Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Submit and spread the word about AQSAzine Issue #4 Ancestors and Descendants

Call for Submissions AQSAzine Issue #4 Ancestors and Descendants


Dear family, sisters, brothers, allies and revolutionaries


Submit and spread the word about AQSAzine Issue #4  Ancestors and Descendants "Where'd you come from/Where are you going?"

Why Submit?

Because you cannot but know what your roots are, where you came from and how you came to be. Because you cannot be present here without knowing about "back there". Because you have yet to learn who your ancestors are and what were their journeys. Because you want to carry forward the stories of your great grandparents. Because you want to share your origins with your children. Because sometimes its too painful to know and other times its all that you know.

Because your history has been submerged, erased, disjointed or cut off you. Because you want to understand how your present came to be. Because underneath all the silence is a rich history of lessons learnt that would be helpful in guiding you. Because you are proud of your lineage. Because the question of where you are from is complicated and a simple answer boxes you in. Because your history is multidimensional just like your identity. Because you fear that you are losing your connection to home through language, memories, stories. Because your descendants might have all your struggles in common.


Types of Submissions: 
  • Stories (fiction or non fiction);
  • Poetry;
  • Artwork;
  • Graphic arts;
  • Photography;
  • Visuals;
  • Media reviews;
  • Interviews
  • Any other form of personal art or writing under 1,500 words

Confidentiality: Submissions will not be reprinted without the author's permission. You can use your first and/or last name, a pen name, or even remain completely anonymous. We want you to feel safe in making a contribution.

Send us your submissions with short bio along with questions, resources, information to aqsazine at gmail.com

AQSAzine is a grassroots zine open to 16-35 year old women and trans people who self-identify as Muslim. It is a creative avenue for us to express ourselves, share our experiences, and connect with others. We strive to work from a feminist, anti-oppressive, pro-choice, queer and trans positive framework.

Peace, love and hugs

AQSAzine Team

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

URGENT APPEAL: All Women Should Have Access to Justice!

URGENT APPEAL: All Women Should Have Access to Justice!

Dear AQSAziners,

Thank you for all your hard work on the No Bill 94 Campaign.

We are now facing a related rights issue in Ontario and urgently need your help. This week the Ontario Court of Appeal will be hearing the case R. v. N.S. The case involves a Muslim woman who alleges that she was sexually abused by two family members when she was a child. The two accused men object to the victim’s wearing of the niqab while she gives evidence in Court. The Ontario Court of Appeal is deciding whether she can wear the niqab when she testifies. We are asking No Bill 94 Coalition members to write to your local, provincial and national media outlets to express your support of women’s right to access justice regardless of her religious beliefs and choice of dress. Also please contact your local Member of Provincial Parliament to express your concern about the impact that this case will have on women’s access to justice. You can find their contact information here: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/members/members_current.do?locale=en

Key Points to Include:

• Condemn any action that re-victimizes women who have been sexually assaulted. The effect of ordering N.S. to remove her niqab in order to testify at a sexual assault trial in which she is the victim is literally to strip off her clothing in open court, while she describes the intimate details of her sexual abuse.

• The denial of her right to wear the niqab to access justice is unacceptable considering that N.S.’s choice of clothing is deeply personal and religious in nature.

• All sexual assault complainants, regardless of how they express their religious beliefs, should have access to justice without having to relive being forcibly uncovered.

• The wider debate over the wearing of the niqab should have no bearing on the right to equal access to justice for sexual assault complainants who hold a religious belief that wearing a niqab is a requirement of their faith.

• Any decision that forces a sexual assault victim to remove the niqab creates a barrier to justice and a real risk that an already marginalized group of women will be shut out of the Canadian justice system and left without its protection.

• The implication of this case for women who wear the niqab is significant. This case provides a vital opportunity for the Court to be vigilant in the protection of victim’s rights and to ensure that discriminatory barriers to the reporting and prosecution of sexual assault are not created or reinforced for women who wear the niqab.

