New Age Islam
Thu Sep 24 2020, 09:08 AM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 30 Dec 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslim Women In 2015: 'Islamic State Bitches' Or Great British Bakers

 

 

 

 

By Shelina Janmohamed

31 DECEMBER 2015

For Muslim women, it's been a year of highs and lows: from major political successes to incidences of violence on a day-to-day level. Personally, I had a burgeoning hope that this was the year Muslim women would finally arrive on the world stage, on their own terms.

In politics, there can be little doubt that such progress was made. In the UK, eight Muslim women were elected to Parliament in May’s general election. In June, biologist Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was sworn in as the first woman President of Mauritius - and a Muslim woman at that, in a country where Muslims are a minority.

The Vice President of Tanzania is also now a Muslim woman, Samia Suluhu. Plus, a hundred years on from the Suffragette movement in the UK, Saudi women finally got to vote in local elections (although they still couldn’t drive themselves to the polling booths).

This year, Muslim fashion also went mainstream. Uniqlo launched a ‘modest wear’ line, designed in collaboration with British blogger Hana Tajina and modelled by 28-year-old Malaysian singer Yuna - symbolising a new artistic side to Muslim women.

H&M put a Hijab in their global corporate social responsibility campaign, and department store House of Fraser began stocking a line of ‘sporty hijabs’ for Muslim women who want to exercise.

Jeep, Apple and Android all featured Muslim women prominently in their advertising. They offered a glimmer of hope that’s rarely reflected in our shared public imagery: those Muslim women can be a positive force.

A hardened cynic might say all this was just an appeal to the growing power of the female Muslim pound. But you know what? The recognition of that power is just as important – it’s a force to be reckoned with.

So with all this high-profile success, it’s sad that we end 2015 in the face of growing anti-Muslim feeling - heightened in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. And it’s Muslim women who constantly bear the brunt of such verbal and physical Islamophobic abuse.

Figures released by the Metropolitan Police, in September, showed that anti-Muslim hate crimes in Britain rose by 70 per cent in the past year. Tell Mama, an organisation that monitors these attacks, says 60 per cent are directed at women, and happen on the street - as opposed to online.

On a bus in London, in October, a pregnant Muslim woman was verbally assaulted by a woman who threatened to kick her in the stomach, repeatedly referring to her as an ‘Isis bitch’.

In November, Ruhi Rahman was subjected to racist abuse on the Tyne & Wear metro.

Other women have reported being sworn and spat at, punched and even having dog faeces thrown at them.

As a result of this rapid spike in attacks on Muslims in general and women in particular, many are increasingly fearful of wearing their headscarves.

I wrote to my MP to ask him to take steps to tackle the growing hate, this malign whipping up of hatred and to build the kind of society where my daughters can grow up to feel safe and proud as British Muslims.

I asked him how he would tackle false information vilifying Muslims in the media, what programmes he would implement to tackle hate crimes and what policies would be developed for a long term future. I offered to work with him to show this is a genuine community led partnership. A month later I’ve heard nothing.

Being a Muslim woman in 2015 is full of conflict. You can face fierce hatred, especially if you wear a hijab - but you’re still seen as oppressed by your gender. As a mother, you’re responsible for standing up to radicalisation in the community, yet when women become involved in terrorism themselves? It’s deeply shocking. We expect Muslim women to be too submissive to actively wage terror.

Yet only this week, we read about 24-year-old Sana Ahmed Khan; ‘Britain’s first female suicide bomber’. She has been convicted of plotting a massive terror attack on the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 atrocity, along with her husband, in the name of the Islamic State.

“Mild-mannered and polite” Khan rejected her parents concerns about her relationship with drug addict, Mohammed Rehman, and went on to plan a suicide attack with him, we were told.

In general when women choose to engage in violence we are baffled. It’s just not what we anticipate. Muslim women are not allowed to be mentally ill, alienated or even your average person with average problems. We seem to have been divorced of our humanity and reconstructed as either oppressed or radicalised.

Take the widespread confusion over this year’s reported cases of female teenagers secretly escaping to join Isil as ‘jihadi brides’ – such as the three Bethnal Green schoolgirls who fled to Syria in February. Why would they do such a thing? They had such good grades!

What we need to understand is that their actions are an unholy product of intense hostility towards Muslim women and the liberation they found on social media. Such minors aren’t ‘evil terrorists’ - but victims of grooming.

We need to have more such thinking. There’s now a growing raft of intellectual and grassroots movements - from equality campaign group Musawah that held a standing room only event at the UN Women's conference earlier this year to the Muslim Women’s Council of Bradford – which this year announced a proposal for a female-led mosque.

Muslim women need these arenas to have their voices heard – and as physical spaces too.

We also need the global women’s movement to wake-up to the fact that Muslim women too are fighting to improve their lives - and that this is being done in their own way, in light of their diverse experiences and heritage.

This is starting to happen.

Muslim women had some unlikely cheerleaders in 2015: the royals. Sophie Countess of Wessex said that “It’s very evident that Muslim women can be fashionable while also retaining their modesty.” While Prince Charles said he disagreed with bans on face veils in France and Belgium, seeing them as criminalising women as well as being an infringement of human rights.

But perhaps the most heartening individual story of 2015 was that of Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, who announced she was going to wear a hijab “in solidarity with our Muslim sisters” in the face of growing anti-Muslim hatred, particularly in her own state, following the San Bernadino terror attack.

Plenty more American women followed suit. (Hawkins was suspended by her college as a result). Of course, wearing a headscarf is not the only way to stand in solidarity. Showing support and connecting with Muslim women at an ordinary human level is more significant.

So who can forget the Muslim woman who stole our hearts this year, watched by fifteen million people in the final of the Great British Bake Off? Smiling, charming Nadiya Hussain helped us understand ourselves better as a society – that, when it comes down to it, we all desire inclusivity and respect. Her acceptance speech should serve as a prediction for how we engage better with Muslim women next year and build on the developments of 2015.

“I’m never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never going to say I can’t do it. I’m never going to say ‘maybe’. I’m never going to say, ‘I don’t think I can.’ I can and I will.”

So whether you choose to don a headscarf or eat some of Nadiya's lemon drizzle cake in 2016, let's hope it's the year that the global sisterhood continues to grow in strength.

Source: The Telegraph

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/shelina-janmohamed/muslim-women-in-2015---islamic-state-bitches--or-great-british-bakers/d/105812

New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Womens in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Womens In Arab, Islam Women and Feminism

Loading..

Loading..