Quantcast

«

»

Dec 12 2013

Shohana Khan

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.

 

 

 

 

19 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    TinAge

    Well, they can’t go to a public school- they might run into someone of the other gender!

  2. 2
    A. Noyd

    And what about everybody who isn’t straight? Do they just not exist in her world? (I don’t really feel like looking around her blog to find out if she answers that anywhere.) Or what about us asexuals? Maybe we should be put in charge of everything!

  3. 3
    smrnda

    All this proves is that Islamic fundamentalism turns men into rabid sex maniacs who cannot handle interacting with women without something *spilling over.* You can’t focus on the sexual element more than by implying that without men and women being separated men can’t control themselves.

  4. 4
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    the commitment to cater for both genders.

    She supports both FtMtF Drag Kings AND Deliberately androgynous persons with Klinefelter’s?

    That’s good to know. Does she support anyone else, though, because I hear that there might be one or even two more genders beyond those…

  5. 5
    brucegorton

    Shohana Khan’s invoking Mandela is outright obscene.

    To quote Mandela:

    “As a tribute to the legions of women who navigated the path of fighting for justice before us, we ought to imprint in the supreme law of the land, firm principles upholding the rights of women.”

    In other words one of the things he drove strongly for was this provision in our constitution:

    “The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”

    In other words in South Africa, the UUK’s recommendations would be considered unconstitutional, because Nelson Mandela specifically worked to make it that way.

  6. 6
    Pluvian

    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.

    This really struck me. Patriarchy is a social system where men have all the prestige and power and women are helpmeets. Or, to put it another way, men ‘lead’ and women ‘co-organise’. It’s like she doesn’t even understand that relegating women to secondary roles is sexism.

  7. 7
    Enzyme

    There’s something very strange about these Islamists and sex. Well, of course there is – but imagine living in their world.

    On the one hand, they’re terrified of sex and the sexual; but, at the same time, they see it everywhere. The whole world must be a deeply scary place for them.

    (Anecdote alert: I work at a UK University – one of the bigger ones. A couple of times a year, I dress in a curtain and a silly hat and process at the graduation ceremony, applauding as a line of students get their degrees. Most shake hands with the person handing them out. But every year, there’s a couple of Muslim students who refuse to do so. (NB: most headscarf-wearing Muslim students do shake hands; it’s a tiny minority that won’t. Guiltily, I find myself placing mental bets on which will and won’t as they climb the steps. Well, one has to keep oneself amused at these things…) And I wonder what it’s like to be them: to see the act of shaking hands with a man, on a stage, in front of a thousand people, as sexual to the point of being improper.

    (And I wonder what they must think of people who are willing to shake hands with people. Do they think everyone else is secretly at it at every possible opportunity? Do we shakers-of-hands disgust them, or are they secretly jealous of us, in the same sort of way that a schoolboy might pretend not to be interested in his female classmates but is secretly fascinated by them and the prospect of actually touching one one day?

    (And finally, though our Dean of Faculty has been a guy for the last few years, the next one might be a woman. Will the male counterparts of the refuseniks refuse to shake her hand? Will they think her a slut for offering to shake theirs?

    (Again: what a strange world in which they must live. A strange, sad, and permanently scared world.)

  8. 8
    Enzyme

    (Damnit! What’s the point of using a nickname if the comment’s going to link to my FB profile? Anyone know how to disconnect it?)

  9. 9
    Bjarte Foshaug

    @smrnda #3

    All this proves is that Islamic fundamentalism turns men into rabid sex maniacs who cannot handle interacting with women without something *spilling over.* You can’t focus on the sexual element more than by implying that without men and women being separated men can’t control themselves.

    Tsk tsk.. You took what I wanted to say and said it better!

  10. 10
    Havok

    I don’t get it. If it’s voluntary, then there’s no need to enforce it, there no need to require it, there’s no need to mention it.
    If the segregation needs to be enforced, then it’s not voluntary.

  11. 11
    Pen

    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 the crunch isn’t it? The rest of us don’t agree. And the public sphere is inhabited by the rest of us. The public sphere may not be segregated because the rest of us consider this to be at best a debilitating handicap on both sexes. The genuinely private, voluntarily attended, Muslim religious or cultural event may be be segregated. An event open to the public is open to the public.

    Therefore Islam promotes ideas such as honouring women which are upheld in society..

    But no talk about honoring men? I thought we were being all egalitarian. Thing is, I manage to honour men just fine without being separated from them in public spaces. Maybe the people who can’t cope shouldn’t be in public in the first place?

  12. 12
    anne mariehovgaard

    @A. Noyd #2:
    It’s not just gay/bi people; since most people are not asexual, and a lot of straight people are actually… closer to bi than to asexual, if that makes sense? what you get in a gender-segregated society (like Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia) is not an absence of sexual distractions but (in addition to people being “distracted” by the tinyest little hint of skin etc.) an increase in same-sex sexual “distractions” among people with a preference for opposite-sex relationships & activities.

  13. 13
    Argle Bargle

    I agree with Enzyme @7. It must be a totally scary world these people live in if shaking hands in public is one small step short of sexual intercourse.

  14. 14
    ismenia

    Hizb ut Tahrir does not believe in equality for men and women. They segregate within the organisation and only men are allowed into the top roles. They also believe that women should always be under the legal authority of fathers (or nearest male relative if he is dead) and husbands.

    Plenty of ex-members have gone public about HT. Some of them now form the Quilliam Foundation.

  15. 15
    Shatterface

    Shohana Khan’s invoking Mandela is outright obscene.

    Might as well invoke Rosa Parks.

  16. 16
    rnilsson

    @ 8 Enzyme: Disconnect FB?

  17. 17
    Amy Clare

    Surely she has noticed, though, that people off all genders can sit in a lecture theatre together without having sex with each other? What does she think is going on in the minds of people who don’t share her view? How do we all stop ourselves from jumping on one another?

  18. 18
    Ophelia Benson

    I think she thinks everyone is hideously, writhingly distracted all the time.

  19. 19
    Amy Clare

    Lol… and yet despite those terrible distractions, quite a few people manage to get degrees! It’s almost as if human beings had self control of some kind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>