Islamic Society of Central Florida Hosts Women Empowerment Program

March 30, 2003

Source: Orlando Sentinel,0,3130933.story

On March 30, 2003 the Orlando Sentinel reported that "Lobna Ismail rattled off a list of stereotypes about women who wear the traditional Muslim headscarf called a hijab... 'Oppressed. Subservient. Terrorist. Can't work. Can't drive...' About a dozen women, most of them wearing a hijab, nodded. They had felt the cold glares from co-workers and the suspicious questions of neighbors when their heads were covered. Though the hijab is worn as a symbol of modesty and dignity, the women said they often feel misunderstood, especially since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks... 'I tell people I'm none of these things,' Ismail said. 'I am an American woman, I'm a Muslim, I'm a Southerner, I'm a soccer mom, I am antiterror, I'm a business owner...' Ismail, who owns a diversity training company, encouraged the women to explain their religion to colleagues and to report discrimination by employers when it occurs... Such messages of empowerment were the theme of Saturday's program at the Islamic Society of Central Florida... in celebration of Women's History Month. About 200 women -- Muslim and non-Muslim, of a kaleidoscope of races and nationalities -- attended workshops on everything from health and fitness to domestic violence and parenting."