PEEK

Enough Psuedo-Feminist War-Mongering in the Name of Islamic Women

Really.

Sometimes hypocrisy is hard to discern, other times not so much.

When it comes to neoconservative claims that we have to occupy far-flung lands in order to defend Islamic women from their sons, brothers and husbands, it's nothing short of striking. After all, any mention of the "plight" of women in Christendom is dismissed by the very same conservative bobble-heads as the incoherent rantings of hairy-legged "feminazis."

I'm on a bunch of political press lists, including several from the Right. Today, I got this:

On Wednesday, French lawmakers met to discuss whether or not to legalize a nationwide ban of the burka, the head-to-toe dressing that Muslim women are expected, if not demanded, to wear. Academics present at the hearing called the tradition archaic and cult-like behavior. France, as it happens, has the largest Muslim minority out of every other European country.

Mano Bakh, an ex-Muslim banned from Iran for speaking out against Islamic radicalism, feels that US lawmakers should follow suit with evoking similar regulations.

Mano Bakh, it appears, is trying to join the prosperous ranks of "former Muslims" who tell right-wing activists that their virulent Islamophobia isn't racist at all, but is entirely justified. It's a great gig if you can land it.

“The Muslim religion belonged to a barbaric society that lived 1,400 years ago,” says Bakh. "Many of its facets are not applicable for today’s advanced world. The wearing of the burka is just one example.”

Of course, fake Western feminists (and I'm not talking about actual feminists -- you know, people who take issues that affect women seriously) don't give a damn about what the Islamic feminists they claim to care for actually want.

Case in point: the Burqa. I've met a large number of real, live feminists from majority-Islamic countries, and each and every one has said that dress is an obsession of Westerners, and that what they care about, fight for, and sometimes risk their safety over is reforming marriage and divorce laws, education, political participation, etc. What's more, they report that within their own, home-grown movements, women are themselves deeply divided over veiling. And, finally, because the dress issue is of interest to foreigners, it allows traditionalists to paint their indigenous fights as a product of Western meddling, endangering their persons and marginalizing their fights. Thanks for nothing.

That's not to say that indigenous women's rights activists don't benefit from international solidarity from their sisters and brothers abroad -- the point is that the expansion of rights is a domestic struggle that's worthy of support rather than something foreigners can realistically impose from without.

Let me leave you on an interesting note. In the midst of this whole French burqa brouhaha, IPS News sent a correspondent into the streets of Paris -- in neighborhoods with large Muslim populations. Guess what she found?

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.
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