Richard Dawkins explains why he’s not Islamophobic

August 10, 2023 • 12:15 pm

We’ve had some discussion about words like “transphobia” and about what they mean. To gender activists, that word may mean anybody who doesn’t want natal men competing as transwomen in athletics, even though those holding that opinion have nothing against transgender people and would defend their civil liberties ardently.  That’s why I’ve been called “transphobic.”

Others, like me (and Richard Dawkins below) think that “phobia” means an “irrational fear”, and so a “transphobic” is someone with an irrational fear of trans people. Thus, while I adhere to natal sex separation in sport, I reject the label “transphobic.”

In the article below on his Substack site, Richard Dawkins also rejects the label “Islamophic,” which has been copiously applied to him. Yes he still sees Islam as the world’s most harmful religion, and deems some people like Salman Rushdie as being justifiably Islamophobic.

Click to read. This site is an infinitely better way for Richard to express his views than through truncated and often misunderstood tweets that cause huge Dawkins pile-one:

Some excerpts:

If your belief is indefensible, your ignominious last resort is to accuse your critics of “-phobia”. I have long criticised all religions as irrational, and faiths as dangerous. Most of my attacks have been against Christianity, because I know it best. In spite of this I have never been accused of Christophobia. But I am regularly berated for Islamophobia, and I even had a radio broadcast in California (about a totally unrelated subject) cancelled because of my reputation for “Islamophobia”. Cancelled, mark you, not by Muslims but by American so-called “liberals”.

Phobia is defined as irrational fear, as in arachnophobia, agoraphobia etc. If Salman Rushdie fears Islam, it would not be an irrational fear, it would be eminently rational. At the whim of a nasty, bigoted old man in Iran (in character strongly resembling the Abrahamic God), Rushdie has lived much of his life with a massive bounty on his head. He has recently suffered a religiously motivated stabbing, which has left him blind in one eye. Rational fear is not phobia.

I’m wondering, though, given the characteristics of much of Islam that Richard decries below, if all the separate phobias he lists (I give only a partial list) doesn’t add up to “Islamophobia”.  Remember, that’s a fear of a religious ideology, not a fear of Muslims themselves.

I am not Islamophobic. I am certainly not Muslimophobic. Indeed I regard Muslims as Islam’s main victims, badly in need of defence against their own religion. If we temporarily redefine “phobic” not as irrational fear but as rational detestation, then I am phobic about the following:

Throwing gay people off tall buildings or crushing them under a collapsed wall. (CNNDailymailHindustan Times)

Or publicly caning them (note the laughing glee of the audience, including children (VICE News)

Whipping women for the crime of being raped, or the crime of being seen in public with a man to whom they are not married. (The GuardianTORONTO STAR)

Stoning women accused of adultery to death. (THE WEEK)

Female genital mutilation. (Nursery World)

Compelling women to cover their hair and faces, leaving only a slit for the eyes.

Compelling girls to stay indoors, while boys roam free. . .

This list goes on further, and Richard concludes:

If all, or even any, of that list could be laid at the door of any religion, then a profound dislike of that religion could be defended. It certainly is not the case that most individual Muslims would endorse the list – although it has to be admitted that more than a quarter of British Muslims (Harris poll 1989) wanted Salman Rushdie to be killed, and nearly two thirds thought The Satanic Verses should be burned.

It is often pointed out that Christianity used to be just as bad, and it still is just as irrational. But the worst excesses of Christianity now thankfully lie in the past. If only the same could be said of Islam. What is especially galling is those Western “liberals” who think Islam is a race, and are so terrified of being thought racist that they refrain from criticising the above horrors, even those perpetrated against women and gays.

Hitchens often pointed out the past excesses of Christianity when addressing Islam’s present perfidies, and pointed out, like Richard, that only one religion now supports all the oppressive acts listed above. And, in fact, Dawkins ends by quoting Hitchens:

“Islamophobia” is a deeply silly and pernicious abuse of language. And it’s not the only fashionable word ending in “-phobia” that condemns itself as a last-resort substitute for rational discussion.  In all such cases, I recommend the Hitchens Riposte: “I’m still waiting to hear your argument.”

