SPC Activist Profile: Magda Bayoumi

From the October 2011 PNL #808

by Amelia Ramsey-Lefevre

A desire to be close to family brought Magda Bayoumi first to Albany and then to Syracuse from her birthplace in Cairo, Egypt. Though she shies away from the label “activist,” Magda has a long history of advocating for children with special needs and, in recent years, teaching about her religion, Islam. These days she works with several local organizations including the Rahma Clinic, the Islamic Society of CNY, ACTS, and of course SPC.


How did you get involved with SPC?

I got involved with SPC after 9/11. I think the first ever talk we had, we were four or five Muslim women trying to explain Islam to the group. I felt, as a Muslim, I need to change my direction because I’d been trying to educate people about special needs. I never tried to educate people about my religion and today it’s under attack. And we, as Muslims, are not supposed to convert. That verse in the Quran makes people so worried not to educate because they worry that if we educate, people will think we’re trying to convert them. I think 9/11 was an eye-opener for the Muslim world. There’s a big difference between converting and educating and [we] better get out there and educate. And since I was for education all my life it just fit right in.

What keeps you doing the work with SPC and other groups?

It’s a good question. I don’t know if I know the answer. My father and my mother were always helping people. I grew up in an environment that’s not selfish. So that’s one reason. And there are a billion Muslims around. I don’t have to do [this work]. But I feel it’s my obligation to do it and I need to do what my piece is. It might be a drop in the ocean, or less than a drop in the ocean. But I have to do it. Islam teaches us as long as you’re on this earth, you are on the earth to do the work of God. The work of God is not killing each other but is helping each other.

Briefly, any reflections on the recent happenings in Egypt and the Arab Spring?

We could feel it. We knew it was coming. Every time we went there we felt that Egypt was bubbling. And it happened. And we’re happy that it happened.

Amelia is the PNL Co-ordinator on Staff.