The Islamic View of “Feminism”

Gatestone Institute, by Nonie Darwish, July 13, 2017:

  • What the West needs to know is that in the Muslim world, jihad is considered more important than women, family happiness and life itself. If we are told, as Linda Sarsour said, that Islam stands for peace and justice, what we are not told is that “peace” in Islam will come only after the whole world has converted to Islam, and that “justice” means law under Sharia: whatever is inside Sharia is “justice;” whatever is not in Sharia is not“justice.”
  • Rebelling against Sharia is, sadly, for the Muslim woman, unthinkable. How can a healthy and normal feminist movement develop under an Islamic legal system that can flog, stone and behead women? That is why Sarsour’s jihadist kind of feminism is no heroic kind of feminism but the only feminism a Muslim woman can practice that will give her a degree of respect, acceptance, and even preferential treatment over other women. In Islam, that is the only kind of feminism allowed to develop.

Muslim activist and Women’s March organizer, Linda Sarsour, has helpfully exposed a side of Islam that is pro-Sharia and pro-jihad:

“I hope that … when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad, that we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or on the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America, where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House.”

Although Sarsour later protested that the word jihad literally means “struggle” or that “our beloved prophet … said… ‘A word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader, that is the best form of jihad,'” that is not what the word jihad means in general parlance to anyone you might ask in the Middle East. The people there know only too well that if they even tried to speak a “word of truth” to someone in power, that could possibly be the last word they would ever utter.

The word jihad is not a matter of left or right or liberal or conservative, except when it being manipulated to repackage and sell as something warm, fuzzy and non-threatening to trusting people in the West.

In Sarsour’s world, women who do this are called feminists, but, in reality, they are as dangerous to women’s rights, the peace of a nation and stability of its government as male jihadists.

At a recent Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention, Sarsour urged fellow Muslims, in an openly racist speech, to wage jihad against the “fascist” and “white supremacist” White House, be perpetually outraged, and not to assimilate. She mentioned 9/11 not as a terrorist event waged by Muslims against Americans, but as a day that triggered victimization and Islamophobia against Muslims by America.

Americans got upset just because they were murdered? As the saying goes: “It all started when he hit me back.”

Even though Sarsour later claimed her use of the word “jihad” meant non-violent dissent, that is not what the word is taken to mean in any Muslim country. There, it means only one thing: war in the service of Islam. In addition, her speech did not sound peaceful. It clearly sounded more like a call for an Islamic uprising against the White House.

Linda Sarsour’s recent speech calling to wage jihad against the “fascist” and “white supremacist” White House did not sound peaceful. It clearly sounded more like a call for an Islamic uprising. Pictured: Sarsour at the Women’s March on Washington, on January 21, 2017. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Sarsour apparently identifies as a feminist. Sarsour’s kind of feminism, however, embraces the most oppressive legal system, especially for women: Islamic religious law, Sharia. Sarsour’s feminism is supposedly for empowering women, but it twists logic in a way similar to how Muslim preachers do when they claim that beating one’s wife is a husband’s way of honoring her.

Pro-Sharia feminism is a perverted kind of feminism that could not care less about the well-being of oppressed Muslim women. Sarsour’s logic concerning women does not differ much from that of Suad Saleh, an Egyptian female Islamic cleric, who recently justified on Egyptian TV the doctrine of intentional humiliation and rape of captured women in Islam. Saleh said, “One of the purposes of raping captured enemy women and young girls was to humiliate and disgrace them and that is permissible under Islamic law.” There was not even a peep in Egypt’s civil society about such a statement.

Here is an Australian Muslim woman calling beatings by husbands a “blessing from Allah”.

Muslim feminists seem to think that they must defend Sharia and “Allah” before any other consideration — including women. Musdah Mulia, a Muslim professor, who also claims to be a feminist, maintains that Islam is a religion of equality. She has said, “blame Muslims, not Islam, for gender inequity.” Muslim anthropologist Ziba Mir-Mosseini has argued “The problem [for women in Islam] has never been with the text (the Koran), but with the context.” That means, presumably, that the problem is everyone’s fault except for the sources themselves: Islam, the Koran and Sharia.

