Recalling the Courage of Shamima Shaikh by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

If this be Madness

Shamima Shaikh’s name may be unfamiliar for you and many who are not deeply informed about Islam and gender issues in South Africa or who tend to identify Muslim women and/or activism for women’s rights in Islam with the Arab region. Why should you know about her? Because Shamima Shaikh was one of the most notable Muslim anti-apartheid activists and advocates for the rights of Muslim women in her country—a prominent feminist, journalist, radio producer, movement builder, trailblazer, and fearless activist.

This year—2017—marks the 20th anniversary of her death, and I think it’s a special occasion to recall her brave legacy, not only because twenty is a special number. In the context of violence against women in South Africa and worldwide—in particular the violence against and exclusion of Muslim women in Syria, Palestine, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia—as well as the gendered Islamophobia that targets our sisters in Europe, claiming the courage and spirit of resistance of Shamima Shaikh as part of our ethos as women living in a patriarchal world that hates us is absolutely necessary. Continue reading “Recalling the Courage of Shamima Shaikh by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Islamophobia is Gender Violence and a Feminist Issue

The case of Larycia Hawkins, an African-American Christian, Associate Professor of political science at Wheaton College in the United States, who published a photo on Christmas day on Facebook wearing a headscarf in solidarity with Muslim women victims of Islamophobia, has raised a significant controversy about whether non-muslim women wearing the hiyab is useful for Muslim women and our feminists struggle in Islam or not. Beyond the debate about veils, the heated discussion that followed reminds us that Islamophobic violence against Muslim women is a gender matter that must be addressed not only by Islamic feminists, but also by all decolonial feminists.

According to Itzea Goicolea Amiano, a Spanish researcher, in her work “Feminismo y Piedad” (“Feminism and Piety”):

Gender Islamophobia is a term that refers to the xenophobic and Islamophobic attitudes mixed with sexist and misogynist discourses that oppress, discriminate and targets with a negative preference for Muslim women more than muslim men …

Continue reading “Islamophobia is Gender Violence and a Feminist Issue”

Women Fighting Patriarchy … Against Each Other by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Women and PatriarchyIt is painful to find out the lack of understanding among feminists when controversial issues are discussed, to the point that it seems we have failed in achieving a key factor: transforming the way women perceive and interact with each other. I have been in discussions that begin with great aptitude for addressing issues about which a voice is needed, to finish in symbolic violence by stances in which I can hardly find a trace of feminism. I offer here  just a few examples.

Invisibility: At least in two situations

Case nº1: “No. A woman like you can’t be feminist. That doesn’t exist.” Denying my existence as a feminist is to deny that there are women in the world able to empower themselves, beyond your permission, in their contexts. No one owes you an explanation, by the way.

Case nº2: “She is not my ally (because she is not like me), say feminists who do not accept Muslim women as such, but praise the pro-women statements uttered by a privileged man, well advised by his publicist, because “Everyone can be feminist.” Continue reading “Women Fighting Patriarchy … Against Each Other by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Racism from Born Muslim Men is Hurting Latino Muslim Women by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Racism against Latin WomenOne of the first things a newly Muslim woman convert learns is that Islam makes people equal and the only thing that differentiates a believer from another believer is their level of piety. They also learn that Islam raises the honor of women to levels that no religion has done, that they, as Muslims, have rights, and they are encouraged to get marry since marriage is a half of the Din.

However, when it comes to Latino Muslim women of marriageable age, some have not received respect in terms of their honor, their rights as Muslims, or equal treatment as with other Muslim born women. It seems racism and stereotypes about Latina women are stronger than faith and piety. Continue reading “Racism from Born Muslim Men is Hurting Latino Muslim Women by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

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