Some people will say to me, you know, Your English is really good. MUNISE KIRKCU, WAITRESSSome people really cant hack that I speak English. HANA ASSIFIRIVery quickly, I stopped any expression that showed my difference, to the point that I stopped speaking altogether, uh..an entire year.(SPEAKS ARABIC) Tiny bit on cumin. NARRATORHana was born into a Muslim family in Australia. When she was four, her father moved the family to Lebanon. Women were trained to cook and trained to cook in almost an innate way, like a language. WOMAN 1I think having these conversations with others. HANA ASSIFIRISo, you know, people then say, Oh, youre preaching to the converted, and na-na-na. So, you were getting to a place where you accepted it?
HANA ASSIFIRIAnd he was constantly seeking the betterment for the family, so he was constantly on the move, moving to Turkey, trying to find employment, going back to Morocco, trying to find employment, going to Germany, and all the while they left us in Lebanon in circumstances that were extraordinarily unsafe, and unsafe not only in terms of the environment and wars, but even basic, um...things like food, shelter all of a sudden became high stakes and, as a kid, you had to fend for the family. This will be a space where all those frustrations can shape whatever it becomes and all those women that we cant service and cant support, therell be, rather than just intellectual and theoretical options, these will be practical. And it became such a cultural mix of women, women that I never thought... MANAL SHEHABDid your husband force you to wear that? Can you tell me a bit about that, what that means for you? So, they were almost going through the checklist of, But who made you wear it?
It didnt matter the embarrassment and its where I felt free and its where I felt, um... People have come from all over Melbourne for the non-dating speed dating. Anyway, I soon found out it had nothing to do with it. HANA ASSIFIRIIm just thinking, how do you manage these two potentially extremely different points of view in an environment where theres 50 other people and youre inviting people into your space to say, We are beyond the stereotype. MANAL SHEHABHana came up and she had a piece of paper and shes just doodling on this paper very slowly and she says, Hows everything going here? HANA ASSIFIRIAnd I said So, have you chatted about ISIS yet? MANAL SHEHABAnd she said, uh, Manal, what do you have to say about that?
NARRATORYoung and vulnerable, Hana couldnt see a way out. HANA ASSIFIRIThe kids were 14 and 15 and I sat there in class and I felt like the oldest person, but it was so important for me, um..be in a classroom with other kids... We deliberately called it speed date because it conjures up positive attitudes. But when I say, Get to know a Muslim, you go, Really? NARRATORToday, a suburb away from the Soup Bar, the Moroccan Deli is filling up. HUSNA PASHAWhen my friend actually told me it was called Speed Date a Muslim, I actually felt like saying to her, Well, I cant go because Im married. WOMAN 1You cant tell a Muslim male you wont be able to identify him. MANAL SHEHABEveryones talking loud and theres food going and coming and I really felt out of place. MANAL SHEHABHes wearing a full-on Australian hat like Molly Meldrum with the little corks!
NARRATORThere was a time when Hana didnt speak English. HANA ASSIFIRII really wasnt sure what the place would become. I would not set up such an event in a really hostile environment. But it is the converted that will form coalitions and will drag the rest of Australia kicking and screaming to a place that is more humane.
NARRATORHana takes every opportunity to spread the word about upcoming projects close to her heart. It could be a space for women to sell spices, or sew.
She only employs women here, and all the women are Muslim.