I would add that the kowtowing towards the excesses of Islam by many Westerners is craven, patronizing, and evinces “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” How dare Westerners excuse or ignore the behavior of countries that execute gays, atheists, and apostates, oppress women and deny them education, and force women to wear coverings so as not to excite the presumably uncontrollable lust of men, while at the same time demonizing Israel, which does none of these things.  It’s because Arabs, even if genetically similar to Israelis, are seen as “people of color”, while Israelis are seen as “white adjacent.” It’s as if implied pigmentation conferred virtue! These differential views of Arab versus Jewish states constitute one of the most pernicious aspects of Authoritarian Leftism and Wokeism.

Sundance and others cancel a talented filmmaker for “Islamophobia” and “white saviorism”

September 25, 2022 • 1:20 pm

This story is extremely disturbing as an exemplar of cancel culture. It’s the story about how a woman made a documentary about Muslims who, having been accused of terrorism, were sent from Guantanamo to a “terrorism rehab facility” in Saudi Arabia. The director of the film, originally called “Jihad Rehab” (now named “The UnRedacted”), found four of the “rehabilitated” willing to tell their stories on film, and, according to nearly all accounts, the film is good (it has a 75% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes). It was so well done that it was invited to the 2022 Sundance Festival. That was a great honor for the young director, Meg Smaker.

But then the problems surfaced, promoted by Muslims and the Woke on social media. There were two issues:

1.) Smaker is a white woman. Being white, argued the critics, how could she possibly have the understanding needed to make a film about Muslim men? (It took her 16 months of filming.) She was accused of being a “white savior”.

2.) The film is about Muslim terrorists. Muslims and especially many “progressives” on the Left shy away from that aspect of Islamism. Palestinian terrorism, for example, is nearly always minimized by MSM on the Left.

The result, documented in this longish New York Times piece (click on screenshot below) was that Smaker was canceled in a very real sense—deprived of her livelihood. Although Sundance did show her film, the backlash soon came from social media. The film’s executive director, who had initially called the film “freaking brilliant”, apologized in the most groveling and pathetic letter you can imagine. The letter of apology was written by Abigail Disney, a grandniece of Walt Disney, and you can read it here. It is pathetic, cringe-making, reprehensible, and disgusting.  Smaker can’t get her film publicized or shown, and, after being demonized and called an “Islamophobe”, she’s nearly broke.

I recommend reading this article to understand how Progressive Authoritarianism is ruining our culture:

Indented text is from the NYT article.

Smaker’s background:

Ms. Smaker was a 21-year-old firefighter in California when airplanes struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. She heard firefighters cry for vengeance and wondered: How did this happen?

Looking for answers, she hitchhiked through Afghanistan and settled in the ancient city of Sana, Yemen, for half a decade, where she learned Arabic and taught firefighting. Then she obtained a master’s from Stanford University in filmmaking and turned to a place Yemeni friends had spoken of: the Mohammed bin Nayef Counseling and Care Center in Riyadh.

The Saudi monarchy brooks little dissent. This center tries to rehabilitate accused terrorists and spans an unlikely distance between prison and boutique hotel. It has a gym and pool and teachers who offer art therapy and lectures on Islam, Freud and the true meanings of “jihad,” which include personal struggle.

Hence the documentary’s original title, “Jihad Rehab,” which engendered much criticism, even from supporters, who saw it as too facile. “The film is very complex and the title is not,” said Ms. Ali, the Los Angeles Times critic.

To address such concerns, the director recently renamed the film “The UnRedacted.”

The United States sent 137 detainees from Guantánamo Bay to this center, which human rights groups cannot visit.

But reporters with The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and others have interviewed prisoners. Most stayed a few days.

Ms. Smaker would remain more than a year exploring what leads men to embrace groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Saudi officials let her speak to 150 detainees, most of whom waved her off. She found four men who would talk.

The film’s content:  It’s mostly interviews, I hear, with no politicizing or twisting of the narrative. The article will tell you more about it, as will the critics’ reviews (link in next line).

