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Turning Tides: Under my Hijab

As told to Leah Gebber

The sign read: “Islam and Europe: Identity and Anxiety.” I looked around, saw no one was looking, and took a picture. Then I looked closer, noted the time and location. The speaker. And I hightailed it away from public view.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A quick Google search revealed that the speaker — Ibrahim Um-Mazbur — was associated with a movement called Return to Muslim Values. Red flag. A quick Google search of Return to Muslim Values unearthed phrases like: return to sharia law, conversion of infidels, and plenty about the American and Israeli devils. I find a video of Ibrahim Um-Mazbur speaking at a mosque in Bradfield. What he says is not out-and-out incitement, but it borders on it. I quickly notify the university authorities. By the next morning, the event had been canceled. I breathe a sigh of relief and send a little note of thanks to the head of the Student Union and the university management. By this time there was a government initiative to combat extremism on university campuses, and universities (or at least this one) were enthusiastic to comply with the regulations. As such, by helping the university to fulfill its own obligations — and avoid bad press as being a harbor of extremists — I was doing the university a significant favor as well. Monitoring possible extremism isn’t exactly what I’d expected in my role as a frum female academic. But it has certainly given me a view of my Judaism and my place in the world that’s broader and perhaps more significant than I could have imagined.

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