Friday Links — October 1, 2010

  • The coalition agreement drawn up by the three right-wing parties forming a the new government cabinet in The Netherlands includes a ban on the burqa.

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

  • Duff

    Where have Rachida Dati or Mazlan Othman ever said they were muslim? Once again, Muslimah Media Watch is racially stereotyping. Being of Moroccan or Malaysian descent does not automatically make you a muslim; nor does it give a website the right to ascribe a particular faith status to someone who has not identified themselves in that way.

  • Miriam

    I have a different impression, i think MMW deals with cultural muslims too, whether they practice Islam or not. it’s very complicated and maybe we need an anthropologist’s advice on this

    • Fatemeh

      Miriam gets it. We also include women who are characterized as Muslim in the media (Dati is an excellent example of this).

  • Duff

    Actually no, most articles about Dati highlight her working class Moroccan background and how far she’s come, or more recently, her success/failure at her job, so if anything she’s characterized as the ‘immigrant made good’ or as some Sarah Palin style over substance/airhead politician. If they do mention islam at all, it is usually to say that her family/father etc is muslim, they don’t state that ipso facto, she herself is a muslim, practising muslim, cultural muslim whatever. I find it most worrying that MMW has often taken it upon itself to get a story in the media about a woman of X,Y,Z ethnicity and then paint it as a story about a ‘muslim woman’ when this ‘muslim’ angle wasn’t even covered in the mainstream media/original story. Case in point: when Dati gave birth she made world-wide headlines because she was a Senior Politician who was also a single mother going back to work after barely 5 days, no muslim angle whatsoever. Yet you come up with a piece called ‘Debating the morality of Rachida Dati’ (12th Jan 2009), which makes a mountain of molehill, because being muslim was not an angle that was raised at all in the original story.

    My point about racial stereotyping stands I think. Because Rachida Dati fits the stereotype of what a muslim looks like (Arabic speaking, Maghrebi), you continue to include her in your blog everytime she makes a single headline, even if the original story does not characterize her as a muslim (e.g. this fellatio gaffe story). Contrast her number of mentions on your blog to that of her former colleague Rama Yade, Senegalese born French politician. Neither women have expressly identified as being muslim, coverage of both in the mainstream media tends to highlight their immigrant origins (not their religion), yet one is more ‘preferred’ than the other in terms of coverage on your blog. I imagine this is because as a black woman Yade does not fit your image of a ‘muslim woman’ quite like a maghrebi does.

    Beyond that, if this was about a white blonde woman, you would not make the automatic assumption about her faith status and say she was a muslim in order to start writing about her. Someone like G. Willow Wilson would have to expressly ‘opt in’ to be portrayed as a muslim woman by you. Whereas someone who was of Moroccan, Malaysian, Saudi ancestry etc. has to expressly ‘opt out’ to avoid automatically being portrayed as a person of so & so religion by you. Having 2 different standards of ‘muslim acceptability/identifiability’ for your blog, is grossly disrespectful to your white muslim convert readers as it is to Middle Eastern or Asian women who do not identify with a particular religion.

    I accept that some of these mistakes (i.e. automatically conflating ethnic background with religion) are also made by the mainstream medie (e.g. Arab = Muslim, no buts!), but as a media watch website run by muslims you should know better and engage in more accurate writing.

    Other than that, I find most of your articles interesting food for thought, good job.

  • Krista

    @ Duff:

    You make some really good points. While I think it’s still worth sometimes covering women who may or may not identify as Muslim but are portrayed as such in the media, it’s true that sometimes we’re the ones who create the impression that they’re Muslim, and therefore recreate the same stereotypes that we should be standing up against. You also bring up some really important issues about how this is racialised. It’s a hard balance to find sometimes (responding to larger media discussions that characterise someone as Muslim, without reproducing that characterisation ourselves), and it’s hard to always get it right, but I appreciate you raising the issue.