Who I am

My name is Sumaya Abdel Qader.

I grew up in the hills of Umbria till I was twenty years old when I moved to Milan to follow my love and to study at the University.

I am married to Abdallah and together we have three splendid children.

My first degree is in biology because my first passion for knowledge was science. But I also sought degrees in the humanities as I majored in linguistics and cultural mediation at the University of Milan and in Sociology Magna cum laude at the University of Milan-Bicocca.

What do I do?

Since 1998, I have been working on: immigration, second generation (sons of immigrant), interculturalism and multiculturalism, cultural processes, fighting violence against women, gender discrimination, youth, religions and interreligious dialog, Islam and Muslims, Middle East.

In all these activities, I am constantly in collaboration with universities and other schools.

Over the years, I have also worked in a variety of public and private institutions as a lecturer, a trainer and as spokesperson/rapporteur.

More recently, I have found it necessary to deal also with Hate Speech and fake news because they represent behavior and practices that are dangerous and capable of doing irreparable damage to our society spreading hatred that can only incite people to commit violence against individuals perceived as the symbolic “other” that does not belong among us.

I have grown up in Muslim communities both in Italy and the rest of Europe. In those communities, I have always occupied positions of leadership among organizations that deal with youth and women.

In the last few years, these activities have allowed me to contribute in ways that help those communities develop a variety of projects such as avenues to contrast violence against women and discrimination of women in all areas of life always in support of activities aimed at discovering and promoting new mechanisms that would allow women to reach a greater sense of self-awareness leading to emancipation and self-determination.

I contribute to several Blogs, especially “The New City” (“La città Nuova”) which runs in the Corriere della Sera.

In 2008, I published my first book, “I Wear the Veil and I adore The Queen” (“Porto il velo, adoro i Queen”) from which the documentary-film “Porto ilVelo” (I wear the Veil) was inspired.

My favorite pastime is cooking. I love to cook, I enjoy entertaining relatives and friends around a table filled with good food because food spells conviviality, friendship, sharing and makes us all happy. With my friend Alia, a Swiss architect, we edit and promote the website the Perfumes of Damascus (Profumi di Damasco) and the corresponding page on Facebook.

Besides my passion for cooking, I love to read and travel for the purpose mostly to meet interesting people and learn their cultures, all things that lead me to contemplate and nourish my hope in a better and more hopeful appreciation of nature.

I live a profound spiritual dimension that guides me in making my choices in life and to overcome even the most difficult moments that may come along from time to time.

In 2016, at the time of the administrative elections in the city of Milan, I accepted the offer of the Democratic Party to join them as an independent candidate for the Milan City Council in the list of the PD. I had never participated in politics in quite that way before, and I decided to try to see if, on the inside of a system, so to speak, it is possible to gain a greater understanding and to be able to change some of the dynamics of that system and thus contribute to making life better for all citizens.

Thanks to the support of many, I won the election with over a thousand preferences over other candidates. In my role as a new member of the council, I work in City Hall and participate in the activities of the following Commissions:

I am Vice President of the Commission on Culture, Fashion and Design, Vice President of the Citizen Participation Commission –  a Popular Initiative – Open Data, Commission for Equal Opportunities and Civil Rights, International  Affairs Commission and European Post Expo Politics, the Commission on Private Urban Construction (Urbanistics) within the Milanese Agricultural System, the Commission on Mobility, Transportation, Environmental Policies, Civil Protection, Animals and Vegetation, as well as the Commission on the Safeguard of Suburbs, the Commission on Social Policies, Health Services, Volunteering, the Commission on Education and University Research.

The motto that guides and motivates my choices in life has always been: Pursue knowledge that enables the building of bridges.

I am unmistakably an optimist, a person who is totally convinced that everything is possible.


 

Translation by Vittorio Felaco