It’s been two weeks since I learned definitively that I would be a woman living in Trump’s America. I had known in my heart for a longtime that this was a possibility, though I fiercely hoped that I was wrong. I wanted my friends’ confidence that Hilary would “break the glass ceiling” to prove itself well founded. But as the election results began trickling in on Tuesday evening, my fears quickly shifted from possible to inevitable. As a woman, I began to feel sick to my stomach.
Even as I struggled to accept these election results I recognized how lucky I was – as a well educated white woman, I would remain more or less untouched. Still, I found myself deeply hurt by the direction America had decided to turn. When Americans elected Donald Trump as President of the United States, they sent me a powerful message: they told me that because I was a woman my health, safety, and humanity were negotiable.
No matter how many times Donald Trump publicly claimed that no one loved women more than him, his actions and statements about and to women have proven his deep rooted misogyny. He openly bragged that because of his fame he could get away with doing anything to women without waiting for consent, even “grab them by the pussy.” And even after multiple women confirmed that they had been sexually assaulted by Trump, he and his campaign dismissed his despicable conversation as “locker room talk” and “boy talk”. He has said that pregnancy is an inconvenience. He has regularly demeaned women for their biology – attacking Megyn Kelly after she challenged him during the first Republican Presidential Debate, derogatorily implying that she must have been menstruating. The list seems endless. When Americans elected Donald Trump, they told me that they agreed with or could at least overlook these demeaning words and actions and accept Trump as the top representative of America.
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The Spanish term La Covivencia means the coexistence and refers to the period of Muslim rule in Spain when it is postulated that Jews, Christians and Muslims lived peacefully and borrowed from each other’s traditions liberally, thus laying the foundations for religious tolerance.
As a historical idea, it is not without criticisms. Some critics argue that this is merely a hypothesis and that things were far from ideal in Muslim Spain when it came to intercommunal relations. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that Muslim Spain produced some of the greatest examples of the creative genius of plural societies. Averroes, the great Muslim philosopher and Maimonides the great Jewish philosopher emerged out of this great confluence of the three Abrahamic faiths. This is what the great poet Iqbal probably referred to when wrote in ode to the mosque at Cordoba or Masjid-e-Qurtaba:
To Love, you owe your being, O, Harem of Cordoba,
To Love, that is eternal; Never waning, never fading.
An appeal for the revival of La Covivencia is central to Dr Akbar S Ahmed’s latest documentary film “Journey into Europe,” where the veteran anthropologist and one of the foremost authorities on modern Islam in the world today ventures into Europe exploring Islam on the continent.
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Five days after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, and five days after hate crimes against minorities began to skyrocket, a church in Fredericksburg, Va. welcomed a Muslim speaker to the pulpit to speak for an hour and a half.
Let us unpack that sentence a bit. Donald Trump, the man behind the Muslim ban proposal, was elected president on Nov. 8. In the ten days since his election, there have been hundreds of reports of “hateful harassment or intimidation” reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Yet, in light of these tensions, a mere five days after the election, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, spoke to a full house from the pulpit at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, VA, a community which has faced great interfaith tension in recent months, on the importance of building interfaith bridges in a time of great division. And the program ended in not one, but two standing ovations.
Ahmed’s talk in Fredericksburg, first proposed in June, was a direct response to a local conflictthat broke out in November 2015. The thirty-year-old Islamic Center of Fredericksburg had sought to build a new mosque to address the needs of a growing congregation. But the Spotsylvania County zoning board meeting convened to discuss the mosque’s construction plans quickly turned heated. The meeting, which took place in the days following the terrorist attacks in Paris, concluded with shouts and taunts towards the Muslim community, with one man even going on to yell, “Nobody, nobody, nobody wants your evil cult in this county.” The Islamic Center rescinded its proposal in August.
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Ambassador Akbar Ahmed and the entire Journey into Europe team are excited to announce that Journey into Europe has been officially selected to be screened as part of the Islamic Unity International Film Festival (IUIFF) in Tehran, Iran. The festival, which will run December 17-23, 2016, concurrent with the 30th Islamic Unity Conference, in Tehran, aims “to open up Islamic and religious approximation worldwide in order to reach religious brotherhood on the basis of undoubted principles and Islamic similarities and prevent religious discrimination.”
World-renowned Islamic scholar and filmmaker Akbar Ahmed’s Journey into Europe documentary explores Islam in Europe and the place of Islam in European history and civilization. In the film, shot across the continent in countries including Germany, France, the UK, Spain, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, we hear from some of Europe’s most prominent figures – presidents and prime ministers, archbishops, chief rabbis, grand muftis, heads of right-wing parties, and everyday Europeans from a variety of backgrounds. Journey into Europe covers the most urgent issues facing Europe today: terrorism, refugees, and violence against minorities. Startling, challenging, and emotionally powerful, this unprecedented’s film’s themes of identity and acceptance are critically relevant to our world today.
For more information on the Islamic Unity International Film Festival, visit http://www.iuiff.ir.
For more information on Journey into Europe, visit http://www.journeyintoeurope.com.