Anti-Muslim Racism & Collapsing of Muslim Identities: Long Table & Installation

This event at Gallery 74 is an artistic exploration of anti-Muslim racism, which is on the rise in the United States and beyond. It is an event of “At the Crossroads: Activating the Intersection of Art and Justice” presented by 21st Century Arts in collaboration with Mara Ahmed of Neelum Films. The Long Table conversation will be set off by Mara Ahmed’s film “The Muslims I Know” and other provocations.

Participants, in alphabetical order:

1- Mara Ahmed is an activist, artist and filmmaker who has lived and been educated in Belgium, Pakistan and the United States. Her first documentary, “The Muslims I Know” premiered 10 years ago and started a dialogue between American Muslims and people of other faiths. Her third documentary, “A Thin Wall,” a film about the partition of India in 1947, was released in 2015. She is now working on a film about racism in America, focusing on the voices of women of color. Her production company is Neelum Films.

2- Fadak Al-Salami was born in Iraq. Her family moved to the US in 2014, by way of Syria. Fadak is in 7th grade. She likes going to the mall with friends and plays soccer.

3- Fatimah Arshad is a junior majoring in Public Health at the University of Rochester. As a young Muslim woman living in today’s world, she wants to play her part in contributing to a society that accepts and encourages diversity. She also wishes to help dissipate stereotypes against Muslims and other minorities that are victims of racism.

4- Halima Aweis graduated from RIT in May this year. She majored in Biotechnology and Molecular Biosciences and plans on going to graduate school after a gap year. Her family is originally from Mogadishu, Somalia, but Halima was born in Missouri. She is interested in anti-Muslim racism because as a Black Muslim woman who wears the hijab, she contends with discrimination frequently, both inside and outside of the Muslim community.

5- Mahreen Mustafa George was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, to a traditional Muslim family. After immigrating to the US and raising her own children, she is keen to discuss the differences between the culture she grew up in, and the one she’s raising her own family in. Mahreen is actively involved in racial justice initiatives in the Rochester community, notably as a founding organizer of the Black Lives Matter at School initiative, as well as collaborative work with the Islamic Center of Rochester.

6- Obaida Omar is a manager at the Catholic Family Center’s Refugee, Immigration and Employment Services. She was born in Afghanistan. Her family fled to Pakistan in the 1980s, during the Soviet invasion, before resettling in the US. She has a Baccalaureate in Social Work from SUNY Brockport and her passion is to help other refugees.

7- Aisa Purak was born in the small village of Jastrebac in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She came to Rochester as a refugee. Her book, “Bosnian Immigrants: Opportunities and Challenges,” is a study of 100 Bosnian families who immigrated to Rochester and found a way to adapt to life in a new society. She leads the Bosnian female choir and holds Quran classes for women.

8- Muna Najib Taha is a Rochester humanities student, activist and researcher by way of Chicago and Palestine. As a Muslim woman, she is honored to teach and engage with others about Islam in a way that debunks Islamophobic and xenophobic narratives.

Photographs by Kathy Velekkakan and Ralph Thompson © Neelum Films LLC

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