Extracts

Women Are The Future Of Islam

'I often think back on these women. With the war raging, they weigh heavy on my memory.'  Sherin Khankan shares her motivation for activism in Women Are The Future of Islam.

Women are the Future of Islam

I have come to understand the importance of living out one’s faith with concrete actions and daily commitments – a type of political activism.

I often think back on these women. With the war raging, they weigh heavy on my memory. Sometimes I’m asked if the seven years of atrocities and the half a million deaths have eroded my belief in God or the revolution. . . . It’s undeniably difficult to watch such suffering and see the world’s passivity and the way people are closing their eyes to it. When the war in Syria began, my father commanded me to stay silent. Like many other Syrians in Denmark, he was terrified that my protesting against the brutal Assad regime would have consequences for our family in Damascus. It’s a well-known fact that the Assad regime has spies in Denmark, who report back on any oppositionist voices. This is how a dictatorship controls its people: by spreading fear. Many years after my father fled Hafez al-Assad’s regime, he is still traumatised and has transferred the same fear to me by his example.

However, I decided I couldn’t stay silent after realising that, whether I spoke out or not, people were getting killed. What triggered me to break my silence was the passivity of both the West and the Arab-Muslim world, as well as the rising death toll. In January 2013, I decided to found the Syrian Opposition in Denmark (SOD) together with a group of young Syrian activists in Copenhagen, including a Danish theology student named Nikolai Vartenberg and a Syrian activist named Joseph Hamoud. The SOD is a resistance movement against the Syrian regime and supports only the part of the Syrian opposition fighting for freedom, democracy and political pluralism. Together we organise street demonstrations and conferences, actively participate in debates, write articles and challenge the leading Assad supporters in Denmark. We also organised a benefit concert in Copenhagen featuring fourteen leading Danish and international artists, including Outlandish, Lars H.U.G. and Fatma Zidan, which was attended by over 500 people. But in organising concerts and collecting clothing and money, I realied that humanitarian action isn’t enough; it ends up throwing money into a bottomless pit. I believe that political action can make a real difference.

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