“The everyday realities of young Muslim women in Britain”

“The everyday realities of young Muslim women in Britain “. This is how Tania Saeed’s book is presented on her publisher’s page.

Islamophobia and Securitization. Religion, Ethnicity and the Female Voice – published in the “Politics of identity and citizenship” series – addresses the connection between gender, islamophobia and security in the UK.

The book explores “the narratives of securitization and islamophobia as described by young Muslim women” and how these women try to challenge them. The author who has previously worked on radicalization and counter-radicalization in British universities, analyses here how the securitization of the “Muslim question” and the growing suspicion towards Muslims that it entails impact the daily life of young British Muslim women.

Contrary to the Muslim men who are perceived as “dangerous” and posing a “more direct physical threat”, young British Muslim women are considered as “vulnerable fanatics”, “susceptible to radicalize and therefore in need of being rescued”.

The author specifically looks at the British Muslim female student, perceived as problematic inside and outside educational institutions, since educated British Muslim women were indicted for charges of terrorism.

Though this interdisciplinary work focuses on “British-Muslim-Pakistani-female identity”, the connection between gender, islamophobia and securitization will be relevant for many other national contexts.

Source :

Saeed, Tania, Islamophobia and Securitization Religion, Ethnicity and the Female Voice, Palgrave Politics of Identity and Citizenship series, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016

https://www.palgrave.com/de/book/9783319326795#reviews

Unsettling U.S. Political Climate Galvanizes Muslims to Vote

These are unsettling times for many American Muslims. “People are losing their sleep,” said Naeem Baig, the president of the Islamic Circle of North America. “The political environment is creating a divide in America” by race, language, gender and religion.
But it has also had an unintended consequence: galvanizing Muslims to vote.

Women’s Mosque of America hosts first Friday Prayer in Los Angeles

Women attend the first jumma prayer at the Women's Mosque of America in Lose Angeles on January 30, 2015. (Photo: Religious Dispatches)
Women attend the first jumma prayer at the Women’s Mosque of America in Lose Angeles on January 30, 2015. (Photo: Religious Dispatches)

On Friday, January 30th, 2015 the Women’s Mosque of America hosted its first Friday Prayer at its location in Los Angeles. Founders and co-Presidents, M. Hasna Maznavi and Sana Muttalib welcomed the group of worshipers, journalists, and curious guests stating that at this new mosque, “we will not be policing any bodies.” According to Maznavi, the “policing” of bodies was one of the primary reasons that led her to creating a mosque for women.

The mosque itself is symbolic of the struggle of young American Muslims to create their own identities that are not only compatible with Islam but also reflective of the social progress that they are a part of. Young Muslims are pushing back against rigid social and gender norms brought to the country by their parents and grandparents that are only tangentially related to Islam. Maznavi notes that although they respect the orthodox beliefs, they also want to stretch them to be more inclusive.

 

European Human Rights Court Upholds France’s Burqa Ban

July 1, 2014

On Tuesday, July 1 the European Court of Human Rights voted, by a large majority, to uphold France’s ban of the full veil. A young Frenchwoman challenged the law that was instituted in 2010 and which calls for a 150-euro fine for anyone wearing the full veil in public. The decision is largely viewed as a triumph for France and Belgium, which are the only two countries in Europe to institute such legislation. The victory gives other countries the right to enact similar laws.

The French government had argued that the ban was in the interest of public safety and in support of women who may be forced to wear the full veil. However, many critics contend that the law is discriminatory and targets Muslims and religious minorities, violating the principles of freedom of religion and freedom of expression. In response to the ruling Elsa Ray, spokeswoman for the Muslim advocacy group CCIF argued, “Some people now feel entitled to attack women wearing the veil even though the infringement is no more severe than, say, a parking ticket.”

The law was challenged by a woman only identified by her initials, S.A.S., who decided to wear either a niqab or a burqa without any pressure from her family. S.A.S. contends that the French ban constituted a violation of her religious freedom, and could potentially lead to “discrimination and harassment.”

The French government argued, “showing one’s face in public was one of the ‘minimum requirements of life in society.’” The court decided that the ban cannot be justified as a public safety measure or as a protector of women’s rights, but that “the barrier raised against others by a veil concealing the face was perceived by the respondent state as breaching the right of others to live in a space of socialization which made living together easier.”

The highly contentious decision, which cannot be appealed, has already sparked protests from several groups. James Goldstone, executive director of the Open Society Justice initiative, filed a third-party intervention on the ruling and said, “Coming at a time when hostility to ethnic and religious minorities is on the rise in many parts of Europe, the court’s decision is an unfortunate missed opportunity to reaffirm the importance of equal treatment for all and the fundamental right to religious belief and expression.” He continued, “The majority has failed adequately to protect the rights of many women who wish to express themselves by what they wear.”

However, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry confirmed that the government viewed the ruling as a success because it “reflected France’s commitment to gender equality.”

Marriage Debates Color Muslims’ Le Bourget

April 18, 2014

 

Muslim leaders opened France’s largest Islamic conference on Friday, April 18, amid a recent controversy surrounding the recent social debates in France regarding legalization of gay marriage and discussions on gender equality education in schools.

