Raheel Raza, participant in 2015 Free Speech Award-winner Honor Diaries, to appear at March SPEAK EZ Workshop
Raheel Raza has a vision – humanity is but one community. As part of this vision, her goals are to expose the dangers of a radical Islamist ideology and take back the faith; empower women for rights and gender equality, especially in third-world countries; and educate youth about the dangers of radicalization and terrorism.
Raheel’s vision and goals are among the driving reasons why she participated, along with eight other women’s rights activists, in the documentary film Honor Diaries, the winner of the 2015 Free Speech Film Festival’s Free Speech Award. The film was directed and produced by Paula Kweskin.
Honor Diaries profiled these nine women, who all experienced firsthand the hardships and gender-based violence women endure in Muslim-majority societies. It gave Raheel and these other women a platform to share their personal stories, engage the global community in a dialogue about gender equality, and break the silence on “honor violence” against women and girls in the hopes that it would inspire and motivate others to speak out.
The topics discussed in Honor Diaries include freedom of movement, the right to education, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.
Raheel uses her platforms as an award-winning journalist; prolific author; international public speaker; fearless advocate for human rights, gender equality and dignity in diversity; and bridge builder between communities to express her beliefs in the values of free speech, democracy, gender equality and pluralism.
On her website, she shares a quote from the United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Her participation in Honor Diaries aligns with her current roles as President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, founding member of The Muslim Reform Movement, Director of Forum for Learning, President, Steering Committee of The Council for Muslims Against Antisemitism (CMAA), and member of the National Advisory Board of Abraham Global Peace Initiative. She has also taught courses on various aspects of Islam at George Brown College and Ryerson University in Toronto for the past five years.
Raheel was born in Pakistan and migrated to Canada in 1988. Her journey has led to publications in major newspapers in Canada and appearances on CBC and international media outlets like CNN, BBC,and Fox News. In 2017 alone, she gave over 100 interviews internationally and published over a dozen op-eds.
She also has a prolific career as a writer and filmmaker. She made a documentary film called “Whose Sharia is it anyway?” dealing with the sharia debate in Ontario, Canada, and wrote and produced a social satire called “Chai Latte.” She is the author of the books ABC’s of Islamism (Rebel Media, 2020), How Can You Possibly be a Muslin Feminist (Possibly Publishing 2014), Their Jihad – Not My Jihad (Revised 2nd Edition Possibly Publishing, 2012), and How Can You Possibly be an Anti-Terrorist Muslim? (Possibly Publishing, 2011). She is also a columnist for The National Post and writes for other online publications.
She also continues to work with Paula Kweskin to promote films from Afghanistan and other South Asian countries.
As a speaker, she has presented her thoughts at: the United Nations, the U.S. Congress (where she gave testimony about combating homegrown terrorism), the Swedish Parliament, the Canadian Parliament and Senate, the UK Parliament, various universities across the U.S. and UK (including Harvard, Columbia, Brandeis, Oxford, and Cambridge), Tedx Amsterdam, the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, and various justice departments, school boards and places of worship. In her pursuit for human rights, Raheel is accredited with the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
She was awarded the Medal of Courage by Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Beverly Hills, California, in March 2018, and is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for service to Canada, the City of Toronto’s Constance Hamilton award, and the Urban Hero award.
For more information on Raheel and her projects, visit www.raheelraza.com, muslimsfacingtomorrow.com, stopglobalantisemitism.com, www.honordiaries.com/tedx/raheel-raza-tedxwomen-amsterdam, and muslimreformmovement.org.