Similarly, this ad was banned by France’s Catholic Church which was based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Christ’s Last Supper. However, when it came to French Muslims offence at the anti-Islam film as well as the reprehensible, bigoted caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad, France’s government not only allowed the public display and publication of both but also banned any kind of protests against the anti-Islam film. ”The country’s Interior Ministry announced it will crack down on any kind of protest against the cartoon that denigrated the Muslim prophet.”
You know what exactly is on my mind. I support freedom of speech as long as institutions and people(s) support fair and equal freedom of speech. I don’t care for anti-Islam speech or art even as a Muslim because I know, for a fact, that people will always come up with something a lot stupider, a lot worse. But I won’t stop them. Freedom of speech, right? The argument that free speech is inviolable is inaccurate when you have real-life political instances of aforementioned selective banning and publishing of offensive art and/or speech. It becomes an issue of discrimination and double standards endorsed by powerful institutions. And it proves that a certain group of people are being treated as secondary citizens.
This is plain hypocrisy.
In 1859, Karl Marx wrote “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness”. Sam Harris never read those words.
On August 16, 2012, a Palestinian American man went to pay respects to his deceased father at Evergreen Cemetery and was horrified to see anti-Muslim hate graffiti on a number of Muslim graves. Evergreen Cemetery is home to at least 500 Muslim graves. Cemetery officials and the police have been notified. The cemetery is located at 3401 West 87th Street, Evergreen Park, IL 60805.
Three years later, I moved to Washington, DC, to start my policy career. I worked for a State Department grantee, was one of the youngest directors at Amnesty International, and most recently served as a foreign-policy aide in the US House of Representatives.
But even as I rose through the ranks of Washington, DC, I continued to face constant scrutiny over my faith. When I interviewed at a human-rights organization, I was asked more than once if I am willing to condemn suicide bombing and if I am comfortable supporting gay marriage. I told the interviewer that no self-respecting human rights advocate supports suicide bombing and opposes gay marriage. The answer did not suffice. To get the job, I had to spell it out: I am against suicide bombing; I am for gay marriage.
This happened in government agencies as well. In an interview for a research position on South Asian affairs at a US bureau, I was asked to state my views on Israel. And I have, sadly, taken it as a given that in interviews I will be asked what kind of Arab I am. When I say that I am the “Indian kind of Arab,” few understand—or appreciate—the joke.
In my most recent job interview, the head of an NGO asked how devout I am in my Islamic faith. Later that night, I pulled out of the interview process, packed up the rest of my belongings, and moved across the country to Oakland.
Muslims have internalized this discrimination, too—when I worked for Amnesty International, Muslim groups called me to have a rep speak at their event. When I suggested that I speak, Muslim groups often insisted that I invite a non-Muslim instead. “We want someone who can connect with more people,” they said.
I have learned not to talk about this. There are costs of sharing these anecdotes, and to succeed in DC is to remember its code: DC is small; everyone knows each other; be grateful for what you have achieved; people will talk.
But our silence is eroding careers. Because in this outrage over Bachman’s comments, we miss an important fact: the smearing of Abedin and other Muslim policy professionals is working to raise a level of suspicion of Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians that echoes far outside the Republican right. When I showed up with a Pakistani-American woman to the Obama campaign office in Virginia in 2008, we were told that it was not a “good idea” for the two of us to go door-to-door for Obama. They suggested we stay back and work the phones instead.
I am not sure what advice to give young Muslims anymore. In 2009, I was working on the Hill when a few members of Congress called for a House investigation into whether Muslim interns on Capitol Hill were acting as spies for Muslim civil liberty groups. Names of Muslim interns and staff members were printed on blogs, often with doctored quotes and facts."
Mehreen Kasana here.
