Member of the Clarion Project Advisory Board, President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Author, Activist, Featured in "Honor Diaries," a film about women's rights
Raheel Raza is a member of the Clarion Project Advisory Board and President of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow. She is also an award winning journalist, public speaker and an activist for human rights and gender equality. She is the author of "Their Jihad ... Not My Jihad" and she was one of the nine courageous women's rights advocates featured in "Honor Diaries", a film about women's rights.
Traveling extensively throughout the world as a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker, she brings a fresh global perspective to her mandate that “there is unity in diversity.”
A fervent advocate for gender equality, Raheel is the first Muslim woman in Canada to lead mixed gender prayers. In her pursuit for human rights, she speaks regularly at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Raheel has received many awards for her work building bridges of understanding, including the City of Toronto’s Constance Hamilton award. In a presentation to Members of Parliament and international diplomats at the House of Commons in Canada, Raheel received a standing ovation for her speech called “Celebrating our Differences.”
In the 25 years I have called Canada home, I have seen a steady rise of Muslim women being strangled in the pernicious black tent that is passed off to naïve and guilt-ridden white, mainstream Canadians as an essential Islamic practice. The niqab and burka have nothing to do with Islam. They're the political flags of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia. Now I learn I have not only to fight the medieval, theocratic adherents of my faith for a safe space for myself, I have to battle the Federal Court of Canada as well.
This phenomenon of taking children back to their native countries during the summer break to undergo female genital mutilation is called "vacation cutting." FGM is a horrendous, harmful and painful cultural practice that involves partial or total removal of a girl's genitalia, ostensibly as a rite of maturity but more clearly to control a girl's sexuality.
Last Sunday, a group of students at the University of South Dakota planned to attend a screening of our film, Honor Diaries, a documentary focused on the abuses women face under the honor system. Due to "stealth repression," the film screening was mysteriously canceled.
This year's IWD is themed "Make It Happen." And I think for every woman who is a part of celebrations, this is a goal to which we are ready to commit. For women who cannot just "make it happen" on their own, we must help "make it happen" for them.
According to The World Health Organization (WHO) more than 125-million girls and women across the globe have been horrendously abused in a practice known as female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is comprised of all procedures that involve partial (or total) removal of the external female genitalia.