On the other hand there’s a post by Shohana Khan, Women’s Media Representative of Hizb ut Tahrir Britain. Her post is not a good post.
Placard reading “we reject gender apartheid” waved at a winter evening protest. Fiery discussions about the imposition of medieval practices in Universities, unleashed in the media, as yet again another Muslim practice is in the firing line. The report issued by Universities UK which has allowed Islamic societies to practice voluntary gender separated seating in their events, has created uproar. Allowing this Islamic practice in UK Universities would be a travesty for women’s rights. Apparently.
That’s a discouraging first paragraph. Demands for gender segregation at university public events is not “another Muslim practice.” It’s an Islamist practice. Islamists don’t represent all Muslims, nor do they speak for them. The report was not confined to events exclusive to Islamic societies; it was about public events; that’s exactly why there is outrage. (What the hell would Lawrence Krauss have been doing at an Islamic society event? He was at a UCL event.) The practice is not an Islamic practice, it’s an Islamist practice. That’s a lot of smokescreen for one paragraph. I’m starting to think maybe I shouldn’t trust anything she says.
First let’s be clear that this voluntary gender separated seating, takes place in events that are specifically designed for Muslim students, for whom this practice is an integral part of their faith. If anything I remember from my days at university, is that the very purpose of these societies are to meet the extra curricular needs and interests of University students. Therefore if Muslim students attend Islamic society activities for this very reason, why on earth is this a problem?
No. She’s flat wrong on that. The UCL event was organized by the iERA, but it was a public event. It was open to the public, not just to members.
Why not ask the opinion of those Muslim women who organise and attend these events, rather than ask those hurling the accusations with no real standing in the Muslim community – Did they feel denied of an ability to participate? Did they feel stripped of respect and value in such events?
Yes just ask the people who organized the event. That’s the way to sample opinions in “the Muslim community.”
Then the fact that segregation is being facilitated between men and women, by men and women in Islamic societies, shows the commitment to cater for both genders. Discriminating against women would mean denying women entry, or any participation in the venue. Neither of these takes place. And what is forgotten is that women are also part of these societies, co-organising if not leading activities. We are talking about separated seating, not patriarchy.
And if they were all confined to a small dark room that would be ok too, because that wouldn’t be denying them entry. Absolutely. Nelson Mandela (whom she invokes) would be proud.
She explains the excellent reasons for gender apartheid.
Rather the concept of separating men and women in public spaces in Islam, is part of a wider objective. Islam has a societal view that the intimate relationship between a man and a woman is for the committed private sphere of marriage, and should not be allowed to spill outside of this sphere. This is because in society, men and women need to cooperate to achieve things in society whether in the work place, in education, in interactions across the public space. Islam firmly believes if the sexual instinct is let loose in this public sphere, it can taint and complicate these relationships. Therefore Islam promotes ideas such as honouring women which are upheld in society, but alongside such ideas specific rules and laws are implemented to help maintain the atmosphere of healthy interaction between the sexes. These rules aim to minimise the presence of this instinct in public life. So minimising the mixing the interaction of the sexes in the public sphere unless necessary, the covering up of women and men through the Islamic dresscode, the prohibition of exploiting the sexuality of women in any profession, modelling to pornography, are all laws to help maintain an atmosphere in public life, where focus is not on the sexual element of women and men, but on the contributions they make. The impact this has, and had in the history of the Islamic state, was that women were actually valued for their intellectual capability and what they could contribute regardless of gender, such as Fatima Al Fihri who founded the world’s first university in Morocco.
Yes! And like Malala Yousafzai, and all the teachers and girls killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan for teaching or going to school. Like all the women beaten for not wearing hijab, or wearing it wrong. Like the women politicians and police chiefs in Afghanistan, killed for being…politicians and police chiefs. Yes, the Islamic loathing of “the sexual instinct” has been a beacon for women for centuries.
Her bio at the end is…depressing.
Shohana Khan is the Women’s Media Representative of Hizb ut Tahrir Britain. A graduate of English, she writes and blogs about issues affecting women in contemporary society and specialises in presenting Islam, as a societal alternative to them. She has written about issues affecting the Muslim community in the UK, including producing an open letter for MP Sarah Wollaston following her attack on the niqab (veil). She speaks at events and has debated feminism at a London University. She writes for the Huffington Post. She is married and has three children she homeschools. tweet her @ShohanaK
She homeschools her children.