Looks like I’m in charge for tonight. Sometimes ignorance can really get to our heads especially when some folks on Tumblr assume Muslim women need the “most saving” because their religion is the “most sexist.” It’s amazing how - and this isn’t just a Tumblr phenomenon - many people on this micro-blogging forum have yet to read the entire Quran in its context and massive history. To take one verse out and misconstrue it endlessly, only proves ignorance on said person’s part. I’ve never known of Laci Green. I never cared, honestly speaking. I’ve had better sources of sex positive education than a racist, xenophobic YouTube pseudo-star who incorrectly claims that a supposedly half-Iranian person can’t be Islamophobic. Shocker: Many POC are Islamophobic, it’s not a matter of race as much as it is a matter of ideological conflict.
I’ve had terribly Islamophobic people accusing my faith of practices that aren’t theological but cultural, yet these people had the audacity to claim ‘authentic’ knowledge of Islam. Conflating culture with religion is a dangerous comprehension of communities and it leads to what we have witnessed in history the justification of wars, colonialism and imperialist-driven ‘saving’ of indigenous women. Many of you need to immediately reevaluate your understanding of the East and its culture(s). You need to read extensively about orientalism, colonialism, imperialism and their collective abuse of religion and politics that naturally affected both men and women.
So let’s start with a 101 brief introduction to books the uninitiated need to read if they do indeed want to be part of the Muslim women agency discourse. If you don’t study these or related work(s), you’re not well equipped with our history, our faith and our highly complex, richly diverse identity. Stay quiet then.
Here are some e-books by my favorite Muslim feminists or, as some of them insist to be called, gender-egalitarianists (considering their legitimate issues with the Western origin of feminism). Try finding work by Asma Barlas (Pakistani), Ziba Mir Hosseini (Iranian), Sadiyya Shaikh (Sudanese), Fadwa Al Labadi (Palestinian), Azizah al Hibri, Abdessamad Dialmy (Moroccan), Rozana Isa (Malaysian), Suha Taji-Faruqi.
- Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur’an: beyond the binaries of tradition and modernity. Asma Barlas.
- “The Uses and Abuses of Muslim History in Explaining Islam,” review of Empire and Elites after the Muslim Conquest: The Transformation of Northern Mesopotamia, Chase F. Robinson. Asma Barlas.
- “Globalizing Equality: Muslim Women, Theology, and Feminisms,” in Fera Simone (ed.), On Shifting Ground: Muslim Women in the Global Era.
- The Qur’an, Shari’a, and Women’s Rights.
- “Women’s and Feminist Readings of the Qur’an,” in Jane McAuliffe.
- “Women in Islam: Facts and Perceptions” by Memoona Hasnain.
- Re-reading the Quran. Muslim women rights within sacred text.
- Hamid Dabashi on post-colonialism and colonialism/imperialism’s use of feminism against Muslim women.
- Shattering Stereotypes - Muslim Women Speak Out by Fauzia Khan.
- Amira Jarmakani’s Imagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers.
- The Unique Face of Indonesia’s Islamic Feminism.
- Miriam Cooke’s Women Claim Islam Creating Islamic Feminism Through Literature.
- ‘Victimization’ versus ‘resistance’ - feminism and the dilemmatics of Islamic agency.
- The Veil (De)contextualized and Nations ‘Democratized’- Unsettling War, Visibilities, and U.S. Hegemony.
- Towards a Recognition of Multiple Feminism: The Voice of Muslim Women by Ayesha Asghar and Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. A good explanation of why third world women and Muslim women are reluctant to participate in mainstream white feminism.
- The Rights of Women in Islam: An Authentic Approach by Haifaa A. Jawad.
- In case you forgot, Muslim women have rights to the nikahnama (legal papers for marriage) where their property rights, mobility, monetary power is all included within the papers.
- Margot Badran’s Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences.
- Imperiled Muslim women, Dangerous Muslim men and Civilized Europeans: Legal and Social Responses to Forced Marriages by Sherene Razack.
- The Seductions of Honor Crime by Lila Abu Lughod.
- Hundreds of publications, lectures, videos, and so much more. What rock do racists and xenophobic folks live under?
