View Full Version : In Defense of the Muslim Sisterhood by Yvonne Ridley

11-06-2007, 09:49 PM
Please read, appreciate your rights as a Muslim, and take steps to make the situation of Muslims better. That is our goal is Muslims.

__________________________________________________ ____________

I have a bee in my bonnet - or hijab to be more precise. On an almost daily basis, there are horrific stories pouring out of Tunisia about how the state police are ripping off the hijabs of women living there.
Some of these women, who are merely fulfilling their religious obligation to wear hijab, have been assaulted, locked up in prison, and even sexually abused by the authorities. It is unbelievable when you consider that Western tourists are sunbathing topless on the coastal resorts, soaking up the Tunisian sun.

So, it is OK to get your clothes off if you are a Western tourist who pays handsomely for sun, sand, and sangria, but try wearing hijab and see what happens in this so-called liberal, Muslim country.

I've been to Tehran where Iranian police are occasionally stopping women in the streets to remind them of their religious obligations of wearing a full hijab. There has been an outcry in the Western media about how the Iranian authorities are fining women who fail to wear their hijabs correctly in public.

I call these women the half-jabis - you know the ones, they balance their designer scarves precariously on the back of their heads and spend the rest of the day adjusting and picking their scarves from the nape of their necks. It might have endeared Princess Diana to the Muslim world when she "covered" in Muslim countries, but most women who try and emulate the "Di-style" just look plain stupid.

But what a pity those same journalists do not travel to Tunisia and write about a real story like the human rights abuses against women in downtown Tunis instead of focusing on Tehran. Why do journalists choose to ignore the Amnesty International report that outlines in clinical detail how the Tunisian authorities have increased their "harassment of women who wear the hijab"?

Is it because the Tunisian government is a craven devotee of the Bush administration, whereas Iran was identified as part of the now-infamous "axis of evil"? Surely the media are not that fickle? (Rhetorical question merely for the benefit of the mentally challenged).

The actions of the Tunisian regime make Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government look like a group of Tupperware party planners. For instance, the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior and the secretary-general of Tunisia's ruling political party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally, have stated they are so concerned about the rise in the use of hijab by women and girls and about the beards and knee-level shirts of men. In this respect, they have called for a strict implementation of decree 108 of 1985 of the Ministry of Education, which bans the hijab at educational institutions and government offices.

Police have ordered women to remove the head scarves before being allowed into schools, universities, or workplaces, and others have been made to remove them in the street.

According to Amnesty's report, some women were arrested and taken to police stations where they were forced to sign written commitments to stop wearing hijab. Amnesty International states quite clearly it believes that individuals have the right to choose whether or not to wear a headscarf or other religious covering, consistent with their right to freedom of expression.

Amnesty has called on the Tunisian government to "respect the country's obligations under both national law and international human rights law and standards, and to end the severe restrictions which continue to be used to prevent exercise of fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly." Amnesty has even kindly asked President Ben Ali's government to "end the harassment and attempted intimidation of human rights defenders."

I would like to be more forthright with President Ben Ali and remind him of his obligations as a Muslim. I doubt if he would take much notice!

This is the man who once said hijab is something foreign and not part of Tunisian culture. He obviously has not seen pictures taken before he came to power that clearly show Tunisian women going about their business fully covered. He has a history of despising the French colonizers who occupied his country, but I think that at least under the French, the Tunisian people had more freedom than they do now.

And since I have no family, friends, or connections in Tunisia, I write this without fear or favor.Perhaps those Muslim women in Tehran might like to consider the plight of their sisters in Tunisia before trying to balance their hijabs on the backs of their heads. And I would ask them to read the harrowing reported information below before bellyaching to more journalists about their rights to parade around like Diana-look-alikes.

What's below was written by an imam from Tunisia who had it smuggled out and given to me because he wants the world to know exactly what is happening to the women in his country. Here is a snippet:

The police will randomly make their way into markets and rip the hijabs from women's heads as well as take away any fabrics being sold to make hijabs.

They will also go into factories where women are working and rip the hijabs off women's heads. This is the least of what they have done.

will give you just one example of what these … have done to our sisters. They have, at one time, ordered a public bus to halt in the middle of the road while two plain clothes detectives went inside. The buses are similar to the ones in the West, except they will usually have three times more people inside it.

They grabbed one women wearing hijab and took her out of the bus. This was a sister whom they had warned before. They brought her into the side of the street and began slapping her across her face and cursing at her with the worst language you could think of.

They took her hijab off and the senior policeman said, "When are you going to stop wearing this -?" She said she would never stop, and she was crying. The men took her around the corner by a public bathroom.

They ripped her clothes off. They grabbed a soda bottle; these bottles are made of glass, and they raped her with it. They were laughing and there were many people around, but no one did anything. When they were done, they made her wear a short skirt and a sleeveless shirt and made her walk home to her husband like this. I swear by Allah that this is true.

The time is fast approaching when sisters across the world have to unite and come together in defense of hijab and in defense of Muslim sisterhood. My appeal goes out to feminists of all faiths and of no faith, but please do not think Muslim women are weak because the reality is that Islamic feminism can be just as radical as Western feminism.

Our parameters and values are slightly different as Muslims, but that does not make us any better or worse human beings than Western feminists. There is certainly no room for sectarianism in the Muslim sisterhood, and we have no time for petty squabbles, divisions, or cultural or tribal affiliations.

The bottom line is that we need to show solidarity with our Tunisian sisters. Tunisia is a very small country, which makes it easy for the army to control the people and brutally squash any signs of resistance.

Even those Tunisians living abroad have fear in their eyes because while they may be safe, members of their families left behind are often held to account for any actions overseas regarded as subversive. The brutality of the regime, combined with the "happy-clappy" clerics and their narcotic-style preaches in praise of the government, has also collectively subdued parts of the Tunisian population.

No wonder the Muslim youth no longer clamor to get into mosques on Fridays to listen to these preachers who spend half the sermon praising the president and his followers. That is why I salute the bravery of those sisters in Tunisia who are fighting for the right to fulfill their religious obligation as Muslim women by wearing hijab.

If you want to help, then copy and paste this article and send it to the nearest Tunisian embassy, demanding that Muslim women's right to wear hijab be respected.


"Tunisia: Releases Welcome But Harassment and Intimidation Must Stop." 13 Nov. 2006. Amnesty International. Accessed 26 Sep. 2007.

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11-14-2007, 09:19 AM
lol loved reading that. Go sis Yvonne :D. Islam channel need her back :D

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