Iram Ramzan gets abuse on Twitter for being a liberal Muslim.
I am the latest in a bunch of women, specifically Muslim women, who have come under attack from a group of misogynist men. Their aim is supposedly to combat Islamophobia yet ironically their appalling behaviour is unIslamic and actually fuels anti-Muslim sentiment.
It’s rather funny how our ‘Muslimness’ is questioned to destroy our credibility. Accuse a Muslim person of drinking alcohol or eating pork and you have instantly ruined their reputation. And if you’re a woman, well, that’s ten times worse. The combination of being an ex-Muslim (which I am not by the way) and a ‘whore’ is lethal.
When Lejla Kuric, a Manchester-based artist, wrote an article on her meeting with Tommy Robinson, she was accused of being ‘Islamophobic‘, despite the fact that she is a Muslim. My theory is because she does not ‘look Muslim’ i.e. she is white and does not wear a headscarf she is an easy target.
Sara Khan, of Inspire, is regularly called a ‘government stooge’ and all the usual stupidity, including people spreading rumours that she drinks alcohol – she doesn’t, but why should it matter?
Because the kind of people it matters to are the ones the rumor is aimed at.
“I’ve been called an ex-Muslim, that I work with or get into bed with zionists and Islamophobes, that I’m creating Islamophobia for addressing gender injustice within Muslim communities etc. None of this surprises me in one sense because I’ve spent 20 years working within Muslim communities and I know the score. I know that if you speak out as a Muslim woman you need a thick skin and you need to be prepared for a big backlash.”
Of course, men, too, come under attack. Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation is constantly hounded, even by moderate Muslims. But when you are a woman, it is easier to be attacked. Men are not labelled as whores who sleep around. That delightful label is reserved for us females alone.
More worrying is if you look through their tweets, they are followed and re-tweeted by even moderate Muslims – they seem to unite against anyone who is ostensibly liberal, even if it means to side with a troll online.
Being a liberal Muslim is a thankless task. That’s very unfortunate.
And here’s a key point:
Try and get some support or solidarity from prominent Muslim commentators or writers – forget about it. The only solidarity we seem to receive is from those on the right who ‘hijack’ issues such as the university gender segregation, yet if there was solidarity from those on the left, the right wouldn’t need to ‘hijack’ the debate.
That’s a slight exaggeration, since there is a “we” to receive solidarity, so it can’t be true that the only solidarity is from the right. But it’s clear what she means, and it’s true. There’s not nearly enough solidarity from the left, and there’s way too much of the opposite of solidarity in the form of automatic shouts of “Islamophobia,” so the hijacking by the right is far more conspicuous than it should be, and than it would be if only the left would pay the fuck attention.
Lejla certainly believes that there is a problem with misogyny directed against women online, and it is something that has been highlighted in the media more recently.
“Muslim women who speak for women rights and against gender inequality within their own community or express political or theological dissent are ‘slut-shamed’ by some Muslim man who do not approve of their opinions. Our sexual morality is questioned and we are deemed ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ as a way of silencing us.”
Like me, she is labelled a “Quilliam whore”, ugly, and other vile insults, especially after she writes an article. Does she receive any assistance or help from anyone or other Muslims? “Sometimes from Muslim women, never from Muslim men, not once,” she says.