Let’s just remember one basic fact: If you are not Muslim, let alone female Muslim, you cannot and should not speak for us or our goals and priorities in life. Many of us follow a definition of progress that is inherently contrary to yours. To force us into accepting your idea of success and empowerment is to do what colonialists and imperialists did and continue doing. Remember when I said this?
I’m a Muslim woman. And I’m not oppressed by my religion.
What oppresses me as a citizen and as a human being is the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teachings, cultural distortion of basic theological beliefs and man-made rules directed cruelly at women only. What ties me down and suffocates me is gender discrimination done as a result of following back-breaking mores. But, above all, what oppresses me is the common man’s basic mistake of believing what he hears from malicious conservatives. You can help me from being oppressed by simply using your head for a change. When you hear someone say, “Oh, the hijab’s only a symbol of misogyny”, you can stop for a second, do your research and realize that, no, it’s a practice that the majority respectfully believes in for all sorts of reasons. You can also realize that the author of this post isn’t wearing a hijab at all. For a rational Muslim, it’s all about the freedom to choose. You can sit back and delete that ill-informed hate speech you had ready. You can learn that objectivity plays a key role when you’re studying other people’s religion.
Your ignorance and usage of savior, racist rhetoric is oppressive. There is no denying that there is sexism in cultures - have a look at the hyper sexualized image of a woman in modern day America - but you will never hear a critic castigate Christianity, you won’t find critics lambasting Western ideas of women representation and such. Which highlights the hypocrisy found in the discourse concerning Muslim women and their empowerment. No one asked you to liberate us. One of the reasons why Muslim women remain reluctant, including myself, to participate in white mainstream feminism is because of the shameless denial of privilege on part of white feminists and also because our bodies and identities are turned into battlefields. Read this part from my essay: The Other-izing of Muslim Women in Western Feminism and Hegemonic Discourse(s). Our issues are prioritized according to white feminists’ preferences. If that’s ‘feminism’, none of us want to be part of it.
So let’s get one thing clear in today’s lesson: Matters aren’t as simple as you folks assume them to be. Religion, politics, personal identity, regions, cultures, timeline(s) of historical events affect gender politics in ways that are beyond your imagination. Think a few hundred times before you decide to talk about a religion and culture you don’t belong to.
My friend Salman Adil Hussain on Islamophobia. Published in Chapati Mystery. He reviews “Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims” by Stephen Sheehi.
Sheehi’s book, however, is not to be taken as a defense of Muslims, or Islam, or religion in general. Islamophobia, as Sheehi shows, is about power and domination; Islam and Muslims, as ciphers to be utilized instrumentally towards that end, are somewhat incidental to it. As an anti-Islamophobia strategy, defending Islam, portraying and representing it in positive light, or showing Muslims as model human beings and citizens is at best ineffectual, and at worst, one that is beholden to the very framework of Islamophobia. In Sheehi’s words: “The very idea that Islam needs to be defended … is Islamophobic, as it completely erases the intricacy of the religion and reduces the cultural, regional, and religious variations to a monolithic religion with a monolithic believer, i.e. The Muslim.” With a conception of Islamophobia unmoored from the purported exceptionality of the Muslim difference, the battle against Islamophobia can be engaged in a framework of global justice and anti-racism, along lines of solidarity across nations and denominations, and within its generative context: empire and capital.
Check it out.
I’m actually reading this book right now.
- Al Jazeera’s Roundup of praise and criticism
- Samia Errazzouki, “Dear Mona Eltahawy, You Do Not Represent “Us”
- Mehreen Kasana (Quote from her Tumblr)
- The Frustrated Arab, “Us and Them: On Helpless Women and Orientalist Imagery”
- Foreign Policy, “Debating the War on Women” - Includes responses from Leila Ahmed, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Hanin Ghaddar, Naheed Mustafa, and Sondos Asem
- Tahrir Spirit, “I don’t really think they hate us”
- Dima Kathib, “Love, Not Hatred, Dear Mona”
- Omid Safi, “The hypocrisy of the “Why They Hate Us” rhetoric of Muslim Native Informants”
- Mona Kareem, “‘Why Do They Hate Us?’ A Blogger’s Response”
- Ayesha Kazmi, “Oh Mona!”
