Category: islamophobia

August 17, 2010 / / islamophobia

By Guest Contributor Diana, cross-posted from Muslimah Media Watch

This is the true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.

Those words have forever ushered in MTV’s “real” drama-filled saga, The Real World. The Real World has long been known for its token cast members: in an all-white, heterosexual cast, MTV would often cast one or two people of color and/or from the LGBTQ community, ostensibly to heighten tensions and increase ratings.

Season 19 of the Real World saga, set in Sydney, Australia, offered viewers a new entrée to salivate over: “the Muslim woman.” Parisa, an American-Iranian woman, was the first Muslim to appear on The Real World. She was the only person of color that season, and replaced both the token gay and black cast members. I guess they thought one Muslim woman was enough to conjure up the drama the other two token characters promised.

Wendi Muse at Racialicious put it best, saying:

Maybe they felt like throwing a brown Muslim girl into the vanilla pot would liven it up a little, but honestly, I feel like this is MTV’s as-per-usual approach to diversity: do something controversial, put the people (or person, in this case) of color in an awkward position that makes them react in an outrageous, albeit usually justified, way, then sit back and watch the ratings go up.

The show had not aired at this point, but Wendi’s predictions were right. The season’s most memorable moment was when fellow cast member Trisha pushed Parisa in a fit of rage. Drama had been brewing between the two cast members since the first episode, and eventually led to Trisha’s horrifying outburst.

Read the Post Muslim Girls: the New Tokens of The Real World

April 7, 2010 / / WTF?

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

Last week Jean Charest, premier of the province of Quebec in Canada, proposed legislation that would ban Muslim women from wearing the niqab/face-veil.

How does Quebec intend to ban the niqab? By refusing essential services to women wearing one. From the Toronto Star:

[Bill 94] effectively bars Muslim women from receiving or delivering public services while wearing a niqab.  According to the draft law, they would not be able to consult a doctor in a hospital, for example, or even attend classes in a university.  Two words: Uncovered face,” Charest told reporters during a press conference in Quebec City. “The principle is clear.” However, Charest reaffirmed the right to wear other religious symbols, such as crosses, skullcaps or headscarves, which was met by some as evidence of hypocrisy and discrimination…

Charest explained that the legislation, Bill 94, demands a face in plain view, for reasons of identification, security and communication. He further clarified that even public-service employees who do not interact with the public – the majority of the provincial bureaucracy – would also not be permitted to wear the niqab…

The legislation doesn’t stop at driver’s licence or health card offices. It encompasses nearly every public and para-public institution as well, including universities, school boards, hospitals, community health and daycare centres.

There are many things about this bill that are horrendous.  For example, that whole universal healthcare thing – of which many Canadians are so proud – will become pretty UNuniversal; since if you’re wearing a niqab you can’t see a doctor.  Bill 94 returns us to suffragette era politics, where some women (i.e. white ones) got the vote while others didn’t; since if you’re wearing a niqab you can’t vote.

To me one of the most appalling things about Bill 94 is that it is actually being sold as a gender equity thing. More from the Star:

Critics of the niqab say they subjugate women and their right to equality. After a woman was removed this month from a French-language class for refusing to remove her niqab, Christine St-Pierre, Quebec’s minister responsible for the status of women, called niqabs “ambulatory prisons.” On Wednesday, St-Pierre said Quebec was a “world leader” when it comes to gender equality, and with Bill 94, “we prove it once again.”

How many times does it have to be said that gender equity is about giving women the right to make their own choices?  If a woman’s choice is to wear a niqab, BARRING her from wearing one by removing access to work, childcare, healthcare and education is the absolute opposite of gender equality.

I cannot say enough how disgusting and dishonest this is.  If this bill was motivated by a real concern for women made to wear the niqab against their will, wouldn’t it make more sense to partner with organisations for Muslim women and/or organisations for women fleeing abuse and violence?

Instead, this legislation is being championed primarily by white men and women who are not Muslim.

Since I am getting too apoplectic to be articulate, let’s see what other people are saying about Bill 94.

