fc7d76f94d868210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q3Faces of the conferenceec7d76f94d868210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____Faces of the conference<p>The challenges facing Muslims in Germany are typical of those in other countries in Western Europe - a continuous pressure to integrate into society, coupled with discrimination that prevents people from doing so, said Betul Yilmaz, a German activist of Turkish origin.
Ms Yilmaz, co-founder of the website Muslim Voices - www.muslimische-stimm.de - said even as she was in Kuala Lumpur attending the WISE conference her activist friends at home were organising demonstrations to push Islamophobia to the front of the German government's agenda.
"I was born and raised in Germany, yet I always hear things like 'your culture' and 'you people'," she said. "It's hard to get my strong German identity recognised for what it is.
"And I know so many highly accomplished and brilliant Muslim women who simply cannot find jobs because no one will employ them."
The issue made the headlines this month when an Egyptian woman was stabbed to death inside a packed German courthouse. Although activists are still gathering statistics to make a case to the government, the incident has sparked major debate about Islamophobia and racism in Germany.</p>
<p>Shahana Agha, a Pakistani, lives in Abu Dhabi with her husband. She is a volunteer worker who helps and raises funds for disabled children, and went to the conference as an observer in the hopes of finding a new project to support.
"It's very interesting to see the different issues that women around the world face, and listen to the exchange of ideas and experiences," she said.
The flow of ideas since WISE began last Thursday has already inspired her. She now hopes to use music to help change how Muslim women are perceived in the West.
"I'm thinking of this idea of putting together a music tour with female Muslim musicians to perform in western countries. It would be a great idea of bring them to Abu Dhabi too."</p>
<p>Many Muslim women in China do not experience many of the challenges that have been discussed at WISE, said delegate Li Shuhuan.
Mrs Shuhuan, 25, grew up in Xianjiang province and is now studying for a degree in ideological political education at Nanjing University of Technology. She believes that China has developed an unfair reputation in western media about the way minorities are treated.
"Gender equality was really the rule under communism, and women or minority rights are not issues in China," she said. "We don't even have the word 'feminist' in our language." She declined to comment on the recent riots in Xianjiang.
Mrs Shuhuan and her husband said Muslims in China had a sort of spiritual awakening, a period of self-reflection, after the attacks in the US on September 11, 2001. Since then, there have been about 30 Muslim magazines launched, compared with three or four before the attacks.</p>