Where do you live? Orlando, FL
What is your profession? Orlando Regional Coordinator for the Council on American Islamic Relations Florida (CAIR-FL). CAIR Florida’s vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding. We work to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. At a time where we are living a reality of an increased spike in Islamophobia by 500%, in the state of Florida- I lead CAIR-FL’s Orlando efforts as the media spokesperson, community liaison, facilitating presentations for Muslim and Non-Muslim communications, and fundraising. I also volunteer my time as, the Director of Public Relations for the Muslim Women’s Organization of Orlando, a co-founder of the Floridians Responding to Refugees, a board member of the Young Democrats of Orange County, and the president for the Orlando chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.
How did you get this role and what was your path leading up to this? Before transitioning to work with CAIR-FL, I worked at the Arab American Community Center (AACC) for seven years, serving as a manager, public relations and youth director, and most recently serving as the Program and Development Director.
While working at AACC, I helped launch critical programs such as the Welcoming Immigrants Now Group (WING) and its Domestic Violence Program, providing support for women who are victims of domestic violence. I co-founded AACC’s Arab Fest, an annual local celebration of Arab culture- innovatively breaking down stereotypes.
On my own personal capacity, I speak about topics including Palestinian rights, Islamophobia in the United States and women’s representation in Islam.
I have strived to play an active role in social justice issues since high school, specifically the Palestinian struggle. One injustice exposed many others around me, and I cannot stand for one, and not for all. As a community, we often confuse the state of being ‘neutral’ as being Islamic. In actuality, that motion goes against what Islam truly stands for. To be neutral in times of injustice is to be an essential and indirect contributor to the transgressor. In fact, an Islamic hadith suggests ‘Whoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.’
What did you study in school? Molecular Biology & Microbiology
What advice do you have for someone looking to do something outside their field of study and how should they approach it? Combine your passion and compassion, it will only be a POWERFUL product.
Has anyone been a mentor to you? What role did they play and how do you feel about mentorship now? In addition to the support of my parents, family, and loved ones, additionally, my movement family, where we amplify our growth, strength, and solidarity, together.
What’s the hardest thing that you’ve had to deal with in your career so far? I can handle the death threats, and the hateful responses by Islamophobes but it’s hearing about the heart wrenching hate crimes, hate incidents, and bullying cases of Muslim youth, many of whom are refugees. Many times it being not only peer on peer, but in many cases teachers bullying students. To see these children overcome years of war and flee, then only come to see them face this adversity, shakes you to your core.
What has been a really rewarding moment in your career? Celebrating a Syrian refugee’s first birthday- One of the Syrian refugees that we helped resettle. She paraded around in her sparkly red shoes. Dorothy said it best — there really is no place like home. She and her family have a new place to call home now.
What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime? While I am proud to wear many hats in the community, for me, it doesn’t matter what platform I am using, because at the end of the day I have one mission: To revive the creed of justice, equality, and empowerment for ALL.
What’s something you want young women to remember when thinking about their future? Whatever career path you choose to take, make sure it’s one you love and to use your platform to be the voice of the unheard. This can be done no matter what you choose to do, but it’s our responsibility as global citizens to productively use our skill to the best of our ability to help alleviate the adversities of others.
What’s one thing you want to try to make an impact on in your lifetime? Ensuring that unconditional justice and true solidarity resonates inclusively for all humans. Essentially, having the world align and recognize all injustices as problematic. Working until I see a day where responsible leaders and global citizens of the world process and become the voice for Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation; resisting oppression everywhere!
Where can people find you on social media if they’d like to connect with you?