We Stand With Noor Salman

Statement from Justice for Muslims Collective & other advocates and organizers…

We Stand With Noor Salman

Over 100 plus organizations stand with Noor Salman and demand an end to the prosecution against her. If you would like to sign on or get involved, please email westandwithnoor@gmail.com. We are also thankful to ICE Free Queen and IMI Corona for translating the statement into Spanish.

Organizational Endorsement Letter For Noor Salman  

We Stand With Noor Salman

Noor Salman currently stands trial in Orlando, Florida in a case related to the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub by her deceased husband, Omar Mateen. On Monday, January 15, 2017, Ms. Salman, a 31-year-old Muslim mother of a three year old and a domestic violence survivor, was arrested on two charges, which include aiding and abetting Mateen in providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and obstruction of justice for providing conflicting statements to the FBI. If convicted of the charges against her, Ms. Salman faces life in prison.

Our organizations work for gender and reproductive justice, LGBTQ justice, racial and economic justice, disability justice, civil rights and human rights in different communities across the United States. We share the grief and pain for those whose lives were lost, those who survived and their loved ones and communities. And, we oppose this prosecution, which scapegoats Ms. Salman in the quest to ensure that someone pay the price for Mateen’s actions. We stand with Noor Salman, a mother and survivor of domestic violence.

The prosecution of Ms. Salman is rooted in gendered Islamophobia and patriarchy. She is  being prosecuted under the guise of guilt by association as a Muslim woman married to a Muslim man who committed mass violence. As noted in theIntercept, there are numerous weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against Salman, which essentially serves as a test case to prosecute partners of accused terrorists on the grounds of complicity. The FBI has aimed to hold girlfriends and wives accountable for their partners’ actions for some time, especially when the couple is Muslim. Furthermore, Ms. Salman’s religious identity has been used by the FBI to threaten her. During the initial interrogation by the FBI which took place over 17 hours in which she was detained and questioned, including hours in which her infant child was present and no legal counsel was present, FBI officials threatened to take her son away from her and place him in a Christian home. She is a victim of the domestic War on Terror, through which the government has used racial and religious profiling tactics to subject Arabs, South Asians, and Muslims to investigations, interrogations, deportations, and prosecutions simply because of their faith, relationships, and guilt by association.

Ms. Salman is also a domestic violence survivor. The government’s charges against Ms. Salman disregard the history of domestic abuse, rape, and threats that Ms. Salman endured during her marriage to Mateen and the impact of intimate partner violence on  her and her child’s life. This abuse has been documented, for example, in a recent New York Times article that reported that “Ms. Salman has said her husband punched her, choked her, threatened to kill her, and coerced her into sex and left her isolated in their home.” Ms. Salman  publicly disclosed the abuse she endured within six months of being married, which included physical abuse during her pregnancy and threats to take sole custody of their child.  Ms. Salman’s cousin, Susan Adieh, also affirmed that Mateen mistreated his wife. Upon seeing the news about the mass shooting, Ms. Adieh worried that “[Mateen] had killed [Ms. Salman] at the house before he went [to Orlando].” Accusations of abuse against Mateen were not only made by Ms. Salman, but by his first wife, Sitora Yusify. Domestic violence expert Jacquelyn Campbell evaluated Ms. Salman’s case, and asserted that based on the dynamics of violence in the relationship, Ms. Salman could not have been aware of Mateen’s plans.

This prosecution punishes Ms. Salman for the actions of Omar Mateen and the violence he inflicted upon those around him, including her. This criminalization of Ms. Salman continues the cycle of dehumanization and terror that she experienced in her marriage to Mateen, and does not allow her to heal and re-build her life. The prosecution of Ms. Salman in today’s climate of Islamophobia and the War on Terror has alarming repercussions for Muslim women and for all survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who are criminalized for the actions of their abusive partners.

We stand with Noor Salman and demand an end to the prosecution against her.

