Fighting the war against Islamophia from Edinburgh and beyond

Nasim Azad – Founder of Beyond the Veil. Nasim organised the Edinburgh event. Nasim gives her thoughts on the launch

By Clare Carswell

Muslim messages: Nasim Azad holds her words for the I Speak For Myself exhibition.

Nasim Azad is proud of her religion, devoted to it as well as to her family. It has also inspired her to defend it against misconceptions that are launched at it.

In 2005 she helped set up the organisation Beyond the Veil which is made up of Muslim women living in North West Edinburgh who were motivated to explain Islam to people who knew little about it and Muslims.

This became increasingly important due to events that changed the world, as Nasim explained: “Then 9//11 and 7/7 happened. We felt that Muslims were getting the bad press, the bad media, the negative and many misconceptions about Islam and Muslims in general.

“We felt we wanted to say our piece.”

Beyond the Veil works to bridge the gap between organisations and the Muslim community by spreading understanding of the community and it’s culture.

Bodies such as the NHS, for example, have asked for advice for when it is appropriate to ask a Muslim woman to remove her head dress.

Nasim Azad Nasim Azad. pic: Amina

Recently, Nasim and a group of 40 Muslim women from Edinburgh took part in a national campaign called ‘I Speak for Myself’ curated by Amina, a Muslim women’s helpline.

It was created to challenge negative stereotypes of their religion by asking the women to write down how they thought their religion was perceived.

Below are messages that were contributed to the project by Muslim women in Edinburgh.

“I want you to read ME and not read me through the media!”

“Islam is not about “we are better than you”. Islam is about “let me show you something that is better for you”.

“NEWSFLASH!!! I DO SPEAK … I have a voice! I DO CHOOSE … I have a mind! I DO LAUGH … I have a sense of humour! See it, believe it! Guess what?! I AM JUST LIKE YOU!”

“Don’t assume, just ask. I converted at the age of 18. It’s the best thing I ever done.”

“I am a Muslim and I feel sad when young soldiers die!”

“The only thing oppressing me is the extortionate cost of childcare!”

“My Hijab is my crown! Behave in front of the QUEEN!”

“Judge me for who I am, NOT what I wear!”  read more:  edinburgh/magazine