I hope you are seated in a quiet place ready to do some reading because there is a lot to unpack tonight.
Yesterday, these screenshots went viral.
It is a screenshot of a MeWe account asking “Which of these female religious preachers” should be gang raped*?”
The poll which required an individual to physically vote, closed with 1005 votes.
Exhibit A: 7 months ago (Read it in its entirety)
You guys are getting riled up….now? I mean, that’s great.
But also, welcome to the club of Muslim women victims in Singapore who have been begging & screaming for help. Yes, the same women who have been crying blood & begging for help from one leader to another – & all you offered was a blind eye and a deaf ear.
I mean, where were you 7 months ago?
What did you think I was yelling about for the last 7 months???
If you have been following BBW, you know the work involved in collating the data of the #MuslimMeToo campaign.
If you don’t – read Exhibit B right now before you continue.
If you read that then you would know that I wasn’t playing.
We already did the legwork.
While all of you were busy discrediting the victims who came forward, discrediting #MuslimMeToo, trying to silence me, ignoring our pleas of using your platforms to speak up, etc etc etc we were busy doing the real work.
You want explicit facts? Let me share some.
The people behind the account and the voters are not just random boys and men.
Many of them are –
Singaporean undergrads of overseas Islamic universities,
Students in local Madrasahs,
Singaporean graduates of these universities and Madrasahs,
Some of them hold ARS certification,
Some of them have a social media platform,
Some of them are very connected ie siblings/relatives of famous ustads/ustazahs you love and follow.
We have names. We have dates. We have details.
You must be confused right now.
You must be thinking “Wait, is Noor upset this is getting attention?”
Don’t be that idiot.
The community of women who were victims of this and myself have been waiting for this day for a really long time.
What I want to educate you on & for you to reflect on is: WHY NOW???????
When the victims were non-asatizahs, did you give a toss? Cause I remember your response in case you don’t.
It was a loud thundering silence.
It wasnt like you guys didnt know. Please.
The mass public – sure, I can excuse them.
Im talking about you, you in the community who knew.
You in the community who knew we were begging for allies.
You who are part of the Asatizah community, part of the system.
You who knew, but were silent then, when all this noise first started.
NOW it’s suddenly about justice??????????
Is it because the post targets Asatizahs? So if she is not asatizah then it doesnt matter?
Im trying to understand your logic here.
Cause don’t get me wrong, Muslim women in our community – asatizahs or not – have been victims of this for a DAMN LONG TIME.
It is literally the dirtiest open secret of our community.
But before, if she came forward and asked for justice, she is doing one of the following:
“tengah buka aib”
“going about it the wrong way cause social media is not the platform” (the irony)
In exhibit C, I talked about male allies and male leaders stepping up.
Literally begged our community of male leaders to stand up. You know why?
Because in my line of advocacy work – particularly in this context & in our Malay/Muslim community, I understand how patriarchy works. It is so entrenched & embedded in the culture that I knew this wont go anywhere unless male influential leaders talk publicly about it.
But back then, no one came forward. Imagine knowing about this and refusing to say anything.
I mean, the same people who spoke up on this issue, literally had the same platform, power and influence 7 months ago.
But everyone wanted to save their own a** and no one was willing to risk their reputation.
No one except 2 men.
Ustad Sheikh Farouq and Izhar Rahman.
They came forward publicly when no one dared to. They came forward even when there was no evidence of any screenshots. They don’t even know the details or the data that I am privy to.
They didn’t need screenshots or evidence to know how badly this sickness was plaguing our community to step up. I didn’t even know them. They weren’t even friends of mine.
But I asked for males allies, and these two men responded. They had so much to lose…but SubhanAllah.
You wanna know the real leaders of our community?
It’s these two men who approached me on Instagram and said they wanted to help.
They don’t even have an influential platform.
But they gave their voice to the cause so willingly.
They did it then and they continue to do so now.
God bless the two of you abundantly in both worlds.
I will forever pray for the both of you and your loved ones.
I’ll tell you why everyone is stepping up now.
Exhibit D – read the last two paragraphs.
It’s because it hit too close to home.
For some, it’s their sister, or their sister’s friends, or their wives friends or people they know basically.
