Egyptian Activist: ‘Unless You're A Muslim Woman, Shut The F**k Up And Listen To Muslim Women’

Andrew Toth by way of Getty Photographs

Mona Eltahawy attends the Ladies’s Media Heart 2015 Ladies’s Media Awards in New York Town.

Mona Eltahawy tweeted that she have been sexually assaulted all the way through the 2011 Arab Spring protests in Cairo: “5 – 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital house and I misplaced depend what number of fingers attempted to get into my trousers,” she wrote.

The author and activist mentioned she was once a few of the ladies sexually assaulted via Egyptian safety forces who had been dispersing demonstrators from the town’s Tahrir Sq.. “I assumed other folks can be so offended that they’d get started any other revolution, this time for gender [equality],” she mentioned. “However it didn’t occur. [The public] accused the ladies of mendacity; they mentioned the army would by no means do this.” 

Eltahawy’s fury on the reaction to well-liked stories of sexual attack at protests in her local Egypt led her to jot down Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Center East Wishes a Sexual Revolution. The guide, printed in 2015 and launched in Spain in November, questions a “misogynistic triad” — the state, the road and the house — that works in combination to oppress ladies.

Eltahawy spoke with HuffPost Spain remaining month about the whole lot from the New Zealand mosque attack to her perspectives concerning the niqab, a full-face veil worn via some Muslim ladies. 

Eltahawy up to now confronted complaint for protecting executive bans of niqabs in public puts — a measure for which probably the most right-wing Eu events rallied — however now she thinks another way.  

“Except you’re a Muslim girl, close the fuck up and concentrate to Muslim ladies,” she mentioned.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

You’re in prefer of banning the niqab since you believe it a type of oppression, and for this reason you’ve been referred to as an Islamophobe.

In 2006 or 2007, when this debate started to be taken significantly and offered on the felony stage in international locations like France, Belgium and spaces in Spain, my place was once: I’m in prefer of prohibiting the niqab far and wide. However I didn’t need anything else to do with the Islamophobic and xenophobic Eu right-wing that proposed this. They sought after to put across that they cared about Muslim ladies. Alternatively, it truly had not anything to do with them however with a racist schedule. My place now could be: Except you’re a Muslim girl, close the fuck up and concentrate to Muslim ladies, as a result of prior to now 12 years I’ve observed that debates on how Muslim ladies get dressed or don’t get dressed truly excite racists and Islamophobes. Muslim ladies are between a rock and a difficult position. On one aspect is the rock of the racist and Islamophobic appropriate — in need of to make use of the our bodies and phrases of Muslim ladies as a weapon in opposition to the Muslim neighborhood — and at the different aspect is the exhausting position of the Muslim misogynists who wish to silence ladies. And I say: Fuck all of them. I’m now not on each side. I’m at the ladies’s aspect. There may be already quite a few debate and dialogue amongst Muslim ladies on whether or not or to not put on a hijab [a veil covering the head and the chest] or a niqab. So I don’t write about that anymore.

Once in a while, within the West there’s a false impression about the whole lot the veil represents.

Typically the aim of the hijab is modesty, and I’m in opposition to modesty, which is just for women and girls as a result of boys and males are by no means requested to be modest. To me, my sister and my mom, the hijab represents 3 various things: My mom wears a headband as a result of her religion. She believes it’s required of Muslim ladies. I don’t agree, and she or he doesn’t believe me. My sister extensively utilized to put on a hijab as a result of faith, however now she wears it to inform racists to move fuck themselves. Now it’s a query of id. I don’t agree, and she or he doesn’t believe me. I wore a hijab for 9 years as a result of I sought after to, as a result of I began to suppose that it was once a duty after which I learn that for me it wasn’t a duty anymore. However it took 8 years for me to take it off. From the outdoor it’s very tricky to realize how sophisticated it’s to come to a decision.