Estamos en Solidaridad con Noor Salman

Mas de 100 organizaciones nos levantamos en solidaridad con Noor Salman y exigimos un fin al enjuiciamiento en contra de ella. Si usted quiere agregar su firma o mantenerse involucrado, por favor envíenos un correo electrónico a: westandwithnoor@gmail.com

Declaración de Respaldo Organizativo para Noor Salman Estamos en Solidaridad con Noor Salman

Actualmente Noor Salman enfrenta juicio en Orlando, Florida en el caso relacionado con el tiroteo masivo del 2016 en el club nocturno Pulse por su esposo ya fallecido, Omar Mateen. El Lunes 15 de enero del 2017, la Sra. Salman, una mujer musulmana de 31 años de edad, madre de un niño de 3 años y sobreviviente de violencia doméstica, fue arrestada y acusada de dos cargos , incluyendo ayudar e instigar a Mateen en proveer apoyo material a una organización terrorista en el extranjero, y obstrucción a la justicia por proveer testimonio contradictorios al FBI. Si es declarada culpable de los cargos en contra de ella, la Sra. Salman enfrentará una sentencia de cadena perpetua.

Nuestras organizaciones trabajan en defensa a la justicia de género y reproductiva, la justicia de la comunidad LBGTQ, la justicia racial y económica, la justicia de discapacidad,y los derechos humanos y civiles en diferentes comunidades en todos los Estados Unidos. Compartimos el dolor y aflicción por aquellas vidas que se perdieron, por lxs sobrevivientes, sus seres queridxs y sus comunidades. Y también nos oponemos a este juicio, el cual erróneamente culpa a la Sra. Salman en busqueda de que alguien pague el precio por las acciones de Mateen. Estamos en solidaridad con Noor Salman, una madre y sobreviviente de violencia doméstica.

El juicio de la Sra. Salman está enraizado en una islamofobia machista y el patriarcado. Ella está siendo juzgada bajo la excusa de que es culpable por asociación al ser una mujer musulmana casada con un hombre musulmán quien cometió un acto de violencia masiva. Tal como fue reportado en el diario The Intercept , hay varios puntos débiles en el argumento que se están usando para el caso en contra a Salman, el cúal básicamente está sirviendo como un experimento para poder justificar el juicio de las parejas de personas acusadas de terrorismo bajo argumentos de complicidad. Desde hace ya un tiempo el FBI ha buscado culpar y hacer rendir cuentas a las parejas románticas y esposas de personas acusadas de terrorismo, tratando de hacerlas responsables por las acciones de sus esposos, especialmente cuando las personas son musulmanas. Adicionalmente, la identidad religiosa de la Sra. Salman ha sido usada por el FBI para amenazarla. Durante la interrogación inicial, el FBI la detuvo y la interrogó por más de 17 horas, incluso en frente de su hijo menor de edad, y si ningún abogadx presente. El FBI amenazó con separarla de su hijo y mandarlo a un albergue Cristiano. Ella es víctima de la Guerra contra el Terrorismo que ocurre domésticamente dentro de los Estados Unidos, la cual se ha utilizado como estrategia por el gobierno para poner en práctica tácticas de vigilancia de perfil racial y de religión para arrestar a personas árabes, sudasiáticas, y musulmanas para investigarlas, interrogarlas, deportarlas y juzgarlas simplemente por sus creencias religiosa y relaciones, culpándolas por asociación.

La Sra. Salman también es sobreviviente de violencia doméstica. Los cargos del gobierno en contra de la Sra. Salman no toman en cuenta la historia de abuso doméstico, violación, y amenazas que la Sra. Salman a sufrido durante su matrimonio con Mateen y el impacto que la violación por su pareja íntima ha tenido sobre su vida y la de su hijo. Este abuso ha sido documentado, por ejemplo, en un artículo reciente del New York Times , que reporta que “La Sra. Salman ha dicho que su esposo la puñeteo, la ahorcó, la amenazaba con matarla, la forzaba a participar en actos sexuales y la aislaba en su hogar.” La Sra. Salman reveló públicamente el abuso que ella sufrió durante seis meses de matrimonio, el cual incluye abuso físico durante su embarazo y amenazas de perder la custodia de su hijo. La prima de la Sra. Salman, Susan Adieh, también confirmó que Mateen maltrataba a su esposa. Al ver las noticias del tiroteo masivo, la Sra. Adieh estaba preocupada de que “[Mateen] hubiera matado a [la Sra. Salman] en la casa antes de que él fuera a [Orlando].” Las acusaciones en contra de Mateen no solo fueron hechas por la sra. Salman, más también por su primera esposa, Sitora Yulsify. Jacquelyn Campbell, experta en violencia doméstica, evaluó el caso de la sra. Salman, y determinó que basado en las dinámicas de violencia en la relación, la sra. Salman no pudo haber estado al tanto de los planes de Mateen.
Este juicio castigará a sra. Salman por las acciones de Omar Mateen y la violencia que el causo a otrxs a su alrededor, incluyendo a ella misma. La criminalización de la sra. Salman continúa el mismo ciclo de deshumanización y terror que ella vivió durante su matrimonio con Mateen, y no le permite sanar y reconstruir su vida. El juicio de la sra. Salman durante este clima político de islamofobia y de la Guerra contra el Terrorismo tiene repercusiones alarmantes para las mujeres musulmanas y para todxs lxs sobrevivientes de violencia doméstica y de violencia sexual, quienes son criminalizadxs por las acciones de sus parejas abusivas.