The reason Islamic feminism has been perverted is because over centuries it had to conform to Islamic law, Sharia, which regulates to a fare-thee-well all behavior of women, men and children. Many Muslims, however, seem to be in denial that the main goal of Sharia is to promote life under the bondage of Sharia as good and healthy. Sharia therefore becomes a convoluted way of coercing people to adapt to tyranny.

In London, for instance, devout Muslim women, while wearing a full black niqab, are seen carrying signs protesting British law, supporting Sharia and threatening Europe with another Holocaust and another 9/11. Here in America, the angry mother of the Tsarnaev brothers, responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, instead of apologizing for what her sons did in a country that welcomed them, warned that “America will pay.” These are the kind of women that Arab TV places on pedestals. The message to Muslim women is that this is the only kind of feminism Islamic society will tolerate.

“Muslim feminism” is essentially the feminine form of jihad: women defend Sharia, promote jihad, and even emulate the Islamic “virtue and vice police” against other women.

Strong and assertive women do exist in Islam, but to stay strong and respected they have to sell women who want to escape the tyranny of Sharia. Because of the tremendous pressure from life under Sharia, Muslim women have developed a warped form of feminism: a kind of coping mechanism like a “Stockholm Syndrome,” where the captive believes that if he is nice to his captors they might treat him better. Like kidnap victims trying to merge with the thinking of their kidnappers in order to survive, women in the Islamic world have learned to defend Sharia and be protective of Islam’s reputation as priority number one. That is what Linda Sarsour is advocating today as “feminism.”

If such Muslim feminists truly cared about women, why are they not dedicating their work and effort against the rape and oppression of Yazidi, Christian and women of other sects who are being abused and tortured by Muslim men not only in the Middle East but also in Europe? The only women who are coming to the rescue of women being raped in the Middle East are Western women — unfortunately not Muslim “feminists.”

Most hijab-wearing Muslim women tell Western audiences that they are not oppressed and are proud of their “protection” under the hijab or the niqab.

What the West needs to know is that in the Muslim world, jihad is considered more important than women, family happiness and life itself. If we are told, as Sarsour said, that Islam stands for peace and justice, what we are not told is that “peace” in Islam will come only after the whole world has converted to Islam, and that “justice” means law under Sharia: whatever is inside Sharia is “justice;” whatever is not in Sharia is not“justice.”

The cruelty of life under Sharia produces two kinds of women: the aggressive and proud, and the doormats. The aggressive Muslim “feminists” often turn their aggression not on the cruel system, but on weak women who are victims of Sharia — because it is so much easier to turn on the weak than to take on a system that has the power to harm, jail or kill you; and they hope to be praised and rewarded for supporting the system that abuses them.

The system, at its origins, was designed to please men — promising them anything and everything if they sacrificed their life on earth and their earthly wife and family for jihad. In such a system women, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness had to be sacrificed:

“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (Surah Al-Baqarah [2:216] – Quran)

What Islam wants is for men to kill the enemies of Allah and get killed to expand Islam and then presumably go to paradise. Women’s welfare has therefore become an inconvenience to Sharia to say the least.

Strong Muslim women know what they should do if they are to enjoy a certain level of power and respect in Islamic society. They must never defy Sharia, but embrace it. The rewards for compliant Muslim women may explain why most of the Muslim college professors sent by Saudi Arabia to teach Americans never criticize Sharia but claim it to be harmless and even liberating.

An Islamic “Sarsour style” of feminism has to be Sharia-compliant in the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mode. Such women have a high degree of tolerance for domestic violence and oppression of other women whom they can regard as “dissolute” or “bad.” After being indoctrinated under such a cruel legal system, Muslim feminists end up taking pride in conforming to Sharia while condemning the supposedly “bad” women who do not conform. Whatever unpleasant acts might happen to these other women, according to many Muslim “feminists,” those women brought it on themselves by not accepting Sharia.

Centuries of sacrificing family happiness for jihad have taught Muslim women that they are an inconvenience to men who supposedly would prefer to be doing jihad. Thus the “wise” Muslim woman molds herself and others to fit into Islam’s priorities. Islam calls any woman who rebels “nashiz” (“rebellious”), a derogatory term. Under Sharia, a husband could lock up his nashiz wife at home for life and get three other wives and enjoy his life while she is locked up.

