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WRAP UP OF 2016 – AND WHAT A YEAR IT WAS!
2016 was the year for travel. I travelled to 36 events and conferences through the year. January started with a visit to Sweden where we screened Honor Diaries in the Swedish Parliament and paid tribute to the victims of honor killings. To say that I was frozen to the gills would be an understatement – shame on me as a Canadian but the cold was bone chilling. A learning lesson to wear more layers and never be arrogant as a Canuck that we can weather winter.
February was shock treatment as I found myself at a conference in San Antonio where the main agenda was to slam Islam and Muslims through the voices of ex-Muslims who were eager to comply. I consider this an exercise in patience and managed to keep my cool. It was harsher than the cold winds of Feb in Canada but a learning of higher tolerance.
In March I thawed by being on The Bill Maher show and getting dozens of emails as feedback. The cutest one was the son who shyly wrote and asked that his mother wants to know where I got my outfit! That made my day.
April was challenging again as I was invited on BBC Hardtalk. Now talk about being naive! I did not check previous Hardtalk episodes so I arrived with no idea of what the “hard” means. I sweated bricks but am told I stood my ground. It was a learning experience I will never forget.
In June I received an award from EMET at an amazing event. I learned that the work we do is not about numbers but about ideas. Its one heart at a time.
July and August were supposed to be quiet summer months but morphed into conferences and travel. In July I was speaker at an outdoor interfaith Skylight Festival in Paris, Ontario where I learned that music is one way to the heart and soul.
In August I found myself back in DC as a speaker for WAPPNA – Women Physicians of APPNA, an organization formed by women physician members of APPNA. This was the first time a group of Pakistanis had invited me and there were almost 1000 Pakistanis there. It was a great learning experience that to make a difference, we also have to work from within our own communities. (Not to mention the awesome shopping!)
September was unusually busy. First I travelled to Phoenix, Arizona to help train the Sheriffs Department on Honor Based Violence. Me and dozens of firefighters were a motley group. This was followed by being a keynote speaker at the ICCT conference in Herzliya, Israel after which I did a short stint in Jerusalem which is of course the spiritual kick.
Then I was privileged to travel with Daniel Pipes and a group of people on a fact-finding educational tour of Europe which included Paris, Berlin and Stockholm. And what a learning this was to see firsthand what challenges Europe faces.
In September hubby and I taught an 8-week course at Ryerson called “Islam and the 21st. Century”. We focused on the truth, good bad and ugly and the responses were challenging and educational.
October highlight was to host Maajid Nawaz at an MFT event and spend some quality time getting to learn what Quilliam does. In October I was invited to UK to speak with The British Parliament for them to learn about the sharia debate in Ontario. Some amazing legislation results are being considered.
November was busy as we were invited on a Rebel cruise hosted by Ezra Levant, where once again we spoke on panels and spent a lot of time bridging the gap with Canadians from New Finland to British Columbia. I learnt that Canada is the largest exporter of lentils and that we will never starve as long as we know how to cook them.
December took me to Berlin to attend CWFF2016 where I spoke after the screening of Pakistani film Dukhtar. We did our Christmas shopping at the market which became a target for terror a week after we were at the exact same spot.
I also took a fall in Berlin which I had no time to recover from because as soon as we got back to Toronto, my grandsons came to stay for one week while their parents moved homes. Had to re-learn making lunches, ironing uniforms and doing homework – all of which was so much fun that I am ready to do it again! I learned that no matter how busy we are, grand children are the therapy we need and the joy of our lives.
End of December found us back in UK at Limmud2016 which is ALL about learning and was a profound experience. We made three joint presentations, two individual and showed one film. I saw Hummus – the Movie and loved it.
On a personal note, 2016 was very fulfilling but also marred with many terror incidents globally.
I managed to attend the Sufi Dergah frequently and inspired by spirituality, I managed to complete my transscript for “How to be a Spiritual Activist” (should be out sometime this year). End of 2016 also brought us Trump and the hysteria surrounding the election. It was hard to hold a civil conversation.
Tomorrow? Who knows what tomorrow will bring so my hope for the future is that Western leaders recognize the concept of global jihad and are willing to deal with it without political correctness.