In the last decades defending the rights of Muslim women has become a hot topic of public debate in Western domestic and foreign policy. In 2001, former first lady Laura Bush said that “the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women”, turning the defence of Muslim women into a noble justification of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
The story of the oppressed Muslim woman has also become a recurrent theme in popular culture and media with Muslim women almost always framed as victims of the veil, forced marriage and honor crimes because of Islam and Muslim culture. Self-proclaimed feminist movements in the West have also taken up the cause of saving Muslim women from their alleged oppression as recently witnessed with the rise of FEMEN.
But who are these Muslim women that the West feels the duty to save? Who, and/or what, do they exactly need saving from–and why?
What explains Western obsession with the oppressed Muslim woman?
Are Muslim women inherently oppressed by virtue of religion, or is the story more complex?
Find out in May’s edition of “What’s the Real Story” and join us for a conversation with:
-Nurulsyahirah Taha: Cultural critic and editor of Aquila Style, a website and digital magazine by and for Muslim women. Taha is also a regular contributor to Muslimah Media Watch, a platform that engages with the representation of Muslim women in mainstream media.
-Markha Valenta: Researcher at Radboud University Nijmegen and columnist at Open Democracy. Her current work concerns the politics of religion and culture in global cities, international relations and secular democracies. Valenta has been particularly concerned with the accommodation and discrimination of Muslim minorities in secular democracies since 9/11.
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