The Non/No to Bill 94 Coalition writes in their statement:

Bill 94, if approved, will perpetuate gender inequality by legislating control over women’s bodies and sanctioning discrimination against Muslim women who wear the niqab. Instead of singling out a minuscule percentage of the population, government resources would be better spent implementing poverty reduction and education programs to address real gender inequality in meaningful ways. Barring any woman from social services, employment, health, and education, as well as creating a climate of shame and fear around her is not an effective means to her empowerment….“Rescuing” women is paternalistic and insulting. Further marginalizing Muslim women who wear niqab and denying them access to social services, economic opportunities and civic participation is unacceptable.

Forcing a woman to reveal part of her body is no different from forcing her to be covered. Read the Post Quebec Niqab Ban: No/Non to Bill 94!

November 30, 2009 / / islamophobia

By Guest Contributor Jehanzeb, originally posted at Muslim Reverie

Last Thursday, I attended an event hosted by the Muslim Student Association as part of their peace and coexistence week.  The event was about raising awareness and appreciation for the various cultures within the Muslim community.  Muslims read their poems, played music, sang, and gave presentations on Sufism/Islamic spirituality.  There were many non-Muslims in attendance and it was great to hear how previous events during the week had excellent turnouts as well.  As I drove home, I felt like all of us made a huge difference.

When I checked my e-mail that night, a news report about a man opening fire at a military base appeared on the Yahoo homepage.  I prayed, as many Muslim-Americans did, that the shooter wasn’t a Muslim.  The last thing we needed the media to get hyped up about was a Muslim-American murdering fellow Americans in the armed forces.  When the man’s Muslim affiliation was revealed, I was devastated.

My thoughts and prayers went out to the victims and their friends and families.  Simultaneously, as details slowly unfolded and as CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) released immediate condemnations of the incident, I felt like we took one step forward, but then two steps backward.  I am still worried about a backlash on the Muslim community.  Muslim-Americans have been suffering from hate crimes, discriminatory acts, prejudice, and media stereotyping/propaganda since the atrocity on 9/11, and although many Muslim-Americans have been speaking out, polls and surveys have found that negative attitudes and perceptions of Islam and Muslims have been on the increase.

I am not surprised by the Islamophobia that has resulted from this.  It has been going on since September of 2001; what else is new?  In typical Islamophobic fashion, Senator Joe Lieberman called the incident an “act of Islamist extremism.” Despite warnings not to jump to conclusions from Army officials and the President himself, Lieberman concluded:   “There are very, very strong warning signs here that Dr. Hasan had become an Islamist extremist and, therefore, that this was a terrorist act,” Lieberman.

In other words, “terrorism” is a term reserved only for Muslims.  Yeah, we’ve been through this lesson before (see my post, “‘Terrorist’ Means ‘Muslim’”).

Read the Post No One “Hijacked” Islam

October 30, 2009 / / Uncategorized

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

These notes are taken from complimentary screenings courtesy of the San Diego Asian Film Festival, which concluded Thursday night.

For those of us who only remember Jack Soo from watching Barney Miller with our parents, the documentary You Don’t Know Jack is aptly named, as it reveals a pleasant set of surprises.

Directed by Jeff Adachi, Jack is concise (it clocks in at just under an hour) but not rushed, covering its subject with a relaxed cool that, as we soon learn, fed not only the onstage persona he developed as a singer, nightclub host and comedian, but made him an asset to Japanese-American families interned in California during World War II, as he organized talent revues and shows to lift spirits at the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah. He even managed to arrange permission and transportation for off-site shows. Soo’s singing ability is shown off about halfway through the movie, when you hear his rendition of “For Once In My Life,” made popular by Stevie Wonder.
Read the Post Festival Picks: ‘You Don’t Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story,’ ‘Arusi: Persian Wedding’ & ‘Shades Of Ray’

September 29, 2009 / / comedy

By Guest Contributor Princesse de Clèves, islamogauchiste, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

Have you ever noticed how minorities—and oppressed people in general—lack a sense of humor? Lately, there have been plenty of jokes about Arabs and Muslims. So why aren’t we laughing?

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux recently felt his joke fall flat after this year’s summer congress. One of his traditional supporters, Amin Benalia, asked if he could take a picture with the minister. A woman in the crowd jokingly introduced Benalia to the team as someone different because he “eats pork and drinks beer”. Ah, a meeting of old friends and politicians united under the banner of pork, beer and the finest French jokes. The Minister explained about Benalia:

“He doesn’t fit the prototype [of an Arab Muslim] at all. Not at all. We always need one. When there’s one, that’s all right. It’s when there a lot of them that there are problems.”

