Tag Archives: Ludovic Mohamed Zahed

Number 1 Hero of the Year 2012: Malala Yousafzai

31 Dec
Number 1 Hero of 2012

Number 1 Hero of 2012

Even with all the wonderful nominations TSM received for Hero of the Year, the winner was clear from early on. No one received more nominations than Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. The final decisions were based on more than just votes, however. Yousafzai — a young woman of 15! — is a shining example of social justice. Having virtually no inherent power or privilege, she found her voice at the age of 11 and has used it to great effect.

All of the heroes and honorable mentions have made the world a better place. What sets Yousafzai apart is the very real risks she takes every day. She has less to start with and has put it all on the line, even suffering a potentially fatal gunshot wound from Taliban assassins.

Her mission is simple but powerful — every child in the world should have access to a reasonable education by 2015. Coming from a place that believes women should never be educated, she understands the power of learning and reading. Nurtured by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, also an education activist, she began blogging about conditions in her province for the BBC at age 11. She also attended a Peshawar press club event, getting rousing applause for her powerful question:

How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?

For her powerful voice, tireless activism, willingness to risk all, and youthful promise, TSM is proud to honor Malala Youfsazai as Hero of the Year.

Honorable mention for the top spot goes to another Muslim activist seeking change. Ludovic Mohammed Zahed started the Unity mosque in Paris, the first fully LGBT embracing house of Islamic worship. Zahed’s mission includes full inclusion for women and transgender worshippers. He’s another brilliant example of change from the grass roots and a great example of using personal power to change the world for everyone’s benefit.

Hero of the Week Award: December 7, Ludovic Mohamed Zahed

7 Dec
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Last week an impressive new mosque opened in Paris. Set up in the home of a Buddhist monk, the mosque is the first to be explicitly LGBT welcoming. It was founded by Ludovic Mohamed Zahed, a gay man born in Algeria who now lives in Paris with his husband. Named Unity, the mosque is explicitly established to address traditional taboos in Islam that serve to marginalize people. Zahed describes it as “radically inclusive.”

We need to have a safe space for people who do not feel comfortable and at ease in normal mosques. There are transgender people who fear aggression, women who do not want to wear head scarf or sit in the back of the mosque. This project gives hope back to many believers in my community. It is a safe place to worship.

Unity will invite women to lead prayers and will not segregate seating by gender, encouraging equality in participation and celebration. Zahed and his partners in the mosque — where he will be one of three imams — believe that their progressive approach is a true reflection of the founding pillars of Islam.

We have an embarrassment of riches in the HWA arena this week, with two honorable mentions. First, courtesy of TSM regular and my dear friend Nancy, is Rev. Bill Brennan, a Jesuit priest from Wisconsin. Father Brennan is a longtime peace and equality activist. This week he celebrated mass with a woman priest, violating Catholic doctrine. As a result, he has been sanctioned by the church and forbidden to celebrate the Eucharist. Congratulations to Father Brennan for standing up for human rights over outdated and bigoted codes of behavior.

We’re also happy to celebrate Marilyn McKenna from Washington. Her husband is Rob McKenna, the outgoing Republican state Attorney General who narrowly lost his bid for the Governor’s office last month. Rob has been a vocal opponent of the Boy Scouts’ discrimination, but came out against marriage equality during his campaign. As a delightful breath of fresh air, his wife stood up for equal rights in an editorial as Washington’s same-sex couples began to receive marriage licenses this week. We’ll let her words speak for themselves.

Marriage is a blessing, not a political issue. We do well to remember that everyone benefits when couples commit. … The Republican Party needs to get the hell out of people’s bedrooms and get a life!

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