Rebelling against Sharia is, sadly, for the Muslim woman, unthinkable. That is why during the “Arab Spring,” not one Muslim woman carried a sign against the oppression of Sharia in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. How can a healthy and normal feminist movement develop under an Islamic legal system that can flog, stone and behead women?

That is why Linda Sarsour’s jihadist kind of feminism is no heroic kind of feminism, but the only feminism a Muslim woman can practice that will give her a degree of respect, acceptance, and even preferential treatment over other women. In Islam, that is the only kind of feminism allowed to develop.

This Islamic oppressive view of women is now creeping into Western cultural views of feminism. Recently, USA Today celebrated the hijab as symbol of feminism.

It is important that this brand of “pride in bondage” kind of feminism that people such as Linda Sarsour are trying to “sell” not be “bought” by the good-hearted, but insufficiently informed people in the West.

Nonie Darwish, born and raised in Egypt, is the author of “Wholly Different; Why I chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values”

Also see:

Why Did the US Senate Ignore Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani?

Asra Nomani (L) and Ayaan Hirsi Ali testimy before the Senate. (Photo: Twitter)

Clarion Project, by Elliot Friedman, June 19, 2017:

Islamist ideology was discussed as a root cause driving extremist terrorism in a Senate hearing on Wednesday, but you wouldn’t know it from the questions asked by the committee.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing to discuss “Ideology and Terror: Understanding the Tools, Tactics, and Techniques of Violent Extremism.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani, two brave female activists who have been at the forefront of the struggle against the dangerous ideology of Islamism, were invited to speak. Both women are from Muslim backgrounds and have extensive personal and academic experience with the intricacies of Islamism.

They told Congress that unless the political ideology of Islamism is called out, targeted and eliminated, terrorism will continue both in general and, more specifically, as a national security threat to the United States of America.

“We face an ideology of extremism from within the House of Islam,” Nomani stated. “Why, 15 years after the 9/11 attack, haven’t we found victory against terrorism? Why, after the killing of Osama bin Laden, haven’t we declared Islamic terror dead? It is because terrorism is fueled by Islamism, an ideology of political Islam, and we have wasted millions of dollars to design counter narratives without dealing with a very simple and fundamental truth. We must destroy and eliminate the narrative of Islamism.”

Hirsi Ali was just as blunt. “Political Islam is not just a religion as most Western citizens recognize the term ‘religion,’ a faith; it is also a political ideology, a legal order and, in many ways, also a military doctrine associated with the campaigns of the Prophet Mohammed,” she said.

Political Islam rejects any kind of distinction between religion and politics, mosque and state. Political Islam even rejects the modern state in favor of a caliphate. My central argument is that political Islamimplies a constitutional order fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. constitution and with the ‘constitution of liberty’ that is the foundation of the American way of life.”

She went on to make it even clearer, adding, “There is no point in denying that political Islam as an ideology has its foundation in Islamic doctrine.”

But Democratic senators on the committee didn’t want to hear it.

“Anyone who twists or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule,” simpered Senator Claire McCaskill. “We should not focus on religion.”

Yet neither Nomani nor Asra made their testimony about religion. Both made it abundantly clear they were talking about the political ideology of theocracy, something that is by no means unique to Islam, although it is of course a particular problem “within the House of Islam” (as Nomani put it) at the moment.

Theocracy, self-evidently, has something to do with religion, since it seeks to impose religion as a system of government. But it is still a political ideology, the existence of which does not tar the non-theocratic members of the same faith (in this case Islam) with the same brush of involvement.

None of these plainly obvious facts impacted the hysteria which greeted the testimony.

Rather than ask Hirsi Ali and Nomani any questions, Democrats on the committee preferred to focus their discussion on questioning the former director of the U.S. Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, who, coincidentally, had been invited by Democrats on the committee.

“Muslims honoring of sharia is not inherently in tangent with living in constitutional democracies anymore than it would be for Christians or Jews who also seek to honor their religious traditions while still complying with civil authority,” he said.

