Giving voice to American Muslim women, a California show will depict the negative portrayals of veiled women post 9/11 in a bid to create dialogue, amid soaring Islamophobia.
“I hope it’s entertaining and I hope it creates dialogues,” Rohina Malik, Muslim Chicago playwright and actress, told Times Herald.
“I’m looking forward to the after-show discussion where we can really have an honest conversation."
Malik was talking about her play, Unveiled, that goes on stage on Sunday, April 26, at the Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns.
Wrote in 2008, the play tells the stories of love, compassion, culture and tolerance from the eyes of five Muslim women.
Its concept comes from an expression in the Qur’an, which asks people to remove the veil from their heart.
“The world premiere sold out so quickly, and I realized that Americans are really hungry to hear from a Muslim voice, especially with the current climate,” said Malik, who’s Indian and Pakistani in ethnicity.
Mixing fiction and personal experience, the one-woman show aims to highlight abuse faced by veiled Muslim women in the US.
“People are stereotyping and it’s really dangerous,” she said.
“Discrimination never starts with a gun or a knife, it starts with the environment.”
Malik's free show at Benicia Museum is co-organized by a continuing global Abraham Path Initiative by the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which encourages the understanding of Abraham’s faiths, mainly Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
“It’s important to learn about people’s cultures from hearing their stories,” Rev. Jeanne Forte said.
“Especially post 9/11, there’s so much negativity portrayed in the media about Islam. I think it’s really important to hear and learn the positive stories, especially from a Muslim woman.”
Since the 9/11 attacks, US Muslims, estimated between 6-8 million, have complained of discrimination and stereotyping in their communities due to their Islamic attire or identities.
An Economist/YouGov poll found that a 73 percent of Americans believe that US Muslims are victims of discrimination amid recent attacks against the community.
A Pew Research Center study, Public Remains Conflicted Over Islam, has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.