‘Traditionally Submissive’ women took to twitter on Sunday night to challenge the stereotypical view of Muslim women after….. what?! wait a sec!… Muslim women have opinions? Are on social media? Tweeting in English?!
The PM’s announcement last week with regards to £20 million being invested in English classes specifically for Muslim women conflated with deterring radicalisation and then later, the PM stating he would support any decision made by British institutions, including schools and courts, to ban Muslim women from wearing a full-face veil, afforded much dialogue to fuel the divisive communities rhetoric that has been bandied about for what feels like a lifetime (for me anyway!).
Firstly, as an organisation that provides oversubscribed English classes and sees the benefit of this provision, Amina has welcomed the announcement, despite the funding not being for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. We want the minority of Muslim women (just under 5%, keeping it in context) that can’t speak English to have the opportunity to learn and flourish. In fact we want everyone to be the best they can be, and we recognise being able to speak English, can help towards that.
Now moving on to what should be a very separate issue of radicalisation, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that mums with no English language proficiency result in increased chances of their children being lured into extremism. An outright harmful, gross and misguided assumption.
The people that Daesh draw into their proposition,the majority have English as their first language, are not particularly practicing of their faith, search for answers via social media and the internet, and usually feel somewhat insecure about their identity eg feeling like one has to choose an identity, Muslim or British? (Actually following right wing rhetoric that these identities are at odds) as opposed to feeling and embracing multiple identities including being Muslim and British and in Nadiya from the Great British Bake Off’s case being one heck of a baker!
Now with regards to the comment on banning the face veil – it is a very tiny minority of women, within a minority community that expresses sincerely held beliefs through wearing the face veil. These women are more than happy to comply with security checks, whether that’s at an airport or court. It’s really interesting that male politicians are typically at the forefront of discussing what clothing women should wear or not wear. Oh and another wee point– a real pressing issue that is affecting women’s rights more than a piece of cloth or being able to speak English is domestic violence. One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, with one woman being killed every 3 days. Killed. Now that’s surely an issue that needs some serious attention.
Like many of my good fellow humans, I’m starting to feel ‘Muslim women must do this, can’t do that, can’t wear that, explain yourself’ fatigue. For a snapshot of the wealth of empowered, inspirational and fab Muslim women in Scotland, you just need to look at Amina’s I Speak for Myself Campaign : )
CEO, Amina – The Muslim Women’s Resource Centre