“From the point of view of the religious consciousness, marriage for all is something that is a real problem of consciousness,” Tariq Ramadan told BFM TV, media-presse.info reported.

“The issue of homosexuality should be asked in terms of philosophy life: I think it is something that goes against my faith,” he added.

Organized by UOIF, Le Bourget, the largest Islamic conference in France, opened on Friday.

Prominent Swiss Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan will attend the first day of the conference, which closes next Monday.

Themed “What values for a changing society? Man, family and community life”, the four-day conference discusses a host of topics of interest for the Muslim community in France.

The event is expected to draw 150,000 visitors annually, Le Bourget’s attendants will be able to visit a 15,000 square meter exhibition space in which typical products from the Arab and Muslim world will be displayed.

France is home to a Muslim minority of six million, Europe’s largest.

Last February, French Muslims went in mass protests against the legalization of gay marriage and gender equality teaching in schools considering it a “violation” of traditional family values.

The controversy erupted after gender theory, which promotes same-sex, was included in school education stirring fierce criticism by France’s conservative and right-wing groups.

Despite fierce opposition and mass protest across the southern European country, President Francoise Hollande signed the controversial marriage bill into law in May 2013.

After the legislation, France became the 14th country in the world to allow gay marriage.

 

Source: http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/471505-marriage-debates-color-muslims-le-bourget.html

 

Muslims join Paris protest against gender equality drive in schools

February 2, 2014

 

Tens of thousands of supporters of the conservative “Manif pour Tous” movement (Protest for Everyone) gathered in Paris on Sunday February 2nd to protest against gender equality teaching in schools. The “Manif Pour Tous” (MPT) mounted huge protests before legislation was passed in 2013 allowing gay marriages, and its focus now is on medically-assisted procreation for same-sex couples.

Sunday’s march included a prominent Muslim contribution in a protest movement that has so far been overwhelmingly linked to far-right political parties and to conservative Catholic groups.

Many protesters also told FRANCE 24 they were worried about the state’s role in sex education, and the supposed “gender theory” lurking behind an “ABCD of equality” initiative aimed at breaking down gender stereotypes in schools.

The demonstrators claim the move is a deliberate attempt to brainwash children from an early age against what they consider the “natural” differences between men and women, boys and girls.

“The state has no business lecturing children on subjects as private as sexual identity or of imposing adult preoccupations on young children,” said MPT leader Ludivine de la Rochère, voicing a concern shared by many of the Muslim associations that joined Sunday’s march through central Paris.

Among the heads of the various groups was Samir Driss, of the Muslims for Childhood group.

He told FRANCE 24 that increasing numbers of Muslims were joining the MPT movement, despite its Christian and far-right reputation, attracted to its traditional and conservative view of family life.

“Education should be about teaching children skills so that they can get jobs,” he said. “Sex education is not going to get them into work. Sexuality is a subject that I will raise in front of my children when I see fit.”

His words were echoed by Camel Bechikh, who heads the ‘Sons of France’ association of patriotic French Muslims. “The state is responsible for practical instruction of children in schools, not their moral education, which is the business of the family,” he told FRANCE 24. “When I take my children to school I expect them to be taught history and geography. I don’t want them to be told the state’s idea of what is morally right or wrong. That is my job as their father and head of the family.”

At the very front of the march, which was dominated by middle class ethnically French demonstrators, Najib Guarraz was among a group holding a huge banner bearing the words, in French and in Arabic:

“French Muslims opposed to same-sex marriage.” The 54-year-old father of two told FRANCE 24 he was protesting because “I am opposed to gender theory lessons in schools, I am opposed to same-sex marriage. We are in the process of destroying the fundamentals of French life.’’

Sunday’s protest comes a week after several thousand people marched through Paris in a violent “Day of Anger” against the policies of President François Hollande’s Socialist government, including last year’s law allowing gay marriage.

 

Source: http://www.france24.com/en/20140202-thousands-french-conservatives-march-family-values/

‘Salaam, Love’ counters stereotypes of Muslim men

January 31, 2014

 

Oppressive. Boorish. Misogynist: Those are the popular images of Muslim men and how they treat women.

But there’s more to it than that, thought Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, the editors of “Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.”

Many Muslims welcomed the two women’s 2012 collection of 25 stories as an overdue conversation starter. Soon they got flooded with requests for a male version.

They initially dismissed the idea, assuming men wouldn’t want to write so openly about such intimate matters. But as the queries kept coming, the two editors decided a Muslim male version wasn’t that far-fetched, and given the stereotypes of Muslim men, much needed.

“So much has been said about Muslim men, we thought it was time for them to tell their own stories in their own words about what’s important to them,” said Mattu, 41.

The result is a collection of 22 stories, “Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy,” to be released next week by Beacon Press. The writers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, hold beliefs that range from secular to orthodox, and include straight, gay, single, married, and widowed men. The editors received more than 100 submissions over five months.

