3 August 2012
Female Muslim athletes made a historic appearance in London Olympics, not for their victories which were scored against their opponents but against widespread prejudice both from biased non-Muslims and Muslims. Unlike their opponents Muslim females who have chosen to observe modest dress code due to religious reasons had to overcome political and cultural obstacles.
Judoka Shaherkani was the first female Saudi to join to the Olympic Games, yet she had to fight with countries clergymen who give a cultural spin to their interpretation of the religion. This was not only problem she had to deal with the International Judo Federation that had initially said Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani could not compete in a headscarf.
There have been a few other Muslim female athletes from who had to overcome similar obstacles and struggle to overcome the prejudice embedded in the minds of people at home as well as in the West.
A gang of four Muslim women originally from Somalia walked free from court in Leicester last week after they had attacked a young woman in the city centre in June last year. The group of three sisters and a cousin attacked Rhea Page as she waited for a taxi with her boyfriend after a night out. Page suffered kicks to the head, back, arms, and legs and the attackers allegedly screamed “kill the white slag” (The Telegraph). The four women were convicted of causing bodily harm; however, the judge did not consider the attack to be racially motivated and thought none of the four women deserved to serve time in jail. Instead, he delivered six-month suspended jail sentences after hearing that, as Muslims, the women were “not used to being drunk”. He also sentenced the three sisters to 150 hours of community work. Following the court ruling, Page claimed that not jailing the women sent out the wrong message about street violence.
An East London-based charity (Maslaha) is looking for Muslim women to participate in arts exhibition that illustrates the achievements of everyday Muslim women. Rather than targeting the most prominent female Muslims in the country, the charity is intentionally looking for those ‘whose stories are yet to be told’ (BBC). The exhibition aims to challenge negative portrayals of Islam and to counter the current lack of information about Muslim women’s contribution to British society and life in the UK. Through this, the charity hopes to improve the understanding of Islam in the UK and to dismiss the stereotype of “submissive” Muslim women.
Interview with Lydia Nofal, a German Muslim convert, who fights for a new mosque in Berlin-Charlottenburg.