Whiplash: Supreme-Court Induced! 

I was looking forward to June — usually, it’s an optimistic month; communities gather to celebrate the start of Summer, the World Cup, and #Pride. Instead, as the month progressed, I found the month became overcast with “June Gloom.” Normally, that infamous weather pattern of clouds and storms applies to the summer weather in Los Angeles. This month, it applied to the human rights record of America, the so-called “land of the free and home of the brave.”

What’s brave about the U.S. withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council? What’s free or brave about the Supreme Court’s rulings in favor of the a baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple, or upholding President Trump’s travel ban? What’s free or brave about caging migrant children and separating families? About caging children?!

As someone who grew up in Malaysia, I am witnessing the same patterns that led to a fascist theocracy in my birth country, now happening here. This administration is disrupting the American values of inclusivity, diversity and religious freedom we are supposed to be founded on, while successfully and hypocritically using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to do it.

We could always rely on the Supreme Court to fairly check and balance the other two branches of the US government, especially when it was falling out of line with the majority of America’s beliefs. This is changing. From deciding in favor of the baker who declined to bake a cake for a gay couple, to coming down in affirming President Trump’s travel ban, or more popularly known as the “Muslim ban,” we are seeing an America that is resoundly a theocracy, favoring a particular religious belief over another.

With that said, the only time this administration seems interested in including Muslims or Muslim-Americans is when it’s the the ultra-conservative Muslim voices who’s values align with right-wing homophobic agendas. It was brought to our attention that secular institutions, such as the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), has been infiltrated by openly homophobic Islamists. Do a quick scroll through our Twitter mentions and you’ll find vulgar tweets about our support for the LGBT+ community, directly from an employee on the Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team at the RFI. These are the Muslim voices that are being uplifted! These are the voices that are used to legitimize homophobic policies while also justifying the anti-Islam rhetoric prevalent in this country. These are the rocks that progressive Muslims are caught between and the politics that MPV is navigating itself through on a daily basis.

To contribute our perspective on Religious Freedoms, later this month I will be representing MPV and Alliance of Inclusive Muslims at the Freedom of Religion and Belief Ministerial meeting organized by the State Department.   

We will persevere.  

Onward and upward...




Ani Zonneveld
 
 
 
 
 
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The progressive Muslim voice for human rights and social justice. Thanks for your charitable donation!
 
 
 
 
 
Featured Book:
Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream 

In this book, renowned Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad offers her unflinching and honest portrayal of how she managed to rise above near-debilitating challenges because of her race, religion, and gender to achieve Olympic glory. Recalling her time as the only woman of color and religious minority on the U.S. women’s saber team, Ibtihaj describes the obstacles she had to overcome to become on of the nation’s most influential athletes.

Choose Muslims for Progressive Values as a beneficiary when you shop on smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price to MPV.
 
 
 
 
 
MPV at the UN

The HLPF

In addition to conducting advocacy at the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) and Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), MPV also engages the U.N. in Sustainable Development advocacy. The reason for this is that human rights and development are inseparable — individuals cannot enjoy their rights unless economic, social and environmental obstacles are removed!

The U.N.’s program for development is called Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and revolves around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Those who have been following MPV for some time will know that our UN Representative, Omair Paul, was in the negotiating rooms as the Agenda was being finalized in July 2015.

The 2030 Agenda is very ambitious. To ensure that it is on track, the U.N. created a body called the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), which meets every year in July. The HLPF consists of two parts: a thematic review, and a ministerial segment, which features the voluntary national review (VNR). The thematic review concentrates on a specific group of SDGs, which constitute the HLPF’s annual theme. The VNR is an opportunity for countries to volunteer to share their own best practices and challenges in implementing the development agenda. This year, Saudi Arabia will be presenting at the VNR and MPV is working with NGOs to develop questions for the Saudi ministers.

The HLPF this year will take place between July 9-19. MPV’s UN team — Marwan Bishtawi and Omair Paul — will be covering the forum’s events and meetings, and seeking advocacy opportunities. Stay tuned for updates.
   
The HLPF Ministerial Declaration 

Every year, before the HLPF kicks off, U.N. member states gather to draft and adopt an HLPF Ministerial Declaration that outlines their development commitments for the coming year. MPV’s UN Associate Coordinator, Marwan Bishtawi, has been following the negotiations process very closely, and, on June 22, made recommendations to the member states in a statement delivered on behalf of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth. In his statement, Marwan made a push for stronger language on gender violence, and is currently working on inserting language on the right to self development.

You can find a copy of the statement, here.
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter Updates 

MPV-LA

On Sunday, June 10, MPV-LA partnered with the musical group, Pinkturban, to bring to life its very first float for the West Hollywood Pride Parade. Pinkturban performed on the float, while MPV members danced and marched while carrying banners and signs around the float. They even ended up on the Instagram pages of Chromeo (DJs) and Grindr (Dating App)!

On Sunday, June 17, “al-imam” screened at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Al-imam is a short documentary about Founder and President, Ani Zonneveld, directed by Omar Al Dakheel. Both Zonneveld and Dakheel were in attendance along with additional MPV members. Vimeo picked “al-imam” as a feature for a limited time. Watch it while you can here.   

