I agree with Mona: if a Muslim woman feels the need to speak openly about the abuse she suffers by the messy amalgam of religion and culture, she does no favours to anybody, particularly herself, by remaining quiet. If a Muslim woman wants to point her finger at a man, or even a cleric, she feels has wronged her and other women and draw attention to his misogyny, she must not be afraid. Her right to action was not only historically protected by the earliest Muslim communities, but it must be protected in our present day context. There should be no need for her to be politically correct – as these are issues of abuse, not politics. Most unfortunately, these are issues universal in nature.
The problem is not that women like Mona are openly speaking out against the abusive systems in the Arab and Muslim world. Rather, it is that the very private domestic problems in Arab and Muslim families have become hyper politicised and subject to political misappropriation by politicians. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron used the very sensitive issue of forced marriages and honour killings to tout the European defence and security industries at the Munich Security Conference in February of 2011, to justify the exponential increase of surveillance and the militarisation of Britain. English Defence League (EDL) sympathisers then use these cases to illustrate why they want Britain to close its borders to immigrants from the Muslim world and to justify hateful protesting in Muslim communities. Too many Muslim women have told me that they would rather remain silent than open up and potentially risk the possibility of providing the EDL more fuel. In short, the politicisation of domestic abuse and violence against Muslim women have made them all the more vulnerable and have in some instances, prevented them from seeking much needed recourse.
Ayesha Kazmi, Oh, Mona!
For those of you that may be interested, another beautifully eloquent response to Mona Eltahawy is by Samia Errazzouki in her post: Dear Mona Eltahawy, You Do Not Represent “Us” . I am sure there are a lot more, but I have not had time to go through them. Nevertheless, it is high time, that Western “liberators” understand that the plight of the “Arab” woman, or the “Muslim” woman, or the “oppressed brown woman” is really much more complex and nuanced than they would like to admit to. Pointing fingers and making sweeping generalizations about so many people without understanding the crux of their history, culture, or anything, really, IS sexualizing, and objectifying the woman they claim to be liberating.