The hijab isn’t a machine, it’s now not a toy; you’ll’t put on it someday and really feel just right and wish to display the arena that you just’re now not racist or Islamophobic. What concerning the different 364 days of the 12 months?Mona Eltahawy

So will have to the feminist motion in Spain, as an example, say not anything referring to this factor, and now not take a place at the veil?

Precisely. That is what I imagine. I are aware of it bothers a large number of other folks, as a result of they are saying that, since this can be a ladies’s factor, it impacts them too. It is a very sophisticated topic. However an important factor is to battle the patriarchy. The Spanish feminist motion would do a a lot better process going through the patriarchy in spaces it’s aware of, in circumstances corresponding to “l. a. Manada” [the case of five men convicted for sexually abusing an 18-year-old at the 2016 Running of the Bulls]. Sexual attack on this nation, as in all international locations, is horrible. Focal point on that. There are issues of patriarchy in all cultures and communities. Let me combat my stuff and also you combat yours. In combination we combat the patriarchy, which is our final function. That mentioned, I’m nonetheless in opposition to the hijab and the niqab, however I need it to be us who’ve this dialog.

Ultimate month, the top minister of New Zealand sought after to improve the Muslim sufferers of the mosque terrorist assault via dressed in a hijab. What do you bring to mind this gesture?

Many ladies in New Zealand, now not simply the top minister, wore a hijab for someday in improve of the Muslim sufferers of the bloodbath, and I’m deeply in opposition to it. I’m in opposition to it for the reason that hijab isn’t a machine, it’s now not a toy; you’ll’t put on it someday and really feel just right and wish to display the arena that you just’re now not racist or Islamophobic. What concerning the different 364 days of the 12 months? In the beginning, I feel it was once a lazy and naive gesture. You’ll display your improve via preventing in opposition to white supremacism, in opposition to armed violence, in opposition to Islamophobia inside of your personal white circle of relatives. That approach you’re going to improve the Muslim neighborhood a lot more than dressed in a hijab for an afternoon. Secondly, the hijab continues to generate an enormous debate amongst Muslim ladies. Those … ladies that know not anything concerning the hijab have taken the aspect of those that imagine that Muslim ladies will have to put on a hijab. A few of us suppose they shouldn’t.

[By wearing a hijab] my mom and my sister are what’s referred to as visibly Muslim ladies; in international locations the place there may be Islamophobia, visibly Muslim ladies are extra prone to violence as it’s more straightforward to acknowledge them. My advice for non-Muslim ladies who wish to display their improve is: In case you see a Muslim girl being attacked as a result of her hijab, move and protect her. However you received’t lend a hand her if you happen to put on a hijab for someday.

In Headscarves and Hymens you are saying that for your oldsters’ time it was once if truth be told peculiar to put on a veil in Egypt (and in different international locations), and that now the placement is solely the other. Do you imagine that a part of this hijab and niqab “resurgence” is the results of the xenophobia Muslims are struggling within the West?

Some ladies if truth be told do that as some way of claiming: That is me, you’re going to now not silence me and also you will have to settle for me this manner. That is why why my sister wears a hijab. I want us Muslim ladies didn’t must continuously use our frame to turn out that we’re Muslim. I want this wasn’t the one approach to display our opposition to Islamophobia or xenophobia. The frame of Muslim ladies is sort of a blackboard the place everybody leaves their message. However what occurs to the messages we wish to write? I don’t need my frame to equate a hijab.

In Spain, we have already got our personal excessive appropriate birthday celebration, and certainly one of its largest trump playing cards is immigration.

The use of the time period “immigration” is a approach to encourage worry in other folks. The standard: “They’re going to take your process, they’ll rape your ladies … you want to vote for me, I can offer protection to you.” Give protection to me from what? The place’s the risk you’re attempting to give protection to me from? You’re the risk. That’s why I am hoping other folks in Spain move and vote en masse.

