Bank Appoints the First Bahraini Woman to Head the Internal Shari’a Audit Function
Belgian Independent Deputy: Europe Continues To Bar the Representation of Muslim Women
Hospital Volunteers Lend an Attentive Ear to Muslims Patients
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
The Sisters Project: The Photography Series Offering A Different View Of Muslim Women In Canada
November 12, 2018
How do you spot a Canadian-Muslim woman? Through 23-year-old Egyptian-Canadian portrait photographer and storyteller Alia Youssef, she’s the person standing confidently next to her motorcycle wearing a purple hijab. She’s seated at the microphone ready to go on the air for Canada’s national broadcaster. She’s a police officer, educator, or a smiling food blogger in her kitchen with her young children.
Youssef’s ever-expanding photography series, The Sisters Project, responds to negative stereotypes with positive images of Muslim women being themselves, telling their stories in places across Canada where they feel most comfortable.
Since she began this project in December 2016, Youssef has photographed 160 women in eight Canadian provinces, including 85 she profiled during a recent summer-long, cross-country tour.
The women were found through social media searches and enthusiasts sharing among communities. The portraits were taken in places that have meaning to the subjects, and are accompanied by a brief story about “what these women do, what they believe in, what they care about,” the photographer explains. Each Wednesday, she posts a new photo and story on her Instagram feed (@the.sisters.project), as well as on the blog on her website, aliayoussef.com. She recently held her first exhibition from the project at Ryerson University in Toronto, where she’s studying for her master’s degree in documentary media.
Youssef began the project after becoming “fed-up with an image that gets repeated over and over again”, one that shows Muslim women as somehow sad, repressed or unable to express themselves.She was disheartened that Google image searches turned up little beyond close-up shots of sad-eyed women in black niqabs. That’s changed recently, thanks in part to photographers, including Youssef, who contributed to a MuslimGirl.com project to provide diverse, positive and colourful stock photographs of Muslim women for Getty Images.
“In Canada, we grow up knowing what the tropes are, knowing what the stereotypes are,” Youssef says of the experience shared by many Canadian-Muslim women, especially those who choose to wear a hijab. “I feel like not only myself, but many Muslim women whom I interviewed feel this burden or this pressure to defy the stereotype, and so I think it makes sense I would use photography, that my art would go to this topic. I feel like this is a topic that is long overdue in addressing.”
Youssef, who was born in Britain to an English mother and an Egyptian father, lived in Egypt as a child. At age 8, the family immigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast. An avid photographer from the moment she picked up a point-and-shoot camera at age 14, she was soon photographing birthday parties and weddings for family friends. Encouraged by a high-school teacher to enter local youth photography contests, she was soon winning prizes. One of those was for her project on perceptions around the representation of Muslim women: The Way You See Me/The Way I See Me.
“I used two very different pictures of a Muslim woman – one was a seemingly oppressed woman and one was a happy, colourful picture,” explains Youssef. “And that was me at 15, just starting off. I think it was great that I was thinking about it.”
In The Sisters Project, each mini-profile finishes with a Q&A where the subject is asked: “What is your proudest accomplishment” or “What’s your biggest hope?” The answers are revealing, powerful and often charged with emotion. For example, Lila, a 40-year-old police officer specialising in race relations in Ottawa, was asked how she wants to be perceived. She replied: “As a strong Muslim woman who breaks stereotypes and as a role model to the younger generation of girls who want to be police officers.”
While Youssef’s blog has followers in the United Kingdom and United States, she has no plans to go further afield with The Sisters Project, preferring to continue to focus on Canadian women. She sees a universality to the work that goes beyond borders and even religion.
“It’s a project for all women and everyone to learn something from, even if they’re not Muslim,” she says. “It’s a way for us all to get to know each other.”
To see more of the Youssef’s works, visit aliayoussef.com
Discovering the Beauty and Modesty of Muslim Fashion
By BRADLEY ANDERSON
November 12, 2018
San Francisco’s two major art museums are having a bit of a Muslim moment. At the Legion of Honor, there is an exhibition entitled Islam and the Classical Heritage, a display of 14th- to 19th-century Arabic manuscripts on loan from the National Library of Israel. The subject matter of this small collection mostly consists of the illustrated folk tales of Iskandar (the Arabic name for Alexander the Great) plus a little astrology and a very little science, making it rather less than what one might have expected, given the ambitious title. The Arabic calligraphy, however, is spectacular, while the illustrations retain their sharp brilliance in spite of their age and the marginal patterns. And the decorations are everything that one could hope for from Muslim artisans who for so long have excelled in those creative endeavors.