Estamos en solidaridad con Noor Salman y exigimos el fin al juicio en contra de ella.

Signed (list in formation),
Firma (lista en proceso),

A Safe Place
About Face: Veterans Against the War
Advocates for Youth
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
APIENC (API Equaity – Northern California)
Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home)
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
Asian Women’s Shelter
Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project
Black and Pink, Inc.
Boston Feminists for Liberation
BYP100 DC Chapter
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
CodePink
Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS)
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Community Acupuncture Project
Community Responders Network
Community United Against Violence (CUAV)
CONNECT – Preventing Interpersonal Violence, Promoting Gender Justice
Creative Interventions
DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Defending Rights & Dissent
DIVAS: Discussing Intimate Violence & Accessing Support ~ A Program for Incarcerated Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence
Domestic Harmony Foundation
Dove, Inc.
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
18MillionsRising.org
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin
Equality Labs
Facing Abuse in Community Environments (FACE)
Feminist Islamic Troublemakers of North America
Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign
Futures Without Violence
Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
Gender Violence Clinic, University of Maryland Carey School of Law
Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
HEART Women & Girls
ICE Free Queens
Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence
Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
IMI Corona, Queens
INCITE! Women & Trans People of Color Against Violence
Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc
International Muslim Women’s Initiative For Self-Empowerment
Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Jahajee Sisters
Jewish Voice For Peace
Jewish Voice For Peace DC
Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism
Justice For Muslims Collective
Kankakee County Coalition Against Domestic Violence / Harbor House
KhushDC
Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse
Law@theMargins
Make The Road NY
Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition
Middle Way House, Inc.
Mijente
Mirror Memoirs
Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition
MPower Change
Muslim Advocacy Network Against Domestic Violence
Muslim Alliance For Sexual And Gender Diversity (MASGD)
Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)
Muslim Justice League
Muslim Women For
Muslim Women Kreate
Muslim Womxn at Ryerson
Muslimmatters.org
Naree-O-Shonghothok ; Bangladeshi Feminist Collective
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
National Lawyers Guild
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Ohio Domestic Violence Network
Partnership For The Advancement of New Americans
Philadelphia South Asian Collective
Quanada
Raha Iranian Feminist Organization
RAKSHA
Sakhi for South Asian Women
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian Youth Action
Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
STEPS to End Family Violence
Sugarlimb Consulting, LLC
Survived & Punished
The Aafia Foundation, Inc.
The Arab American Action Network (AAAN)
The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women
The New School Expanded Sanctuary Working Group
Transgender Law Center
Turning Point for Women and Families
Ujima Inc: The National Resource Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community
Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance
WA State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
War Resisters League
Witness Against Torture
Women of Color Network, Inc.

The Feminist Wire Forum on Muslim Feminisms

The hunger and thirst we endure from sunrise to sunset during this holy month is not only for food and water – the food and water too many of our sisters and brothers all over the globe lack. It is also a hunger and thirst for knowledge, for piety, for humility, for social justice, and for equality. At its most basic, Ramadan is about love. It is a period of reflection and engagement, a path for developing what feminist activist Cathy Cohen calls “radical empathy.”

Dana Olwan and Sophia Azeb, Muslim Feminisms Forum: An Introduction

This month, The Feminist Wire hosted a forum on Muslim feminisms featuring a diverse collection of writing reflecting on critical topics such as colonial violence, imperial feminism, human rights, the politics of the hijab, gender violence, and liberatory practices.  Below we’ve shared the list of articles from the forum and the concluding remarks from the editors, Dana Olwan and Sophia Azeb.  Reprinted with permission.

