“On a beach watching the waves or in the garden of my grandparents house in Algeria smelling Mesk Ellil and Jasmin” is where Maria likes to find herself. Maria is a 25 year old IT projects manager, she manages projects with a team of engineers to implement technology solutions like Microsoft products, cisco, and data centers. What I know Maria for though is her Islamic art which is inspired by Arabic calligraphy, Islamic geometry, Islamic pattern and berber (Tamazight) art. She’s constantly bettering herself in her art practice and hopes to one day make it her full time work. When I asked Maria if she feels visibly Muslim she told me, “I don’t wear the veil, so it’s hard to tell. People usually think I am Canadian or French; I get several nationalities from Argentinian, Greek, or even Israeli. But the moment people realize I am Algerian, I see a disappointment in their eyes, it’s not very exotic, I don’t really fulfill their stereotype image of an Algerian Muslim women.” I continued to ask Maria about stereotypes that Muslim women are subjected to and she made the comment, “I am not oppressed and I will not rely on any man to make my own decision. History showed us many great, smart, strong, and independent Muslim women who break stereotypes, from the wife of the prophet Khadidja who was a business women, to Fatema n’Soumer in Algeria who lead an army of men and fought against French colonialism, or Fatema al Fihri in Morroco who created the first university in the world. They are an inspiration for me as many other Muslim women who stand up against this oppression.”
What makes you laugh so much it hurts?
Cats or animals videos, I have a black cat named Jiji he makes me laugh so much when he does stupid things or when I play with him, I love animals, they can give so much love, I believe they deserve to be treated well and with dignity, this is why I decided to become vegetarian. I also believe that laughing is a cure for the heart; any occasion is good to have a crazy laugh with family or friends so much I cry.
What is your favourite quality about yourself?
I would say spontaneous, courageous and bold. I went through a lot to be where I am today, I believe these aspects of my personality helped me to go after my dreams and make them reality.
What is the best quality in someone else?
Open minded, honesty, compassionate and altruist. I will never be able to understand people who judge without knowing the person or believe there is only one way of thinking and it’s their way and they impose it on others, they need to accept that the beauty of human beings is in diversity. I also think compassion and altruism are very important. We need these to make this world better.
What is a fun fact about you that you haven’t told me yet?
When I was young my grandfather used to call me Whiskas like the cat from the commercial, I have cats eyes according to him. Also I love eating fruits skin like apples or pear or prune. Oh an I ride a bike for the first time of my life last summer.