Meanwhile, just to the south at the de Young, the main event is drawing justifiably enthusiastic crowds. Contemporary Muslim Fashion claims to be the first major museum exhibition devoted to the clothing of the modern Muslim world, and it is indeed impressive.
As the French expert in medieval Islamic, Christian, and Jewish philosophy Remi Brague has pointed out, Islam must be understood as a civilization, not simply as a religion. It’s the tripartite nature of Islam—religious, political, and cultural–without artificial divisions between the three, that has for so long fascinated Westerners. And the more that religion is sharply walled off from culture and politics in the formerly Christian West, the more intriguing Islam seems to us.
As is obvious to anyone who has had some exposure to the diversity of Muslim life, there is no such monolithic thing as “Muslim fashion.” Muslim-majority nations range from the shores of West Africa to the islands of Indonesia, from Bosnia on the European continent to parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Modes of dress vary by country, by sect, by age and generation, by political and religious climates, and by ethnic background.
There are commonalities, of course. Muslim dress for women (and this exhibition is exclusively about female fashion) emphasizes covering most skin, and even the shape of the female figure is concealed by flowing swaths of fabric. At the very least, the enticing bits are only minimally accentuated. Covering the hair with a hijab is common, while covering the face partially with a veil (niqab) is found in certain cultures. And then there is the full body covering of a burka, with only a slit for the eyes.
The de Young exhibition concentrates, as fashion exhibitions at art museums do, on high fashion and top designers. While the exhibition features the works of contemporary designers—both Muslim designers and non-Muslim ones who cater to the Muslim market—the excellent catalog takes a deep dive into the complex and often hidden history of Muslim fashion. We learn that the haute couture houses of Europe have, for more than a century, quietly developed lucrative relationships with wealthy women in Islamic countries who want high fashion but have particular needs of modest public dress that the Western fashions of the day don’t answer.
The extent of business done, first with cotton-rich Egypt early in the 20th century and later with oil-rich Gulf states, was such that at key junctures, such as right after World War II and during the 1970s, it kept Parisian couture houses afloat. More recently though, dependence on the Middle East has had dire consequences. According to one essay in the catalog, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing first Gulf War “was the largest catastrophe to hit the haute couture industry since the 1929 Depression.” The head of Paris’s top embroidery house said in an interview that at that time, his business came close to shutting its doors.
It isn’t just the extent of the wealth in oil-rich Arabic countries that drives the business; it is also the nature of social life. According to one designer interviewed for the catalog, women with higher levels of wealth and status typically have a social calendar of 20 to 30 weddings and private parties a year for which they will want unique fashion creations. (Similarly situated women in the West might order gowns for only one or two such events.)
Even at a non-elite level, the fact that there are a billion Muslims worldwide, half of whom are women, means that the economic bounty to be reaped by tapping into that market is huge. Perhaps appropriately enough for a silicon-boom city in which obsession with wealth exceeds even preoccupations with left-wing political causes, the exhibition and the catalog repeatedly return to the sheer amount of lucre at stake with Muslim clothing, especially as the trend expands beyond its original target audience to non-Muslim women.
Apparently, even non-Muslim women enjoy a respite from skin-baring hyper-sexualized clothing, discovering as they do that the human body changes as the years pass. Women might even prefer such fashion to clothes that only look good on twiggy supermodels (and sometimes not even on them). Who knew?
The San Francisco exhibition has a sequence that is well thought out, starting with the clean lines and muted earth tones of Middle Eastern fashions (even the more avant-garde examples somehow seem a tad severe). Then they turn a corner to the irrepressible explosion of color and pattern and the exuberant celebration of female beauty from Asian Muslim designers. We learn that Indonesia, the world’s most populous majority-Muslim nation, hopes to become the center of the Muslim fashion universe, and if what is here on display is representative, one can well see that happening. The next room has works by Western designers for the Muslim market. The final exhibit is a quartet of stunning ensembles on loan from Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar, paired with a video presentation that shows her wearing those same pieces at various official functions. It’s all meant to remind the viewer that modesty and a sense of style are found as much in the “how” as in the “what.”
One’s taste in clothing is influenced by one’s background and environment, but certain impressions linger. Some of the pieces look like nothing so much as fashionable Western clothing, to which long sleeves, high neck lines, and a hijab are awkwardly attached. Such clothing has all the allure of a cheap lean-to tacked to the side of a well-designed house. With other ensembles, by contrast, the hijab or niqab rises so organically from the flow of the garment’s lines that the dress would seem incomplete without it.
