Conference aims to empower U.S. Muslim women

Speakers from community groups, the LAPD and State Department said that by knowing and exercising their rights, American Muslim women could become a force against religious and political extremism.

“The American Muslim woman is empowered because she is an American,” said author, educator and Irvine community activist Anila Ali. From job discrimination and domestic violence to divorce and child-custody laws, “American Muslim women need to be knowledgeable about their rights and who to turn to” for assistance, Ali said.

Radicalism springs from disenfranchisement, said Farah Pandith, a U.S. State Department representative whose job is to reach out to emerging leaders who have grown up in the digital information age in Muslim communities around the world.

“Students, entrepreneurs, hip-hop artists, poets … people who may not have the strongest voice, but interesting ideas,” she said.

US State Department reaches out to the Muslim world

A new division opened in the State Department this year: the office of the Special Representative to Muslim Communities. Farah Pandith’s mission is to reach out to the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims. She tells Steve Inskeep the office will influence how Muslims perceive the United States.

Muslims ‘Victims’ of Media

An International conference on multicultural relations recently discussed Muslim discrimination and representation of Islam in the media. US State Department advisor Farah Pandith said that Muslims suffered from a victimization mentality and that the media needed to play a more positive role. Amanullah Shahed, director of US news site AltMuslim.com told the audience at the conference that Muslims could learn from Europe, citing the disorganization of Muslims. Shahed also commented that Italy could be a leading model, sitting at the center and meeting point of the world’s two largest religions. His conversation, however, sparked negative responses from Muslim academics and clerics in both Italy and the Middle East.