Exploring the Status of Muslim Women in Europe: British Warn of Growing Female Islamic Radicalism

British authorities are warning that a form of militant Islamist feminism is beginning to emerge, and that some Muslim women could begin to pose a security threat. Officials say the great majority of Muslims, men and women, espouse moderate views. But there is growing concern over an Islamic reawakening among women that could further widen the divide between large sectors of Muslims and mainstream British society. ‘The Lyrical Terrorist’ In October, Britain’s Channel 4 TV network broadcast a thriller about a brother and sister, British-born Muslims, pulled in opposite directions. Unexpectedly, it’s the woman in the story who breaks with the system and becomes radicalized by the anti-terrorism laws that many Muslims consider draconian. Nasima, the sister, is a secular political activist, who embraces the cause of jihad and becomes a suicide bomber. But that was just fiction. A few days later, this is what Britons heard on the news: “A former worker at Heathrow airport who called herself the lyrical terrorist has become the first woman in the country to be convicted under new terrorism laws. Twenty-three-year-old Samina Malik was found guilty of possessing records likely to be used in an act of terrorism.” The materials included an al-Qaida manual, a booklet on mujahedeen poisons and bomb-making instructions. Britain is being confronted with a wave of enigmas – the increasing number of British Muslim women who have taken to wearing not just the headscarf, but the full face veil known as the niqab. This Islamic reawakening comes at a time when the British government is trying to enlist Muslim women in an effort to combat extremism. It has created the National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group to give Muslim women a greater voice in British society. But writer and researcher Munira Mirza says many young Muslim women are starting to embrace radical ideals and even to support al-Qaida. Sylvia Poggioli reports.