Arabic Calligraphy in West Africa: Yelimane Fall at the Krannert Art Museum, Champaign IL
May 2017
President's Letter

By Ani Zonneveld

Dear Everyone,

April proved to be one of the most inspiring moments of my life and it happened in a small village near the town of Cirebon in Indonesia, at the world’s first women ulama’s congress, the International Seminar on Women Ulama. This gathering culminated from the Indonesian initiative to build a network of religious boarding schools called pesantren over the past few decades. The purpose of the congress was to provide women ulama throughout the country with a space to make a statement, release a fatwa, and submit recommendations to the Indonesian government on the issues of sexual violence, child marriage and environmental destruction.

This was no ordinary gathering of religious leaders. There was no air-conditioning, nor did we enjoy the luxuries of a fancy hotel, but the people present shared lots of laughter, intellectual discussion, honesty, compassion, humility, and ikhlas (sincerity) with the intention of bettering human rights for all in the name of Islam. I invite you to take a look at a personal collection of photos from the event on my Facebook page.

I’ll be publishing a more in-depth piece on my experience at this congress in the near future. In the meantime, half a world away, we in the U.S. are also fighting to eradicate child/forced marriage by raising the girl’s marriage age to 18 in California, in partnership with other civil society organizations.

On the subject of women's religious leadership, I am proud to announce we are now in the position of hiring a female imamah as our in-house spiritual leader in Los Angeles. Please spread the word. The job description can be found here.

Finally, we welcome the San Francisco chapter to our ever growing family unit.

  • President's Letter
  • MPV at the UN
  • MPV Global
  • MPV Advocacy
  • MPV Australia
  • MPV Malaysia
  • MPV Nederlands

  • MPV Philippines
  • MPV Atlanta
  • MPV Los Angeles
  • MPV New York
  • MPV SF Bay Area
  • MPV Washington DC
Quick links:

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MPV at the United Nations

Follow-up Tunisia UPR

MPV’s Tunisian subsidiary Coexistence presented during the pre-UPR sessions at the UN office in Geneva on April 5th, 2017. During this presentation, which was held in preparation for Tunisia’s scheduled review this month, Coexistence members reported on Human Rights violations in their home country, especially pertaining to Freedom of Religion and Belief. At the end of their presentation, Coexistence made several key recommendations regarding the implementation of this important human right. Both the content of this report, as well as the suggestions, can be found in this document.
To follow up on this important presentation, MPV reached out on behalf of Coexistence to no less than eight member states--Argentina, Brazil, the Netherlands, France, the Maldives, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Germany--in order to ensure that our important recommendations are heard and reflected in the upcoming review of Tunisia.
Follow-up Netherlands UPR

On April 6 Fenna ten Berge spoke at the UPR Pre-session on the Netherlands, addressing the issues of Islamophobia and xenophobia in the Netherlands. The presentation was well-received by the attending diplomats and we have been able to highlight the pressing situation of marginalized people in the Netherlands, and the application of the penal code against hate speech to include those by imams. Our recommendations and questions to the Netherlands can be found here.
MVP Global

On April 25-27, MPV’s Ani Zonneveld attended the first Women Ulama’s Congress, held in a small village at a Pondok Pesantren (religious boarding school) Kebon Jambu, in Babakan Ciwaringing Cirebon, Indonesia. 
We have joined forces with numerous other faith-based and humanitarian organizations to release joint-statements on the following issues: the Bangladeshi government’s suppression of freedoms of religion, belief, and self-expression, and discrimination in the state of California on the basis of reproductive health decisions. Both these statements can be read on the advocacy page of our website, here.
MPV Australia

Following Hizb ut-Tahrir’s appalling video condoning forms of domestic violence, MPV Australia reiterates the need for Islamic faith leadership to actively address gender inequality. “In Australia, mosques continue to be male-dominated, hierarchical spaces that are resistant and often hostile to the voices of women,” said Communications Director Dr Mariam Tokhi.

KMU Malaysia

Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue for Youth (IIDY)

One of KMU’s post-IIDY initiatives is “inspirational posters” to inform  the world of the hopes and aspirations of young people concerning freedom of religion and belief. The initiative also reflects the diversity of youth in Malaysia, who are keen on promoting the religious minorities’ rights embedded in the Marrakesh Declaration and international law of human rights.

