Forum Brings Local Muslim American Women Together (Video)

A panel discussion recently brought local experts together for a forum on the challenges facing Muslim Women in the area and the stereotypes many women deal with in a post 9/11 world.

MyMCMedia’s Valerie Bonk has the story of the event sponsored by the Montgomery County Commission for Women.

Faith, identity and integration were the themes of a discussion that gave community members the chance to talk about common misperceptions facing the Muslim American community in Montgomery County.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what it means to be a Muslim, a lot of negative stereotyping and inaccurate identification with the perpetrators of terrorist acts and every Muslim individual in our community is trying to distance themselves from those acts,” said Maliha Ilias, a commissioner with the Montgomery County Commission for Women.

More than a decade after the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the panelists said local families continue to face issues with discrimination.

“All the religions they have an extremist part of it and they all do it but when it happens by Muslims it’s like all of us do it,” said Safia Quadri, a commissioner with the Montgomery County Commission for Women. “So that’s the misconception we want to make it clear to the people.”

Although there are no census figures on the number of Muslims in Montgomery County, the number has been estimated in the tens of thousands and is growing, with Mosques in the County increasing the number of services they offer to accommodate the population.

But one expert says one of the common misconceptions is that they’re seen as unapproachable.

“The idea that Muslim women are really isolated. The idea that oh you know we can’t get to them because they really isolate themselves there’s no way that we can really talk to them, there’s no way that we can really open up this dialogue, open up this bridge,” said Nouf Bazaz, director of the Crossroads Program at the International Cultural Center.

For local residents, they say the topic of fitting into American society hits close to home.

“I was born here but raised in a Muslim country so when I came back here, because of the different cultures and how I was raised there it was hard for me to socialize and interact with people here. I feel like I want to communicate with different channels but sometimes I feel as though there’s a barrier there,” said Burtonsville resident Amal Agabein.
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A panel discussion recently brought local experts together for a forum on the challenges facing Muslim Women in the area and the stereotypes many women deal with in a post 9/11 world. MyMCMedia’s Valerie Bonk has the story of the event sponsored by the Montgomery County Commission for Women. Faith, identity and integration were the themes […]

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Valerie Bonk

About Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media (MCM).

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