The Feminist Wire Forum on Muslim Feminisms:

Muslim Feminisms Forum: An Introduction
by Dana Olwan and Sophia Azeb
http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/muslim-feminisms-forum-an-introduction/

Defining Muslim Feminist Politics Through Indigenous Solidarity Activism
by Shaista Patel
http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/defining-muslim-feminist-politics-through-indigenous-solidarity-activism/

Seeing Muslim Women With Western Eyes
by Josh Ceretti
http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/seeing-muslim-women-with-western-eyes/

Striving for Muslim Women’s Human Rights
by Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons
http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/striving-for-muslim-womens-human-rights/

The Hijab and the Pitch
by Laurent Dubois
http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/the-hijab-on-the-pitch/

Salam in the City
by Sinat Giwa
http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/salam-in-the-city/

In honour of the leadership of US-born African-American/African-Caribbean/African-Latin@ Muslim women in responding to HIV/AIDS
by Prof Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé
http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/in-honour-of-the-leadership-of-us-born-african-americanafrican-caribbeanafrican-latin-muslim-women-in-responding-to-hivaids/

Pot Roast and Imperial Justifications
by Amal Rana
http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/pot-roast-and-imperial-justifications/

Reframing the Discussion: Concluding Thoughts on the Forum on Muslim Feminisms
by Dana Olwan and Sophia Azeb
http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/reframing-the-discussion-concluding-thoughts-on-the-forum-on-muslim-feminisms/

***

Reframing the Discussion: Concluding Thoughts on the Forum on Muslim Feminisms
by Dana Olwan and Sophia Azeb

For too long, Muslim feminists have endured the question of whether Islam and feminism can coexist. This seemingly innocent question, asked on the part of concerned feminists and others, presumes (and sometimes even enshrines) the claim of Islam’s incongruity with feminism. The underlying assumptions that frame this tired debate are often articulated in this way: Can religious practice, which often hinges on patriarchal authority and interpretation, be amenable to feminist thought, action, and praxis? Can feminist ideals be sought and attained within a religious (thus patriarchal), as opposed to a secular (and therefore egalitarian), framework? And, more specifically, can Islam, as a religious identity, doctrine, and practice, work in tandem with the principles and ideals of democratic feminism?

Overwhelmingly, the responses from Muslim feminists have highlighted Islam’s inherent egalitarian nature and the Quran’s gender progressive teachings and edicts.[1] They have argued that Muslim teachings enshrine a politics and practice of gender equity. They shore up important examples of the gains historically made by Muslim women all over the world. Muslim feminists, a diverse group that includes scholars, activists, and practicing men and women, eschew and challenge patriarchal readings and interpretations of both the Quran and the hadith (that is, the body of works that reference and document the prophet’s sayings, actions, and doings) in order to support their belief in the mutually reinforcing relationship between feminism and Islam.

Such work, while profound, often cedes too much ground to the charged and often predetermined frames of reference on which the political question of whether Islam and feminism can coexist often hinge. In other words, while Muslim feminists have confronted these questions in real, determined, and sustainable ways, their confrontations leave unturned the terms that shape this debate in the first place. Why, for example, do Muslims feel compelled to answer the question of whether Islam is compatible with feminism by repeatedly defining and defending Islam and showcasing its gender equal principles to non-Muslims? Why don’t we alter the frames of the question, asking, instead, what feminism actually means and whether feminism, as a both a political movement and analytical tool, is amenable to Islam and religious identity and practice? How does our constant re-engagement with this question of the ostensibly contradictory, uneasy, or nonexistent relationship of Islam and feminism obscure predetermined relationships of power and reinforce hegemonic discourses?

As Muslim women, anti-racist feminists, teachers, and scholars from two different backgrounds and positionalities, we have found ourselves reflecting on these questions and repeatedly grappling with the troubling narratives that shape discourses about Muslim women and Islam in Western and non-Western contexts. So, rather than responding to the question of Islam’s compatibility with feminism from a defensive standpoint, we have utilized this forum to refocus our energies on understanding our varied but interconnected religious and political experiences and struggles and to think through both our alliances and complicities. In short, we want to reflect on how our critiques can be imagined and mobilized in the service of revolutionary causes in a period of intense social, political, and economic local and global change.

For her part, Sophia’s faith has served as her political, spiritual, and social anchor. Both her scholarly and activist work engage her own particular experience as an Afro-Arab anarcha-feminist Muslimah missing the whimsy and traditions of her neighbourhood in Alexandria, Egypt, and a homestead in Beir Nabala, Palestine — a home(land) that she has never set foot upon. Sophia’s Muslim politics are shaped by a Third Worldist devotion to disrupting the imperialist binary of Arab vs. African that many of our sisters and brothers in Islam, the West, and SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa) replicate. But, as Sinat Giwa articulated in a loving narrative of finding the peace in “Salam’ing to strangers” (only a little pun intended), Sophia’s Islam remains her own. It is a self-aware, anti-racist, and feminist Islam devoted to building solidarity by owning and respecting the complexities of her intersectional identities and those of her peers and allies.

