Final Project: Do Muslim Women need Saving?

Posted on May 17, 2013 by

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Caitlin Leahy

Professor Petersen

World Religions

5/17/13

            Do Muslim Women Need Saving? Different view points from different locations around the world

Religion, a subject that is the starting point for discussions, and usually with discussion, brings understanding. However with religion that is not the case, there are many people out there that are not as understanding of other religions and not willing to take time to learn the reasons why some religions practice the things that they do.  One practice in particular is the veiling of Muslim women.  Some people believe that Muslim women need saving and that it is not right and/ or equally right that these women wear the veils.   

Laura bush wrote an article in 2003 about how the Muslim women as a whole, needed saving.  This article sparked my interest and I began my search for more recent events involving the relationship between Muslim women and others outside the religion.  I started noticing the different ways that the authors were portraying their stories and the word choices that were used.  I realize that I should have conducted a larger scale research project on this but I would have not had enough time to finish.  It seemed that throughout my articles the answer to Muslim women needing saving became more and more apparent that they didn’t but that the answers that the rest of the non Muslim world was getting was that they did.  Muslim women do not need saving but it depends on the background of the author of the article to really get the truth.

To clear this statement up a bit I begin with my first article, “Muslim women are caught in the crossfire between bigots on both sides” (Khan, The Guardian).  This article describes how harsh the world is for a Muslim woman.  There is not much about the actual veil of the women but it talks about the whole life experience of a Muslim woman and how “Islam treats women bad”(Khan, The Guardian). There are some who interpret the Qur’an more literally and actually think that they must keep women locked up, but it is explained that this is not the normal belief for the vast majority of Muslims and that it is only the extremists who think this way.  This author does not seem to think that the women need saving but that they need others to understand, to be more accepting.  The author uses a very sympathetic tone when referring to the incidents that are described, “Unfortunately, there are serious challenges facing many British Muslim women today”(Khan, The Guardian) .  The author thinks that the women themselves are fine it is that others are being savages and treating other humans so differently, “We need to recognize Muslim women’s agency and their right to live in dignity, free from being politically exploited in the name of hate”(Khan, The Guardian).

The other point which I am trying to prove is that it also depends on who wrote the article and where that person stems from.  Sara Khan, writer of the article discussed above, is of Asian decent according to The Guardian website.  Furthermore her surname of Khan usually comes out of countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, countries where Islam is practiced.  If brief conclusions are made about Khan, then we can agree on the surface that Khan probably is sympathetic to the topic of Muslim women inequality because she could have either experienced it herself or grew up around it and hearing stories about it.  This may not be the case but hopefully some truth may ring out as we further the discussion.

“Frenchman who ripped a Muslim woman’s veil off is given a five-month suspended sentence”(Allen, Daily Mail). This is the second article that I am using to argue my point.  The title of the article really leaves no mystery to what the article talks about but if you dive a little deeper the writer, Peter Allen, seems to be taking a very neutral stance on the topic of veiling.  In France, under law it is illegal to wear any sort of veiling of the face in public.  Allen seems to be putting both parties at fault here, giving them both a thorn in the side for what they did (they being the woman in the veil and the man who ripped it off) and then giving them relief for what they chose to do.

“The 30-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he was merely trying to ‘enforce’ his country’s laws when he carried out the attack in the French city of Nantes”… “A judgment against him released by the Nantes criminal court said: ‘Ordinary citizens are not entitled to take the law into their own hands” …“The man, who originally gave a false identity to police, said he was a firm believer in the 2010 law brought in by government of former President, Nicolas Sarkozy”… “But the judge said that he had acted like a ‘vigilante’ and carried out the attack solely because he was prejudiced against the women’s faith”… “Last September, Louis-Marie Suisse, a Muslim teenager from Marseille received a two month prison sentence for biting a policewoman who arrested her for wearing a full-face veil”… “Under the law, women found guilty of wearing niqabs in public can be fined the equivalent of around 130 pounds, or be forced to go toe citizenship classes”(Allen, Daily Mail).