Clearly it isn’t. But it certainly is unconstitutional to seek to impose sharia as a system of government, which is what Islamists want.

In general, the continual denial of the existence of Islamist political ideology, which has something (but not everything) to do with religion is utterly baffling. If it were some harmless issue, like an obscure rule in golf which had incorrectly fallen into abeyance, or steadfastly insisting that “irregardless” is a word, then we could all laugh and then forget about the folly.

But this isn’t a harmless misunderstanding. It’s a very serious category error which misdiagnoses a huge and global problem. We saw the chilling effects yesterday in London. A man screaming, “I want to kill all the Muslims” rammed his van into a crowd outside a mosque, killing two.

Clearly people aren’t going to wait for the outcome of lengthy committee hearings to make a decision about what is responsible. If politicians can’t clearly delineate exactly what the ideology driving global terrorism is and explain how it is related to but distinct from Islam, fools and fanatics will assume it’s Islam in general and take the law into their own hands.

If you’re really interested in preventing that, then we have to be honest about the situation and start working to diffuse it, instead of trying to protect Islam’s reputation.

Ex-Muslim activist Yasmine Muhammed said it best on Twitter. Addressing Michael Leiter she said, “No disrespect, but you’ve been at the job a long time, and things are only worse. Maybe listen to @AsraNomani and@Ayaan.”

Indeed. As the poet and songwriter Bob Dylan said, “Your old road is rapidly aging. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’.”

***

Asra Nomani talks with Tucker Carlson who was moved by the NYT article she wrote with Ayaan Hirsi Ali: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/opinion/kamala-harris-islamism-senate-hearing.html

Also see:

EXCLUSIVE – Feminist Leader Phyllis Chesler: Women Strike Movement Hates Israel Instead of Islamic Misogyny

Phyllis Chesler/Joan Roth

Breitbart, by Deborah Danon, March 9, 2017:

TEL AVIV – Leaders of the International Women’s Strike have no idea about the meaning of feminism and have hijacked the movement to protest the “occupation of Palestine” and “Israeli apartheid” instead of speaking out against the “occupation of women’s bodies” and “Islam’s religious and gendered apartheid,”  a leading Jewish-American feminist told Breitbart Jerusalem.

According to Dr. Phyllis Chesler, emerita professor of psychology at City University of New York and a bestselling author, following Israel’s 1967 defensive war, Palestinians replaced women as “the favored victims of the month” in liberal circles.

“Now, it was formerly colonized Arab men of color, symbolized by the Palestinians, that became an obsession,” she told Breitbart Jerusalem.

Even feminists themselves, Chesler noted, were no “longer concerned with the occupation of women’s bodies worldwide, but rather with the alleged occupation of a country that had never existed: Palestine.”

Chesler, considered a second wave feminist leader, said her generation was focused on “the sexual objectification of women; economic parity; abortion rights; and on all the violence that took place mainly against women: rape, incest, sexual harassment, woman-battering, pornography, and prostitution.”

But then, “post-colonialism and postmodernism swept the Western Academy,” she said.

Indeed, organizers of Wednesday’s Women’s Strike published on their website that they “stand for an uncompromising anti-racist and anti-colonial feminism” first and foremost the “decolonization of Palestine.”

As Chesler notes, women’s rights have been pushed out the picture in favor of a warped anti-colonialist view.

“The West, including Israel, became the world’s worst colonialists. Israel, not Islam, was accused of practicing apartheid. In reality, Islam is the largest practitioner of both gender and religious apartheid, but Israel served as the scapegoat for all the crimes perpetrated by Muslims including slavery, anti-black racism, conversion via the sword, persecution of non-Muslim religious minorities, imperialism, colonialism – and the most barbaric abuse of women,” Chesler said.

“Feminists and other Western academics and progressives simply do not want to know about Islam’s history or current nature. Those who critique Islam, however mildly, are accused of being racists and Islamophobes and may be sued or killed,” she added.

Chesler said that feminists today should be focusing on combating “forced face-veiling, forced child marriage, female genital mutilation, polygamy, and femicide, or honor killing.”