For more information see:


Monday, May 17, 2010

Sample Letter to Jean Charest on Bill 94

Email Jean Charest and co tomorrow to express your outrage at the proposed bill 94. For contact information go here http://nonbill94.wordpress.com/contacts-talking-points/

May 18, 2010
CC: Yolande James, Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities

CC: Kathleen Weil, Minister of Justice

CC: Christine St-Pierre Minister of Culture

CC: Prime Minister Stephen Harper

CC: Michael Ignatieff, M.P., Liberal Leader

To the Honorable Premier Jean Charest,

I am writing to express my opposition to Bill 94. I strongly condemn Bill 94, which will deny all public services including essential social services, health care, education and employment to those wearing facial coverings. In particular, this bill will discriminate against Muslim women wearing niqab (face veil) by infringing upon their basic right of religious freedom and their democratic right to full civic participation.
Bill 94 is promoted as legislation that reflects a secular Quebec. However, a secular society does not preclude the freedom of religious expression, which is enshrined in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Bill 94 is also touted as a legislated step toward gender equality in Quebec. This cannot be further from the truth. If the rights of women are truly a concern, the government of Quebec should focus on implementing programs to address real gender inequality such as poverty reduction programs and education initiatives. Barring a woman from social services, employment, health and education, as well as creating a climate of shame and fear around her is not an effective way to help her empower herself. Nor will it end gender inequality.

Bill 94 is a clearly discriminatory measure that will target a small number of Muslim women who wear the niqab in Quebec, many of whom are already under the pressure of discrimination in the context of heightened racism and misunderstanding in a post 9-11 world. Now more than ever it is essential that Quebec hold true to its claims of democracy and equality, and find ways to embrace difference rather than to exclude it.

Bill 94 has no place in a democratic society that claims to value women’s autonomy, liberty and justice. A truly democratic society is one in which all individuals have the freedom of expression and a right to access public services.
I will not allow my government to deny essential services to women based on what they wear. I demand that Bill 94 be withdrawn immediately and not passed by the National Assembly of Quebec.



Saturday, May 15, 2010

Take Action on May 18th, Say NO to Bill 94! Participate in the action wherever you are.

Will you allow your government to deny essential services to women based on what they wear?

Take Action on May 18th, Say NO to Bill 94! Participate in the action wherever you are.

Will you allow your government to deny essential services to women based on what they wear?

Take Action on May 18th! Say NO to Bill 94! Participate in the action wherever you are.

Bill 94 is proposed legislation in Quebec, which if approved, would deny essential government services, public employment, educational opportunities, and health care to Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil).

Take Action to defend women’s access to public services.
Take Action to support women’s rights and freedoms in Canada.
Take Action to stop Bill 94 from becoming law.

Join the Non/No 94 Movement for a Day of Action, to coincide with the proposed Bill 94 hearings on May 18th:

Speak up! Write, email, phone, fax Quebec Premier Jean Charest, along with Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities Yolande James, Minister of Justice Kathleen Weil, and Minister of Culture, Communications & the Status of Women Christine St-Pierre to voice your concern regarding the discriminatory Bill 94. CC us at nonbill94@gmail.com along with your Member of Parliament, Member of the Legislative Assembly, and Member of Provincial Parliament. You can also send a message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff, M.P., Liberal Leader. Contact information for the above can be found here:

Organize! Endorse the No Bill 94 Coalition’s statement found herehttp://nonbill94.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/hello-world/. Circulate this call to action widely to your networks. Have conversations with them about your concerns about Bill 94 and refer them to articles on the proposed legislation. And sign the petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/nonbill94/

Get Creative! Host an action in your community, make a video, hold a press conference, run a workshop, throw call-in parties, letter-writing events & blogathons, to ensure that our voices are heard. Email us your creations and actions at nonbill94@gmail.com

Use Media! Use social media outlets. Make your profile pic to one found here:http://nonbill94.wordpress.com/resources. Change your facebook status to or tweet - “Will you allow your government to deny services like emergency health care, education, legal assistance & day care to women based on what they wear? TAKE ACTION on May 18! Say No to Bill 94!.”Post and re-post interesting articles talking about Bill 94 anywhere you can – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, e-newsletters, etc.