As a Palestinian feminist scholar based in the settler colonial state of Canada (who will soon be moving to the United States), Dana has often struggled to find her own faith amidst pressures to conceal religious practice, to sever ties with religious communities, and disavow violent acts perpetrated in Islam’s name. Dana’s faith is driven by her desire to understand Muslim women’s acts of resistance against interpersonal and state-sanctioned acts of violence. Like Shaista Patel, Dana seeks to enact “feminist theories and practices that recognize the critical and urgent need of intervening in the interlocking workings of state power and gender violences, and that engage with histories of the land we are on.”

Both of our Muslim feminist politics are informed by our commitment to confronting patriarchal acts of violence committed by the state andinstitutionalized forms of patriarchy and imperialism perpetrated by individuals, both Muslim and non-Muslim, without fueling Islamophobia, settler nationalism, or racism. Our Muslim feminist politics are about forming connections between Muslim and non-Muslim justice-seeking men, women, and children and supporting their struggles against colonial and gendered oppressions and sexual violence. Like Josh Cerretti, our feminist politics necessitate that we think about Islam in a way that does not obfuscate the longer histories of Muslim women’s resistance. And, above all else, our Muslim feminist politics are characterized by a refusal to be haunted by pre-scripted narratives that misrepresent the voices of Muslim women and men and overlook their complex lives, multiple interests, and varied experiences.

It is our belief that a singular focus on addressing the question of whether Islam and feminism can co-exist risks missing how Muslim women from all around the world engage questions of gender equalityfight gender oppressions, and secure women’s rights on a day to day basis. The articles we have chosen for this forum offer a sampling of such radical practices and provide insights into the plurality of our religious beliefs and political commitments. We do not wish to romanticize our relationships to our faith. Rather, we aim to ask deeper, more thoughtful, and more urgent questions about the role of faith in these troubled and troubling times. This is why, instead of asking whether we can reconcile Islam and feminism, we choose to think about how the tenets of Islam, its principles of justice, and gender equity inform Muslim women’s struggles on a day to day basis. We ask how Muslim women, individually and collectively, invoke Islam’s authority in their lives and what their actions as Muslim women reveal about Islam’s gender politics. The answers to these questions  are complex, contradictory, and manifold. We believe that asking questions that center Muslim women’s lives can highlight their rich and multifaceted encounters with patriarchal, gendered, colonial, imperialist, and local state oppressions. These questions may yield more interesting and honest conversations about the status of Muslim feminism, its practice, and its influence. It is our hope that our forum has contributed in some small way to these conversations which are already unfolding all around the world in creative and significant ways.

*Update: We are deeply saddened and horrified by the senseless killings of innocents at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin today. We are equally distressed that Sikh spokespersons have been asked to defend and define their faith on national television during such a time. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, as well as with our Sikh relatives whose communities have suffered greatly from the ignorance and hatred of their fellow citizens since September 11, 2001.


[1] See, for example: Kecia Ali’s Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence (Oxford: One World, 2006). Margot Badran’s Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences. (Oxford: One World, 2009) and Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences (Oxford: One World, 2009). Amina Wadud’s Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective (Oxford: Oxford University Press,1999) and Inside the Gender Jihad: Women’s Reform in Islam (Oxford: One World, 2006).

______________________________________

Dana Olwan is the 2011-2012 Ruth Woodward Junior Chair in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University. In Fall 2012, she starts her position as Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on gendered and sexual violence and the politics of naming honour killings.
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Sophia Azeb is an Egyptian-Palestinian anarcha-feminist teacher, writer, and organizer pursuing her PhD in American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She organizes with a number of anti-racist and feminist initiatives, namely the Palestinian American Women’s Association of Southern California. Sophia is also a writer for the popular media blog collective, Africa Is A Country (http://africasacountry.com/).  You can follow her on twitter @brownisthecolor.

‘Women’s Rights’ in Canada in the Age of Border Control, Imperialism, and Colonialism

[tweetmeme source= ‘yourtwittername’ only_single=false]No One Is Illegal Radio:  ‘Women‘s Rights’ in Canada in the Age of Border Control, Imperialism, and Colonialism
by Robyn Maynard

LINKED HERE:  http://www.rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/no-one-illegal/2010/10/no-one-illegal-radio-womens-rights-canada-age-border-control-i

The October 2010 edition of No One Is Illegal Radio focuses on ‘Women’s Rights’ in Canada in the Age of Border Control, Imperialism, and Colonialism. It examines the way that the Canadian state affects the lives and self-determination of migrant women, indigenous women, and women in Afghanistan.

