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Dance Away Aminah

To my fellow Americans, I wish you a Happy Independence Day!

The month of June was one filled with reminders as to why I do what I do, and why I am very lucky. I taught a class on Global Ethics at the University of Lucerne, a UNICEF funded program "Ethics in a Global Context"; in Burundi I attended our #ClubsForShe leadership camp for young women, spoke to 100 mothers about the importance of education for their daughters, and met with our imams in our #imamsForShe network, as well as the Mufti of Burundi. In Tunisia, I met with partners in planning a campaign for equal inheritance for women and men. In Geneva I chaired a high level side event at the 41st Human Rights Council. 

One week I was playing football with girls from the village of Tanaga in Ngozi, the northern province of Burundi, exemplifying the right to play, to be happy, and the next week I was at the Human Rights Council in business attire asserting Islamic Human Rights language in U.N. lingo for freedom of religion and belief to a packed room of diplomats and human rights defenders, with the Deputy Foreign  Minister of the Netherlands Ms. Yoka Brandt as the keynote speaker. I love my work. 

No matter their background or status, our work attracts and brings out the best and the angelic side of people. In the 8 days I was in Burundi I met people who, despite hardship, still had the most generous spirit and a smile that lit up my day. My constant companion during my waking hours was Ms. Aminah, pictured beside me at the soccer field and with the Mufti. Aminah and I talked about how we missed dancing and, as an English speaker, translated the bulk of what was being discussed formally and informally. I learned so much from her. We made plans for growing our work, our partnership. Our plans were ambitious and we were like sisters, communicating through WhatsApp, joking and lifting each other up. 

Within a few days of leaving Burundi, Aminah got into a bad accident. She was recovering, but a botched surgery killed her. 

Her passing is a devastating blow to our team in Burundi, and to me. A reminder that life is fragile, and can be taken away, just like that. It is a reminder to me to not take anything for granted. Every moment matters.

I am quite sure Aminah is probably dancing away…

In peace,

Ani Zonneveld
  • President's Letter
  • U.N. Update
  • Chapter Updates
  • MPV in the News

U.N. Update 
MPV hosted a side event at the Human Rights Council on June 24, titled: “From the Political to the Personal: (Mis)understandings of the Freedom of Religion and Belief and Freedom of Expression Across the World.” We had an esteemed high-level panelists with the Secretary General and Vice Minister of the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands Ms. Yoka Brandt giving the keynote speech, announcing the hosting of the Istanbul Process at the The Hague. Other panelists were: Professor Elham Manea (University of Zurich), Ahmed Shaheed (Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion and Belief), Eamon Gilmore (EU Special Representative for Human Rights), and Dr. Imam Arben Ramkaj, Chairman of Interreligious Collaboration Center. Chairing the panel was Ani Zonneveld. Watch the side event and the follow up discussions here and read the speech of Ms. Brandt here.

MPV also co-sponsored a side event titled “Religious Communities Affirming LGBTIQ People Around the World” and issued a statement in support of Human Rights Council resolution 32/2, and the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. You can read the full statement here in English and French, or watch the video on UN Web TV (at 1:26:35). 
National Update

NowThis News did a feature on MPV. Check it out!

July 3: MPV’s Board of Trustees member Adeel Abdullah Mangi and his team at the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, filed amicus brief in three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court supporting employees arguing that Title VII prohibits discrimination against LGBT individuals in the workplace. The amicus brief was filed on behalf of a coalition of 12 American Muslim organizations. Please read the amicus brief here.  
Chapter Updates 


July 14: Join our monthly Progressive Quran Reading Group hosted by Adnan. For details and to rsvp please visit here


On June 21MPV-NY hosted a Friday Jum’a Prayer and discussed what gender expectations existed and what reinterpretation of those expectations in Muslims communities domestically and abroad would be. 

On June 30, MPV-NY participated in NYC Pride, which welcomed WorldPride for marking the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and a half-century of LGBTQIA+ liberation. MPV-NY successfully marched side-by-side with its brothers & sisters in the LGBTQ+ community! LGBTQ+ Muslim members also participated in interview and film coverage by NowThis. 

July 12: MPV-NY will be hosting the second of 2019 Interfaith Couple series. It is an excellent opportunity to catch up with like-minded couples who have partners of a different background. Typically set up at a local NYC/NJ restaurant, participants will share meals and mingle! To participate and get more information, please contact MPV-NY Admin.
July 19: MPV-NY will be hosting a Friday Jum’a Prayer and will have a discussion about a matter pertinent to our community. To participate and get more information, please stay tune and sign up either through MPV-NY event page or MPV-NY Meetup.

On June 6, MPV-Boston, spoke about the goals of #NoHateInMyFaith campaign the Interfaith Coalition of Brookline’s annual dinner.  

On June 8, MPV-Boston marched at Boston LGBTQA* pride parade for the first time. A large group of LGBTQA* identified Muslims and allies joined the march. This march uplifted the great works of our progressive community. The great response to our #NoHateInMyFaith initiative got local Muslim student organizations to take the pledge toward abolishing hate in their communities. 

On June 14, MPV-Boston had a spiritual evening with a woman-led prayer and conversations about progressive values in a spiritual context. 


In June MPV-Atlanta participated in an interfaith service honoring the 50th anniversary of Stonewall with Imam Trina Jackson. MPV-Atlanta also participated in an interfaith panel as part of a “talk back” for the touring play, “A Southern Fairytale” by Ty Autry. Imam Kelly Wentworth shares her experience of being an LGBTQI person of faith and how faith has enriched her life.

MPV-Atlanta will be marching in the Atlanta Pride Parade and planning events for Atlanta Black Pride over Labor Day weekend and for Atlanta Pride in October. Anyone wishing to help plan or participate can email for more details.

MPV-Atlanta meets weekly on Friday for Jum'a services from 1:30-3:00 p.m. at the Phillip Rush Center near Candler Park/Edgewood. Contact for more details or join meetup group
MPV in the News 

‘Kelly Wentworth, a white pansexual Muslim Imam living in Georgia tells the Los Angeles Blade. “I’m their family and they’ve known me my whole life, and they think that I’m just going to one day activate and become a killing machine or something.” Wentworth, who converted to Islam in college 20 years ago, says her Mosque very privately serves the LGBTQ community.’

After receiving threats on her life, Zonneveld was stunned at Facebook’s response:

“We complained to Facebook, and then after several days, Facebook wrote back and said ‘Well, it seems like it’s a very lively and invigorating conversation’,” she says. In her opinion, verified organizations that do positive work should receive priority status when reporting harassment – almost like a blue check mark for complaints about intimidation.