Some reviews:  (Read other critics’ reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.)

Film critics warned that conservatives might bridle at these human portraits, but reviews after the festival’s screening were strong.

“The absence of absolutes is what’s most enriching,” The Guardian stated, adding, “This is a movie for intelligent people looking to have their preconceived notions challenged.” Variety wrote: The film “feels like a miracle and an interrogative act of defiance.”

. . .Lawrence Wright wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” and spent much time in Saudi Arabia. He saw the documentary.

“As a reporter, you acknowledge the constraints on prisoners, and Smaker could have acknowledged it with more emphasis,” he said. “But she was exploring a great mystery — understanding those who may have done something appalling — and this does not discredit that effort.”

To gain intimate access, he added, was a coup.

I loved Wright’s book, and I wonder why he wasn’t criticized about writing the history of the background to Al-Quaeda, beginning with the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood. Shouldn’t Wright be criticized for portraying some Muslims as terrorists? How can a white man even tackle this subject? I needn’t respond: the answer lies in the nature of art itself.

One more, which you should consider when reading the critics below:

“What I admired about ‘Jihad Rehab’ is that it allowed a viewer to make their own decisions,” said Chris Metzler, who helps select films for San Francisco Documentary Festival. “I was not watching a piece of propaganda.”

. . . Lorraine Ali, a television critic for The Los Angeles Times who is Muslim, wrote that the film was “a humanizing journey through a complex emotional process of self-reckoning and accountability, and a look at the devastating fallout of flawed U.S. and Saudi policy.”

She is dismayed with Sundance.

There are a few negative reviews too, which you can see on the Rotten Tomatoes site, but the public criticism came largely from people who hadn’t even seen the movie. It was performative outrage:

The backlash:

But attacks would come from the left, not the right. Arab and Muslim filmmakers and their white supporters accused Ms. Smaker of Islamophobia and American propaganda. Some suggested her race was disqualifying, a white woman who presumed to tell the story of Arab men.

Sundance leaders reversed themselves and apologized.

. . . Many Arab and Muslim filmmakers — who like others in the industry struggle for money and recognition — denounced “Jihad Rehab” as offering an all too familiar take. They say Ms. Smaker is the latest white documentarian to tell the story of Muslims through a lens of the war on terror. These documentary makers, they say, take their white, Western gaze and claim to film victims with empathy.

Assia Boundaoui, a filmmaker, critiqued it for Documentary magazine.

“To see my language and the homelands of folks in my community used as backdrops for white savior tendencies is nauseating,” she wrote. “The talk is all empathy, but the energy is Indiana Jones.”

She called on festivals to allow Muslims to create “films that concern themselves not with war, but with life.”

Do you really care what color is Ms. Smaker’s epidermis given that the film portrays the four subjects talking and answering questions?  And seriously, “white savior tendencies”? In what sense is Smaker a “savior”? (Some say that interviewing anybody in a prison invalidates the film.) The response is in the piece:

“An entirely white team behind a film about Yemeni and South Arabian men,” the filmmaker Violeta Ayala wrote in a tweet.

Ms. Smaker’s film had a Yemeni-American executive producer and a Saudi co-producer.

There’s more, but this will suffice (my emphasis)

More than 230 filmmakers signed a letter denouncing the documentary. A majority had not seen it. The letter noted that over 20 years, Sundance had programmed 76 films about Muslims and the Middle East, but only 35 percent of them had been directed by Muslim or Arab filmmakers.

A parallel: most of those who rioted when Salman Rusdie published The Satanic Verses hadn’t read the book, either. You don’t go rioting, cancelling, or killing over a book or movie or film that you haven’t read or seen. When people do so, it’s clear that the offense is performative. Just read the letter from Abigail Disney!

Smaker’s cancellation: 

First, from Sundance:

Sundance officials backtracked. Tabitha Jackson, then the director of the festival, demanded to see consent forms from the detainees and Ms. Smaker’s plan to protect them once the film debuted, according to an email shown to The Times. Ms. Jackson also required an ethics review of the plans and gave Ms. Smaker four days to comply. Efforts to reach Ms. Jackson were unsuccessful.