Featured interviews:

Bridget Tolley, an indigenous women living in Kitigan Zibi who’s mother was killed by the Quebec police, leading her to co-found the annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil commemorating missing and murdered indigenous women. She is discusses her ongoing struggle to find the truth regarding the death of her mother, and she also addresses more broadly the lack of attention or justice for indigenous women in Canada.

Gillian Balfour, the author of: Criminalizing Women: Gender and (In)justice in Neoliberal Times . She will address the massive over-representation of indigenous women in Canadian prisons, and the way that this relates to the on-going Canadian theft of indigenous territories, the legacies of residential schools, and the massive incarceration of indigenous women in Canadian prisons.

Mubeenah Mughal, a Muslim woman and feminist organizer based in Montreal, discussing the “burqua ban” in Quebec, Islamophobia and the way that immigrant women, or women perceived to be immigrants are treated in Canada.

Shazia from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). RAWA is a women’s rights organization in Afghanistan trying to fight for women’s freedom, oppose the rule of the Taliban, and survive amidst a nearly ten-year military occupation. Shazia demonstrates the way that Canadian imperialism imperils Afghan women’s ability to fight for liberation.

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Muslim Women Respond to Proposed “Niqab Ban” in Quebec

NO to Quebec Provincial Bill 94

Naema Ahmed, a 29-year-old immigrant in Canada, filed a human rights complaint after she was taken out of a French class for not removing her face veil, or niqab.  She was expelled from school and Quebec Premier Jean Charest and his cabinet proposed legislation Bill 94, which would ban Muslim women from wearing the niqab. The ban polices women who wear the niqab by denying them essential services, such as receiving health care, getting a driver’s license, going to school, voting, or finding employment from the public sector.

Sheema Khan, writing for The Daily Beast, reflects on the high support the ban receives from Canadian women:

The most vehement reactions against face-veiling have come from women, who have projected their own fears, assumptions, and judgments onto attire worn by a minority within a minority. They think of the bad old days when the Catholic Church controlled women’s lives in Quebec. They pity the present-day lives of women in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. “We will save you from your own foolishness and your own delusional beliefs, for your own good,” they seem to say. “We will bring you to liberation by force. You Muslim women really aren’t independent until you embrace our lifestyle choices.”

In the meantime, they would deny us access to language lessons, hospitals, courts, schools, and public transportation—all services that help immigrants assimilate.  But at the same time, they condemn the Saudi religious police for hounding women who don’t dress according to that government’s dictates.

Shahina Siddiqui, president and executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association, writes in the Montreal Gazette,

What people are ignoring  is that Muslim women are human and deserve to be treated with dignity regardless of whether we agree with their choices or not.

This outrage is not about a piece of cloth on my face or head, it is about what I believe and the lifestyle I have chosen. It is about my refusal to be exploited for my physiology, my refusal to fit in a frame that society imposes on me, and my courage to demand my right as a Canadian.

For this we are being punished, deprived of our basic human right to choose.

Unfortunately it is becoming socially acceptable to belittle Muslim women, treat them as sub-human, and to make political gains at their expense, but this is not something to be proud of or to celebrate.

Although touted as a step toward gender equality, Bill 94, if approved, will perpetuate gender inequality by legislating control over women’s bodies and sanctioning discrimination against Muslim women who wear the niqab. Instead of singling out a minuscule percentage of the population, government resources would be better spent implementing poverty reduction and education programs to address real gender inequality in meaningful ways. Barring any woman from social services, employment, health, and education, as well as creating a climate of shame and fear around her is not an effective means to her empowerment. If Premier Charest’s government is truly committed to gender equality it should foster a safe and inclusive society that respects a woman’s right to make decisions for herself. Standing up for women’s rights is admirable. “Rescuing” women is paternalistic and insulting. Further marginalizing Muslim women who wear niqab and denying them access to social services, economic opportunities and civic participation is unacceptable.

Visit their call for action.

There are more discussions on the ban at Racialicious, Bitch Media, and Muslimah Media Watch where writer, Krista, reflects on the numbers of women who the ban would target, and draws a connection between the niqab ban and ableism.

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