- Tahrir and Beyond, “Mona: Why do you hate us?”
- Tom Dale, Open Democracy, “Hatred and misogyny in the Middle East, a response to Mona el Tahawy”
- The Atlantic, “The Real Roots of Sexism in the Middle East (It’s Not Islam, Race, or ‘Hate’)”
- Global Voices Online, “Do Arab Men Hate Women? Mona Eltahawy Faces Firestorm”
- Jadaliyya, “Let’s Talk About Sex”
- Egypt Initiative for Personal Rights, “Get an Arab Woman to Say it For You”
- AltMuslimah, “Everybody ‘Hates’ Mona”
- Colonial Feminism, “Dear Mona Eltahawy”
- LoonWatch, “Why Do They Hate Us? They Don’t”
If you know of any more articles to contribute to this list please send me a message (You can send links through fanmail)
BY SANA ⋅ FEBRUARY 12, 2012
Since the outbreak of revolution/uprising/road to 2012 in Tunisia over a year ago, several tropes have emerged in the never ending discussion of the painfully and problematically referenced ‘Arab Spring.’ From rationalizing the perceived sudden burst of people power to the question of foreign military bombardment, subjects for incessant publishing opportunities on the topic cease to be scarce. In more recent months, however, one particular trope has the caught the attention of many journalists: the Salafis. Here are some tips for you wannabe-published folks out there.
Egypt —- A young girl, left, behind a curtain where women have to sit watches a boy hand out election material during a campaign event for Egypt’s Salafist al-Nour party prior to parliamentary elections in the Giza neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt. —- Image by Shawn Baldwin/Corbis 12/6/2011
- Don’t be silly in portraying and offering a gradient on opinion and approach when it comes to these literalists; it is commonly accepted and known that all Salafis think and act the same in every respect. If vertically blessed facial hair and God talk are involved, the title of ‘Salafi’ is a good enough moniker for all future reference.
- In reference to the above point, never refer to the Salafi in question by name, always refer to him as ‘The Salafi’ or some variant of that (i.e. ‘the Salafi member of Parliament’ etc). Mentioning the name once is fine, but focus on the ideologically derived noun-adjective please.
- And yes, they seldom exist in the female form. If women are seen with a Salafi, they are the mehram decor equivalent of a doormat. But a doormat kept inside the house. Not outside. Haram.
- ‘Salafist’ is a good replacement for ‘Salafi’ if you want a realpolitik feel to your article. It can also be interchanged with ‘Islamist’ if you wish to further destroy any breadth of nuance you may otherwise have somewhat unknowingly been providing.
- Muslim Brotherhood is Salafi. Al Qaeda is Salafi. Saudis are Salafi. Muslims who wish to not participate in Christmas are Salafi. Any Muslim offering dissent on the structures that currently govern the contemporary geopolitical status quo by offering a worldview ridden with a different ideology or ethos is a Salafi. There’s your crash course in identifying Salafis – go, have fun.
- Make mention of his beard once as either a descriptive measure or, preferably, the primary proof of his demonic nature.
- Sufis are the cool ones. They, too, exist in a non-nuanced vacuum and can often be found at White House dinners, in the Huffington Post or in white liberal journalists’ Twitterfeeds.
- Always use a picture of a man or a group of men with beards who, as it is always extremely preferable, are screaming/shouting with excessive hand movements. If you can find a covered woman in the background, then +1. If you find a scantily clad woman in the foreground then+2.
- Even if it’s just a cough, make sure to make it into a breaking news story that underscores the impending Salafist takeover of something or other. Oh, and the return of the Caliphate. That too.
- Be ready to accept any absurd rumor about a random, unknown ‘Salafi’ as true and propagate it as such to prove the point that they are all, indeed, cray cray.
- Just write something like this guy’s last few paragraphs and you’re well on your way to being published.
- …and don’t write this.