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FEMEN, Tariq Ramadan And Islamic Feminism

As a Muslim woman I am tired of FEMEN for a variety of reasons that I will be detailing below. I will be doing a series on Feminism in Islam soon In sha Allah but in the mean time the recent actions of FEMEN at an Islamic event needs to be addressed and discussed.

Equality and justice between men and women is a crucial part of Islam and has always been. The ayah below is one of my favourite ayahs in the Qur’an.

For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise,- for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.

– Qur’an 33: 55

I came across a video on Twitter of FEMEN activists showing up on stage at an event where Tariq Ramadan was speaking. If you are unaware about who Tariq Ramadan is, He is a Muslim Swiss academic, philosopher and writer. He is also the professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University. I won’t link the video in the post but in the video about three or four women proceeded to the stage in jilbabs – Female Islamic clothing- and took it off to reveal their breasts in front of Tariq Ramadan to supposedly protest against political Islam and advocate on the cause feminism for Muslim women.

I have several issues with the actions of FEMEN as an organisation and it is extremely disappointing because this is not the first time they have pulled a stunt like this. In September 2015, they did something similar at a conference  and I remember posting about it on my Instagram page.

The action of FEMEN is repeatedly patronising for Muslim women. It denies us of agency and our ability to choose rationally for ourselves. It marginalises our struggles and efforts in our community to address the injustices, misogyny and oppression that Muslim women face as a result of cultural beliefs justified through religion. I don’t believe that Islam is inherently oppressive and I certainly do not need FEMEN’s brand of feminism.

When I think of feminists I think of incredible women such as: Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Linda Sarsour, Dalia Mogahed, Yasmin Mogahed, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie the list goes on.

Tweets below from @Rrrrnessa  capture my opinions on this issue perfectly.Has Femen ever actually sat down with a group of Muslim women to hear why they prefer modesty?

“Has Femen ever sat down with a group of Muslim feminists about how we are combating the misogyny in our communities?

Has Femen ever done anything other than scream loud and take their tops off and disrupt Muslim spaces?

Has Femen protested the abuse of Muslim women by non-Muslims? Like harassment and physical assault by racists?

Your feminism screams at the rest of us telling us how we are ‘wrong’ while your leader is a fascist, misogynist male.

Femen is not about choice or freedom. It’s about them choosing the life they want for us, taking our choice.

Because Muslim women apparently never get to chose. We must listen to Muslim patriarchs or white feminists. We’re not smart enough to chose.

Listening to women, ALL Women, especially marginalised women … THAT is feminism, THAT is sisterhood. Not talking over/ for us.

Muslim women are not monolithic, in our identity or experience or anything. We get to speak for ourselves.”

So No thank you FEMEN #Wegotthiscovered.

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