Allen doesn’t really seem to have an answer to whether or not the women of Islam faith need saving or not.  He does seem to slightly lean to the answer of no with his last comment at the end of the article where he chooses a quote “Amnesty International is among human rights groups who have condemned the law, saying it breaches the right of freedom of expression” (Allen, Daily Mail).  He is giving them rights just like every other human on the planet.  To look into Allen’s neutral stance that he took on the topic I looked into his background as well.  Allen is a well known surname coming from Ireland. The Irish are known for their hot tempers but they are also known for their fairness. “The Irish are a fair people; they never speak well of one another”( Johnson, Las Vegas Sun). They don’t pick a side when they are not involved and this could be a part of the reason that Allen took a neutral stance on the topic of the inequality of Muslim women.

            “First test of Supreme Court’s new face-veil rules imminent” (Lynch, CBC News). This article explains how a Muslim women is pressing charges against a man for sexually abusing her when she was a child.  The article talks about how the court is trying to find a medium between whether or not to allow  Muslim women to wear their veils when testifying.  The argument comes from not being able to see the facial expressions and how that is a critical component for the jurors.  The writer, Lynch, seems to be taking a slightly negative approach to the situation. Her answer to the question of saving would be no, but for a different reason.  She uses words and phrases her sentences in creative ways trying to sound neutral but some may get a negative vibe. “a Toronto woman known only as N.S. was back in court with those she accuses of sexually abusing and assaulting her as a child”…” her lawyer says her religious beliefs mean she must leave it on, closed-circuit TV or not, while the lawyers for the accused say they cannot get a fair trial unless they, and the court, can see her facial expressions as she testifies”(Lynch, CBC News).  For the rest of the article she puts a neutral spin on the rest of the topic.

            Once again dissecting the surnames of the writers, Lynch is from English decent where traits like being arrogant or snobby may enter the mind, the writer does not give off extreme vibes of these traits but subtle hints and since the writer is from Canada and probably has traits of being Canadian as well, the tries with neutralism could stem from this background, Canadians known for their way of avoiding conflict.

            The Laura Bush article from 2003 which prompted my interest in the subject is very straight forward with the point. Muslim women need saving because they are trapped inside these veils. Her point was that she ultimately wanted to “Americanize” the Muslim women.  I know that none of these articles were related on whether or not the women of this religion needed saving but they danced around the subject and they gave insight to the answer and to the truth.  The law was lifted that the Muslim women didn’t need to wear full veils anymore, but some still do because it is what THEY WANT to do, not because they have to.  We as people of this world need to understand that none of us are any better than the ones next to us or the ones across the oceans from us.  We need to grasp and accept that there are multiple religions in the world and none are more accurate or enlightening than the other.  I realize that I stereotyped the authors in this paper but I feel as though it furthers my point. I don’t know much about places other than America so I just used things that I have heard, I didn’t take the time to really understand and get to know each of the writers who wrote the articles. I know that we must let people be who they are and treat everyone as equals to ourselves.  The articles hint at this and how it’s not the Muslim women who need saving but it is the world around them.  The writers are examples of how people from different places can be more or less understanding of problems that don’t relate to them.  America, Canada, Ireland, Pakistan and every country in-between has different views and it’s those different views that will keep the ones that actually need saving, drowning.

 

 Bibliography

 

Lynch, Laura. “First Test of Supreme Court’s New Face-veil Rules Imminent.” CBCnews.

 

CBC/Radio Canada, 19 Apr. 2013. Web. 17 May 2013.

 

 

“Frenchman Who Ripped a Muslim Woman’s Veil off Is given a Five-month Suspended

 

Sentence.” Mail Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2013.

 

 

Khan, Sara. “Muslim Women Are Caught in the Crossfire between Bigots on Both Sides.” The

 

Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 03 Nov. 2013. Web. 17 May 2013.

 

 

“Where I Stand: Irish a Mix of Ego, Stubbornness, Great Charm And wit.” LasVegasSun.com.

 

N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2013.

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