“Sadly, tragically, the feminists who are being funded by Soros; the non-Muslim feminists who proudly wore the hijab at the anti-Trump march simply do not understand that girls and women are killed for refusing to wear the hijab,” she said.

She praised Israel for having robust feminist and gay rights movements and mused that any activists hoping to spearhead similar movements in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, and Pakistan, would end up being “jailed, tortured, raped, and murdered, perhaps beheaded.”

Women like Rasmea Odeh and Linda Sarsour, the faces behind Wednesday’s women’s strike as well as January’s Women’s March, are not feminists, Chesler said.

As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, Odeh, who together with other strike organizers are calling to “decolonize Palestine” and protest the “white supremacists in the current government,” is a convicted terrorist accused of bombing attacks in the late 1960s that killed two Israeli university students and injured nine more.

In 1980, Odeh was freed from an Israeli jail as part of a prisoner exchange deal, and a decade later emigrated to the U.S. She recently made headlines again after being charged with immigration fraud for lying about her terrorist background when applying for U.S. citizenship.

For her part, Linda Sarsour is an anti-Israel Palestinian-American activist who made headlines for becoming the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against Trump’s executive order on immigration.

***

Linda Sarsour’s Muslim Identity Politics Epitomize Feminism’s Hypocrisy

lindasarsour

Although she thinks a President Trump will turn back the clock 300 years, Linda Sarsour forgets that Islam never left the Middle Ages in its view of women.

The Federalist, by Shireen Qudosi, January 24, 2017:

A Frankenstein’s monster of identity politics, the Women’s March on Washington heaved through the streets of DC one day after the inauguration in a fit of depraved hypocrisy.

That hypocrisy shadows activist and National Co-Chair of the Women’s March Linda Sarsour. In the past Sarsour has railed against women spotlighting misogyny in the Muslim world. She openly advocates for including sharia law in the United States. Yet sharia law would dwarf her march’s half a million turnout to 250,000, because under sharia a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s.

Sharia law would also punish the female protestors for vulgarity in publicly displaying “pussy caps” and other brazen symbols of womanhood. It would also allow men to beat their wives and daughters for participating in the protest. Although she thinks a President Trump will turn back the clock by 300 years, Sarsour forgets that Islam never left the Middle Ages in its primeval view of women.

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Venerated by leftists, Sarsour now rides the great beast of modern feminism much like the “god-King” Xerxes in “300.” This weekend she and other heads of the Soros-connected movement protested against a democratically elected president. This is a Palestinian woman protesting about the democratic process in the freest country in the world.

Sarsour is also handsomely funded by New York taxpayers and supported by other elevated women in a nation that gives equal space to women’s voices. These rights do not exist in Islamic theocracies, where we find the real war against women—something Sarsour seems to deny—and where the democratic process is a fantasy.

Yet Sarsour, much like many in the Women’s March, continues to see a legitimate presidential election through the filter of the third world. A day after the election, she tweeted: “We can disagree & still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of humanity and right to exist.”

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Prager U Video: Why Don’t Feminists Fight for Muslim Women

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali on why this matters more than ever.

Truth Revolt, June 27, 2016:

Are women oppressed in Muslim countries? What about in Islamic enclaves in the West? Are these places violating or fulfilling the Quran and Islamic law?

In Prager University’s newest video, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an author and activist who was raised a devout Muslim, describes the human rights crisis of our time, asks why feminists in the West don’t seem to care, and explains why immigration to the West from the Middle East means this issue matters more than ever.

Check out the short video above. Transcript below:

Culture matters. It ‘s the primary source of social progress or regression. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the status of women. The Judeo-Christian culture — and perhaps a more apt word is civilization — has produced over time the law codes, language and material prosperity that have greatly elevated women’s status.

But this progress is not shared everywhere.

There are still hundreds of millions of people that live in a culture  — the Islamic, for instance — that takes female inferiority for granted. Until recently, these cultures — the Western and the Islamic — were, for the most part, separated. But that is changing. Dramatically so.

Large numbers of immigrant men from the Middle East, South Asia and various parts of Africa have brought a different set of values to the West, specifically Europe.  More than a million arrived in 2015 alone. More are on the way.

