Seattle U Muslim community calls for religious freedom – the Spectator
The French Senate voted on March 30 to approve an amendment of President Emmanuel Macron “anti-separatism” law which effectively prohibits Muslim women under the age of 18 from wearing a hijab or headscarf, in public or at school, and allows police to harass and arrest them for such acts.
Amina Moujtahid, professor of Arabic and French at the University of Seattle who identifies as a Muslim woman, explained that this political decision is nothing new.
“They just play with politics … it’s always every year at election time,” Mujtahid said. âIt’s like a game – a game with unpleasant, hurtful, very hard decisionsâ¦ They try to impose something on us without considering our feelings, our spirit, our identity.
For Amina Ibrahim, former president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and recent graduate of the 2019 Seattle U class, the hijab is an essential part of her identity. It is a way for her to observe the faith of Islam through modesty.
âI feel like my scarf reminds me of what I believe in,â Ibrahim said. “My decision to wear a headscarf really came from my willingness to outwardly express what I felt on the inside – my love for my religion and my commitment to be a modest Muslim.”
Kashish Sekhon, a third-year communications and media student at Seattle U, who has Muslim family members, echoed this understanding of inner commitment to God.
âFor a lot of women, it’s like showing their modesty and devotion to Islam,â Sekhon said. “It’s the same way a lot of people pray, it’s a conversation with God … telling God that you are devoted to Him.”
However, the new ruling in France appears to ignore these views, focusing instead on establishing secularism so that no faith is promoted over another in public. In addition to this push for religious equality, it is also an attempt to create gender equality for Muslim women.
The misconception that Muslim women are oppressed could stem from the way people of color are both generalized and vilified through stereotypes, Sekhon argued.
âEvery woman in every community faces a form of oppression, which is not exclusive to Muslim women,â Sekhon said. “But I think it’s just the way white people see dark-haired women and the meanness of dark-haired men as scary people, oppressing their women.”
The perception that Muslim women should be freed from a modest lifestyle comes from the assumption that they are all âinherently oppressed,â Sekhon added.
âA lot of white people fail to understand that women of color can choose for themselves,â Sekhon said. âPeople just need to realize that women of color are still active agents. They have the brains and the courage to choose for themselves. They don’t have to wear anything.
For Ibrahim, choosing to wear a hijab was an extremely thoughtful and thoughtful decision.
âIt’s something I chose to wear very intentionally, and I’m very proud of this decision, and it’s not a decision I took lightly,â Ibrahim said. âIt saddens me that the people who made this decision no longer have this freedomâ¦ The right of women to choose how they express themselves, how they dress should not be a political issue. “
Mujtahid also felt a deep sense of pride in his personal decision to wear a hijab.
âIt’s not like my father, brother or husband told me to wear it,â Mujtahid said. âItâs part of my identity, of my understanding and itâs an integral part of me. I’m happy and proud of it. “
Sekhon pointed out that many feminist movements do not recognize modesty as a form of women’s liberation.
âThey think the release shows your body,â Sekhon said. “But liberation is choosing what you want to do, so I think wearing a hijab is still liberation, because you choose to wear it.”
Sekhon and Ibrahim stressed that it is essential to support other movements because liberation is not only reserved for the Muslim community.
âWe have to remember that all of our release is tied,â Ibrahim said. âYou shouldn’t wait for this to happen to your religious group to be outraged. You should be upset about it like it’s happening to you.
Moujtahid, Sekhon and Ibrahim each called on the Seattle U community to consider the importance of amplifying the struggle of Muslim women for freedom and liberation.
âYou have to talk,â Sekhon said. âIt’s sad, but it’s the truthâ¦ if white people speak out, it will get bigger than if only muslim women talk about it, because people already don’t listen to muslim women. “
Mujtahid hopes that members of the Seattle U community will recognize their responsibility to uplift one another through inclusion and acceptance.
âIt is very important to care about this issue because Seattle U’s message is to celebrate freedom, inclusion, diversity and acceptance for everyone,â Mujtahid said. âI think we have to support each other. This is who we are and we have to accept ourselves as we are.
Ibrahim is frustrated that more people have not spoken about this huge violation of democratic rights.
âIf we are just standing up or if we are only fighting for what is happening to us, then we are not really on the right side of justice,â Ibrahim said. âPeople in the United States should be absolutely outraged by what is happening in France – the country has voted to take away all freedom from a religious group. “
The three women ended with similar questions: how would you feel if today someone looked at you, asked you why you were wearing the clothes you are wearing, and then ordered you to change because they don’t like it? not ?
âYou would be upset about it,â Ibrahim said. âHow do you choose the way someone dresses? Who are you to tell me what I can do? It is absolutely ridiculous. And it’s also traumatic.
For these women, the problem is clear and simple: No one deserves to be deprived of the basic human freedom to choose how to dress when they wake up each morning.