This moment of free expression had been launched on the website of Le Monde and raised lots of questions, reactions and criticism. But the merry minister did not apologize. He simply said it was a joke, and most journalists gave it legitimacy by saying the minister was “very laid-back”.

David Gee, the author of Shaikh Down—a  very “funny” novel about the Arabs (again)—claimed he “spent six years in the Gulf and never met an intelligent woman”, ignoring the fact that intelligent women had better things to do than meet up with a poor so-called satirist.

In Shaikh Down, Gee writes:

“Nayla was tall, olive-skinned, voluptuous, at twenty-six two years younger than her brother Ibrahim and exactly half her husband’s age, a feminist intellectual in a society that tended to ignore women and mistrusted intellectuals .”

Exclusively focusing his attention on the body of Nayla, the author completely ignores the role that high-profile women play in the Gulf. The “feminist intellectual” is at some point described as if she was either a prostitute or a commodity: by the size and the color of her “voluptuous” Orientalized body.

Read the Post Your Joke is Not My Joke: Racism and Sexism in Jokes and Satire

August 14, 2009 / / film

By Guest Contributor Fiqah, originally published at Possum Stew

Delta Force 1

A couple of weeks back,  AJ Plaid and I collaborated on a humor piece  for Racialicious about White guys who had received the Black Folk Stamp of Approval for Screen Time with Sistahs™.  It was a mostly tongue-in-cheek piece that was surprisingly popular (if the number of comments are any indication of how well-received it was, anyway).  As the comments came in with suggestions of who to add to the list, I noticed that quite a few actors were being noted as “hot” in their film roles as skinheads. Not the cool, Trojan skinheads. The regular, scary, violent, racist kind. Now, as a general rule, as I mentioned on the thread “hot skinhead” is an oxymoron to me, so this turn in conversation was one I found intriguing:

Hm. As a related aside, I find it interesting that the mainstream American film narrative allows for the (fictional) existence of the Hot Young WHITE Supremacist/Ideological Extremist…but NOT for the (fictional) existence of the Hot Young BROWN Religious/Ideological Extremist. Meh. Another post for some other day.

Over the last few weeks, I have watched people come running to defend the indefensible. I have heard and read defense of the officers who shot Marwa Sherbini’s husband as he was attempting to save his pregnant wife’s life, counterarguments to the blatant racism and sexism exhibited by certain senators during the Sotomayor hearings, dismissals of salient allegations of racist character coding in recent summer blockbusters , and protests  justifying the removal of little Black children – babies, really – from a swimming pool on a hot-assed summer day. ( “Change the complexion of the pool”?  Really? Newsflash: eumelanin doesn’t wash off. Good grief.)

I have to say that of all these, the story that has unsettled me most is the murder of Egyptian Muslim Mrs. Sherbini at the hands of White German Axel W.  Typically, mainstream media frames the “lone (White) gunman” as an anomaly.  However, in the aftermath of this tragedy, I  have read comments on blogs defending – to the point of applauding  – Axel W.’s actions.  (I am not providing links for these threads, but suffice it to say that is indeed an interesting experience to feel chilled to the bone in the middle of July.)

The overwhelming sentiment on some of these threads is that the monster who killed Mrs. Sherbini was just like any other nice young man who was so disturbed by the changing “face” of his country that he just snapped. And the husband being shot, well, don’t all those men beat the women anyway? Really, Sherbini, by thumbing her nose at outward assimilation as dictated by her choice of garb, kinda brought all of this on herself.

The callous dismissal of Mrs. Sherbini’s fundamental human value, and the simultaneous  public defense of her murderer, stunned me. What, I wondered, exactly IS “understandable rage”?  When is acting out of frustration – to violent, fatal excess – forgivable? Is it ever?  If so, then for whom? More urgently, how had the compassion of Axel W.’s supporters failed to be stirred by what to me is one of the tenderest representations of humanity: a pregnant mother?

The Black Folk Stamp of Approval for Screen Time with Sistahs™ got me thinking about film representations of skinheads, but what would it look like if we viewed representations of “Jihadis”* side-by-side with so-called dreamy Skinheads?

Read the Post “Jihadis”*, Skinheads and Film Representation