See http://nonbill94.wordpress.com for more information 

The No Bill 94 Coalition is endorsed by: Assaulted Women's and Children's Counselor/Advocate Program at George Brown College, AQSAzine, The Centre for Women and Trans People University of Toronto, Ryerson Students' Union, The Centre for Women and Trans People York University, Coalition of concerned women of Kitchener Waterloo, The Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, Frontline Partners with Youth Network, The Miss G__ Project for Equity in Education, Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children, Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, Muslim Students' Association here at the University of Toronto The Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Newcomer Women's Services Toronto, Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group, Ontario Women's Justice Network, Ontario Public Interest Research Group York, Ontario Public Interest Research Group University of Toronto, Ontario Public Interest Group Kingston, Quebec Public Interest Research Group McGill, Parkdale Community Legal Services, The Simone de Beauvoir Institute, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, Springtide Resources, Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Toronto Women of Colour Collective, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, Canadian Arab Federation, York Federation of Students, University of Toronto Students’ Union

Friday, May 7, 2010

Submissions Call for Artists & Performers for Profile This! My Islam Deadline May 21st

Call for Artists & Performers for Profile This! launch of AQSAzine Issue #3 My Islam June 16th
Submission Deadline is May 21st Please spread the word!

AQSAzine is looking for self-identified Muslim women and trans people to showcase their talents in music, spoken word, dance, poetry, comedy, art, performance art etc. for Profile This! My Islam on Wednesday June 16th from 6-8 pm at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It is a FREE event hosted in partnership with The AGO Youth Council and AQSAzine.

Submission Guidelines:
*For visual pieces, please email photo(s)
*For spoken word/poetry, please email a text document of the piece(s) you would like to read
*For dance pieces please email link or Youtube video you would like to perform
*For musical performances, please email a link or mp3 of the song(s) you are interested in performing
*For video/multi-media pieces, please email a link or media file
*For all submission please include logistical restrictions and/or any required equipment

NOTE: Pieces do not have to specifically address themes of identity or religion. Multiple pieces can be submitted for consideration. Artists will have an opportunity to sell their work or CDs etc. All pieces (not for sale and unsold) will be returned at the end of the night.

All submissions should be sent to aqsazine@gmail.com by a May 21st. Please contact us if you are having trouble with sending submissions. We will let you know if we are able to show your piece(s) and/or give you a performance slot.

AQSAzine is a grassroots arts collective of 16-30ish year old women and trans people who identify as Muslim. It is a creative avenue to express ourselves, share our experiences, and connect with others. Profile This! My Islam is the launch of AQSAzine Issue #3. It will be an inspiring event showcasing visual art, readings, multi-media and musical performances by Muslim young women and trans people as well as have art making workshops.

The application deadline for artists, performers and volunteers is Friday, May 21st, 2010.

For any further information:
Contact us at aqsazine@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter: AQSAzine
Add us on Faceboo Aqsa Zine

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AQSAzine Retreat May 30th

AQSAzine Retreat Converse, Create, Conspire with us

Sunday May 30th 11:00am - 7:00 pm

Writing, Art, Radio, Silk Screening, Poetry Workshops
Shared Learning
Recreational sports (soccer?!)
Good Eats

Free event with TTC, lunch, dinner included
Child care available on request (contact us at least two days in advance)

The retreat will be a relaxed, creative, confidential, safer space that we can leave our fears at the door and chill with one another. It willl be a place for us to explore our voices, get to know one another and create. We will conspire, plan, and dream about collaborations i.e. actions, blog, zine, radio show, film screenings, art etc.

Register at aqsazine at gmail.com

AQSAzine Retreat is open to 16-35 year old women and trans people who self identify as Muslim. Please invite friends and family.

AQSAzine collective strives to create spaces where self-identified Muslim women and trans people regardless of race, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, sect, mode of dress, religiosity, gender identity, class can feel comfortable.

Funding for the retreat is provided by ArtReach Toronto

Friday, April 9, 2010

NO to Quebec Provincial Bill 94

NO to Quebec Provincial Bill 94
Statement by No Bill 94 Coalition

Quebec Premier Jean Charest has proposed legislation which, if approved by the National Assembly of Quebec, would deny essential government services, public employment, educational opportunities, and health care to people who wear facial coverings. Bill 94 specifically targets Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil). The bill is an exaggerated response to a manufactured crisis that will allow the government to deny women services to which they are entitled. A truly democratic society is one in which all individuals have the freedom of religious expression and a right to access public services.

Although touted as a step toward gender equality, Bill 94, if approved, will perpetuate gender inequality by legislating control over women’s bodies and sanctioning discrimination against Muslim women who wear the niqab. Instead of singling out a minuscule percentage of the population, government resources would be better spent implementing poverty reduction and education programs to address real gender inequality in meaningful ways. Barring any woman from social services, employment, health, and education, as well as creating a climate of shame and fear around her is not an effective means to her empowerment. If Premier Charest’s government is truly committed to gender equality it should foster a safe and inclusive society that respects a woman’s right to make decisions for herself. Standing up for women’s rights is admirable. “Rescuing” women is paternalistic and insulting. Further marginalizing Muslim women who wear niqab and denying them access to social services, economic opportunities and civic participation is unacceptable.