Throughout the exhibition, the word “modest” appears repeatedly in the notes, approvingly and without irony. And as is intended, by the end, even the most skeptical have to admit that words like “stylish,” “beautiful,” and “striking” can belong in the same sentence as “modest.” The familiar repeatedly intrudes—here, one sees things that wouldn’t have looked out of place in medieval Europe, while there, one is reminded of photos of smart American dinner parties from the 1950s. One sees visual echoes of regal 18th-century gowns and 19th-century Victorian stylings. Today’s “Muslim fashion” sometimes looks an awful lot like yesterday’s “normal adult clothing,” the primary shortcoming of which seems to have been the absence of multicultural spice.
After a lifetime of watching Christian modesty clothing be mocked in America, and after seeing female relatives and friends sometimes have to go to great lengths to find clothing that is both modest and attractive, one is tempted towards cynicism at the current tiptoed deference to Islamic strictures. Any old-fashioned conservative will applaud the good manners and respect shown by this exhibition. But it is still hard to forget that basic manners have all too often been neglected when it comes to traditional and modest impulses within America’s own historically prevalent religion.
Will the vision shown in this particular exhibition be the wave of the West’s future? Curator Reina Lewis, in her essay on the modern history of Muslim fashion for women, sounds a cautious note: “Modest fashion,” she writes, “is à la mode—for now.” Quite apart from the fact that bringing beauty into the world is something always to be welcomed, the embrace of modest fashion trends may point to an optimistic future of beautiful alternatives for those women who want them, regardless of their religion.
Contemporary Muslim Fashion runs at the de Young Museum in San Francisco through January 6, 2019. It then travels to the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany.
Bradley Anderson writes from San Francisco, California.
Bahrain Islamic Bank Appoints the First Bahraini Woman to Head the Internal Shari’a Audit Function
Mon, 12 Nov 2018
In line with its strategic aim to invest in local talent and empower women in the banking industry, Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB), the leading provider of Shari’a compliant integrated financial solutions in the Kingdom of Bahrain, recently announced the appointment of Ms. Eman Mohammed Al Binghadeer as Head of Internal Shari’a Audit Function, the first Bahraini woman to fill this position.
Ms. Al Binghadeer will be in charge of enhancing the Bank’s Shari’a auditing and accounting systems, monitoring operations from a Shari’a perspective and implementing the necessary measures and actions to ensure compliance.
“I would like to extend my congratulations to Ms. Eman Al Binghadeer on her appointment, an achievement that we are proud of as the first Bahraini woman to Head the Shari’a Audit Function. I look forward to her accomplishing additional achievements and progress in her role, and wish her success in her future,” said the Chief Executive Officer of BisB, Mr. Hassan Jarrar.
Ms. Eman Al Binghadeer has held several positions at the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) as secretary of the Shari’a Council and its committees as well as a coordinator during training sessions and Shari’a conferences. In 2005, she joined BisB as a Secretary of the Shari’a Supervisory Board following her official certification as a Certified Shari’a Adviser and Auditor (CSAA), and was consequently appointed as a Shari’a Auditor at BisB. Following a successful career path during which she continued to develop her skills and knowledge, Ms. AlBinghadeer has been promoted to Head of the Shari’a Supervisory Department.
Belgian Independent Deputy: Europe Continues To Bar the Representation of Muslim Women
As a result of the midterm elections in the United States last week, two Muslim politicians were elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in U.S. history. Along with Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Native American and Latina female representatives were also elected. Ilhan Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somali when she was 12, became the first hijabi representative in the House of Representatives.
This was realized in 2018 in the U.S., which in its founding philosophy deems religious and ethnic diversity as cultural richness, 242 years after its conception. Meanwhile, to what extent does Europe accept members of different religions, socially and politically, considering that it is the cradle of democracy that inspired the U.S.?
Muslims are the largest non-Christian minority in most of the European countries. Between 4 and 10 percent of western European countries like Belgium, France, Germany and Netherlands are constituted by Muslims. Moreover, Muslims constitute at least 1 percent of the population in almost all Western European countries. Despite these numbers, Muslim minorities are severely underrepresented in Western European politics.
On the other hand, Muslims are expected to be secularized and to realize their religious practices only in their houses or mosques before being allowed to be represented socially and politically in Europe. Constituting 5 percent of continental Europe's population, over 26 million Muslims face challenges realizing their religious duties even outside the political and public spheres. For instance, sacrificing during one of Muslim's most prominent holidays, Eid al-Adha has become a challenging practice in most European countries.
