International Muslim women's rights activist speaks at Iftar event in Slough

Press Release

An international Muslim women’s rights activist spoke at a multi-cultural event in Slough last week where people broke their fast during Ramadan.

Los Angeles-based speaker Soraya Deen Marikkar addressed the crowd of more than 200 people at the Iftar, an Islamic observance where people break their fast together after sundown.

The lawyer and founder of the Muslim Women Speakers Movement in the US urged women from her faith to empower themselves in society and make their voices heard. She mentioned the Prophet Muhammad’s first wife Khadjah bint Khuwaylid, who scholars say was 15 years his senior when they married and whom the Prophet worked for. Urging Muslim women to not let themselves be oppressed, she said: “I always say, give me a seat at the table because if you don’t you will be the menu.”

She warned that some family members and figures from the Islamic community may say no, and added: “We are still stuck in some ancient paradigm which doesn’t work for us in the 21st century. “It’s on you to charter the course of history.” At the event at Baylis House, in Stoke Poges Lane, Ms Marikkar, originally from Sri Lanka, promoted dialogue between different faith communities as well as tolerance from within the Islamic community. She added: “We are talking about who is the better Muslim. That’s not for you to judge, that’s not for me to judge, that’s for Allah to judge. Let us come together to serve the community because our community needs it.” Ms Marikkar’s brother Faleel organised the event on Friday, June 1, which was attended by several elected members of Slough Borough Council and the borough’s MP Tan Dhesi. Mr Marikkar is in the process of setting up the Sri Lankan Foundation for Muslim Women in Slough which, he says, will aim to empower women.

One idea suggested by Mr Marikkar, a representative for the Sri Lanka Cricket board, was a childcare initiative which would allow women in the borough more free time to work or study.