And of course the moment, one or two influential people speak up – the rest will follow suit. (as you can see from what has occurred – further reaffirms why we were screaming for community leaders to come forward then)
“Does it have to be your own sister, your wife, people you know… for you to finally make a stand?” – was the question I asked until I gave up.
But at least now there is proof- so apparently yes, it does.
So all of you need the women you know in your lives to
a) either be a victim or
b) be someone who knows the victim or
c) you yourself should know the victim for you to speak up?
So all you have relatives in Palestine is it? Or were your ancestors born there?
But clearly, no one needs to beg for you to publicly make a stand on those issues.
You are all saying the Palestinian issue is not about your Muslim identity because it is not a religious issue.
Ok sure. So what then? What connects you to the Palestinians? Your humanity?
Because whether it is your Muslim identity or your humanity –
Where was it for your Muslim sisters begging for help in holding the perpetrators in our community accountable?
Where was your humanity for their dignity?
For real, go and reflect on your integrity and ask yourself some serious questions.
Cause if tomorrow, when a woman comes forward about her assault/harassment against a Malay/Muslim community or religious leader or anyone for that matter, I am hoping you will deliver the same energy that’s pouring out of this issue.
“Okay YES NOOR, you’ve made your point. We get it. But now what??? What happens next?”
Well remember I said I have good and bad truth bombs? The above were the bad ones.
Onto the good ones now. Pay attention.
The funny thing is, I was only meant to say the good news TODAY.
TODAY was the day we planned to share this AMAZINNNG update from the work in #MuslimMetoo.
But this whole thing blew up as well & sis needed to reframe the narrative.
However, if I were to reassess everything, it truly is a historic and remarkable step forward for our community.
Once I collated the data, we were able to derive the patterns of abuse in our community.
We were able to see how deep and embedded this web was. The good thing is, we live in Singapore and our Muslim population is not that massive. Still – the patterns and information we saw was staggering enough.
The best part? We have explicit details of who these people are, the positions they hold, the people they are connected to etc.
Of course we don’t have ALL of them. There is definitely many more out there who are not captured in this data but for now, the ones we have are enough to build a case with.
Not all of them are perpetrators. Many of them are enablers too. So they don’t commit the vile acts but they are very good buddies with those who do and are aware their good buddies have done such. You can usually identify these people by their victim blaming ie “these perpetrators were probably victims themselves…” etc
Fun fact: Most victims DO NOT end up becoming perpetrators – so please stop using this as an excuse.
Now, I could have easily gone public with my information.
And when i say public I dont mean Instastories.
I mean- renowned local and international media. I now wonder what would have happened if I did that but.. I guess what is happening right now would have happened back then.
I could have easily done that – sure. But I didnt.
Because I don’t want a temporary change – I want a permanent change right at the very core of the system that will not just have accountability for victims of #MuslimMeToo but even those that will come in the future when I am dead and gone.
REAL PERMANENT CHANGE has to come from within. If change only comes about because of media pressure or because we don’t want to look bad in front of people – then the leadership and management should be thrown out the window.
And as a member of this community, I wanted to believe that our Islamic leadership in Singapore was not the latter.
That if they knew the gravity of what we were dealing with, they WILL act.
To their credit, they wasted no time in arranging a meeting with me from my first email.
Although there are a number of people involved – I believe it is only safe for me to mention two names.
Our current Mufti Nazirudin and CEO Esa Masood.
For the last 6 months, myself and Shereen Williams have been sitting in back to back meetings working with MUIS to come up with a firm & solid sexual harassment process and policy that will be implemented across the board for our community.
The priority of this process is first and foremost the well-being of victims and second, the highest accountability of perpetrators and enablers. It includes trauma-informed support and therapy to victims of sexual harassment.
I wish I can share more about this incredible process and the highest level of accountability it’s been adhered to but I guess we will all have to wait for an official statement.
Regardless, I don’t know if you are comprehending how historic this is.
This is why I said today is a GREAT, HISTORIC day for our community.
All the details and names that we have with regards to the “MeWe” case and all other cases will go through this stringent process and these people WILL be held accountable – if not legally, institutionally.
Those of you who previously doubted the leadership in MUIS with regards to dealing with cases of sexual harassment, I don’t blame you.
Because of enough bad apples, the good ones get lumped in as well.
