Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 30, 2018

Unveiled Providded

Rohina Malik acts out a scene from her one-woman play 'Unveiled.'
Photo provided

'Unveiled' Presents Raw and Vulnerable Tale of Islamophobia

Matthew Barbosa


‘Unveiled’ is a one-woman play performed by Rohina Malik, which has been critically acclaimed since its first performance at the Chicago 16th Street Theater. Recently Malik came to Manchester University to put on her performance for a VIA. Unveiled was a five-act play that used tea and storytelling to represent different perspectives of Middle Eastern women.

The first story revolved around Pakistani chocolate chai tea and a Pakistani fashion dress maker. The story talked about the Pakistani woman’s experience making dresses for other women and serving them chocolate chai tea. The Pakistani woman refused to make a wedding dress for her client leading to the story of the last wedding dress that she had designed. When the dress maker arrived at the wedding’s venue she was harassed for wearing a hijab by a man who told her to “take that shit off her head,” and berated her in front of her children. The woman stood up to the man and told him he needed to be educated. An exchange of knowledge and insults ensued until the man wanted to make the altercation physical, but his companions told him that the dress maker was “not worth it.” After that event, the dress maker could no longer find inspiration to design dresses.

The stories that Malik portrayed illustrated the perspective of islamophobia in the United States of America and showed that islamophobia was not a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Fear, discrimination and hate crimes ran rampant before that day.

Moroccan mint tea and a female Moroccan lawyer set the stage for another perspective in the set. This story followed her while she attended college and how she found the love of her life, her eventual husband. While she was at school, she was harassed by other students that were calling her obscenities targeting her headdress. Another man told the harassers to leave the future lawyer alone. The Moroccan woman and the man discussed religion and how he converted to Islam because of an orange. The orange symbolized the possibility of life when thrown away.  The orange was designed by Allah to create more oranges.  However, a candy bar created by man would not create more candy bars. This story peers inside of the traditionalist style of arranged marriages with Islam, and other religions.

The story went forward in time to the Moroccan woman and her now husband. Her husband was stabbed to death in a hate crime to which she was a witness. The woman then felt the terror of having to recount the events in trial to testify and have the men imprisoned for their crimes. She was enlightened by finding out there was no shame in telling the truth to acquire justice and to never ask “why me” but instead ask “what for.” Meeting with a lawyer and other victims of hate crimes lead the Moroccan woman to go through law school and help other people who suffer from hate crimes.

These stories illustrate the strong presence of islamophobia that Americans who choose to practice Islam have to face. Malik wrote these stories to try and spread her message and educate people that would otherwise just see figures that the media would associate with terrorism. Her message has resonated with Chicago theater community allowing her to tour the country, work on writing more plays, and start writing for television shows to become more representative of the Islamic community in America.