Last week the UK Guardian published a story advising British universities to shape up. It's entitled "Revise attitude to female Muslim students, universities told
," so it's not a leap to pick out the logic being employed.
"Universities must undergo a radical rethink in their attitudes to Muslim women if they are to become fully inclusive and supportive environments
," begins the article. After interviewing only 93
Muslim women, David Tyrer (
Liverpool John Moores University)
and Fauzia Ahmad (
University of Bristol)
......say their findings challenge the dominant stereotypes of Muslim women. Rather than feeling torn between two cultures or oppressed by family expectations or tradition, it is the institutions themselves that are putting obstacles in the way of Muslim women's development
Oh yeah, and what might those be -- the theory of evolution?
Thank Osiris it's nothing as radical as that. The article continues: They found that some Muslim women [in other words, fewer than the 93 they started with] said that they felt discriminated against even on ethnic monitoring forms and said universities should review the categories used. Latifa, a 20-year-old student of Arab and Islamic studies who comes from a Moroccan-English background, said in her experience that university ethnic monitoring forms never had a box for "Arab".
Strike one for the defenders of hijab. This discriminatory practice is a non sequitur
since anybody who's done a little research knows that most Muslims are not Arabic!
This is a favourite tactic frequently employed by political Islam: blurring the distinction between race and religion. The article then goes on to Yasmin, ...a 24-year-old student of sociology and public policy management, told the researchers: "Early lectures and late lectures were very hard for me because I feel I have to think of my own security and my own safety, and there is a high risk of me being attacked and I face verbal abuse every day." She attributed the abuse to "looking like a Muslim".
Although I wholeheartedly support a women's right to feel safe in her own skin (
up to and including kicking the shit out of or macing would-be assailants, for example)
, didn't Yasmin's concern strike old David and Fauzia as at all odd?
You see, as devout Muslims will tell you, they are expected to follow the Koran, which not only allows but in fact encourages
a man to beat his wives. Then there's the not insignificant matter of other Koranic ordinances which not only allow but in fact encourage Muslims to kill their neighbours if those neighbours are infidels. And since when does the safety of "moderate
" Muslims count for more than the safety of "moderate" non-Muslims?
That's strike two on the hijab defenders.
The conclusion of the article is especially insulting to anybody who is serious about women's rights:They also complained of a lack of provision for halal food...and prayer facilities falling short of women student's needs. [Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't women forbidden from even sitting with men in a mosque? So what kinds of standards could they realistically be accustomed to?] Even where there is space for prayer, female students sometimes miss out because there is no space for them to pray separately from men, the research found. [Oh, there it is.] Maintenance and cleaning of the prayer room is also reported as being left to the students, and facilities for pre-prayer washing - wudhu - are often restricted to the institutions' normal toilets, a practice that was felt to be undignified. [In other words, we Muslims are clean and the rest of you are pigs (nice pun, eh?), and it doesn't matter that your filthy infidel hands don't ever touch our prayer space because we are responsible for cleaning it up -- it's all YOUR fault that OUR religion is incompatible with YOUR secular institution.] The researchers concluded: "It is vital therefore, that institutional factors and culturalist explanations that serve to construct Muslim women in particular ways and reinforce racism and sexism in both education and the labour market, continue to be challenged."
Is there today another religious ideology more sexist, less inclined to compromise on cultural explanations or more inclined to foment cultural divisions, based on the entire argument of the religion "construct," than Islam (
or, whenever that's too difficult, to pull them out of thin air as they did when they invented the term "Islamaphobia")?
That's strike three.
So how about letting the freethinkers have a crack at building a saner, more humane world while you folks run off to your prayers?