Forcing a woman to reveal part of her body is no different from forcing her to be covered. Both the federal Conservative and Liberal parties have expressed support for Bill 94, which raises the very real possibility that similar legislation will be proposed across Canada. We demand that Bill 94 be withdrawn immediately, as it has no place in a democratic state that values autonomy, liberty and justice.
No Bill 94 Coalition is made up of concerned individuals, organizations and grassroots movements that are demanding that the proposed Quebec legislation, Bill 94, be withdrawn immediately.

We invite all individuals and groups of conscience inside and outside of Quebec to publicly or privately endorse this statement by emailing their name(s), location (city, state/province, and country), and contact information to nonbill94@gmail.com. For more information please http://nonbill94.wordpress.com or join the facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=115876751763202&ref=ts

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Are We Equal? Muslim girls and boys in conversation

In 2008, Riverdale Immigrant Womens Centre (RIWC) in Toronto embarked on an exciting Healthy, Equal Relationship project for Muslim youth funded by the Ontario Womens Directorate for the 2008/09 school year. This initiative aimed to provide youth with the tools and opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of inequality, and to reduce inequality across genders among middle-school students.

The project resulted in a larger documentary called "Are we equal?: Muslim girls and boys in Conversation", which explores the relationships between Muslim boys and girls as well as issues such as racism, family, peer pressure, etc. that impact this gender dynamics.

This short film clip was directed by Sidrah Laldin

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

AQSAzine on the air

AQSAzine participated in a town hall meeting at CBC studios entitled moving beyond stereotypes of family violence in South Asian communities in the Greater Toronto Area.

Action Alert: Nazia Quazi

"A Canadian woman being held against her will in Saudi Arabia says the Canadian government is not taking her plight seriously.
Nazia Quazi was taken to Saudi Arabia by her father in November 2007. Because of that country’s archaic gender laws, women of any age are subject to male “guardianship.” In the 24-year-old Quazi’s case, her father has taken her passport, and refuses to sign an exit visa allowing her to leave the country…
Her family moved to Canada in 2001, although Quazi says her father has maintained a residence in Saudi Arabia, where he works for a bank, for 25 years. Quazi went to high school in Canada and became a citizen in 2005.
In 2007 she traveled on holiday to Dubai to visit her boyfriend. But when her parents learned of the trip, they flew to Dubai to intervene. Her father took her to India, and then to Saudi Arabia on a three-month visa. But, without her knowledge or consent, Quazi’s father changed the visa to a permanent visa.
Ever since, she says, she has been pleading with the Canadian embassy to intervene, but has gotten next to no response.
“When I try to contact them, I don’t get a positive response of any kind. They always say, ‘we’re still trying, we haven’t heard anything yet, but when we do we will let you know.’ There’s never a real straight-up answer to me, to my face. I’m just waiting for them to do something, waiting for something to happen.
…Citing privacy law, a spokesperson with the ministry of foreign affairs declined to comment specifically on Quazi’s case, but said the Canadian consulate in Saudi Arabia is aware of a Canadian citizen’s request for help and is “taking steps” to provide that help.
But a two-year-plus wait for resolution to Quazi’s case has raised accusations that the Harper government is not supportive of women generally"
Get involved:  If you’re Canadian, get involved in this Human Rights Watch campaign. If you’re not, you can still write a polite note to the Foreign Secretary to express your concern and urge prompt action:
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Email: Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca
Also, you can write the Saudi ambassador to the US:
Adel A. Al-Jubeir
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Avenue
Washington, DC 20037
And to the Saudi Ambassador to Canada:
Mr. Asaad Al-Zuhair
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
99 Bank Street Suite 901, ,br/> Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1P 6B9
Join the ‘Help Nazia Quazi Come Back to Canada’ Facebook page to show your support and keep up with the latest developments"

Also Thea Lim has written a amazing article on Nazia check it out at  http://www.racialicious.com/2010/03/25/action-alert-nazia-quazi/. Thanks for the shout out Thea.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Read Your Poetry, Spoken Word, Prose at at Pride Toronto 2010

100% Halal Love

AQSAzine has been asked to host part of Proud Voices, Pride Toronto's Reading Stage on July 3rd from 2 pm - 3 pm.  We are looking for Muslim women and trans people who are interested in reading thier writing, prose, poetry and spoken word at the event. You can read one piece or more.

