In our communities women who do not cover, or dress in conservative ways (again, with or without hijab), are not considered Muslim enough – not Muslim enough to be taken seriously, not Muslim enough to be invited on conference panels, not Muslim enough to represent Muslims, not Muslim enough for God. This is spiritual abuse. It is a form of violence.It’s violence created by the male-dominated, patriarchal discourses common within our communities, and as such this is not a critique of dressing modestly or more traditionally, nor is it a critique of the women who choose to do so. Indeed, it is misogynistic to criticize women’s choice of conservative clothing. This is a discussion of a patriarchal discourse used to control women’s bodies; a patriarchal discourse that MUST be challenged.There is no doubt that challenging this exclusion and this abuse is very tricky. We live in a world in which Muslim women who wear the hijab and/or niqab are targeted by Islamophobic violence. Hell, Muslim women and girls who simply dress conservatively, hijab or no hijab, are targeted by Islamophobic violence under the label of secularism. As Muslim women we need to protect each other from that form of oppression. We need to fight for the right of Muslim women to dress however they wish without threat of being targeted for being Muslim. Part of that solidarity and resistance to Islamophobia does mean promoting and celebrating representations of Muslim women in hijab and niqab. Absolutely. But within our own communities there are a group of women who are hurting spiritually and no one wants to talk about it. No one wants to help us fight this expression of misogyny within our own communities. Even when we try to tell our side of the story, as El-Naggar did in the Gawker piece, there are attempts to purposely obfuscate and distract from it.Too many are mistaken that we cannot focus our energies on resisting both gendered Islamophobia from non-Muslims and spiritual misogyny from within our communities. Islamophobes will be Islamophobes and will use our internal struggles against us, regardless of what we do or do not do. But that doesn’t mean we let women be spiritually abused within our communities. It’s a fine balance but we have to at least begin to make an effort to find that fine balance.
The RCMP is the third police force in Canada to have the headscarf as part of its uniform. Others include police forces in Toronto and Edmonton. Police in Britain, Sweden, Norway and some other states have adopted similar cultural symbols into their forces.
The worst exponent of this trend is Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, which compares the Quran with Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and calls for it to be banned. But there is an even more dangerous type of Islamophobia that is weakening the foundations of an integrated Europe. This is a more subtle Islamophobia based on seemingly enlightened principles and arguments, one never made explicit, although it occasionally lets its discriminatory veil slip. The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, is a master of this approach. He distinguishes between what he calls the Islamic fascism of some groups (which at the moment are the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS) and a more agreeable Islam, one that is largely invisible. Can we imagine anybody daring to talk about Christian fascism or Judeo fascism, or Buddhist fascism? There is no shortage of examples of countries where all the major religions have been involved in violence in recent years, and neither is there of its role in providing an ethics of compromise and human dignity.Reducing things to the level of a confrontation between European Muslims and the rest of the population is the core of the Islamophobic project. Making Muslims outsiders, putting them on the defensive and attributing obscure objectives to take over the world is far from accidental. What Muslims want from Europe is basically bread, freedom, and social justice; which is pretty much what everybody else wants, sick and tired as we are of the supremacy of the markets and seeing our sovereignty undermined.
1Most Trump supporters view immigration as a “very big problem” in the U.S. In a survey released last week, 66% of registered voters who support Trump in the general election call immigration a “very big problem” in the country. Just 17% of Hillary Clinton backers say the same. Terrorism is the only other issue, among seven included, that is viewed by about as many Trump supporters as a major problem (65%).
2Trump’s proposed border wall gets overwhelming support from his backers. Perhaps no Trump proposal has resonated more strongly with his supporters than his plan to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Fully 79% of Trump supporters favor building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border; just 18% are opposed. Among Clinton supporters, 88% oppose a border wall, compared with 10% who favor it.
3Trump supporters have mixed views of undocumented immigrants. Just 35% of Trump supporters say undocumented immigrants take jobs U.S. citizens would like to have, and a third say that they are less hard-working and honest than citizens. However, a greater share of Trump supporters (50%) think undocumented immigrants in the U.S. “are more likely than American citizens to commit serious crimes”; 43% say they are not. And among voters who support Trump strongly, 59% associate unauthorized immigrants with serious criminal behavi
Truism 1: The most important thing about a woman doing anything, including sports, is her clothes.My parents left no stone unturned in trying to get me to exercise, much to my displeasure. We were members of this swimming club which basically consisted of a pond with uneven mud flooring and water exposed to the elements. Once when I was training for a district camp, our trainer called my father — not my mother — to have a word. In my adolescent enthusiasm, I thought the trainer would discuss my stupendous swimming skills (which I no longer have any illusions about; thank god). However, the subject of the discussion was the plunging back of my one-piece swimming costume. According to the trainer, who was a middle-aged man, my swimming costume was not letting the boys in the pool master that elusive butterfly. My father emerged from the conversation, stomping his feet, angry at the trainer for being sexist. My mother too couldn’t believe the trainer’s stupidity and audacity, sometimes you can’t tell the difference. And I couldn’t believe my swimming costume was causing so much ripple on the surface of that opaque moss-green water. I did not go to the club the next day. But then we saw reason: it’s the only club around, we said. So, there I was again, this time armed — more like, covered — with a random white cloth sewn to the back of my costume.
Lest we forget: far from being a benevolent saviour, the British empire was based on the exploitation, murder and devastation of people across the globe. Some notable atrocities include, but are by no means limited to: transatlantic slavery, famines in the British Raj, and brutal settler colonial regimes in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Hundreds of millions of people died as a result of Britain’s vicious regime. The empire collapsed after campaigns, rebellions and revolutions from the people who were oppressed by Britain. The natives did not happily accept colonial rule; they resisted at every turn because they understood the cost of the system to their nations.Walter Rodney’s classic book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, goes into forensic detail as to how colonialism set back the continent by creating political and economic systems that impoverished Africa, with the direct purpose of enriching Europe. Even after independence, Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of liberated Ghana, explained in the 1960s that the economic policies of the country had an “Alice in Wonderland craziness about them”, with Britain extracting all the wealth from the resources of the nation.It is essential that the legacy of the British empire is understood because it still plays a key role in the world today. The devastation of nations by European colonialism goes a long way to explaining extreme poverty and conflict in many parts of the world, and is continued in manifestly unjust trade relations. Reminiscing about the days of empire and pining for Britain to be great again is a device to avoid any reckoning with Britain’s terrible colonial legacy and debt.Perhaps a recognition of the brutality, violence and horror at the dark heart of empire would shake the nation out of its postcolonial melancholia. To acknowledge the dark side of colonialism, however, would destroy the nostalgia that is such a strong part of British imperial identity. It is far easier to get lost in national pride from Olympic success than to reckon with Britain’s history and real place in the world.