Muslim Women Video Breaking Prayer Barrier

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Ani Zonneveld, President of Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), posted a video of a woman leading a prayer at the MPV Unity Mosque in Los Angeles, CA. Two weeks and a million views from all over the world later, the video has caused a stir with an 86 percent thumbs down rating. 80 percent of all viewers are men.

Muslim singer, song writer Ani Zonneveld

Muslim singer, song writer Ani Zonneveld

Muslims are yearning for a space where families can pray together, where the only factor that matters is our humanity, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

Progressive Muslim speaker, Ani Zonneveld addresses the Honoring Women's Rights conference in Salinas, CA on Sept 8, 2012. Her talk on being a singer-songwriter, "I am Sexier Than Brittany Spears," refers to the sexualization of a women’s voice in Islam, might get upstaged by a video she posted on YouTube. The video shows a woman leading a prayer during a service at the Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) Unity Mosque in Los Angeles. The prayer held on August 19th, marked the end of Ramadan, one of the holiest months in the Muslim calendar. The video immediately went viral. Within two weeks it passed a million views.

The prayer video garnered the ire of 86 percent of the viewers, 80 percent of whom are men using cell phones in 158 countries. The reaction was so negative and disturbing; Zonneveld had to remove the comments from YouTube. “The comments left gave me a clear indication of the intolerant mindset— I should have expected this response outside of the progressive Muslim community,” said Zonneveld. She went on to say, “The point is to offer an alternative way of worship. Muslims are yearning for a space where families can pray together, where the only factor that matters is our humanity, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. To many people, the values of egalitarianism and inclusivity are threatening to their privileged status.”

Ms. Zonneveld is co-founder and president of a national grass-roots organization, Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV). In conjunction with MPV, she is co-chief editor of Progressive Muslim Identities-Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada and is an advocate of the arts for social change.

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Video posted at http://bit.ly/womenpray
MPV website at http://www.mpvusa.org
Ani Zonneveld personal website: http://a-n-i.net
General Admission tickets on sale through http://www.honoringwomensrights.org
http://www.nationalwca.org; Women’s Caucus for Art creates community through art, education, and social activism.
http://www.steinbeck.org; National Steinbeck Center inspires people to make a positive difference in our world, 1 Main Street, Salinas, Monterey County, CA

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Susan Kraft
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