As a result, crimes against girls and women — groping, harassments, assaults and rape – have risen sharply. These crimes illustrate the stark difference between the Western culture of the victims and that of the perpetrators.

Let me be clear: not all immigrant men, or even most, indulge in sex attacks or approve of such attacks, but it’s a grave mistake to deny that the value system of the attackers is radically different from the value system of the West. In the West women are emancipated and sexually autonomous. Religiosity and sexual behavior or sexual restraint is determined by women’s individual wishes. The other value system is one in which women are viewed as either commodities (that is, their worth depends on their virginity), or on the level of a prostitute if they are guilty of public “immodesty” (wearing a short skirt for example).

I do not believe these value systems can coexist. The question is which value system will prevail. Unfortunately, this remains an open question.

The current situation in Europe is deeply troubling: not only are Muslim women within Europe subject to considerable oppression in many ways, such norms now risk spreading to non-Muslim women who face harassment from Muslim men.

One would think that Western feminists in the United States and Europe would be very disturbed by this obvious misogyny.  But sadly, with few exceptions, this does not appear to be the case.

Common among many Western feminists is a type of moral confusion, in which women are said to be oppressed everywhere and that this oppression, in feminist Eve Ensler’s words, is “exactly the same” around the world, in the West just as in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

To me, this suggests too much moral relativism and an inadequate understanding of Shariah law.  It is true that the situation for women in the West is not perfect, but can anyone truly deny that women enjoy greater freedom and opportunities in the United States, France and Finland than they do in Iran, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia?

Other feminists have also argued that non-Western women do not need “saving” and that any suggestion that they “need” help from Western feminists is insulting and condescending to non-Western women.

My perspective is a practical one: any efforts that help Muslim women — whether they live in the West or under Islamic governments should be encouraged. Every effort to pressure these governments to change unjust laws should be supported.

Western feminists — and female Western leaders — have a simple choice to make: either excuse the inexcusable, or demand reform in cultures and religious doctrines that continue to oppress women.

Nothing illustrates this better than what happened in Cologne, Germany on New Years Eve, 2015. That night, during the city’s traditional celebrations, numerous German women (467 at the last count) reported being sexually harassed or assaulted by men of North African and Arab origin. Within two months, 73 suspects had been identified — most of them from North Africa; 12 of them have been linked to sexual crimes. Yet, in response to the attacks, Cologne’s feminist Mayor Henriette Reker issued an “arm’s length” guideline to women. ” Just keep an arm’s length distance between you and a mob of Arab men, she advised Cologne’s female population, and you will be fine.

Mayor Reker’s comments underline the seriousness of the problem: a culture clash is upon us. The first step in resolving it is to unapologetically defend the values that have allowed women to flourish. Feminists with their organizations, networks and lobbying power need to be on the front lines on this battle. Their relevance depends on it. And so does the well being of countless women, Western and non-Western.

I’m Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Harvard University for Prager University.

SIGN THE PETITION! Demand that feminist activists fight for Muslim women! https://goo.gl/MmS1kq

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Steve Coughlin drills down on the facts of Islamic law that Islam apologists either aren’t aware of or, in the case of stealth jihadists, purposely try to hide.

Responding to Muslim deceptions 1 Honour killings and innocence MRCTV:

Published on Jun 29, 2016 Vlad Tepes

Duke Prof: Feminist ‘Soft’ Jihad a Force for Peace

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Frontpage, by Andrew Harrod, March 2, 2016:

Ellen McLarney, who teaches Asian and Middle Eastern studies at Duke, would have you believe that a “pacifist struggle for civil jihad” led by Islamic feminists offers a benign “alternative kind of jihad” to that practiced by Islamist terrorists worldwide.

She peddled her thesis to about twenty listeners (mostly graduate students) in a February 8 George Washington University lecture, reprising discussion of her recent book, Soft Force: Women in Egypt’s Islamic Awakening.  McLarney’s lecture omitted the totalitarian jihadist ideology underlying what she described as a “protracted struggle with non-democratic regimes over matters of human rights.”

