Thursday, December 31, 2009

Following an enemy

I am always questioning the motives forcing- I hope force is the adequate verb- Muslim women to join radical Islamist movements.
why would women engage a movement that sees them as sexual object needs to be tamed and covered. why do women agree to be identified as traps of the devil. Why do women accept to be called adulterer, if she wears perfume. why she trades her personal well for the obedience of the leader and the group, not only Allah. Why women march in masses supporting Umma (the nation) calls, but they never march for their own demands. Why do women constitute the wide base of support to the Islamist movement, but they are never allowed to join the elite of the movement as a person, only as a wife of X or a daughter of Y.
There are many arguments explaining the reason behind women's participation in Islamists movement. I reject the argument of false conciseness, which says that those women were fooled or mislead through many factors like socialization. So they will choose alternatives against their own interests. I reject this argument because it does not respect the personal choice of these women and perceive them as submissive creatures, who have no critical minds or well to question the illusions.
I agree with the argument of the Turkish scholar Deniz Kandyoti that women are forced that do a patriarchal bargain to give up their rights as individuals and women, to gain acceptance and agency. Those women adopt the same norms and discourse of the movement. They entrench the gender roles and images adopted by the movement. They know their limits and they never cross it. Kandyoti argument is opposite to Saba Mahmoud argument which claims that women create new form of agency and empowerment through engaging Islamist movement.
I believe that Islamist movements use women to gain support, to sustain societal statuesque and advocate for their ideas. I still remember how Muslim Brotherhood MB dealt with women in the movement or sisters, how they nominated two women in the parliamentary elections of 2000 and 2005 in Egypt, when all the political actors criticized them for excluding women from political arena. The two female candidtes of MB are Gihan el Halfawy in Alexandria in 2000, she is wife of prominent MB figure and Makarem el Deery in Cairo, Helipolis in 2005. she is a widow of prominent MB figure as well , they both failed and did not make to the parliament. It is obvious that both are related to prominent brothers and they are not real figures in the movement. In addition to that el Deery in one of her press statements affirmed that she took the permission of her eldest son before running for office and she commented saying that there are no powerful sisters in the movement as the icon Zeinab el Ghazaly. Also many critiques pointed that el Deery campaign manager was more powerful and charismatic than el Deery her self.
MB affirmed women inability to run for president office. And recently MB in its comments on the political momentum inside the movement after long period of stagnation, declared that women will not hold any senior position in the movement. MB pretext was protecting the sisters from any governmental backlash. MB is not the only example of opportunism of Islamist movements and their exploitation of women. what I hate most is that they claim that they can guide them to the only right path and they convince women that in order to be pious Muslim, they have to give up their rights as women and individuals.
Finally I will conclude by saying women are not herd who need to be shepherded, women will never follow an enemy.

photo found at:


Free your mind said...

I am really impressed by the progresive way of thinking that you express in this post ya Fatma, as an Islamic Feminist you are taking the individual approach to express the importance of women being an active figure as a person not as a wife or a daughter.

Keep writting those lovely posts I really enjoy reading them and knowing that there are people who think like me out there if we are different in the ideology.

Roi Silberberg said...

Solid arguments ya Fatma. There are so many Muslim feminist thinkers out there that I dont know about...

In regard of the general question of the article, why do Muslim women follow laws and people that disrespect them. Well, there is an underlying assumption to this question and the several answers mentioned. This assumption is that people do what is best for them (or what they think is best, in the false consciousness theory).
I am not sure this assumption is true, it should be examoned in any case.

Thank you, and continue writing.

Fatma Emam said...

Free your mind
Thanks for the sweet words; I will do my best to articulate some of my ideas in this blog, Insha Allah I will write on a weekly basis
I think one of the main problem of Islamic feminists that they are not noisy enough, we should express our ideas to prove that we exist and the Islamist point of view is not the sole perspective of Islam

Welcome to Brownie, thanks for reading and commenting
Yes I agree that women join Islamist movement because it is the best solution for them, where they can be empowered, acknowledged and to be deemed real Muslim. Islamist movement is a path for soul’s salvation for its followers. The movements claim that they awn the keys for paradise on earth and in heaven,
However I will refer you to the example of Dr Heba Raouf Ezzat, an Islamic thinker interested in women issues with other things, she wrote a great thesis about political activity of women in I slam. Ezzat has harsh critique to feminism and she was affiliated to Muslim Brotherhood, but such movement can not accept Ezzat ideas although they are coming form Islamic thinker rereading Islam or only highlighting the true essence of Islam and rejecting the so called western feminism .
Keep reading:)

Maja Mischke said...

Please be extremely noisy. Will promote your blog as much as possible. Greetings from Amsterdam!