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Oral History Interview with Rabia Ahsin, September 1, 2018

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Rabia Ahsin discusses growing up in a Punjabi Muslim family in the Midwood and Ditmas Park neighborhoods of Brooklyn. She speaks extensively about the complex relationship between faith and culture, including her own connection to her Punjabi roots and her exploration of different traditions and customs within Islam. She expands on her education at Brooklyn College, including the hostility she experienced when she joined a school organization that advocated against violence in Palestine; studying human rights abuses against Muslims with Professor Jeanne Theoharis; and the undercover police officer who infiltrated the Islamic Society of Brooklyn College. She also talks about her struggles with mental health. Interview conducted by Zaheer Ali.

Biographical / Historical

Rabia Ahsin was born in 1991 in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn. While studying political science at Brooklyn College as an undergraduate student, she joined the school's Islamic Society of Brooklyn College as well as with the Muslim Women's Educational Initiative, both of which were targeted by the New York City Police Department for religiously-motivated surveillance by an undercover officer while she was a member. She also became an outspoken activist against human rights abuses, including protesting with the school's newly-formed Students for Justice in Palestine and focusing her studies on surveillance in New York City. She went on to work as a special education teacher at all all girls' secondary school.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at the Center for Brooklyn History's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201