On Caged Birds And Liberators

“I detest Nicolas Sarkozy. I consider him right wing and racist but I also detest the niqab and I detest the face veil.” So begins the lamentation of Mona Eltahawy, self-proclaimed columnist and public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues.

Eltahawy ineptly repudiated the bigoted French President Nicolas Sarkozy during her most recent CNN appearance; Sarkozy in 2009 called on a more robust national European identity to combat what he referred to as “tribalism”, calling for newcomers to respect host communities “…striving not to clash with them, or shock them, respecting their values, beliefs, laws and traditions and – at least in part – adopting them.”

Sarkozy, known for his unyielding repression of immigrants, was calling for smooth integration, for parasitic newcomers not to disturb the “host community” – for clean assimilation. As of late Sarkozy’s UMP party declared its intention to host a public forum to address fears about Islam’s role in French society, following controversy over Muslim street prayers, halal-only restaurants and full-face Islamic veils.

Mona Eltahawy attempted to divorce herself from the xenophobic French right wing, only to align herself with their legislation which calls for offenders who do not comply with the facial veil ban to face a fine of some 150 euros (£133; $217) and a citizenship course.

Eltahawy’s feminist routine customarily slams misogyny yet slanders and often mocks women who have decided to don the face veil.

Often the case is made that those refusing to don the niqab etc. are superior and civilized whilst those donning the niqab etc. are “brainwashed” and uncultivated. The rhetoric being used in describing a female who chooses to wear a niqab is colonialist; similarly used by provincial elitists chronicling barbarism.

Eltahawy compares a choice of religious attire with bondage and racism:

Mona Eltahawy, often heralded as a go-to feminist icon for the “liberation” of women, refuses to acknowledge that a number of those who wear the face veil do so out of their own personal discretion. Yet the argument is that they simply do not know any better, they have been indoctrinated to wear the face veil, they have no apparent mind of their own as it has been seemingly been overwhelmed with extremism forced upon them by the male figures in their lives.

During Eltahawy’s recent CNN debut she went head to head with Heba Ahmed, a niqabi. Ahmed illustrated, quite eloquently, that her decision to sport the niqab “is a free choice”:

“This is something that I choose to wear. I disagree that it’s some right-wing ideology. I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering and […] this is the choice that I want to make. Just because somebody doesn’t accept my interpretation of Islam or personally like it doesn’t mean that we can use laws to violate people’s freedom of expression and freedom of religion.”

As the debate nears its end you hear Eltahawy stress that she “…will not sacrifice Muslim women’s rights”, as if it were politically convenient – a right which can be monopolized; here we see feminist colonialism boasting of the liberation of exclusionary legislation.

A fairly aged piece written for the Guardian by Karen Armstrong highlights her own experience as a Nun for seven years wherein she “…wore voluminous black robes, large rosaries and crucifixes, and an elaborate headdress.” Armstrong went on to say that “…Nuns had been banned from Britain since the Reformation; their return seemed to herald the resurgence of barbarism”, she emphasized the inherent xenophobia present in Britain, the systems outright repugnance in respect to Catholicism – comparing it with the “perceived Islamic threat” of veiled Muslim women.

Armstrong writes:

Until the late 19th century, veiling was neither a central nor a universal practice in the Islamic world. The Qur’an does not command all women to cover their heads; the full hijab was traditionally worn only by aristocratic women, as a mark of status. In Egypt, under Muhammad Ali’s leadership (1805-48), the lot of women improved dramatically, and many were abandoning the veil and moving more freely in society.

But after the British occupied Egypt in 1882, the consul general, Lord Cromer, ignored this development. He argued that veiling was the “fatal obstacle” that prevented Egyptians from participating fully in western civilisation. Until it was abolished, Egypt would need the benevolent supervision of the colonialists. But Cromer had cynically exploited feminist ideas to advance the colonial project. Egyptian women lost many of their new educational and professional opportunities under the British, and Cromer was co-founder in London of the Anti-Women’s Suffrage League.

Eltahawy has continuously used feminist hype to further isolate a minute body of women, all in the name of Mona-brand “liberation”, the same type marketed fervently by the universal assembly of misogynists.

Yet in all of this comes the most striking irony. Mona Eltahawy had been preparing for a United States citizenship exam, and by her own admission she passed the English and US History & Government exam and that her “application for US naturalization has been approved.”

I suspect they may have excluded the 1st amendment of the United States Constitution from her citizenship exam:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

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7 thoughts on “On Caged Birds And Liberators

  1. “Yet in all of this comes the most striking irony. Mona Eltahawy had been preparing for a United States citizenship exam, and by her own admission she passed the English and US History & Government exam and that her “application for US naturalization has been approved.”

    I suspect they may have excluded the 1st amendment of the United States Constitution from her citizenship exam:

    “ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    I was wondering about that myself ! She must’ve said, “Phew! I am glad they didn’t ask me that question.” Great article, thanks for sharing !

    • Very well put. I feel that for Mona there is a deep hatred of Niqab from her side and no attempt to understand the other side.

      Heba Ahmed put it well in one of her statements about how Mona should agree with her side as she agreed with her version if she wants a free and diverse islamic society.

      It’s silly really how Mona is a self-claimed Womens’ rights speaker especially from among the Muslim Arab World.

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