Arts:

To watch Ani Zonneveld’s adhan and performance of her original composition Prayer of Light with Artes Vocales of Los Angeles’ choir and ensemble visit this link (Ani's performance begins at 1:14:23)

MPV-New York

MPV-NY had a successful jam packed June for the month of Ramadan!

On June 7,  MPV-NY co-hosted a sold-out Iftar at The Center in partnership with organizations serving the LGBTQ Muslim community. The evening created a safe space for all community members, while also celebrating unity within LGBTQ communities of faith.

On June 8, MPV-NY hosted a Community Potluck Iftar where members shared their meals from Pakistan, Iran, East Africa and America with others and build camaraderie during this holy month. After our meal and mixed gender prayer, a wonderful discussion on intersectionality in Islam.

On June 12, in co-sponsorship with Coalition of Progressive Hindus, Caribbean Equality Project (CEP), The South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association of New York City (SALGA NYC), MPV-NY co-hosted an Iftar at a ‘Sadhana Satsangh’ to build unity between Hindus and Muslims. There was excellent conversation & Hindu prayer for an end to all discrimination and Islamophobia.

On June 24, MPV-NY joined the NYC Pride March for the 2nd year. Members sang, danced and marched with banners while being cheered by fellow New Yorkers and other organizers!

MPV-Boston

On June 23, 2018, MPV-Boston hosted their Eid family day. Initially, this event was planned to take place at Boston Common with dodgeball, coloring meditation, twister, and board games. Due to a rainstorm prediction, it was transformed into an indoor social with board games, music and refreshments at a local community center.

On June 26, 2018, MPV-Boston co-sponsored life beyond boundaries panel at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Queer South Asian Incentive, AID Boston and MASALA Boston. Panelist focused on the intersectionality of race, religion, immigration status, gender identity and sexual orientation. A room full of attendees got to learn about individuals with progressive values centered around South Asian communities from transgender, queer, and gender non-binary identities folks.   

Upcoming in Boston!

MPV-Boston is brainstorming ideas for upcoming months with a strong focus on raising funds for the chapter.

MPV-Chicago

Starting on July 6, 2018, MPV-Chicago will be holding Friday Prayers in the Loop area at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP (333 W. Wacker). All are welcome to join, including non-Muslims! Please RSVP by emailing chicago.mpv@gmail.com.

MPV-Atlanta

MPV-Atlanta hosted one of the MPV workshops on Inclusive Islam on May 22, “Is LGBTQI Halal.”

MPV-Atlanta took part in a panel on faith and sexuality at Kennesaw State University. You can watch the video, here.  

MPV-Atlanta took part in the City of Atlanta’s Stonewall Celebration as part of the Atlanta Mayor’s LGBTQI Advisory Board where MPV-Atlanta board member, Kelly Wentworth, serves. 

Upcoming in Atlanta!

MPV-Atlanta meets weekly at the Phillip Rush Center (1530 Dekalb Ave A, Atlanta, GA 30307) for jum'a on Fridays from 1:30-3:00 pm, and for communal prayers on Sundays from 10:00-11:30 am. Email kelly@mpvatlanta.org for more details.

MPV-DC
 
MPV-DC held Eid prayer on the morning of Friday, June 15 at the Tenleytown Public Library in Washington, D.C. Later that day, MPV-DC was invited to speak at a screening of the documentary "al imam" about Ani Zonneveld at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland.

Upcoming in DC!

In July, MPV-DC will continue to host its biweekly prayers and will also host a screening of the film The Sultan and the Saint also at the Tenleytown Public Library.

MPV-S.F./Bay Area

On Sunday June 17 MPV-S.F./Bay Area local board member Naji Ali spoke at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco about Progressive Islam during the church’s education hour. The talk was well attended with 20 congregants present. Pastor Sheri Hostetler invited Naji back to give a second as some who wanted to attend were unavailable.

On Saturday June 23, local board members, Sabahat Ashraf and Carman Nareau, led salat prayers at the Rainbow Chapel in support of Pride Saturday. People who came by the chapel were very encouraged to see that Islam is affirming of the LGBTQ community and some inquired about upcoming activities.

Upcoming in San Francisco and the Bay Area!

MPV-S.F./Bay Area will be coordinating a talk on Islamic Liberation theology. Please visit our Facebook page and Meetup group for upcoming information.

MPV Nederland 

Manifesto against anti-Muslim hatred and Muslim Discrimination

MPV Nederland is a member of the Dutch Collective against Islamophobia and Discrimination (CTID), which presented a manifesto against Muslim Discrimination and anti-Muslim hatred during the event ‘city of tolerance’, June 19, Amsterdam.

The manifesto calls for the Dutch government to take effective action against Islamophobia both in policy and practice and will be accompanied by a larger targeted advocacy and campaigns push.

We hope that collectively we will be able to demand effective actions by the Dutch government and therefore invite everyone to undersign the manifesto by sending an email with your name and organization (if applicable) to islamofobie@gmail.com before July 23.

General Assembly of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR)

MPV Nederland participated in ENAR’s annual general assembly, held June 22-24 in Lisbon, Portugal. Together with other activists and civil society organizations fighting against racism and discrimination against Muslims we discussed strategizing a collective approach to strengthen and amplify our activities against Islamophobia on national as well as European levels.