Responsibility as Representatives: A Need for Honest Reflection

Sooraya Graham's photo. Via the Toronto Star.

In our roundtable on the Foreign Policy “sex issue” I spoke about the responsibility one has when representing, speaking or acting on behalf of one’s own community.   Among other reactions to that issue, Mona Eltahawy’s article garnered various responses from Arab women, expressing their disapproval of Eltahawy’s claim to speak on behalf of Arab women. Wherever one stands, I think the issue does raise questions on what it means for Muslims, or those who identify as being in connection with certai … [Read more...]

The French “Niqab Ban,” One Year On

Visage découvert poster

A year ago this week, a French law came into effect banning face veils for women.  At the time, the law was subject to much derision for “only” affecting the very specific number of 367 niqab and burqa-clad women (as of 2009) in France, although at its time, the law was thought to concern a couple thousand women.Anything relating to Muslims has long been a political tool in France, be it from the far-right National Front (FN) party, or from President Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UM … [Read more...]

Using Islamic Identity Against Victims of Sexual Violence

As right-wing pundits are gaining momentum in North America, minority groups are unsurprisingly being targeted.  Among the questions being raised is: when does “national security” trump the need to address an instance of sexual assault against women? Muslim women, especially those who wear the hijab or niqab, experience a unique sense of vulnerability in the post-911 world.  Two cases come to mind when pondering the parallels between the state’s fixation on curbing terrorism and the frustration t … [Read more...]

NiqaBitch Did it Better

An-Sofie Dewinter in her niqab-bikini combo. Image via Arrêt sur Images.

As MMW’s Artsy Niqab Spotter, man my hands are full!  If I’m not checking out French performance artists or Swiss campaign posters with minarets and niqabs, there are just so many people using niqabs as their accessory du jour and not enough time to write about them all.  I can’t keep up!So I had to make a choice, and our latest candidate in the “Let’s Play Dress-Up Like Muslim Women and Call it an Edgy, Disruptive Political Statement” is An-Sofie Dewinter, daughter of Filip Dewinter, a l … [Read more...]

Choose Your Caption: Niqab as Illustrative of, Well, Everything

This photo, from the Guardian, appeared alongside an article about a university class on Muslim women and the media.

The development of a university course about Muslim women in the media and the threats faced by Muslim women activists would appear to be two very different stories. Yet they were both illustrated by nearly identical photographs: a lone Muslim woman wearing black clothing + black niqab. This is far from the first time such unrelated photographs have been shoehorned into coverage of Muslim women.While it's tempting to stifle a yawn, these choices of stock photographs should be challenged … [Read more...]

Niqab, Courts, and Sexual Assault

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada heard submissions regarding the case of N.S., a complainant in a sexual assault case who is fighting for the right to testify without having to remove her niqab.  There's a summary of the hearing here, and you can look at a couple of my previous posts on MMW for further background.  This podcast is also a good resource.For those who are interested in writing letters of support to the complainant, there is a sample letter and contact information at the b … [Read more...]

Behind the Burqa Ban: The Problem with France’s Muslim Feminists

This article was written by Peter Gray.France’s decision to outlaw face veils sparked a robust debate about religion and women’s rights. In response to concerns that the law will negatively impact Muslim women, its advocates frequently mention that it enjoys the approval of several prominent French Muslim feminists. What is not mentioned, however, is that behind their feminist façade, these women have a troubling record of harassing the women they claim to speak for.Discussions of Muslim fe … [Read more...]