Front Cover Screening
KMU was at the Front Cover Screening at the US Ambassador’s residence in Kuala Lumpur with special appearance of H.E. Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir and the movie’s director, Ray Yeung. On the next day, KMU co-organized the screening for public with PT Foundation. Being in a Muslim-majority country, KMU endeavours to educate the public on accepting one's identity in regards to both ethnic background and sexual orientation including by way of art and drama.
Danish Embassy Queen Celebration
KMU was at a reception on the occasion of the Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II at the residence of Danish Ambassador, H.E. Nicolai Ruge in Kuala Lumpur. KMU is grateful for H.E.’s support of human rights organizations throughout H.E.’s tenure that will end in late July.
Op-Ed Submission
KMU is launching a campaign in countering the rise of radicalism in the context of human rights and in Malay language, which is  spoken by majority of the population. The themes we will cover are freedom of religion and belief, prevention and counter violent extremism, and sexual and gender education. Campaigns will be made available on KMU website.

MPV Netherlands

On April 28, MPV Nederland held their first Inclusive Jum’a, together with Prismatic group, a charity dedicated to the support of bicultural LGBTQI-persons. The khutba (sermon) was delivered by Nafisah Graham-Brown from Inclusive Mosque Initiative (IMI), who stressed the importance of performing small good deeds in troubled times, and encouraged participants to take responsibility in response to tragic events, rather than believe that circumstances causing polarization and xenophobia are beyond control. The khutba was well-received, and was followed by a group discussion on the topic. All participants expressed how safe and supported they felt during the session, and how it truly felt peaceful.

MPV-Nederland’s next Inclusive Jum’a is planned for May 19, to be held in Utrecht. Please visit our website for details. See event page here.
KMU Philippines

MPV Philippines meets with KMU Malaysia

Pete Sengson, one of the MPV Philippines’ two Co-Directors, met with Aizat Shamsuddin of KMU Malaysia in a cordial meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The two shared the updates of their respective activities and shared best practices in expanding membership and establishing presence within their respective communities.

To put things in context, Pete shared a brief history of Muslims in the Philippines and the existing conditions which demand a progressive Muslim organization in the Philippines, especially because of the special circumstance they face as minorities. For his part, Aizat shared the situation of progressive Muslim groups in Malaysia and how such groups are "minoritized,", in a country where Islam is the state religion.

The valuable contribution that the MPV Philippines and KMU Malaysia can offer to progressive Muslims is to articulate MPV’s mission with their respective local contexts in mind. As a sister organization in Asia, KMU Malaysia plans to share their activities, lessons and best practices of their organization to help nurture the MPV in the Philippines.
MPV Atlanta

Imam Daayiee Abdullah will be visiting MPV-Atlanta from May 16-31. During this time, he will give the khutbah for jumah on May 19. Email if you would like to attend.

MPV-Atlanta will also be holding a relaxation retreat in North Georgia on May 27-28. Email for details.
MPV Los Angeles

On April 22nd, MPV Los Angeles members, Jim Ghaznavi was interviewed by Jamuna TV, a Bangladeshi news network, on the importance of taking a stand

Also, Muslims for Progressive Values is proud to be a Community Partner for Los Angeles’ Pride Parade, which has been rebranded as #ResistMarch because American rights are under threat, and will therefore be marching in solidarity. Join us for this year’s march on June 11.

For upcoming activities in LA, click here.
MPV New York

MPV is glad to announce that it will be a civic partner at a hackathon in New York where our dream of creating an app will come true!

You can find out about news and events on Muslims For Progressive Values-New York (MPV-NY) on the Facebook group page.
MPV San Francisco Bay Area

On April 19th and 22nd, MPV/S.F. Bay Area had its two monthly “meetups”: a coffee and tea meetup at Muddy Waters Coffee House in San Francisco’s Mission district, and a potluck hosted by Naji Ali at his home. Both events were well attended.

During an emotional moment at the potluck one member of the group talked about the frustration and anger she felt at “being invisible” during jummah prayers and, in particular, the ummah. All those present at the meetings stressed that they wanted a safe space where women, men, members of the LGBTQIA community and their allies could feel safe and supported.

The group is currently planning a discussion on mixed gender prayers and the great need for them, and is setting up an Iftar dinner and jummah during the first few days of Ramadan in May. Connect with MPV SF here.

MPV Washington, DC

On April 11, 2017, MPV-DC organized an interfaith Passover Seder. The event was attended by about 15 people from the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. During the dinner, guests shared readings on the themes of liberation and freedom.

In the upcoming month, MPV-DC will organize halaqa, social gatherings and hosting small iftaar parties at the homes of members. MPV-DC is participating in the DC-Iftaar League, which aims to find members of the Muslim community that can host a small iftaar once a week. The goal of this project is to provide Muslims a space to break their fast on every night of Ramadan.