Friday Links — August 6, 2010

If we’ve missed any news about Muslim women this week, feel free to post links in the comments!

  • Dude

    Two women in niqab board a plane, security freak-outs ensue.

    While I’ve read only “one side”, it certainly doesn’t sound like a “freak out”. A serious breach in security took place.

  • Rosa

    I saw this and thought of this website!

    David Mitchell: If they tried to ban the burqa I’d start wearing one

  • Duff

    I have a few questions about how you compile these stories on your website. Do you scour newpapers on the lookout for typical ‘muslim’ sounding names?? Or do you keep your eyes open for the words ‘woman’ and perhaps ‘Iran’ and think ‘AHA!! here’s a story about a ‘muslim woman’ that we can dissect!’

    Nowhere have I heard or read that Arianna Afsar, the members of the Iranian rugby team or even Neda Agha Soltani were muslims. Does the fact that they originate from countries with a majority of the population said to be muslim, automatically make them ‘muslim’ by default? Why do you make such assumptions without hearing how these women self-identify? That goes against the whole concept of women having their own voice in how they are portrayed. As a South Asian with an arabic sounding name, I get offended when people assume I am a muslim without even bothering to ask (for the record, I am agnostic). You wouldn’t claim someone was a Scientologist without hearing them specifically say it, so why do it for these women?

    So please, from now on if you choose to post links for discussion on a website titled Muslimah Media Watch, do try to make sure the women are indeed ‘muslimahs,’ by that I mean they have expressly self-identified as such (and no you should not make assumptions based on someone’s last name or country of origin, on something as personal as faith/beliefs etc).

  • Krista

    @ Duff: I think that’s a good question, and something we’ve talked about at times among the writers.

    My own feeling is that if the media representations link the person to Islam in some way – either if they say or imply that she’s Muslim, or they talk about her as a person from a Muslim country, or if the story is affecting a wider range of Muslim women, or if Muslimness is emphasised in some other way – then this plays into media discourses about Muslim women, regardless of whether the woman herself identifies as Muslim. In those cases, I think it makes sense for MMW to continue to discuss the woman/women in question, not because they themselves are necessarily Muslim, but because the media is already talking about them as Muslims.

    That said, I agree with you that it’s really important not to assume things about people’s religious identifications based on their names or countries of origin, and if certain women aren’t already being connected to Muslims or Muslim communities in any way, I do think it’s problematic to claim them as Muslimahs without letting them choose whether or not to identify themselves as such. That line isn’t always clear though, and we might all have different standards for when someone should be talked about as a “Muslimah” and when it would be inappropriate to do this.