Raheel Raza (born 1949–50) is a Pakistani-Canadian journalist, author, public speaker, media consultant, anti-racism activist, and interfaith discussion leader. She is among the most prominent Muslim supporters of Israel.[3][4][5][6] She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[7]

Raheel Raza
Raza speaking in 2014.
Born1949 or 1950 (age 73–74)[1]
Alma materKarachi University
Occupation(s)Journalist, author, public speaker, media consultant, anti-racism activist, and interfaith discussion leader
Known forOpponent of Islamic terrorism and Islamism
Notable workTheir Jihad... Not My Jihad!: a Muslim Canadian Woman Speaks Out (2005)
MovementProgressive Islam
AwardsConstance Hamilton Award of the City of Toronto
Canadian Ethnic Journalists & Writer's Club award for excellence in journalism[2]

She is the author of Their Jihad, Not My Jihad: A Muslim Canadian Woman Speaks Out.[3] She opposes Islamic extremism.[8]

She is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society[9]

Early life edit

Raza is a Pakistani currently living in Canada.[10] She graduated from Karachi University with degrees in Psychology and English.[11] In 1989, she, her husband and her two sons moved to Toronto.[6][11]

Activism and political views edit

On Islam edit

She has unequivocally condemned the September 11th terrorist attacks and all terrorism and violence in the name of religion, as well as that done in the name of Islam specifically.[4][8] She claims "radicals" have their own interpretation of Islam, and that the Qur'an does not justify suicide bombings.[12]

She has said that hatred has been preached in places of worship in Canada and urges parents to be on the alert for extremism.[13] Raza identifies herself as a libertarian.[14]

Female-led mixed gender prayers edit

Raza has been a human rights activist, and has advocated gender equality, particularly for Muslim women.[8][15] She became the first woman to lead mixed-gender Muslim prayers in Canada, in 2005.[10][16][17][18][19] Raza termed it a "silent revolution" and said she hopes to become an imam someday. She also dreams of having a mosque "for women by women".[16] She received death threats following the 2005 prayer event.[20][21]

After female imam Amina Wadud received death threats for leading mixed-gender prayers in New York City,[10][22] Raza was invited by Taj Hargey in 2008 to go to Oxford and become the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation in Friday prayers.[1] According to Muslim reformist Tahir Aslam Gora, such prayers did not become a regular practice.[17] The Canadian Islamic Congress said Raza's concerns were a "non-issue for Canadian Muslims".[18]

Opposition to prayers in schools edit

Raza opposed congregational Muslim Friday prayers in public schools, saying that in 1988 the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the use of the Lord's Prayer in public schools was not appropriate. She said such prayers are contrary to the notion of separation of church and state. She called the prayers "discrimination and harassment" for requiring girls to pray at the back of the room and for disclosing their "private personal female condition".[23]

Banning veils edit

Raza has argued for a public ban in Canada against the hijab and the burqa.[24]

Opposition to Park51 Muslim community center edit

In August 2010 Raza, along with Tarek Fatah, both from the Muslim Canadian Congress, opposed the Muslim community center, Park51, located near the World Trade Center site (or Ground zero). She describes the project as a Fitna, meaning that it was done intentionally to provoke a reaction and make trouble.[25]

In a Fox News interview with Bill O'Reilly she referred to Mayor Michael Bloomberg as having a "bleeding heart" for this cause that is actually dangerous for those who were affected by the 9/11 terror attacks, as the location of the Ground Zero Mosque seemed unnecessary and hurtful for the victims of the attacks.[26]

On immigration edit

Raza has called the Canadian government to suspend all immigration from "terror-producing" countries, like Iran in 2012.[27]

Organizations edit

Raza writes and records videos for the media websites Rebel News and True North Centre for Public Policy. She is a board member of and Director of Interfaith Affairs for the Muslim Canadian Congress.[28][29][30]

She founded and is currently president of Forum for Learning, an interfaith discussion group. It is a non-profit organization.[31]

In 2006, the National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee honoured her for promoting Muslim-Christian dialogue in the wake of the Pope Benedict controversy.[32]

