Friday, 31 August 2018 14:29

Belgium – Citizen’s column claims Muslim headscarf is “merely appearance”

After a coalition of 100 Muslim women denounced discrimination in employment against veiled women, a Belgian citizen accuses them wear the headscarf just for its appearance and not to be true campaigners for equality. This is our Belgium's media monitoring highlight for August 2018.

This article part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of August, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom. 

le vifDate of publication: 7 August 2018

Media outlet:  Le Vif/L’Express

Author: Abdel Serghini, Bruxelles resident


Headline: “Citizen’ response to a coalition of European Muslim women”

Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article is a response to a column published on La Libre and jointly signed by 100 Muslim women across Europe. In this opinion piece on La Libre, the group of signatories denounced employment discrimination that Muslim women are facing in Europe and advocates for an inclusive society. On Le Vif, a citizen from Brussels, Abdel Serghini, replies by attacking the group’s statement for following the ideology of “political Islam” as directed by their leaders. According to Serghini, wearing the headscarf is a political goal, is solely aesthetic, and contradicts the inclusive society that the group aspires to having, because the headscarf is a symbol of inequality between men and women. He then invites the signatories “to promote a deep spirituality that does not stop  at clothing”, “to condemn all forms of misogyny and to campaign to honour the legacy of women who fought for (real) women’s rights: Olympe de Gouges, Louise Michel, Simone de Beauvoir, Simone Veil…”.

Myth debunked: The author claims that the Muslim women’s coalition is putting strategies in place that are cherished by the thinkers and leaders of political Islam. As Hajar El Jahidi of the EFOMW said, this conspiracy theory includes the idea that Muslim women lack the capacity to engage as individuals, and ignores their willingness and determination to fight for gender equality. “The one-sided view of Muslim women as individuals who are either submissive or oppressed, or activists pursuing a hidden political agenda,” El Jahidi wrote, “is at best an uninformed view of the diversity of the group and at worst sexist and simplistic.” From the Le Vif article, it also seems that the group of signatories is promoting wearing the headscarf and believe that only those who wear the headscarf are Muslim. This is not what the group of women who signed the statement claims. What they do denounce is a form of multiple discrimination that, on the basis of gender and of religion, disproportionately affects Muslim women. And finally, by saying that the collective of Muslim women should follow the teachings of those women who fought for “real” women’s rights – all white non-Muslim women – he’s implying that there is only one type of feminism, and denying the possibility of Muslim women being feminist.

More to read:

The Course & Future of Islamic Feminism

Forgotten Women: the impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women

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