First Forum to Defend Rights of Muslim Women in Europe

More than 400 European Muslim women activists participated in the first meeting of the European Forum of Muslim Women (EFOMW), held Sunday at the Free University in Brussels.

First Forum to Defend Rights of Muslim Women in Europe

The forum, set up a few days before International Women's Day on March 8, will be registered as an NGO and will be based in Brussels. "This is an historic event. For the first time, Muslim women in Europe have a voice," said Ms Noura Jaballah, who heads the seven-member executive committee elected on Sunday. "I am happy but I also feel a great responsibility on my shoulders," she added.

Jaballah, who was born in Tunisia, said that the EFOMW can clear the misconceptions on Islam in Europe, adding that western media have portrayed a false image of Muslim women which must be corrected. She also said that EFOMW could speak on behalf of European Muslim women, define their problems, aspirations, and defend their legal rights.

The one-day congress addressed three main issues: the participation of women in social life, obstacles to full citizen participation of Muslim women and contribution of Muslim women to the construction of European civil societies. Representatives of Muslim women groups from Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Bosnia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, UK, France and Belgium participated in this important event for European Muslims.

"I am very touched because I am in front of years and years of hard work,'' said an elderly French woman who embraced Islam 35 years ago. Another participant, Nicole Thill, who was born in Luxembourg but lives in Belgium, said that she embraced Islam in 2001 after a long spiritual research of different faiths. The recognition of a woman in Islam as an equal citizen attracted her to the noble religion, she said.

"Western media portrayal of Muslim women in Europe is very bad," Thill said, adding that women who wear the Islamic headscarf, Hijab, often face difficulties in finding a job. Eleni Ikram Fiotakis from Greece said she converted to Islam in 2002 after meeting a Muslim Nigerian nurse.

Fiotakis, who works as a midwife, said that after reading the Quran she was convinced that the holy book can only be the word of God. She added that more than 80 Greeks, both men and women, embraced Islam in recent years. Zeinab Khalil from Italy and a member of the executive committee said the forum is a "very big step to change the image of women in Europe."

Muslims in Europe must "engage citizens of other faiths in dialogue and good behavior to change the distorted image of Islam," she said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16