Lekovic Travels to Croatia for Conference on Women

May 17, 2013

Earlier this month, Edina Lekovic, MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programming, traveled to Zagreb, Croatia, where she spoke at a conference about the social status of Muslim women in Europe. Lekovic presented a lecture on “Uncovering the Real Me: Western Muslim Women Under the Spotlight” before an audience which included the mufti of Croatia, a Bosnian ambassador, academics and community members.

Hosted by the Islamic Center of Zagreb for its 26th anniversary, the conference also featured speakers from Russia, Estonia, Malaysia, Iran, Turkey, England and Bosnia, who each shared their assessment of the status of Muslim women in their respective countries. Among the themes that emerged was the rising level of education and scholarship among Muslim women and the continued lack of positions of influence within their respective communities.

Lekovic examined the images of Muslim women that dominate media and popular culture in Europe and America, which far too frequently fall into the usual stereotypes of oppressed, liberated or defying the stereotype.

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” said Lekovic, quoting the powerful refrain from American poet June Jordon, urging that this was the path of progress that all of the voices from the conference and community members assembled should keep their eyes on.

Elmira Akhmetova, a doctoral student from Russia currently residing in Malaysia, shared how the government has banned about 40 books about Islam which include mainstream titles such as “40 Hadith" and the Bukhari collection of hadith. Getting caught with such books can lead Russian Muslims to be jailed for four years.

The Islamic Center of Zagreb is a vibrant community center in a city which has about 5,000 Muslim residents. Muslims in Croatia make up 1 percent of the population, and yet are positively recognized and supported by the government by and large.

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