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Speech of Ms. Samina Faheem Sundas,
Executive Director, American Muslim Voice,
at the San Francisco Rally
against the French ban on hijab

American Muslim Voice was created to preserve and protect justice for all by protecting civil liberties and constitutional rights for all. Today we are all gathered here to do just that.

In my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would have to speak about human rights violations in the western countries because they call themselves cultured, the pioneers of sophistications, open mindedness, education, democracy and fairness. They call themselves the protectors of human rights.

They steal world’s precious resources and kill innocent people and benefit from others’ miseries.

The world is told that Islam is oppressive, specially towards women.

Islam is the most misunderstood religion. There is no compulsion in Islam. Islam gives man and woman equal rights and freedom to choose. Don’t be confused about the cultural practices and Islam.

We are here to send a strong message to President Chirac that we will not allow any one in the world to dictate how to practice our religion. They can’t impose those laws on us.

Today we are trying to protect human rights in France, Germany and of course in America. What happened to the western countries’ claim  regarding freedom of expression freedom of speech and freedom of practicing our religion.

President Chirac is trying to impose his choice, his opinion and his laws on all religious groups telling them what they cant do, including Muslim women that they cant wear hijab.

I strongly suggest to President Chirac to reconsider his proposal and give citizens of France freedom to make their own choices.

You are not considered cultured, educated and sophisticated unless you know how to treat others with dignity and fairness. You cant have cream of the crop from the world and expect them to melt in one big pot. When we leave our homeland and make another country our home we bring our religion, our values, our culture, our language and our skills to enrich these countries.

We will never compromise on our religion and our heritage. We would like to be part of a salad bowl where each vegetable is distinct with its own texture, color, aroma and taste. We must learn about each other, then with understanding, mutual respect and total acceptance, we can learn to celebrate diversity because that is the beauty of the world.

 January 17, 2004