Monday, November 25, 2013

“Uncover your face, then you can join the discussion.”

“Dear Muslima…LOL.” Rarely are the contemptuous bigotry toward Muslims, fake concern about Muslim women, and outright misogyny of many who claim to oppose Islamism partly in the name of women’s rights as evident as when Muslim women in “Western” countries speak about anti-Islamic bigotry.

Last week, some researchers issued a report – “Maybe We Are Hated” - about British Muslim women’s experiences of harassment and discrimination. One of the authors, Chris Allen, posted about it at HuffPo UK, including some quotes from the women interviewed describing how people had treated them and how it made them feel. He explains:
The research was deliberately small-scale and low-level. It didn't set out to make any outlandish claims, to be in any way sensationalist or even begin to tell politicians, policymakers or indeed anyone else what they ought to be doing.

Instead, it set out to give voice to those women whose experiences and stories were all too routinely being overlooked or dismissed not least because they just weren't being heard. By doing so, we hoped that the findings might prompt a different debate about Muslim women, one that spoke to and was inclusive of them rather than merely spoke about or even worse, just for them.

… Instead of talking about or for Muslim women, our research puts the voices of Muslim women front and centre: to give voice to their silent and overlooked stories of discrimination, bigotry and hate, stories that for many are far too real aspects of their everyday lives.
In response…
• “LOL...How about asking Egyptian women who are the most sexually harrassed women in the world. Around 90 percent of them have been harrassed and since most muslims think that it is a cultural habit originating from the Middle East, do they think it is necessary to wear a niqab in Europe? On top of that, women in the Middle East have been to accompanied by a relative (so they say), otherwise they will be deemed as east.”

• (In response to: “Must we demonise every woman in a headscarf or hijab because of the bad eggs who claim to be practicing Islam, yet commit acts of terrorism?”) “Dear Lady Elle, the background to thus issue is long and complex and whilst two ‘bad eggs; has not helped, this is not the reason that many people find the wearing of it offensive. We need to be honest, wearing it, rightly or wrongly is seen as a political statement not a religious one, by many people in the UK and elsewhere. In France they have actually it banned altogether. Women are now complaining that they feel intimidated for wearing it. Why the issue? Politicians' have short memories. Prior to and during the war in Afghanistan, it was politicians, newspapers and the internet's condemnation of the wearing of it that led to it becoming synonymous with the will of the Taliban. Then women in Europe started to wear it and all of a sudden it became racist not to like it.”

• “The countenance, the face is the passport of the human being.It is the recognition of a smile of approval or the glare of disapproval.It is how we meet and know each other,friend or foe.To hide that countenance is to render that person a non person”*

• “What is it with the Muslim faith? All other religions appears to muddle along together in this country apart from Islam. Europe lived through the age of enlightenment and cast off all the suspicions and worst excesses of religious dogma and repression, So what did our politicians do to consolidate our progress? Welcomed in millions of people who are as backward thinking as we were three hundred years ago. Is it any surprise there is a clash of cultures.”

• “I have chatted regularly with women in headscarfs/hijab. Some may even have been Muslim - who knows?

I have never had a casual, passing chat with anyone in a burqa or niqab - how do you strike up a conversation with a non-face ... a mask? Are your overtures welcome - or not? Where do you even start?”

• “I think you'll find most of us were perfectly happy about Muslims until we started being bombed and murdered in the streets. This country is hugely tolerant but that is being abused - and you would wonder that we don't like that?”

• “I've now read this piece twice, and for the life of me, I can't find any of the words: honour, beatings, killings, adultery, stonings, forced, child, marriage, acid, attacks etc.

For balance I'll have to read it again, I must have missed them.”

• “I don't think those women understand, or care about how them covering their faces makes everyone else feel. I don't think they understand or care about our culture, history, traditions, etc. Uncover your face, then you can join the discussion.”*

• “That's exactly the problem - it's OK to make us feel threatened or concerned, but not a minority. I find face coverings extremely unpleasant - it represent threat, secrecy and subjugation of women. Bu then I'm white anglo saxon so it doesn't matter what example it sets my children or how offensive I find it does it?”

• “A very simple solution to this would be to ban the full veil. It represents all that is foul in islam and is why it is rejected so vehemently by a portion of the population. It goes against everything English people are brought up to respect. Its an affront to our culture, has no place in our culture and is alien to our culture.”

• “All around the World women are denied the right by law to do the things that men can do, in some countries they are arrested if they don't cover up, in others they are shot and nobody in the West is allowed to complain as it is deemed racist to do so.”

• “If I was a Muslim women I would be asking myself why my religion wasn't flavour of the month.”

• “The century.”

• “As my wife just said, if you want to feel intimidated, threatened & completely disrespected try being a white woman, in acceptable (not tarty) clothes, and walk through a predominently Muslim area like Sparkhill & Sparkbrook in B'ham. I suggest that Dr Chris Allen gets his wife or daughter to do this one evening & then report back to him !!”

• “it is specius to see racism in this fanciful dress that has been taken over by some Mulsim women. I suspect Chris Allen likes nurses uniforms and school girl outfits too. ;-) kno wha ah meen, innit”

• “It is far more likely that most intelligent Muslim women are concerning themselves with more important thing than fancy dress. There is much to be done across the Muslim world, east or west, north or south, UK included, with regard to attitudes to females. Here in the UK alone, such woman are campaigning to rid this country of FGM, forced and child marriage, and ‘honour’ killings, which are practiced and justified in the name of Islam in our so called modern liberal democracy! These issues are human rights issues and far more important than standing up for those who wish to indulge in a fanciful mode of dress not required by the hedith or the koran.”

• “If you are over 18 you should be able to wear what you want, providing it is your own choice and if it is a concealment garment it is accepted that in certain circumstances, banks, hospitals, airports, public buildings etcetera, then it should not be worn.”
Their suffering and fear are uninteresting and unimportant. The women brought it on themselves as representatives of Islam, wearing those Islamic clothes. They and others are stupid and petty to be concerned about their experiences in British society and should focus instead (because we can assume they don’t care at all) on how Muslim women are treated in other countries (we can assume they never lived in those countries) and how “white” women in “acceptable (not tarty)” clothes are hypothetically treated in Muslim areas.

In responding to interview questions about being harassed, ridiculed, and threatened, in wearing headscarves, they’re aligning themselves with the Islamist enemy; they’re now partly responsible for terrorism and the harassment of women and should be demeaned accordingly. Their insistence on presenting themselves openly as Muslim women – in “fancy dress” and “concealment garments” - is an offensive political statement and an act of hostility toward non-Muslims, so hostility toward them is fair and not racist. (This insistence is always their choice, as opposed to the situation in other countries, where it’s never a woman’s choice.) They are choosing to make themselves non-persons, and disqualifying themselves from the public discussion, even when it concerns them. And the solution to the problem of bigotry toward Muslim women is obviously to ban the full veil. You see, it’s about protecting women.

*Comments made, ironically, on the internet.

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