McLarney lauded the 1995 book (in Arabic) Women & Political Work:  An Islamic Perspective, by Cairo University political science professor Heba Raouf Ezzat.  Yet McLarney neglected to mention the book’s publisher, none other than the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon, Virginia, an entity founded by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB).  She noted that Ezzat explicated her concept of feminine “soft force” Islamist subversion, itself derived from the American political scientist Joseph Nye’s concept of “soft power.”

Beginning in the 1970s, McLarney explained nonchalantly, an Egyptian Islamic revival developed via a “passive revolution” to spark an “Islamic civil society that runs parallel to the more secular civil society in Egypt.” As foreshadowed by the 1960s Egyptian writer Nimat Sidqi—who according to McLarney’s slides wrote that “Raising Children is Jihad”—women “have a pivotal role to play in this struggle.” Borrowing from the American feminist slogan “the personal is political,” Ezzat and others developed the “Islamic family as a place for the cultivation of Islamic sensibilities”—the “very seat of politics.”

American University in Cairo sociology professor and feminist Mona Abaza has previously pushed back against this rosy thesis. Her daily contact with this “parallel society” led her in 2012 to decry Egypt’s “increasing ‘Islamization’ of the public sphere for at least four decades.”  Whereas McLarney discussed Islamist “resistance through forms of cultural production,” Abaza argues persuasively that “intolerance and censorship was mutual among both the ancient regime of [Hosni] Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

But McLarney was having none of it.  Her optimism towards “civil jihad” skewed her discussion of Egypt under the MB rule of President Mohammed Morsi following the overthrow of Mubarak’s dictatorship in the “Arab Spring”:

Under the Morsi government, I am going to get in trouble for saying this, there was a flourishing of certain freedoms, because it was post-revolution. There was a lot of political tumult.

McLarney even claimed, against all evidence, that the 2012 Egyptian constitution drafted under the MB “came out pretty progressive” and included a meaningful gender equality provision. Even Alaa Alwad, the graffiti artist and secularist whose Cairo mural graces McLarney’s book cover, as she discussed, stated in 2013 that the “Muslim Brotherhood has captured the government.”

Interviewed after the lecture, McLarney conceded that many of her secular Egyptian friends had feared the Morsi government, but downplayed the 2012 constitution’s sharia elements.  “In that constitution there wasn’t really any sharia,” she claimed, but there “was the question: would the Morsi government start interpreting everything through the lens of sharia?” Her answer remained predictably optimistic:  amidst that revolutionary situation, “I don’t think they could get away with it.” Had she forgotten her 2013 observation that Egyptian “[g]ender inequalities remain encoded in the personal status laws with regards to witnessing, polygamy, and divorce”?

Ultimately, McLarney could not overcome the reality undermining her evocation of Ezzat and the others as feminist sisters-in-arms struggling for liberation, rather than as Islamic totalitarianism’s propagandist enablers.  During the interview, even she acknowledged that “soft force” could merely serve as an ideological flank to all-too-hard jihadists like the MB, whom she admitted had resorted to violent tactics when circumstances allowed.

Evoking the American “mommy wars” over the right career/motherhood balance for women, McLarney, an Ivy League-educated mother, gushed over her study subjects.  These Muslim women “really spoke to my own critiques of Western feminism and of the fetishization of the male realm of paid work as the path to emancipation.”  Yet McLarney, whose stylish outfit and V-neck blouse contrasted with the veiling emphasized by her subjects, failed to acknowledge that Islamist “mommy wars” have far more nefarious implications.

Andrew E. Harrod is a freelance researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project, an organization combating the misuse of human rights law against Western societies. You may follow Harrod on twitter at @AEHarrod.

The Glazov Gang-Dr. Phyllis Chesler on “An American Bride in Kabul.”

Frontpage:

Dr. Chesler joined the program to discuss her memoir and all of its ingredients, including being trapped in Afghanistan as a young bride, her terrifying experiences under Islamic Gender Apartheid, her views on the burqa and on how the feminist Left has betrayed Muslim women, her main message, and much, much more:

American Bride in KabulPhyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York, best-selling author, legendary feminist leader, Fellow at the Middle East Forum and the author of 15 books. She is the author of her new memoir, An American Bride in Kabul.