While there is increasing pressure to build mosques without minarets, some countries have decided that the religious personnel who are to work at these mosques should be elected by an Austrian or Belgian theologian.
Meanwhile, there is increasing violence toward Muslims that parallels the rate of Islamophobia in Europe. Women are the most frequent targets of this violence. A total 60 percent and 76 percent of Islamophobia victims in continental Europe in general and Belgium, respectively, are women.
Currently, there is only one hijabi deputy in all of continental Europe, and she is Mahinur Özdemir, a Belgian independent deputy of Turkish descent. Özdemir explains why Islamophobia in Europe targets women, "Because Muslim women are visible. A car might try to run you down. They're resorting to physical assaults now; we're way past discourses. They're filled with grudge and hate."
Today, there are no Muslim hijabi women that have been elected to a national parliament. While Europe lacks a hijabi deputy on a national level, Mahinur Özdemir is the first and currently the only hijabi deputy elected to a local parliament in continental Europe.
The first women deputy to enter a parliament in Europe with her hijab, Özdemir was born in Schaerbeek, Belgium in 1982. Also representing third generation Turks in the country, Özdemir received her bachelor's degree in industrial engineering and her master's in public administration at the Université libre de Bruxelles. She has also learned French, Dutch and English. She started to pursue politics in 2009 and was elected to the Brussels' parliament as a deputy of the Humanist Democratic Center (CDH). Özdemir was pressured to acknowledge the 1915 events as "genocide" but refused to bow down to this pressure in 2015. As a result, the convened CDH Ethics Committee expelled Özdemir from the party. Özdemir continues to act as an independent deputy in Brussels' parliament.
Belgian independent deputy Özdemir: Europe continues to bar the representation of Muslim women
Daily Sabah spoke with Özdemir on the representation of Muslims, especially women, in European politics and the challenges Muslims face in the public sphere.
Hardships of being a Muslim women and politician
Talking about her personal experiences, Özdemir indicated that being a Muslim women and pursuing politics as a Muslim woman in Europe is challenging. She asserted that she has observed people trying to prevent her from becoming more visible. According to her, this kind of obstruction is observed more in conservative countries in the West rather than just in Anglo-Saxon countries. Özdemir provided an example from France, one of the most conservative countries in the West in her opinion. "A hijabi girl named Mennel Ibtissem of north African and Syrian descent participated in 'The Voice' in France. She had sung 'Hallelujah.' They found a tweet she published when she was 19. They crucified her in the public sphere and told her that 'The Voice' was not the place to sing in Arabic. She was almost deemed a terrorist," she said.
Özdemir also gave a similar example from the United Kingdom, talking about one of the faces of L'Oreal whose past tweets on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict caused her dismissal from the firm. Özdemir underscored that thorough searches of past activities and actions has become a normal procedure for Muslim women: "Their lives are pulled apart and demonstrated in front of the general public. Meanwhile, Theo Fracken, a minister in Belgium, was found to have active relations with far-right movements. His homophobic correspondence was also revealed. He has also made racist remarks about those of Moroccan descent. The leader of his party has photos together with Jean-Marie Le Pen. Yet, these people continue to govern the country. On the other hand, if you're a Muslim, you don't have the luxury to make any 'mistakes.' They crucify you without letting you speak."
An increasingly Islamophobic and populist Europe
Özdemir asserted that Europe is becoming increasingly populist and is seeking scapegoats for its own issues rather than resolving them.
She also stated that a perception of threat is created and mobbing is employed through populism.
"Normally, a hijabi woman is allowed to work in a work place in Belgium. However, despite religious freedoms, most work places don't allow hijabi women to work. Sometimes, hijabi women's right to education is taken away from them; certain universities don't allow hijabi women to be educated in their facilities. Many don't talk about this. If you go on trial about these issues, your chances of winning are pretty slim. The secular structure deadlocks the system. For this reason, many educated women face discrimination in employment."
Özdemir added that attacks on mosques are not condemned politically. According to her, attacks are normalized, and racist groups are allowed to attack because of the lack of severe punishment.
On the other hand, Özdemir asserted that the supposedly unbiased state is biased against Muslims. In her opinion, 9/11, terrorist attacks in Europe and refugees from Syria have had a large impact on the rise of Islamophobia. "European leaders, who publish messages on important religious holidays of different religious groups, never say anything positive about Muslims," she remarked.