Donald Trump edit

Raza stated in an interview with Bill Maher that Donald Trump was "an equal opportunity offender. And, secondly, this is supposed to be the First World, the civilized world, but he is really fudging that line about civility.".[33] In a later article for USA Today, Raza wrote that "as politically incorrect as his language may be," Trump had "succeeded in sparking an international conversation about radical Islam that we must have now", and called for Trump to "step up and put moderate Muslims on stage."[34]

Writing edit

Raza is a freelance writer.[35] In 2000, she received an award from the Canadian Ethnic Journalists and Writers Club.[11] She has lectured at York University on the portrayal of Muslims in the media.[36]

Raza is the author of Their Jihad, Not My Jihad: a Muslim Canadian woman speaks out, a collection of her op-ed columns from the Toronto Star.[3][37] She is also a poet and a playwright.[12]

Criticism edit

Raza has been criticized for her support and involvement in anti-Muslim groups and policies. After the 2014 Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu ramming attack, she stated in her blog that there needs to be a suspension of Muslim immigrants to Canada and that all mosques should be closed for three months and claimed that this action would not be an abuse of religious freedom.[38] Her support and association with groups and projects described as anti-Muslim like the Clarion Project[39] and ACT! for America[40] which have funded and aided anti-Muslim legislations and policies within the USA[41] has also been criticized. She has been criticized as being "far from the "reformist" and "progressive" individual she claims to be, Raza's extensive history of anti-Muslim statements and open ties to hate groups make her fundamentally undemocratic."[38]

Works edit

Books edit

  • How Can You Possibly be an Anti-Terrorist Muslim?, Raheel Raza, Possibly Publishing, 2011 ISBN 1-4609-2279-4
  • Their Jihad... Not My Jihad: Revised 2nd Edition, Raheel Raza, Possibly Publishing, 2012 ISBN 0981943748
  • How Can You Possibly be a Muslim Feminist?, Raheel Raza, Possibly Publishing, 2014 ISBN 0981943721
  • The ABC's of Islamism: Everything you wanted to know about radical Islam, but were afraid to ask, Raheel Raza, Library and Archives Canada, 2020 ISBN 978-1777198626

Documentary film edit

Raza participated, together with eight other women's rights activists, in the documentary film Honor Diaries[42] which explores the issues of gender-based violence and inequality in Muslim-majority societies. Her personal story was featured alongside those of the other activists, all of whom are working to combat gender prejudice that is embedded in honor-based societies.[43]