But throughout our meetings with MUIS in creating this process, many times Shereen and I were pleasantly surprised. Today, WE have a renewed sense of hope with the CURRENT leadership in MUIS under CE Esa Masood and Mufti Nazirudin because we witnessed first hand how seriously they take this issue.
Most if not all of our suggestions in improving the process was implemented without hesitation.
If they did not implement 100% of it, they would at least meet us halfway.
They took it so seriously that when they appointed the people who will be consulting with us, they gave us their names so Shereen and I can vet it and ensure that these people were not perpetrators in our data or have a history of defending perpetrators.
There is more I wish to share here but I can’t in order to not compromise the work we have done.
But I do want to say this. If you were doubtful of how they deal with such cases before, I can assure you that you don’t have to be now.
Mufti Nazirudin, CE Esa Masood and the people involved in this work(you know who you are) – Yall are the REAL OGs. Glad are the leaders we have today.
Number 10 – and FINALLY
Did I start this alone? Yes.
Could I have finished this alone? No way.
To the community at large:
This is not the end. The process won’t solve everything. The main game changer here is our culture.
THAT is what will end this once and for all. Currently, our culture on this issue as a Malay/Muslim community is way off the mark. It stinks of misogyny and enablers. It stinks of people protecting perpetrators. It stinks of you passing off sexual harassment as “alaa dia kan gurau aje” or “dia memang gitu lah”
Also, with all the names of enablers that I have, it stinks so bad to see some of them speaking about this or being thanked because they are speaking up when I know these very names were major obstacles in the #MuslimMeToo work and were trying to silence us. Like Bro…and Sis – where does your hypocrisy begin and where does it end?
And don’t even get me started on the victim-blaming. I am already seeing people excusing the perpetrators or posts like how painful a mother’s heart is because “one moment of folly will impact her son’s entire life”
Please seriously educate yourselves and your people. Your mothers, fathers, uncles, aunties, nieces, nephews, cousins – the whole clan. Start from your homes.
YOU need to start making changes. YOU need to step up. Correct the people who start victim-blaming.
Listen when women come forward. Believe victims. Read up on how sexual harassment works.
It is not ALWAYS about police and evidence.
Also, whoever you are- if you knew about this before but did not speak up then & you are only doing so now-
Because ultimately, this cause needs voices -not just the voice of victims but also allies.
Just don’t wait till it hits home for you to take a stand.
That is all I ask of you.
To the BeingBravelyWoman community:
Thank you. You guys were there from the very beginning – the women, girls, men and boys, all of you.
You amplified the work. You are a part of this history. Even if it was just one story you shared or one post. I don’t think you realised then what it meant for the cause but I hope you do now. I love you all. Thank you.
May Allah bless you always.
To Shereen Williams:
I don’t even know where to start. I am forever grateful and glad you. You dedicated your whole self to this when I asked. Your integrity is inspirational. People like you remind me there is hope in humanity and leaders.
Those of you who don’t know Shereen, click here.
She was doing this work long before I did in Wales, UK- where she lives… and still continues to.
(Side note: Did it seriously take 2 Singaporean women – one in Wales buried in snow, the other one in Oman, buried in sand – for us to reach this point????????)
Lastly, and most importantly, I saved you for the last.
To my dear sisters who came forward with your stories of abuse, assault & harassment.
I know this is about to sound like some soapy, sappy shiz but I don’t care.
I remember when I finalized 80% of the process with MUIS and when the meeting ended, I closed my laptop and wept. Like I am weeping now. It wasn’t just tears of gratitude but validation.
Because I remember the zoom meetings and phone calls with all of you, I remember your helplessness, your despair, your pain, your soul literally breaking apart..
I remember being a complete stranger and just sitting and crying with you.
I couldn’t do anything then except promise you that I will deliver some kind of justice or change or accountability.
And even then, I didnt know if I could deliver anything. I just knew something had to be done.
And I kept praying & asking Allah to help me fulfill that promise.
And Allah and Rasullullah be my witness, He did not let my promise die in vain.
Today is the day He delivered that promise. Today is a WIN.
Don’t let what is flaring up in social media now put you in despair. Shut down your social media for a few days.
Let this furore die down.
I will be contacting all of you individually very soon.
Bravely yours – always,