Özdemir indicated that countries are now opposing immigration, immigrants and refugees. She claimed that new governments in Europe are founded on the ideas of anti-immigration, anti-Islam and security.
"Europe is having an identity crisis; as it's unable to find a resolution to some of its problems, they see cohabitation as a threat. Currently, Muslims are targets, which is shown by attacks on mosques and Muslim individuals. There are certain groups that are trying to forge a new national identity. Recently, a right-wing conservative white supremacist group was formed in Belgium. All of its members are in their 20s. People were unaware of this formation. A journalist revealed its extent and their ties with Belgium's most powerful party," she said. Özdemir added that the journalist was put under protection by the Belgian government because of his findings. Meanwhile, regarding this development, she indicated that politicians should prevent these kinds of discourses as the general public will not be able to do so. She also asserted that populist parties are gaining power in Europe and are targeting Muslims.
"This includes countries with very small Muslim populations. Even in such places, these parties are able to secure an increased number of votes by instilling fear in the public," she continued.
European politics creating Islamophobia
Regarding the increasing Islamophobia in Europe, Özdemir stated that European politics created it and that it is used as a means to manage the public. She asserted that Islamophobia was also used to divert people's attention from unresolved issues. "In an environment with increased diversity, Muslims were accused of isolating themselves. Meanwhile, governments didn't provide equal rights and freedoms to all. Along with poverty and exclusion, Muslims were cut from social rights," Özdemir commented.
On the other hand, Özdemir indicated that Europe is experiencing the most severe recession today since the 1930s and that Muslims are being used as a scapegoat. She added that the European public was being frightened with Islamization in which the media played a prominent part.
Özdemir stated that Merkel had expressed her opposition to a multicultural structure eight years ago and that central parties were eventually drawn into this discourse.
"This increased during Sarkozy's term. Sarkozy built his discourse on opposing northern Africans and Turkey's EU bid. Now he's gone. Merkel is saying that she will go. They have gone but their discourses are still out there. The public has become accustomed to this perception in the last 5 years and it's almost impossible to change or alter this perception. We're forced to persuade these people that everybody can cohabitate, Muslims are part of Europe and have become citizens who have equal rights and freedoms," she said.
In terms of a solution to these issues, Özdemir asserted that racism, populism and discriminatory discourses should be eliminated first by politicians. She said that Islamophobia is not included in most reports unlike racism or anti-Semitism. "According to them, Islamophobia is actually freedom of speech; they don't want to have a Christian backlash," Özdemir added.
Stating that certain countries are trying to implement "localized" variants of Islam, Özdemir defined these as attempts to show Islam is a local part of the culture there and to put Islam under state control. "For instance, Belgium wants imams to be trained and appointed by its own state. However, this practice isn't employed for other religions. Countries like Belgium and Austria are trying to train their own imams. It's definite that there's a need for imams or religious scholars who know that society and its realities. The Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs is addressing this need through its training programs. Meanwhile, these countries deliberately deny the visa applications of imams who are trained and appointed by Turkey."
Human rights in Europe
Özdemir indicated that EU was founded on the values of justice, equality and human rights; however, she believes that all of these values are now being infringed.
"Unfortunately, first generation Muslims didn't demand justice. Yet, third and fourth generations are seeking their rights by appealing to courts. Meanwhile, the court process takes a long time. When you appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), it takes almost 10 years for the case to be resolved. For instance, a case about working at kindergarten with hijab and attending court sessions with hijab were recently concluded by ECtHR. It took 10 years to reach this decision. Think about not being able to attend a court hearing due to your hijab!"
Asserting that Muslim identity is being deliberately made invisible in the public sphere, Özdemir said that political will avoids any manner of resolution. She said that hijabi women have the right to work per ECtHR decision. "The ECtHR foresees that hijabi women have the right to work at a firm; however, if the firm has a bylaw that prevents hijabi women from working there, the ECtHR can't do anything about it. This was a scandalous decision that infringes human rights. Moreover, it showed how these firms could discriminate against hijabi women," Özdemir commented.
Regarding being the only hijabi deputy in Europe, Özdemir indicated that there were attempts to deprive her of her rights. "They worked hard to ban hijabis from becoming deputies; however, due to the constitution, they were unable to," she said. In terms of representation, she asserted that political parties do not allow hijabi candidates onto their electoral lists. Underscoring the conundrum of not being able to participate in both politics and economic life, Özdemir said educated and skilled women were especially being excluded from employment. She asserted that this was also the case for public offices.