There are individuals who query the idea that of Islamophobia.

I feel that’s nonsense, and it’s unhealthy. Obviously, the assault [on mosques] in New Zealand was once Islamophobic. [The terrorist] went and attacked other folks as a result of their faith. There are individuals who favor to discuss anti-Muslim fanaticism. To me it’s the similar. The end result is identical. The attacker massacred 51 other folks. That’s Islamophobia to me. However I’ve any other instance that took place to my circle of relatives. In 2012, a white guy set my brother’s mosque on hearth, within the American Midwest. He mentioned it was once as a result of he heard on Fox Information that Muslims kill American citizens, so he determined to burn the Muslims’ position of worship. It’s unhealthy to play with phrases or indicate that we’re preventing over phrases, when what’s truly vital isn’t what we name it however the truth that persons are loss of life as a result of this. They’re massacring other folks.

It’s too simple and privileged to inform ladies to easily abandon their faith to be able to unfastened themselves from patriarchy. There may be patriarchy outdoor faith.Eltahawy

What do you bring to mind Islamic feminism, any other idea that’s inflicting fairly somewhat of controversy?

I’m now not an Islamic feminist; I’m secular. I separate Islam from feminism. However there are lots of Islamic feminists who’ve carried out essential paintings. Patriarchy, which incorporates a lengthy collection of oppressions, has used all its approach in opposition to me: racism, capitalism, homophobia. So I sought after to make use of all of the guns to combat, battle and spoil patriarchy. And this type of guns is Islamic feminism, which creates a focal point on feminism for girls that will differently now not see feminism as one thing helpful or tough. Those lecturers, who perceive Islamic jurisprudence and writings, use this information to reinterpret faith in feminist tactics.

It’s too simple and privileged to inform ladies to easily abandon their faith to be able to unfastened themselves from patriarchy. There may be patriarchy outdoor faith. My function is to spoil it from the interior and the outdoor, and I’m happy that Islamic feminism is there to combat it from the interior. However I imagine that this means can best convey you to a definite level the place any person will say: “That’s what God says.” That’s why I’m an earthly feminist. I don’t need my interpretation to oppose someone else’s interpretation. My purple line is anything else that hurts girls and women in 2019; that’s what I can combat in opposition to, irrespective of the place it’s coming from.

So it’s now not a contradiction to be feminist and Islamic?

They imagine it’s now not; they imagine they are able to lodge to research to be able to reinterpret faith. Probably the most best-known Islamic feminists, Amina Wadud, is a pal of mine and her paintings a great deal evokes me. She says God is truthful. How can a divine being who’s truthful permit inequality? She says Islam teaches that there’s not anything between you and God, irrespective of whether or not you’re a guy or a girl. Consistent with her interpretation, you’ll be a Muslim and a feminist. I wish to stay something excluding the opposite.

Are all religions corrupted via misogyny?

Sure. Patriarchy is in they all, particularly in Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam). In Spain you will have to know this with the Catholic Church, but when in 2019 we wish a faith to stick related we will have to put a forestall to all its misogynistic parts, set them aside. There are individuals who won’t ever abandon faith as it provides them peace of thoughts, or as a result of they might lose their lifestyles or their circle of relatives. Who am I to inform any person to desert it? We will have to be extra open with them and take away all of the misogynistic parts from all religions. For instance, in Tunisia polygamy was once banned, and I believe this. A person will have to now not be capable to marry 4 ladies except a girl can marry 4 males. It’s not that i am monogamous; I don’t imagine in monogamy and I don’t have only one spouse, however Islam lets in males to be polygamous and now not me. It’s unfair. Both each may have a couple of companions or neither can.

You’ve lived in 5 other international locations ― Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Israel and the U.S. Have you ever skilled misogyny in they all?

If there’s something I’ve discovered via dwelling in those international locations it’s that misogyny and patriarchy are common. It takes other bureaucracy, however it’s far and wide.

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