City Club of Eugene: Muslim in America, One Woman's Story

Jul 3, 2017

Recorded on: March 30, 2017

Air Date: July 3, 2017

Soraya Deen told the LA Times recently that she vividly remembers the moment she was spurred to activism. The Sri Lankan immigrant told the Times, she was picking up her 7-year-old son from a Woodland Hills school on Sept. 11, 2007, when he asked amid tears: “Mommy, are we terrorists?”

The Times reports the mother of two said: “That’s when I decided circumstances don’t have to define who we are,” We all have the capacity to change those circumstances.”

Particularly since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, there has been a rising tide of antipathy and fear confronting Muslims in America. In recent months, in part due to the polarized climate created by the recent presidential election campaign, including baseless charges against the last President by the new President, and xenophobic fervor incited by the new President’s remarks, that antipathy has grown. Fears like that expressed by Ms. Deen’s son are no longer uncommon.

Ms. Deen, a graduate of Saginaw State College and the Sri Lankan Law College, will address a joint meeting of the Springfield City Club and the City Club of Eugene at noon on March 30, at the Wildish Theater in Springfield. Her presentation is entitled. “Muslims in America: One Woman’s Story” Her comments will be followed by an opportunity for questions from the audience.

Ms. Deen organized the first Interfaith Women’s Leadership conference at the Los Angeles City Hall October 2016. She believes it is of utmost importance today is to give power and place to Muslim Women’s Voices. As they confront the Islamophobic movements that are spreading far and wide, they must confront the patriarchy and misogyny in our communities.

She asserts that an extreme ideology is living and thriving in some Muslim communities. In those communities women labor under a burden that conforms to an epistemology of the 7th century. As women, she urges, we must take serious cognizance of the quotidian struggles of Muslim women to be heard, to be relevant, to be taken as a solution. We must confront the tough issues that are crippling our community. We must recognize that all theology is contextual.

Ms. Deen is visiting Oregon after returning from Nigeria where she led the opening ceremony of the Omnia Institute for Contextual Leadership and facilitated work on the critical role of women in reconciliation and peacemaking.

She calls on her community to rethink some central concepts of the Islam. She encourages women not to stay at the bottom because it is too crowded.

Ms. Deen speaks regularly to various religious groups, women’s groups and school assemblies, conducting highly interactive workshops and presentations.

copyright, KLCC 2017