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It's Not About the Burqa: Essays by Muslim Women

Hear from writers, poets and activists as they discuss the contemporary Muslim female experience and intersectional feminism. In celebration of the anthology It's Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race, editor and activist Mariam Khan speaks alongside Salma El-Wardany, Nafisa Bakkar and Amna Saleem.

It's Not About the Burqa was edited by writer and activist Mariam Khan in response to a leaked conversation that the then prime minister, David Cameron, had with one of his officials where he said that the ‘traditional submissiveness’ of Muslim women was a key problem in the fight against Islamic extremism.

The anthology brings together the voices of 17 Muslim women, and their stories. The essays run the emotional gamut: some are funny or warm, some are sad, and some angry, but all are passionate – and are calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia that Muslim women experience today.

Mariam Khan is a writer and activist. She is a contributor to Nikesh Shukla’s forthcoming anthology Rife: Twenty Stories from Britain’s Youth, writing on the policing and politicisation of Muslim women’s bodies. Khan has written on feminism, Islam, publishing and identity for Metro, The Guardian and Stylist.

Salma El-Wardany was born in Egypt and raised in the north of England, and returned to Cairo just in time for the Arab Spring. Between protesting and fighting in the revolution, she started a blog to document her experiences in Cairo while discussing ideas of womanhood and how gender identities manifest in today’s world. She has worked with Edinburgh University on the Dangerous Woman Project, given two TEDx Talks, writes for The Huffington Post and various other outlets, is working on her debut novel, Burkas & Bikinis, performs her poetry across the US and UK, and presents on BBC Radio.

Nafisa Bakkar is the co-founder of Through articles, videos, podcasts, events and a community of over 300 contributors, their work seeks to surface the many different voices and experiences of Muslim women and be a tool for positive change. Amaliah has been featured in the Metro, WIRED and CNN, and Bakkar was named by Forbes as one to watch.

Amna Saleem is a Scottish Pakistani screenwriter and broadcaster. Her first sitcom Beta Female is currently on BBC Radio 4. She has written for publications including The Guardian, New Statesman and Glamour, and has appeared on the BBC, SKY and ITV discussing topics including race, mental health and culture.

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Purcell Room


Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)


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Age recommendation
For ages 14+

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Access information
This talk is British Sign Language interpreted (BSL).

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