She is on a mission to combat rising Islamophobia by bringing people together to build understanding. I always command such attention and every time it floors me. MANAL SHEHAB, SPEED DATEREveryone turned around and sort of stared at me. HANA ASSIFIRI, RESTAURATEUR & ACTIVISTUsually an empowered woman, for me, is an empowered society. NARRATORTheir weapons are compassion and conversation. When I first put it to some of them, they went, Yep, were on. But theres no dating theres no chicks at the end of it. HANA ASSIFIRII was always asking why why are things the way they are? Um, you know, they found me a husband and I was barely 15. And thats the misconception people make this assumption that if a womans wearing a scarf, shes definitely more religious than me. And my answer was that, Look, whatever they represent and the words that they use and the way they treat women and children and men is..not align at all with what Ive been raised to know as my religion. WOMAN 2Do you guys find yourself having to defend that quite often? really close non-Muslim friends was one of concern, genuine concern, but I got a lot of questions, like, Oh, congratulations. NARRATORThe first time Manal came to a speed-dating event, shed been invited by an old friend. Maybe youve got a bomb hidden under your burqa or something. (CHUCKLES)HANA ASSIFIRIThese two things became a symbol of what could potentially be, um...a disaster. So, thank you all for coming and lets look forward to next speed date. KATEIve never really met a very devout, hair-covering Muslim. NARRATORWhen the family moved back to Australia, a teenage Hana didnt fit in at school or at home, where the rules for girls were strict. NARRATORThe word spread that here was a place where Muslim women were welcomed. Lebanese, Iraqi, Somali, Eritrean, Russian, Indian. You dont have to travel just come to the Moroccan Soup Bar and work here! (SPEAKS ARABIC)NARRATORAs a child, Hanas favourite room was the kitchen. Your daughters need to marry and need to have children and thats the only thing, and what do you mean, No? (LAUGHS) A lot of the questions that I get asked, Well, you wear your hair out, this big Diana Ross hairdo, I cant believe you are actually a Muslim. And a few did say, Weve never heard a woman in a face veil talk! What do you think their agenda is and do you think anything they say aligns with Islam? And when I wore it, the reaction that I got from my non-Muslim... When I was growing up, there wasnt this tension in the air. MANAL SHEHABI later spoke to Hana, she said, Well, I didnt know what you might say. So lets hope that these conversations continue to inspire us in the hope that we enable women, for a change, to begin to talk and illuminate some of these dark patches that are going on and, yes, we can interpret the Koran in many different ways and lets interpret it from a womens perspective, where welfare is compassion. These are some of the women who make up the Moroccan Soup Bar tonight on a Wednesday night. LAYALLE EL NAJIBI had heard about the Moroccan Soup Bar. You tell them, you say, As long as youre respectful of one another I dont care if youre scarved, I dont care if youve got long hair, black hair, blonde, if youre black, white doesnt matter what you are as long as youre respectful of one another. HANA ASSIFIRI(SINGS IN ARABIC)Its positive discrimination. You need to establish an environment that you know speaks to and engages and is relevant to Muslim women. HANA ASSIFIRISo, you know, customers would say to me things like, Whys that woman got that thing on her head? And this happened and the guy then said, The only thing its symbolic of is beheadings and honour killings. It didnt matter the embarrassment and its where I felt free and its where I felt, um... People have come from all over Melbourne for the non-dating speed dating. Anyway, I soon found out it had nothing to do with it. HANA ASSIFIRIIm just thinking, how do you manage these two potentially extremely different points of view in an environment where theres 50 other people and youre inviting people into your space to say, We are beyond the stereotype. MANAL SHEHABHana came up and she had a piece of paper and shes just doodling on this paper very slowly and she says, Hows everything going here? HANA ASSIFIRIAnd I said So, have you chatted about ISIS yet? MANAL SHEHABAnd she said, uh, Manal, what do you have to say about that? NARRATORYoung and vulnerable, Hana couldnt see a way out. HANA ASSIFIRIThe kids were 14 and 15 and I sat there in class and I felt like the oldest person, but it was so important for me, um..be in a classroom with other kids... We deliberately called it speed date because it conjures up positive attitudes. But when I say, Get to know a Muslim, you go, Really? NARRATORToday, a suburb away from the Soup Bar, the Moroccan Deli is filling up. HUSNA PASHAWhen my friend actually told me it was called Speed Date a Muslim, I actually felt like saying to her, Well, I cant go because Im married. WOMAN 1You cant tell a Muslim male you wont be able to identify him. MANAL SHEHABEveryones talking loud and theres food going and coming and I really felt out of place. MANAL SHEHABHes wearing a full-on Australian hat like Molly Meldrum with the little corks!
HANA ASSIFIRITheres not a day that a woman walks through the door where she needs a job and I dont give her a job, even when I dont need workers, like, I dont. So, I decided to go along because I heard it was a woman called Hana who owned the Moroccan Soup Bar, and I love the Moroccan Soup Bar. And I said, Well, ISIS definitely doesnt represent Islam.
Determined to offer Muslim women a safe space to work Hana started Fitzroy's renowned Moroccan Soup Bar 18 years ago. Its about creating a connection through conversation with Muslim women. And I thought, OK, we can do this and hopefully some people will come, and I dont know how many will come, but well see.
Story producer: Tracey Spring Story researcher: Louise Heywood Editor: Danielle Akayan Executive producer: Jessica Douglas-Henry To enquire about obtaining a copy of this program please contact ABC Program Sales 1300 650 587 or [email protected] KUMI TAGUCHIHello, Im Kumi Taguchi, and welcome to speed dating. You sit across from someone youve never met, and you ask questions in the hope of finding a romantic partner. STORY: SPEED DATE A MUSLIMNARRATORHana Assifiri is the founder of Melbournes renowned Moroccan Soup Bar. NARRATORThis unique event is a chance to meet Muslim women and ask any question youve ever wanted to.
100MB Comments Hana Assafiri is a woman on a mission.
At a time when Islamophobia is on the rise she runs regular Speed Dating sessions where people come and ask Muslim women any questions they like about Islam. A Muslim woman said to me, You know, I never thought Id sit opposite a bikie and feel safe.
LAYALLE EL NAJIBOnce it starts, its hectic, its full on. Were constantly managing this chaotic crisis with its own weird rhythm.