islamic feminism

DOXA Festival Ticket Giveaway: Casablanca Calling

Still from Casablanca Calling, showing a Morchidat teaching a class of students

by Jarrah Hodge

Rosa Rogers’ new documentary Casablanca Calling takes viewers to mosques, schools and prisons across Morocco, where a “quiet revolution” is occurring as approximately 400 women have started to work as Muslim leaders or Morchidats for the first time. Their goal is “to liberate women by sharing the true teaching of Islam, freed from misogynist interpretations.”

The film follows three Morchidats as they travel around Morocco, actively campaigning against arranged marriage, domestic abuse, financial exploitation, and female suicide.

Casablanca Calling is just one of many awesome movies that will be screening at Vancouver’s DOXA Festival, coming up from May 2-11, 2014. If you’re in town I highly recommend checking out their full program, especially the films related to women’s rights.

Gender Focus is very pleased to be the community partner for the screening of Casablanca Calling.

To enter to win a set of two tickets to the screening of Casablanca Calling at Sunday, May 11 at 6 p.m. at the Vancity Theatre (up to two entries per person):

  • Comment below or on the Gender Focus Facebook page and tell us your favourite movie of all time.
  • Tweet “I entered to win tickets to Casablanca Calling from @jarrahpenguin and @doxafestival http://goo.gl/vR07tl” 

I will randomly select a winner next Wednesday, April 23. Good luck and hope to see you at a DOXA screening in a few weeks!

For more information on DOXA, check out the interview I did last year with Director of Programming Dorothy Woodend.

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism 3 Comments

Quebec “Charter of Values”, Islamophobia and Feminism

Image from press packet showing articles of clothing not allowed to be worn under proposed Charter of Values

Items that public sector employees will not be allowed to wear under the proposed “Charter of Values”

by Arwen McKechnie

I am a long time reader of the Toronto Star, and like many progressive Canadians, I see it as the only major paper that consistently reflects at least some of my views and politics. Admittedly, I don’t agree with every piece or editorial, but with few exceptions, I can usually respect the conclusions that are drawn and I admire the Star’s stated goal of working to advance the cause of social justice and their commitment to ethical reporting and coverage.

I have always particularly enjoyed Haroon Siddiqui’s column, and the elegant way in which he punctures the seemingly well-intentioned rhetoric used to promote anti-Muslim bigotry. But reading his column of September 29th, I noted with considerable dismay that he had fallen into the same trap he accuses “feminists” of: painting an entire group with the same brush. Those who identify as feminist are no more a monolithic bloc than adherents of Islam.

As the #solidarityforwhitewomen hashtag and better authors than me have amply covered, white feminism frequently has a problem with race. White feminists too often use their relative privilege to make blanket statements about “all women”, assuming that their experience is the universal one, and erasing others from the conversation. Siddiqui’s article plays into that narrative fairly seamlessly.

Quite evidently some people are raising the banner of feminism to support their prejudice against the hijab and niqab and, by extension, Islam. But those people do not speak for all of us.

There are many feminist individuals and groups that absolutely support a woman’s right to determine how she should practice her faith, and which cultural markers to choose to adopt. I am one of them. I believe absolutely in a woman’s right to choose, and that choice extends from if and when to have children to whether or not to wear a niqab. Otherwise we fall into a paternalistic trap of assuming “we” know best. But that kind of assumption is not limited exclusively to white feminists, nor to non-Muslim feminists of colour and there are people within both groups who are more self-aware than Mr. Siddiqui seems willing to credit. Read more

Posted on by Arwen McKechnie in Can-Con, Feminism 3 Comments

The Revolution in the Square and at Home: The Continuing Struggle of Women in Egypt

Photo of protesters in Tahrir Square, 2011by Nina Verfaillie

In the two years since the onset of the Egyptian Revolution we have witnessed the struggle of Egyptian women as they have actively participated in the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. They have stood next to their male counterparts as primary actors in the revolution and have fought for rights in the following reformation of governance, law, and order.

The subsequent democratic election of new leadership, which was the first in Egypt’s history, saw the historical participation of women en masse from all walks of life. It was also punctuated by their public disenfranchisement through humiliating sexual assaults in the public and revolutionary spheres. This encroachment on basic human rights and security in the reformation of government and power resulted in women losing many protections and rights that were previously afforded to them.

Even though women were key participants in the successful coup, they have experienced a loss in rights and political representation, while sexual violence against women has become an ongoing theme in the revolution. This past summer brought even more change and upheaval with the July ousting of Mohammad Morsi, and it was followed by another series of violent sexual attacks against women in the public sphere. It is time for a serious look at the continuing struggle of women in the revolution, and the role feminism has played in providing access and narrative to their fight.

For many, the plight of Egyptian women following the revolution has been a disappointment. Initially they were welcomed members of the revolution and their images of protest became central to the overall identity of the movement. The early protests were noted for their lack of sexual harassment and the sheer number of women involved and publically engaged. They went to the same protests, took the same risks of participation, and fought for the same cause.

The tone of the revolution shifted, and public assaults and rapes somehow became part of the protests. Female revolutionaries were then subjected to “virginity tests” and further rape and assault at the hands of riot police. Their exploitation now included their brothers in the revolution and ordinary citizens.

Although public sexual harassment in Egypt is an oft discussed topic in western media, the voice of women in Egyptian revolutions is not. Previous generations held famed Arabic singer Uum Kulthum as the voice of their revolutions and wars, and still hold her songs as the nation’s sobbing lament for a fallen president and his movement. As much as the revolution would not have been truly successful without all of the women who participated in it, they have also seen themselves used as political tools for parties and politicians who wish to use their disenfranchisement to solidify support and project religious legitimacy and do not see their equal participation as a cause for concern. Mubarak may be gone, but the oppression and exploitation of women still remains, in government and in Egyptian daily life. Read more

Posted on by Nina Verfaillie in Feminism Leave a comment