Young Muslim New Yorkers Challenge Hate in Their Own Words

From the play Beyond Sacred

While some variant of Islam is practiced by 1.57 billion people worldwide, a number of shocking misconceptions about the faith persist among those invested in spreading xenophobia and fear.

One of the most pernicious is that all Muslims speak, worship, behave and think in the same way.

Just this past week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speculated that Ghazala Khan, the mother of a fallen American solider, was silent during her husband’s speech at the Democratic National Convention because she “wasn’t allowed to speak.” In response, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has urged Muslim women to speak up on Twitter using the hashtag #canyouhearusnow.

Offering a rich and nuanced portrayal of contemporary Muslim experience, the play Beyond Sacred is comprised of the true stories of its performers, all themselves young New Yorkers who have some relationship to the Muslim faith. Called “probing and persuasive” by the New York Times, Beyond Sacred was created by Ping Chong + Company and commissioned by the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, located in Queens, New York.

These videos are all excerpts that allow the young performers to speak in their own words.

Tiffany’s father is Muslim and her mother is Christian. In this excerpt, Tiffany talks about her decision to wear the hijab.

Ferdous and his family fled their home in Afghanistan due to the Taliban. He describes the challenges of his family’s life both before and after emigration.

Kadin describes the differences in the cultural spaces he’s inhabited, from the conservative South to Paris to New York. He reflects on experiencing the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting abroad.

Maha has lived in 10 different countries since her birth in Kuwait. She speaks about the assumptions people make about her Muslim identity.

Amir was born and raised in New York City by an Egyptian father and a Puerto Rican mother. He discusses the decision to stop hiding his Muslim heritage.

See more work like this at the Cultural Exchange Laboratory, a new initiative for sharing and supporting innovative work by international artists, especially those emerging from Muslim-majority countries and cultures. Produced by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), the project has received funding support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.

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