Select articles edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Jerome Taylor (June 10, 2010). "Britain: First woman to lead Friday prayers". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Raheel Raza's Official Website". Raheelraza.com. Archived from the original on 2010-08-15. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Christopher White (2006). Seismic Shifts: Leading in Times of Change. United Church Publishing. ISBN 1-55134-150-6. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Donna Sinclair, Christopher White (2003). Emmaus Road: churches making their way forward. Wood Lake Publishing Inc. ISBN 1-55145-485-8. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  5. ^ Meena Sharify-Funk (2008). Encountering the transnational: women, Islam and the politics of interpretation. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7546-7123-7. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Raheel Raza's Official Website". Raheelraza.com. Archived from the original on 2010-08-14. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "Bhutto killing will impede rights, democracy, observers say". Canada.com. CanWest News Service. December 27, 2007. Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c McGregor, Charles (February 19, 2008). "Speaker looks to be No. 1 on world hate list". DurhamRegion.com. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
  9. ^ "National Secular Society Honorary Associates". National Secular Society. Retrieved 27 July 2019
  10. ^ a b c Giles Tremlett (October 31, 2005). "Muslim women launch international 'gender jihad'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2013-08-29. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c Ray McGinnis (2005). Writing The Sacred: A Psalm-Inspired Path To Appreciating And Writing Sacred Poetry. Wood Lake Publishing Inc. ISBN 1-896836-73-9. Archived from the original on 2014-01-05. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  12. ^ a b "Rabbi, Muslim and Catholic see other faiths' similarities". Orangeville Citizen. May 3, 2007. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
  13. ^ CBC News Staff (June 4, 2006). "Toronto Bomb Plot Case; Homegrown extremism". CBC News. Archived from the original on 4 June 2009. Retrieved Jun 21, 2015.
  14. ^ "Muslim Women Who Wear Veils Are Choosing to be Unequal". 12 December 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-04-11. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  15. ^ "Three faiths in conversation". Orangeville Citizen. March 29, 2007. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  16. ^ a b Bruning, Karla (December 2, 2006). "Muslims Debate Traditions that Deny Women the Right to Lead Prayer in Mosques". Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  17. ^ a b Tahir Aslam Gora (June 26, 2008). "Opinions – Canada's a centre for Islamic reform". The Hamilton Spectator. Archived from the original on 2012-08-30. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  18. ^ a b Khalid Hasan (July 3, 2005). "Woman leads mixed Friday congregation in Canada". Daily Times. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  19. ^ Giles Tremlett (October 31, 2005). "Women's lib becomes a gender jihad for Muslims". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 2012-05-26. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  20. ^ Jacobs, Mindelle (June 19, 2010). "'Honour' abuse more prevalent than we think". Calgary Sun. Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  21. ^ "First woman to lead Friday prayers in UK". Independent.co.uk. 23 October 2011. Archived from the original on 2017-07-16. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  22. ^ "Lakeland Ledger - Google News Archive Search".
  23. ^ Raheel Raza. Speech at TDSB Rally Against Prayer in School Aug 8, 2011 by Raheel Raza Archived 2011-08-26 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Jonathan Montpetit (March 3, 2010). "Student files rights case over Quebec niqab ban". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2010-03-06. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  25. ^ "We Muslims Know Ground Zero Mosque Meant to Be a Deliberate Provocation". Fox News Channel. August 9, 2010. Archived from the original on 2015-04-04. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  26. ^ "Muslim Raheel Raza Opposes Ground Zero Mosque - Pawns Bloomberg". Youtube. Archived from the original on 2014-03-05. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  27. ^ "Iran's "Fifth Column" Targets Canadian Schoolchildren". 7 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-06-09. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
  28. ^ Natasha Fatah (April 1, 2004). "One Law for All". CBC News. Archived from the original on October 24, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  29. ^ "Religious school funding divides community groups". CTV Edmonton. October 9, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  30. ^ Raza, Raheel (August 2, 2010). "Mischief in Manhattan". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on August 18, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  31. ^ "Celebrating Differences". The Montreal Gazette. October 2, 2007. Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  32. ^ Michael Swan (September 22, 2006). "Canada's Catholic-Muslim dialogue continues forward in wake of pope's remarks". Catholic Online. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  33. ^ Brendan Gauthier (2016-03-06). "Trump's an "equal opportunity offender": Raheel Raza slams the Donald for hate-mongering against Muslims on Bill Maher". Salon. Archived from the original on 2016-08-28. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  34. ^ Raheel Raza (2016-08-17). "Trump is right about radical Islam: Raheel Raza". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2017-05-07. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  35. ^ Francis Adu-Febiri, Everett Ofori (2009). Succeeding from the Margins of Canadian Society: A Strategic Resource for New Immigrants, Refugees and International Students. CCB Publishing. ISBN 978-1-926585-27-7. Archived from the original on 2014-01-08. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  36. ^ Dorn Townsend."Building an Enclave Around a Mosque in Suburban Toronto" Archived 2018-07-11 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times, November 18, 2007, accessed August 10, 2010
  37. ^ Gloria Elayadathusseril. "Razor-sharp style; Immigrant, author, journalist, speaker and consultant Raheel Razar". Canadianimmigrant.ca. Archived from the original on March 12, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  38. ^ a b "Supporter of anti-Muslim policies Raheel Raza speaks at Minnesota State Capitol". splcenter.org. 29 January 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  39. ^ "Factsheet: Clarion Project". bridge.georgetown.edu. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  40. ^ "Factsheet: Act for America". bridge.georgetown.edu. 4 December 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  41. ^ Kazem, Halima (20 June 2016). "Funding fear of Muslims: $206m went to promoting 'hatred' of American Muslims". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  42. ^ "Honor Diaries".
  43. ^ "Chicago Film Festival". Archived from the original on 3 March 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014.

External links edit