Scandinavian Muslim in America

Shabana Rehman's background is funny, but not necessarily what we'd call humorous. Born in Pakistan, she moved with her family to Norway, a region of Europe with a dubious record of showing tolerance toward immigrants. She must have seen humor, though, because she pursued a career in comedy and has helped start a discussion between Muslims and the rest of the world with her confrontational approach. “I believe in insult and challenging other people kindly. Too much respect is the same as putting people down,” she says. “Poking fun at other groups, individuals, is a lovely way to say we are together, and this feels like home.” Her show, Homeland Insecurity, includes standup as well as storytelling as she recounts her family's travels and describes what it’s like being the “other” on the Scandinavian stand-up circuit. The stage is her soapbox from which to shout her message of empowerment to other women as well as outsiders at large. “Be an individual, be free,” she says. “Don’t follow the group. Make your own definitions, your own reformations, and make your own connections.” That message reverberates through Footloose Dance Company’s 11th Annual Women on the Way Festival, of which Rehman's appearance is part.
Sat., Jan. 15, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 16, 8 p.m.; Thu., Jan. 20, 8 p.m., 2011

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