Making Connections: Gender, Islamophobia and the Refugee Crisis

I write this post as an expression of solidarity, because as someone who lives in Turtle Island (Canada) and has close ties to Latin American immigrant and refugee communities, I find myself needing to speak out. I come from a country where the situation of violence and poverty since the mid-90s (and before) has driven many people to immigrate or seek asylum. At the same time, my country has been home to survivors of WWI, the Holocaust, the Spanish Civil War, the occupation of Palestine, the … [Read more...]

Oh Canada… Not So True or Free

“Oh Canada […] The true north, strong and free.”  – Canadian National Anthem Her eyes met mine sporadically while we stood in the packed subway train in Toronto. It was the month of Ramadan, the month that encourages Muslims to put forth that much more effort – to show sisterhood and warmth to those that we don’t know. There was something about her that made me want to start a conversation. There was an air of unease to her, of feeling out of place, while trying to put the pieces together. I had … [Read more...]

The Ghettoization of Begumpura Neighborhoods

The Star recently reported on the existence of “Begumpura” neighborhoods in Ontario. “Begumpura,” translated from Urdu as “the place where women live,” refers to neighborhoods where immigrant women live with their families. The areas are usually occupied by women of South Asian origin whose husbands work in the Middle East.The title “Colony of wives” evokes the image of South Asian Muslim women living in harems and impatiently waiting for their “male guardians.” The article, which highlights tw … [Read more...]

Berlusconi’s Rubygate: But is she Muslim?

The ongoing sexual excesses of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi routinely make headlines. In fact, the tabloid fodder that is his life has been somewhat of a release for me in a time of heavy news (Egypt and Tunisia, anyone?).   Orgies with showgirls, presents for nubile barely legal girls who are “just friends,” and assorted sex parties (Bunga Bunga ring a bell?) are just par for the course for Italy’s leader.But recently, a new scandal has come to the surface for Il Cavaliere.  The … [Read more...]

Switzerland’s Latest Referendum: No Uglies Allowed

On November 28th, the Swiss voted in one of their many referendums. The topic of this referendum was the deportation of criminal foreigners. This seems innocent enough, but the Swiss, at least for one local party, found a way to give it an anti-female anti-Islam twist.  Sadly, this initiative, spearheaded (as usual) by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP/UDC in French) passed at almost 53%, albeit with a low participation rate by Swiss standards.Known for its colorful campaign posters with “Islamic t … [Read more...]

A Little Old Lady vs. A Burqa-Clad Mob: The Sweden Democrats’ Banned Campaign Ad

A political ad that portrays a pensioner hobbling forward for a share of the national budget only to be overtaken by a crowd of burqa-clad women pushing baby carriages has been rejected by a Swedish TV channel on the grounds that it promotes religious hatred.The campaign ad for the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) party begins with a number signifying Sweden's national budget rapidly decreases onscreen, while a female voice over notes that "all policies are about prioritizing." As the number … [Read more...]

The Green Scare: Muslim Immigrants as Britain’s Welfare Queens

British tabloids are often accused of offering hysterical coverage of major and inconsequential events alike.* The Daily Mail lives up to this unflattering generalization in its article regarding Essma Marjam, a single mother of six who is receiving housing benefits for a five bedroom house in the London Borough of Westminster.This is one in a long line of articles in The Daily Mail and other newspapers reflecting their outrage over single mothers receiving living costs from the state … [Read more...]