Last week, presidential candidate and xenophobe Donald Trump claimed that banning Muslims from entering the United States was the “vigilant” thing to do to keep Americans safe. Rather than engage in a screaming match with the population of voters who actually agree with him, we’d rather celebrate the women who prove him wrong.
1. Malala Yousafzai
Yes, the young woman who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating a woman’s right to her education, who is the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, who has a national day named after her, who has talked feminism with Emma Watson and left Jon Stewart speechless – is, of course, the Pakistani Muslim by the name of Malala. Just fourteen years old at the time of her attempted assassination, she survived a gunshot wound to the head and earlier this year, received straight As on her GCSEs at the Birmingham high school, which she attends in England. At just eleven years old, she was blogging for the BBC about her experience living under the Taliban and advocating for women’s education in her home, Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Malala Yousafzai has done more for peace in the Middle East in her eighteen years than Donald Trump’s yammering mouth ever will.
She’s so much more than a supermodel – Somalia-born Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid is known for her conscious charity work and for pioneering cosmetics for darker skin tones. She’s a spokesperson for Keep a Child Alive, ambassador for Save the Children, and worked with the Enough Project by terminating her contract with jeweler De Beers and publically campaigning against blood diamonds and the global trade of conflict minerals. Being a supermodel and David Bowie’s wife are small side projects for the woman who speaks five languages and devotes much of her time to her philanthropic interests.
3. Ilyasah Shabazz
Her name may not be as familiar as that of her father’s – Malcom X – but Shabazz has stayed true to the man who was assassinated when she was only two years old in her work as “a community organizer, social activist, motivational speaker,” and writer of both books of fiction and nonfiction as well as the occasional op-ed with The New York Times. In February of this year, she wrote that “We have been shaken by the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice — shaken, but not sufficiently unsettled. We must contextualize those losses, force our neighbors to become so deeply disturbed by what has occurred that they, too, are inspired to act to change the system. If my father were alive today, he would be humbled as a new generation emerges, yet again inspired, in part, by his life and words. He would advocate alongside them. But he would encourage them to follow his lead and never take the path of least resistance.”
4. Huma Abedin
Vice Chairwoman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Huma Abedin, held that same position in 2007 when Clinton campaigned against President Obama. She has been working with and for Clinton since an internship in 1996, having been a personal aide, traveling chief of staff, and general trusted advisor for the person who may just become the first female President of the United States of America, particularly aware of issues in the Middle East. Born in Michigan to an Indian father and Pakistani mother, Abedin was raised in Saudi Arabia until she came back to the United States to study at George Washington University. In 2012, five Republican members of Congress (most notably Michelle Bachmann) wrote a letter to the State Department Inspector General that more or less claimed that Abedin – who was raised by two educators and born and educated in the USA – should not have passed the security clearance to work in the government because she “has three family members–her late father, her mother and her brother – connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.” Even John McCain called the letter “nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant.”
5. Anousheh Ansari
Not only is the Iranian American Ansari a multilingual electrical engineer, she is most notably the first Muslim woman to have gone to space, and the first woman to self-fund her trip out of Earth’s atmosphere – or, the “first female space tourist.” Her memoir, My Dream of Stars, was published in 2010, and she was awarded the Space Pioneer Award in March of this year by the National Space Society for her “service to the space community.” In an interview with Space.com in 2006, she said “I hope to inspire everyone—especially young people, women, and young girls all over the world, and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men—to not give up their dreams and to pursue them.”
Photos Via Malala Yousafzai, Instagram/Iman, Ilyasah Shabazz, Twitter/Huma Abedin, Anousheh Ansari
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