"Public offices are excluding hijabi women despite the lack of laws. They have attempted to pass such laws; however, to not be seen as prohibitive, these laws were not passed. Nevertheless, even the attempt to pass this kind of law infringes two principles of Europe: religious freedom and equality. This kind of general prohibition prevents Muslim women from working, attaining an education and participating in cultural and social activities."
Rising secularism in Europe
Indicating that Europe was built on Christian values, Özdemir asserted that there is an increasing secular trend on the continent. According to her, she was elected during a time of conflict between Christianity and secularism. "When I was elected, they told me that they were hiding their crosses in their pockets and that I was imposing my outlook because I was wearing hijab," she remarked, while adding that her visibility caused more obstructions to her.
In terms of religiosity in Europe, Özdemir commented that churches were losing their popularity by the day. She asserted that Europe was trying to make Muslims pay the price for the increasing secular trends.
"Of course, immigration, 9/11 trauma and terrorist attacks were detrimental to this process. Especially after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, they expected all Muslims to apologize. We're against all kinds of terrorism; however, I didn't have anything to do that attack. Why should I apologize for an action I haven't committed on behalf of another? Similarly, the Belgian interior minister held Muslims responsible after the attacks in Brussels and Paris. We asked why he held Muslims responsible. He claimed that he relied on intelligence reports and testimonies of some Muslims. The intelligence rejected this claim. In short, he marked Muslims and made it worse for us."
Regarding violence toward Muslims, Özdemir said that Muslims face an increased number of individual attacks. Talking about her own experience, she stated that she was threatened by a businessman with death over Facebook following the Paris attacks. "I sued him. For the first time, a person who threatened another with death over Facebook was imprisoned. He was in prison for six months," she said. Özdemir indicated that these legal processes require a certain economic level and for that reason platforms to fight against such attacks must be established.
"We have founded an association fighting against Islamophobia. We have collected data since 2014 and compiled them into a report. According to our data, 76 percent of Islamophobia victims in Belgium are women. It's around 60 percent in all of Europe. Because Muslim women are visible. A car might try to run you down. They're resorting to physical assaults now; we're way past discourses. They're filled with grudge and hate. There should be a concern about Muslims' security. Moreover, other citizens who aren't Muslim but look like us, such as the Romani people, suffer from this discrimination as well."
Özdemir announced that they were starting to see support from feminists in terms of women's rights and that they were focusing on an intersectional approach to address the issues.
Meanwhile, she asserted that visible or successful Muslims in Europe and the U.S. are accused of being a member of Muslim Brotherhood. She stated that such claims were not easy to get rid of and have far-reaching consequences. "Your name appears in a report, even though you don't have any connections with the said organization. Such obstructions are actually exhausting Muslims," she commented.
Özdemir suggested that Europe should focus on how to integrate Muslims, who have been a part of the continent for three generations and become citizens, to the society and benefit from them rather than obstructing them as in the case of Mehmet Kaplan. "Instead of an individual life, benefiting the society, using electoral rights, being part of various NGOs and creating alternative media using the vernacular of the country are important," she concluded. Sweden's former housing minister, Turkish-born Mehmet Kaplan was forced to resign in 2016, following accusations from Swedish political parties and media over his contacts with the Muslim community and Turkish organizations.
Hospital Volunteers Lend an Attentive Ear To Muslims Patients
By Laura O'Callaghan
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust identified a need for more specialist support for Muslim patients at Queen’s Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Ilford.
It decided to bring on board Saima Razzaque, Shamim Merchant, Tabassum Khokhar and Sofia Bhatti for the Muslims Support Service (MSS).
Already experienced volunteers for the MSS based at the Gardens of Peace in Hainault, all four were providing support over the phone and face-to-face to members of the Islamic community who had experienced a bereavement.
Sofia, 49, of Fernhall Drive, Redbridge, said: “My husband died in 2012 and it was a traumatic time. That made this a cause close to my heart so I wanted to do something.
“It’s very interesting and you hear lots of stories about their lives.
“I feel privileged that they want to share their stories with me.
“One elderly man stands out for me, I wasn’t sure if he wanted to chat, but he so appreciated it and said what I was doing was amazing. That really reinforced it for me.”
Tabassum, 47, of Gants Hill, added: “I spoke to one lady with breast cancer and her son said I got more out of her in half an hour than he’d been able to in hours.
“We try to be a friendly face and help to make them feel better. I feel blessed to do it and get real satisfaction from it when I can put a smile on a patient’s face.”
Volunteers offer support to all Muslim patients, not just those nearing the end of their life.
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