There have been so many exciting developments and so much great news recently, I don’t know where to begin!
I am excited to announce the launch of a new coalition of ex-Muslims, Muslim reformers, activists, and writers dedicated to combating Islamist extremists worldwide. The CLARITy (Champions for Liberty Against the Reality of Islamist Tyranny) Coalition grew out of AHA Foundation’s webinars last December and meetings in 2019 before the pandemic.
I am proud of AHA Foundation’s role in CLARITy’s creation and look forward to helping them in their vital work. I don’t need to reiterate how important this task is—not just to me personally, but to the whole world.
Our main blogs for this newsletter feature two founding members of CLARITy. The first, which you can read here, is an interview with M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim reformer who has for many years bravely stood at the forefront of the resistance to Islamist tyranny. In the blog, you can hear more from Zuhdi about CLARITy’s mission and goals.
The second blog, which you can read here, is an interview with Soraya M. Deen, also a Muslim reformer, who is calling on Muslim communities to “reform, revive and reconstruct” their interpretations of Islam. In the blog, she talks about her life and activism, and movingly says that her work with Muslim women on the margins feels like being “a physician, trying to resuscitate an unconscious body.”
I hope this insight into Soraya’s career inspires you as it inspires me. As she notes in the blog, we have had our differences in the past, but we are both fully committed to the Muslim reform project. As she says in the blog: “Muslim women are read a 7th century Bill of Rights. And I call on all women to stop the CONFORMITY. Stop the COMPLIANCE. CHALLENGE and question everything.” With such courageous, strong voices as hers, I am optimistic about CLARITy’s chances of success.
In other news, in June I taught my first class for UATX (aka the University of Austin), a new institution that promises to be a haven for free thinking young people and scholars from the U.S. and beyond. My class was part of this year’s summer program, and it was a delight to meet the young, inquisitive students who took part in my class on critical thinking and free speech. An AHA Foundation team member attended as a teaching assistant, and she writes about the experience for our blog here.
In Massachusetts, child marriage has finally been banned! AHA Foundation and its allies have been working to end this abusive practice in Massachusetts for SIX years now, and finally we have achieved victory. I am proud of everyone who worked so hard to reach this milestone, particularly AHA Foundation’s Senior Director Amanda Parker and our Director of Policy and Women’s Programs Michele Hanash, whose efforts over the years have now paid off. You can read some of our earlier coverage of the fight to end child marriage in Massachusetts here and here.
Also, AHA Foundation’s Director of Policy and Women’s Programs Michele Hanash wrote for the blog about the reauthorization earlier this year of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). You can read her thoughts on this milestone in protecting U.S. women and girls here.
Thank YOU for helping us reach these victories and milestones. Your support allows us to persist in our vital work every day of the year. And it also allows us to provide vital training to professionals to protect women and girls from abuse—in June, for example, we trained lawyers and other legal professionals at an in-person anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) training in Washington, D.C., while in July, we hosted a training session for frontline professionals in California. Thank you for empowering us to do all that we can.
I hope all this summer news brings you as much hope for the future as it has brought me.
With warmth and gratitude,
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder