How to Be An Effective Ally to Muslim Women and Address Gendered Islamophobia

Proposed panel for Netroots Nation 2019

Muslim women leading national feminist movements––or being outspoken Members of Congress––is seen as unusual because they are often portrayed as oppressed by their cultures and religion. This poisonous and persistent perception of misogyny within Islam, even amongst those on the Left, has been used as a justification to “rescue” women from Islam and is a major contributor to anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Further, it ignores the fact that many Muslim women derive dignity and power from their faith tradition. This panel, featuring Muslim women leaders, will discuss the foundations of gendered Islamophobia in this country, its manifestations, and how allies can help tackle it.
  • Submitted by: Firdaus Arastu
  • Moderator: Firdaus Arastu
  • Panelists: Darakshan Raja, Rowaida Abdelaziz, Cristal Truscott

What are the takeaways for people who attend this panel? Why is this panel important to the progressive movement?

The misconception that Muslim women need to be “saved” from their faith erases the agency of Muslim women and is blind to their intersectional identities. Americans across the political spectrum, including many progressives, share this belief. While fighting sexism on one front, Muslim women are also visible targets of Islamophobia and hate crimes on another. Pushing back against this narrative is key for ensuring the rights of Muslim women are protected.

Why should the Netroots Nation community vote for your session?

In 2018, we successfully elected the first 2 Muslim women into Congress. However, Muslim women remain uniquely vulnerable to Islamophobia as they are more “visibly Muslim” than men. This panel will help participants to be more effective allies by outlining the combined struggles Muslim women face against Islamophobia, sexism, and racism. The panel will feature Muslim women who are experts in journalism, activism, academia, and the arts, to build a richer conversation on this topic.

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