‘Muslim Monologues’ Express Underrepresented Voices on University of Michigan Campus

TEHRAN (IQNA) – Amid the success of the recent “Monologues” events, LSA junior Heba Al-Saghir found she wanted to organize a similar, more inclusive event that would still provide a place for often underrepresented voices on the University of Michigan campus.

‘Muslim Monologues’ Express Underrepresented Voices on University of Michigan Campus

This inspiration produced the “Muslim Monologues” event, which was hosted
by the Muslim Students’ Association and took place Thursday night at Palmer
Commons.

The event provides a forum for Muslim students to express their thoughts
and ideas in an open and accepting environment,” she said. “It’s also important
because it encourages people of all religions and cultures to hear Muslim
voices that may paint a very different picture than what they are used to
hearing in the media. By humanizing Muslims, we are promoting tolerance,
coexistence and a brighter future.”

More than 40 students attended the event, and more than 10 performers
shared their experiences through the media of spoken word, singing,
storytelling and even a piece played on the piano.

LSA freshman Ayah Kutmah kicked off the event with a short personal essay,
stressing the role of her hijab in defining her identity and her constant
battle with the common perception that it oppresses her. Kutmah outlined the
ways in which she learned to conform to society in her earlier years, but also
recognized how she has grown as confident hijab-wearing woman, especially at
the university.

I define my
journey with my hijab as a personal rebellion against society, one that is on
me to define my own identity on my own terms,” she said. “The point I want to
make is this: I do not allow the hijab to limit me, so why do you?”

LSA senior Maham Shaikh performed her poem “Personifying Islamophobia,”
illustrating the varying experiences of Muslims. She highlighted that she experiences Islamophobia as a
presence she deals with daily. In a symbolic gesture, she ripped a paper with
the word “Islamophobia,” displaying her triumph over this battle.

Following Shaikh, University alum Amir Kamouneh gave a personal statement
to the audience about the importance of events like these in strengthening
people in this world, amid current political turmoil and war.

I’m proud that you came out to say no to hate, whether
you’re Muslim or non-Muslim, it takes character in today’s world to say no to
easy scapegoating, to easy blame,” he said.

LSA freshman Arwa Gayar followed with a spoken word poem expressing her
frustration at the lack of ethnicity checkbox for Arabs in the university
application.

I don’t think you can limit my culture to the color of my
skin,” she said. “I don’t think the option of ‘other’ is representative of my
kin. Am I not important enough for my very own box? Tell me to write in
whatever because ‘we don’t see color’ — I will not act as another diversity
buffer. I will take up space.”

Following the event, university alum Misha Shaikh said it made her feel
strengthened and supported in her Muslim identity.

It brings back a lot of emotions of my experiences with
Islamophobia, and the hatred that Muslims experience,” she said. “However, it
was also very fun and relaxing, so it was kind of a mix.”

Source: The Michigan Daily

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