In IMFW Debacle, Ummah Solidarity Shines Through

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As the response to the cancellation of International Muslimah Fashion Week shows, the true spirit of a community emerges in its less-than-happy moments. By Afia R Fitriati.

WP IMFW 2014

In the commotion that was caused by last week’s sudden cancellation of International Muslimah Fashion Week (IMFW), a range of reactions have surfaced.

A few people resorted to victim-blaming, saying that sisters and brothers who came all the way to Hershey that day deserved to be stranded because of their support of behaviour that they deemed “haram”. But amidst such negativity (and the sheer chaos of the cancellation) emerged a much more prominent response: individuals stepping forward to help in whatever ways they can to bring some calm to the storm.

A group of sisters have set up a Facebook page to offer help to those who were affected by the cancellation of IMFW – be it in the form of arranging rides to the airport, giving temporary lodging, providing information or simply keeping the sisters in good spirit.

Kadijah Michelle Kastriba, one of the sisters behind the page, pointed out that many of those who were affected have travelled internationally and are stuck with unexpected expenses of finding a new place to stay and food until the time of their departure flight. On the page she wrote, “This is a time for us to come together for the sake of Allah, and to put our own judgments of what happened aside. I hope at the very least, we are all able to make excuses for and forgive others’ mistakes, and that our intentions are only to help those in this situation.”

Omer J Mirza of Australian label Acacia shares these sentiments. In an e-mail to Aquila Style he wrote, “A lot of people have been judgemental before anything. In my personal opinion it has been poorly managed event rather than a scam. Furthermore I have refrained from calling people names as it doesn’t help the situation.”

With the assistance of local police, Omer said that he was able to get his dresses back from Shea Bates, the organiser of IMFW. Omer added that he was able to help a sister from Indonesia get her dresses as well.

Latest updates from the ground seem to suggest that IMFW was cancelled due to inept event management rather than being a scam. Shea Bates claims that she was forced to pull the plug at the event because of a shortfall in ticket sales. An email sent to her seeking comment was not immediately returned. At any rate, while facts emerge, a number of vendors have taken the initiative of organising their own sale events to try to recover at least some of their expenses while showing the strength and solidarity of the community.

“[Last Thursday] was a day where everyone experienced a sense of unity,” Omer said. “I didn’t know how many got affected but when we were united due to a common problem – things happened magically in the interest of guests and vendors.”

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