“Salaam, Love” seeks to counter stereotypes of Muslim men by offering stories of men who bare their emotions, admit mistakes, bask in memories of true love, recall heartbreaks, and reflect on caring for a dying wife.

The stories range from humorous to heartbreaking, while shedding light on who makes up Muslim Americans.

Sam Pierstorff’s opening chapter, “Soda Bottles and Zebra Skins,” takes the reader on a journey that starts with puppy love, veers into frank tales of teenage lust, and ends in courtship and true love.

RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/01/31/salaam-love-counters-stereotypes-muslim-men/

Student and women’s groups write open letter to UN condemning gender segregation in UK universities

January 15, 2014

 

Students and women’s groups have written an open letter to the UN to condemn gender segregation at British universities. Writing to the UN’s special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, the signatories are hoping to build pressure on UK universities to ban segregation of any kind.

They write: “Gender segregation reinforces negative views about women, undermines their right to participate in public life on equal terms with men and disproportionately impedes women from ethnic and religious minorities, whose rights to education and gender equality are already imperilled.”

The letter appeared on the LSE student union page on Tuesday, and has been signed by various people including Chris Moos, the secretary of LSE’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, and Nahla Mahmoud, the spokesperson for the council of ex-Muslims of Britain.

Mr Moos, who was recently involved in a freedom of expression battle with LSE, believes that any type of segregation should be fought and that the UN pressure would help public discussion.

Universities UK and the Federation of Islamic Students Societies were both targets in the open letter. Last December, UUK said in a report that “Assuming the side-by-side segregated seating arrangement is adopted, there does not appear to be any discrimination”, but later clarified their position, saying: “[UUK] agrees entirely with the prime minister that universities should not enforce gender segregation on audiences at the request of guest speakers”.

FOISS were mentioned as their guidelines recommend societies “maintain segregation between brothers and sisters, keeping interactions between them at a minimum”.

A march has also been planned which will take place on March 8th.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/student-and-womens-groups-write-open-letter-to-un-condemning-gender-segregation-in-uk-universities-9061327.html

Outcry at ‘gender apartheid’ in new guidance for UK universities

December 13, 2013

 

Over 100 demonstrators attended a rally last night in protest against “legitimisation of sex apartheid” by Universities UK (UUK).

Protesters are up in arms over controversial new guidelines from the body on the laws affecting external speaker events. They claim that the new guidance will allow “ultra-orthodox religious groups” to separate men from women at events.

Demonstrators in Tavistock Square in central London carried banners with slogans such as “separate is never equal” and “no gender apartheid”. Several speakers addressed the crowd, condemning UUK’s actions, including Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the Independent journalist.

UUK’s guidelines state that gender segregation might not necessarily discriminatory as long as “both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way”.

It continues: “Concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system.”

UUK insists that “assuming the side-by-side segregated seating arrangement is adopted, there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating”.

Maryam Namazie, an organiser of the rally and spokesperson for Fitnah, which champions women’s liberation in Islam, told the Independent: “it’s fitting that this rally is on International Human Rights Day, as well as the day of Mandela’s Memorial Service, as it goes to show that the fight against all forms of apartheid is not over.”

She added: “Any form of separation can never be equal as segregation is a restriction of equality and freedom. Women must not be separated. People have a right to religious beliefs, but this is about equality and universities should protect that equality.”

Meanwhile, In response to claims that the NUS supports the guidelines, a spokesperson said that the “NUS supports the rights of groups to self-organise how they wish but would be concerned about enforced segregation and certainly does not endorse it.

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has accused Universities UK of “pandering to extremism” with controversial guidance endorsing the segregation of men and women at campus events, urging it to be withdrawn immediately.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/13/michael-gove-university-gender-segregation

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10517111/Campus-segregation-religious-freedom-cannot-be-allowed-to-trump-equality.html

The Independent:

Largest U.S. Muslim Organization Supports LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

November 11, 2013

 

Last week, one of the clearest shifts in the decades-long debate over Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) came into light from the largest U.S.-based Muslim organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), joined a broad interfaith coalition, calling ENDA a “measured, common sense solution that will ensure workers are judged on their merits, not on their personal characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In a historic advancement for the LGBT rights movement, the Senate on Thursday approved ENDA, a bill that protects against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite advances in anti-discrimination in the workplace, Muslims continue to face unfair job discrimination. Our shared experiences of discrimination can provide a common basis to work with one another to mold a more inclusive America.

Commenting on the shift of tone, Dr. Sharon Groves, Director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program, regarded ISNA’s support of ENDA as a major step in right direction.

“LGBT Muslims both in the U.S. and abroad need to hear from organizations like ISNA that their experiences as Muslims are recognized in the spirit of Islam’s emphasis on compassion and respect for all humanity,” said Groves.

The movement for greater acceptance of LGBT people in Islam is growing. LGBT Muslims continue to be at the forefront of cutting edge scholarship at the intersection of Islam and issues affecting the lives of LGBT Muslims. Around the nation and the world, LGBT Muslims and their allies are working to build an inclusive faith — and having some notable success.

 

Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/largest-u.s.-muslim-organization-supports-lgbt-anti-discrimination-bill