***You will recieve a small honarium and some swag for your performance.

Email us if you are interested at aqsazine at gmail.com

Monday, January 18, 2010

Come to the AQSAzine Writers Salon Feb 3!

Submission Deadline for AQSAzine Issue #3 My Islam is fast approaching

Want to submit to AQSAzine but nervous about your work? Come to our Writers Salon! Share your work and get peer support

Feb 3rd, at the Centre for Women and Trans People University of Toronto 563 Spadina Avenue, Room 100 6 -8 pm

AQSAzine Writers' Salon will be a opportunity for Muslim women and trans people to spend a evening together focusing on our writing and art. It will be a supportive environment in which we can provide one another with peer feedback and support to create stronger pieces for submission to AQSAzine Issue #3. Information on submission guidelines here http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=196859307298&index=1

Please bring any form of writing, poetry or article you are interested in having in the zine. Even if you don't want to submit but want to share you work you are welecomed to attend.

Free event! TTC and food provided

The writers salon is open to Muslim women or trans people (16 -35). Whether you are practicing or non-practicing, culturally, politically, spiritually or religiously identify as a Muslim person, are Sunni, Shi’a, Ismaili, Ahmadiyya, Sufi, or another denomination. AQSAzine strives to work from an anti oppressive framework.

The AQSAzine Creative Workshop Series is sponsored by ArtReach Toronto www.artreachtoronto.ca. Workshops will be happening throughout2010. Look out for: spoken word, radio documentary, screenprinting, journalism & poetry workshops by and for US!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Create the Hype! AQSAzine FREE Journalism Workshop Feb 6th in Toronto

Feb 6th 11 - 4 pm. Email us aqsazine @ gmail.com  for location details!

The FREE Create the Hype Workshop in Toronto will provide Muslim women and trans people the opportunity share and build skills in creating our own media. It will include a discussion on the public media we consume, problems of representation and voice, and how we can create our own media.

Produce your own news story or other form of audio from start to finish: starting with developing a story idea and how to conduct an interview through to recording, editing and uploading it to a blog.

No technical or journalism experience required. Feel free to bring music, audio clips, newspaper articles or other source information for the workshop.

TTC, light lunch and materials provided!

Workshop open to Muslim women and trans people under 30. Space is limited please R.S.V.P by January 25th at aqsaworkshops@gmail.com

Get Skills In
  •  introductory media analysis
  • story development (including finding stories, identifying people or groups to speak with, determining your audience, etc)
  • preparing for and conducting an interview (including designing questions)
  • how to use a digital recorder
  • transferring data to computers
  •  basic digital editing and some multi-track editing
  • how to upload content to a blog
Facilatator Bio: Sayyida Khatija has been involved in campus and community radio for over 5 years in Kingston, Ontario as a volunteer programmer and worker. She participated in social justice news collective, Groundswell, for 3 years, co-developed the current news collective, Alternative Frequency, and has also produced various programs focusing on race and racism. Sayyida is active in No One is Illegal, the AKA Autonomous Social Centre, and Islamic History Month in Kingston.

AQSAzine is a grassroots arts collective of 16-35 year old women and trans people who self-identify as Muslim. Our workshop series will be happening throughout 2010. Look out for: spoken word, radio documentary, screen printing, journalism, poetry workshops. The AQSAzine Workshop Series is sponsored by ArtReach Toronto http://www.artreachtoronto.ca/

Cannot attend the workshops but want to participate? Submit to AQSAzine Issue #3 http://aqsazine.blogspot.com/2009/12/submit-to-aqsazine-issue-3-my-islam.html

Peace, love and hugs
AQSAzine Team

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AQSAZINE is a grassroots zine open to 16-35 year old people who self-identify as Muslim. It is a creative avenue for us to express ourselves, share our experiences, and connect with others. In Arabic, "aqsa" implies the furthermost, as in reaching out to the furthest possible point. AQSAZINE aims to motivate the utmost resistance to violence in all its forms. 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez, who was murdered on December 10th, 2007, also inspires this zine. It is to honour her and other Muslims who experience and resist violence. We strive to work from a feminist, anti-oppressive framework.