Fighting discrimination against Muslim women and girls is the goal of our Look Beyond Prejudice campaign. It starts with a video illustrated by cartoonist Takoua Ben Mohamed. According to the European Network Against Racism, women suffer multiple discriminations.
In Italy 65% of Muslims report suffering episodes of violence and discrimination; similar numbers can be found in other countries.
Look Beyond Prejudice campaign
“Taliban, go back to where you came from!”, “Submissive, they forced her to wear the veil! ” These, and many others, are the phrases that Muslim girls and women are forced to listen to every day for choosing to wear the veil. These same words can be found in the video cartoon that launches the Look Beyond Prejudice campaign promoted by the Fondazione L’albero della Vita, within the European project against Islamophobia MEET – More Equal Europe Together. Preventing Islamophobia against women & girls – of which the Foundation is the coordinator – and which involves 5 countries besides Italy: France, Belgium, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria.
The MEET-More Equal Europe Together project is co-financed by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program of the European Union and involves, in addition to the Fondazione L’Albero della Vita as coordinator, other 8 partners in 6 European countries (Italy, France, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria):
Partners Bulgaria Foundation – Bulgaria;
Pistes Solidaires – France;
Pour la Solidaritè – Belgium;
Subjective Values Foundation – Hungary;
Polish Migration Forum – Poland;
Aisha Project – Italy;
Lab 80 Film – Italy;
FEMYSO, Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations – Belgium.
The video produced with the cartoons of Takoua Ben Mohamed tells the everyday life of a Muslim girl in the subway of what could be any European city, forced to suffer judging looks and words. When she is called a “Taliban” she looks at her reflection in the window and does not see what others see. Instead, she points out how good her new pink hijab looks on her. Look Beyond Prejudice is an awareness and empowerment campaign launched by the Fondazione l’Albero della Vitaq Partners Bulgaria and all other partners to invite people to look beyond stereotypes and to help Muslim girls find the strength to react, reminding them that “Discrimination lies in the eyes of the beholder, but so does beauty”.
Testimonial of the campaign and creator of the illustrations in the video is Takoua Ben Mohamed, graphic journalist and illustrator, who, with comics and irony, has chosen to talk about integration and dialogue between cultures, thus fighting the discrimination linked to her decision to wear the veil.
“Too often Muslim women are described as weak and forced to wear the veil by society or a patriarchal family: a stereotype that has contributed to spreading prejudice and discrimination against Muslim women in Europe. This image has never represented me because I am free to be myself and I chose to wear the hijab and, like me, there are many girls who wear it by choice – says Takoua Ben Mohamed. “Being the testimonial of this campaign by Fondazione L’Albero della Vita means making my contribution against female Islamophobia using a new language: with my comics I want to remind every Muslim girl of how beautiful they are and that sometimes discrimination can be overcome with irony“.
Partners in this project work to ensure that no child or girl knows the shameful experience of discrimination. A peaceful and tolerant society can generate opportunities for our children and youths. A place to share the beauty of being different, in a European society that protects inalienable rights, where everyone can really feel at home. Within the MEET project, la Fondazione L’albero della Vita encourages young people to become protagonists of change and to help prevent Islamophobia against women and girls.”
The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) notes that Muslim women and girls, particularly if they wear religious symbols, are victims of multiple discriminations, on the basis of their gender, religion and origin, which results in verbal assaults in public, hate speech on social media and social exclusion, including difficulties in accessing the labor market and professional training opportunities.
MEET – More Equal Europe Together project
In this context, the MEET – More Equal Europe Together project was born to prevent episodes of Islamophobia against Muslim women and girls through the development of local observatories to monitor episodes of racism and discrimination and to propose action plans to local authorities. The project also commits to advocacy efforts towards European institutions to ensure the effective implementation of existing legislations and, finally, the organization of videomaking and educational workshops aimed at young people between 12 and 18 with different backgrounds, Muslim and non-Muslim, to create a group of youths committed to building a society free from discrimination. In the 6 countries involved, with the help of experts in film storytelling techniques, young people were encouraged to reflect on the stereotypes concerning Muslim women and girls and, at the end of the workshops, to create counter-narration videos on issues related to Islamophobia. The episodes made constitute a European web-series.
In Bulgaria the video-cartoon and the web series produced by the Bulgarian youth can be found in the Partners Bulgaria Foundation YouTube channel:
The video-cartoon and the web series are visible on the “Meet Project” YouTube channel: https://vsit.click/bf2aq
For more information on the project: meet-project.alberodellavita.org
About the author of the anumated video
Takoua Ben Mohamed was born in Tunisia in 1991, at the age of eight she moved to Rome to join her father, a political exile. Graphic journalist and cartoonist, she has always dealt with political and social issues, from the Arab Spring to the role of women in the revolution, to the violation of human rights in Arab countries. She has received numerous awards including, in 2019, the Special Award for best graphic journalist in Europe. On May 18, 2021, her first book “My best friend is a fascist” will be published. The book tells the autobiographical story of a friendship that is stronger than any difference; the one between a girl with the veil and a suburban bully.
Video Labs for young people and the video series
The cideo labs with young people have been conducted in all countries and a series of films have been produced. The campaign will disseminated the films produced by young people from the participating countries.
Video session 1 – Milano, Italy
In the 6 countries involved, with the help of experts in film storytelling techniques, young people between 12 and 18, were encouraged to reflect on the stereotypes concerning Muslim women and girls and to create counter-narration videos on issues related to Islamophobia.The first episode of the webseries was shot in Milan.
Video session 2 Pau, France