“Nothing is off topic. Nothing is off the table,” says Hana Assafiri, owner of an Australian café Moroccan Deli-cacy where an unusual event takes place every month. Ms. Assafiri is the founder of Speed Dates A Muslim, a free event taking place in her café where the public is invited to ask frank questions of Muslim women. No, it doesn’t involve actual dating but is meant to be “informal and informative — a forum for confronting fear, opening conversations and breaking down stereotypes while breaking bread” (per the New York Times).
Questions range from Ramadan (“Do you just pig out?”) to wearing hijab (“Do you have beautiful, long hair under there?”) to confronting xenophobia (“What can I do to be more welcoming to you, if I saw you on the street?”) to extremism (“Why do they say they’re doing this for Allah?”) and also, domestic violence. Near the end of the session, an audience member asked if any of the women had directly experienced Islamophobia. “My 10-year-old daughter gets harassed,” said Ms. Sabbagh who wears the hijab. “Somebody calls her a terrorist and says to her, ‘We saw which house you came out of. We’re going to kill you.’ I’m from Syria. People don’t need to tell us what ISIS is doing. We are at the receiving end of ISIS.
Ms. Assafiri says she started Speed Date a Muslim with the idea that “most people are decent, and that when we do humanize one another’s issues, we do all walk away a little more changed and accepting.”