Before the Women’s March, I had no idea who Linda Sarsour was. Now I know at least what she is: An enemy of feminism, women and social progression in general.
Feminism has been a lot in the spotlight recently, possibly due to the inauguration of the new President of the United States of America. The day after the inauguration, January the 21st 2017, women marched in Washington during the Women’s March. There is only one problem: One of the co-organisers does not seem to value some women.
Linda Sarsour, an activist and a co-organiser of the Women’s March, has shown strong opposing views to some fighters for women, sometimes outright attacking some of them. One of them, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali-born Dutch-American activist, author and former politician, was confronted on Twitter by
Linda Sarsour with the following message:
The tweet was later deleted by Sarsour, but this tweet may be a bit confusing without context. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not only a strong opponent to female genital mutilation, she has also suffered the same fate when she was five years old. She is also a strong opponent to Islam’s many practices. As this tweet now has more context, one may see why this is a horrific message to say to someone in her situation.
But this only the tip of the iceberg. Sarsour recently went out on Twitter with the hashtag #DisHonorDiaries in attempt to shut down the film “Honor Diaries”, where stories about horrific crimes done to women in the communities within both Islam and related social communities are told.
Linda Sarsour says in a comment to Al-Jazeera:
Linda Sarsour, civic engagement coordinator for the National Network for Arab American Communities and a self-described progressive women’s rights activist who said she is pro-choice, told Al Jazeera that even though some of the film’s featured activists may be “well-intentioned,” the documentary equates violence against women with Islam. “We don’t need Islamophobes to talk to us and tell the stories of oppressed and abused Muslim women,” she said. “It’s just disingenuous.”
This comment was countered by Raheel Reza in the same article:
It’s still far better that we as Muslim women have spoken on [honor violence] than some Islam hater who wanted to pick up the issue and talk about it,” she said. “This a human rights issue that’s been brushed under the carpet for so long.
So according to Sarsour, shedding light on such important issues within the Muslim communities is “Islamophobic”. She also denies that Islam has anything to do with violence. History, as well as daily news from the recent years, has shown that Islam, as well as other religions, has a lot to do with violence.
One may see this practice in Muslim countries today. Countries such as Saudi-Arabia has restricted access for women to drive and to dress up the way they want. While these issues may to some seem like rather superficial in the grande picture of the world, I notice that the more weird the ban on a certain activity for a woman is, the more it is strangling the freedom.
From a Saudi point of view
I spoke with a person from Saudi Arabia about these matters. This person, who wants to be anonymous, I categorise as rather progressive relative to many of his Saudi male citizens. While he could not comment on the topic of intricate Saudi politics, as he states he does not know much about the matter, we talked about more common violations of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. The first thing I asked about was the necessity of wearing a burqa or niqab in public spaces.
The following is an excerpt of the conversation we had. I refer to him as Michael.
But let’s say, for example, that a woman goes to the mall without her niqab, and without a male guardian. What is the response from either the community, in a social sense, or from the government?
Without niqab is a bit problematic because it is a religious duty, however guardian! It is not necessary but in most families they tend to take a male companion to be safe! But it is not a must.
But why is it safer for a woman to go with a male guardian than by herself?
Ok look, in SA you know how the rules says that no sex before marriage. And bad people are everywhere even in [Saudi Arabia] so they tend to take a male companion to not be bothered from crazy boys.
Ok, that is interesting. How about the issue with driving?
Personally I don’t see the reason why they shouldn’t drive. However there are a lot of close minded maniacs who I’m pretty sure they would do a lot of bad stuff if the government allow the women to drive. So it is kind of scary for me to leave my mother or sister to drive while there idiots still exist. Although I know it is really unfair to prohibits women from [something] because of some men fault.
Then I went on to ask about female genital mutilation. He thinks it is prohibited by law of his religion, although he is not sure.
What the books say
The Islamic texts, that is comprised of many different books and scriptures, are a bit unclear about the matter of female genital mutilation. The Qur’an is rather clear on the matter of opposition of at least female genital mutilation, alas not also for male genital mutilation id est circumsision. The Hadith on the other hand is very much in favour of this procedure. There are also different schools of thought, but as far as I have found, most Sunni and Shia are in favour of female genital mutilation or states it is at least permissible.
Thus, there is strong reason to believe that to accept female genital mutilation is the norm within Muslim communities, while one may also blame culture as the most prevalent areas where female genital mutilation is performed is located around the “intriguingly contiguous” zone in Africa – east to west from Somalia to Senegal, and north to south from Egypt to Tanzania, as stated by Gerry Mackie. Mackie specializes in the study of harmful social practices, including female genital mutilation, and worked with both UNICEF and the NGO Tostan to make communities abandon such practices.
One may therefore say with great certainty that Linda Sarsour, with the believes that she has and the fact that she wants Sharia law, is an enemy of women. It is not islamophobic to be critical of Islam’s many violations against human rights, especially towards women and children. In addition, even if one do hate the ideology Islam, it does not mean that one hates Muslims. They are people too. One should attack ideas, not humans.
I am not saying that being a Muslim and support women’s rights at the same time is impossible. However, believing that subduing women’s rights is even remotely moral, or committing unthinkable acts such as female genital mutilation, that involves a heavy amount of doublethink.
Or just pure hipocrisy.
For further reading I suggest you look up Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Twitter as well as checking out Sam Harris, Yasmine Mohammed, Maajid Nawaz and Faisal Saeed Al Mutar. They are all great thinkers and offers a wide perspective on the topic of Islam, women’s rights and the like.