Recently, two big discriminatory things have happened to Muslims where they are a minority. It’s odd to see things happen from Malaysia, a country where 60% of the population is Muslim. In fact, if you are born ethnically Malay, you are by law, Muslim. Halal shops are as common as non-halal ones, pork is sometimes difficult to find, and most Muslim women wear hijabs.
Here’s a brief summary of events for those who haven’t heard. If you have, jump below the italics to hear my thoughts
1. Ahmed Mohamed, a 14 year old Muslim American boy, passionate about technology and innovation created a homemade clock. He excitedly brought it to school and was then arrested when teachers suspected that his clock was a bomb. This event reflected just how Islamophobic America remains after the attacks of 9/11. Because of his brown skin and his religion, his creativity was not welcomed with open arms, but instead with handcuffs.
Living here, it is so odd that Americans still consider all Muslim terrorists. I mean, 60% of Malaysia is Muslim, but 60% of Malaysians are not terrorists- that would make my friends, students, and coworkers terrorists (don’t disgrace my friends with that noise)! It honestly makes no sense why someone whose name is Ahmed would get in any more trouble than someone whose name is John. Ahmed is an incredibly common name and you would not know anything about an ‘Ahmed’ just by hearing the name, like you would not know anything about a ‘John’ that you have never met. America, get over yourselves, you’re embarrassing me. On the bright side, this young inventor was able to receive personal invites from Apple, Twitter, Facebook, AND the White House. So Ahmed, take those opportunities because from this difficult moment, you have acquired the jumping board into incredible success- which coincidentally, I think this sort of response only happens in America.
2. Femen, a radical feminist group, stormed a Muslim women’s conference topless, interrupted the speakers, stormed the stage, and screamed at the audience until they were forcibly removed. In response, many feminist Muslim women have begun to speak up and say, “we don’t need your ‘liberation.'” And Femen condescendingly responded, “They write on their posters that they don’t need liberation but in their eyes it’s written ‘help me.'” Like damn, talk about a white woman’s burden…
Okay look, I appreciate your struggle and your passion. And by all definitions, I am a staunch feminist, too. However, we don’t need your feminism if it ain’t intersectional. Real talk. Muslim feminists have been fighting for what they believe in since -you guessed it- nearly forever (wow, like white feminism!). They are not a helpless, starving, alien species that needs your saving. Do not take their space and voice and replace it with yours. Believe it or not, that’s a form of colonialism. Please check yourselves and shove your patronizing know-it-all savior complex up your naked white bums. How about working with and understanding Muslim feminists before you decide you know enough to speak for them? Or how about helping them create space to speak for themselves? Susan Carland from the Guardian sums it up much better,
“It isn’t just the Islam of a lucky few women who grew up in the west in the last 50 years, but women and men through Islamic history in countless Muslim communities across the planet who firmly believed that gender justice was a divine mandate. And if people actually spoke to Muslim women, instead of about them, as the incident at the conference in France perfectly encapsulates, this would be known.
Shout out to my fam keeping it down in the USA and calling shit out when they see it, fight for what’s right, even when it’s hard. Miss y’all!
Cover photo taken in Shah Alam, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Props to Media Legal Media Berbagi (please correct me if I’m wrong).