Ani Zonneveld - Founder and President
Ani Zonneveld is a writer, singer/songwriter, founder and President of Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), an international human rights organization that advocates for social justice and equality for all, a strong supporter of freedom of expression and of conscience, women’s rights and as an ally, LGBTQ rights. Ani promotes these values at the United Nations by challenging human rights abuses in the name of Islam, and by offering an inclusive understanding based on universal human rights and justice. Since its inception, Ani has presided over MPV’s expansion to include chapters in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington D.C., New York, Boston, Columbus and Chicago, and spearheaded the founding of Alliance Of Inclusive Muslims, made of members spanning five continents.
Ani has organized numerous interfaith arts and music festivals, is the co-editor of MPV’s first book, an anthology titled “Progressive Muslim Identities – Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada”; executive producer of a video series “LGBTQI Rights in Islam”; has contributed to many forewords and anthologies, and is a contributor for HuffingtonPost, OpenDemocracy and al-Jazeera. She has a TEDx talk titled – Islam: As American As Apple Pie, and is the subject of a documentary title "al-imam" featuring Ani's activism works. As an award winning songwriter, she utilizes the power of music and the arts in countering radicalism as she speaks-sings her message of social justice and peace from a progressive Muslim woman’s perspective, and is the first woman to release an English Islamic pop album in the U.S. in 2004.
Born in Malaysia, Ani, a Muslim since birth, spent a good portion of her formative years raised in Germany, Egypt and India as an Ambassador’s daughter. Her exposure to different politics, religions and cultures has shaped her inclusive worldview.
Executive Assistant to the President
Yasmin Kadir prides herself on being a citizen of the world. Having been born to progressive Bangladeshi immigrants in upstate New York, she spent her childhood travelling around the world and across the states before ultimately finding home on the Central Coast of California. She recently graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she obtained a Bachelor’s in Business Management and Human Resources, as well as an overdue embracement of all cultural and social aspects of her identity.
Yasmin vividly remembers experiencing the compelling urge to be a part of the people and their social movements while watching Civil Rights documentaries in her 11th grade US History class. Since then, she has dedicated her time and thought into being an intersectional advocate for the marginalized, and is thrilled to translate that into her career with MPV along with her future JD and MBA goals. She fully appreciates her supporting environment for ensuring she never felt inferior to anyone around her and endeavors to live by Audre Lorde’s words “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own”.
Omair Paul - UN Representative
Omair Paul is a Pakistani American born and raised in New York City. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree at the State University of New York at Buffalo, having majored in Social and Cultural Anthropology with a minor in South Asian studies. His focus was on history, culture, theology, philosophy, linguistics, and gender/queer theories. He is currently a Human Rights M.A. candidate in the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) at Columbia University in New York.
He assumed the positions of United Nations Representative for Muslims for Progressive Values and United States Representative for the Youth Advocacy Network of Pakistan in 2014. His focal areas of work and research pertain to gender equality and women's empowerment, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia, LGBTQ rights and non-discrimination on the basis of SOGI, diffusing radical and fundamentalist cultural and/or theological ideologies, and youth empowerment and engagement. He is currently engaged in affirming the human rights approach to policy-level advocacy for the aforementioned subjects.
Marwan Bishtawi - UN Associate Coordinator
Marwan Bishtawi joins MPV as U.N. Associate Coordinator in New York, covering human rights issues in the 3rd Committee specifically in the Arab and French speaking Muslim world. Marwan holds a Bachelor in Arts from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, where he majored in the Program of Liberal Studies.
MICkEY WEEMS - Editor in Chief
Mickey Weems is a scholar, journalist, and teacher. He has been studying world religions since he was 13, and decided to convert to Islam after he found the Sufi interpretation of Islam to be an excellent means for spiritual transcendence and for appreciating all religions as well as secular humanism. In the course of his life, Weems has been a lifeguard and a US Marine (he was honorably discharged from the Corps, a choice he made in favor of lifeguarding because "I'd rather save lives than take them."). He has participated in Hindu, Wiccan, Baha'i, Shinto, Daoist, Native Hawaiian, Black church, mainstream Protestant, Roman Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, and Native American ceremonies. He visited the Universal House of Justice and Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, visited the shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes in France, and prayed in a mosque in Cairo, decades before his conversion. He underwent initiation in Yoruba-based African Brazilian religion, studied at an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva in Jerusalem, and experienced the spiritual ecstasy of communal dance in both raves and Gay male circuit events. Weems holds degrees in Philosophy (BA from Berea College), Anthropology (MA from University of Hawai‘i Manoa), Comparative Studies/Folklore (MA from The Ohio State University), and Somatics Studies/Cultural Studies/Education (PhD from OSU). He has written three books, edited the online Qualia Encyclopedia of Gay People (currently offline due to a cyberattack), and authored countless articles for the LGBT press and house music forums.
Rukan Saif- MPV Youth Intern (2018)
Rukan Saif has always been amazed by the world: its diversity, its promise, and its inhabitants. Raised as the only child in an Islamic-Bangladeshi home, she is thankful to have learned of the significance of culture and religion over the past sixteen years. From a young age, Rukan was imbued with the idea that education is power. Now a junior attending Arcadia High School, she enjoys indulging in the pursuit of knowledge and using her poetry as a forum for expression and advocacy. Though she still has much else to learn, Rukan has realized through observing the intricacies in her community that she wants to impact anything and everything, and she believes working and exploring with the Muslims for Progressive Values family will bring her closer to her goal.
MPV Spiritual Leader (Imamah)
This position is now open for applications. Please access information about the position and its application HERE.