The review concluded Ms. Smaker more than met standards of safety.

Ms. Smaker said a public relations firm recommended that she apologize. “What was I apologizing for?” she said. “For trusting my audience to make up their own mind?”

And then the inevitable:

Ms. Smaker’s film has become near untouchable, unable to reach audiences. Prominent festivals rescinded invitations, and critics in the documentary world took to social media and pressured investors, advisers and even her friends to withdraw names from the credits. She is close to broke.

“In my naïveté, I kept thinking people would get the anger out of their system and realize this film was not what they said,” Ms. Smaker said. “I’m trying to tell an authentic story that a lot of Americans might not have heard.”

. . .Ms. Disney, the former champion, wrote, “I failed, failed and absolutely failed to understand just how exhausted by and disgusted with the perpetual representation of Muslim men and women as terrorists or former terrorists or potential terrorists the Muslim people are.”

Her apology and that of Sundance shook the industry. The South by Southwest and San Francisco festivals rescinded invitations.

Jihad Turk, former imam of Los Angeles’s largest mosque, was baffled. In December, his friend Tim Disney — brother of Abigail — invited him to a screening.

“My first instinct,” he said, “was ‘Oh, not another film on jihad and Islam.’ Then I watched and it was introspective and intelligent. My hope is that there is a courageous outlet that is not intimidated by activists and their too narrow views.”
Jihad Turk (what a name!) is a brave man!


Ms. Smaker has maxed out credit cards and, at age 42, borrowed money from her parents. This is not the Sundance debut of her dreams. “I don’t have the money or influence to fight this out,” she said, running hands back through her hair. “I’m not sure I see a way out.”

The Upshot

Yes, she was canceled to the point where, despite her clear abilities and talents, she can’t find work. Canceled by people who hadn’t seen her film. Canceled by a public who, in their zeal to appear ideologically correct, hurled accusations of “Islamophobia” and “white saviorism” without good reasons. Canceled by a gutless Abigail Disney, whose letter I can’t even bear to quote.You must read it, however: it sounds like one of those signs that the Ideologically Impure had to wear around their necks during China’s Cultural Revolution while wearing paper dunce hats. I don’t know how to help Ms. Smaker, but I suppose I should start by seeing the movie. One could write to Sundance, but that would probably be useless.

Stuff like this pours into my email inbox every day—so much of it that I can write about only a small fraction of what people tell me. And much of the stuff involves the kind of performative activism evinced by Sundance and the critics of Ms. Smaker.

Yes, the termites have dined well—so well that they’ve undermined the foundations of art, of literature, and of scholarship itself. In the end, we’ll be done in by tribalism and cowardice—exactly what happened in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Like China, and with many parallels, we’re having our own Cultural Revolution.

Guest post: Censorship at a Canadian Medical Journal

January 2, 2022 • 11:15 am

I received a long email from reader Leslie MacMillan, and I suggested that he turn it into a post for our readers. He kindly agreed. I asked him to write me a brief biography, which is below:

Leslie is a retired physician who worked as an academic clinician-teacher and in hospital practice.  Now in obscurity, he enjoys dinner with his family at a reasonable hour, playing the piano, and indulging his grandchildren.”

And here’s his contribution:

Canadian Medical Association Journal yields to external religious pressure, censors published letter

by Leslie MacMillan

The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ, “the Journal”) has retracted a Letter to the Editor following orchestrated religious pressure that accused the Journal and the author of “Islamophobia”.

“Islamophobia” is one of those words hurled at people without a definition of what it means.  Unlike many slurs, though, this one does have a definition.  “-phobia” means “fear of”.  A phobia can be irrational or it can be well founded.  Islamophobia, then, indicates only a fear of the implications of the tenets of Islam or the intentions of its adherents.  It cannot by the fact alone be equated with hate speech or, obviously, racism.  Yet it so often is.  Sometimes speakers will say, “tantamount to hate speech”, pulling their punches and evading the implication of an accusation of an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and some other countries.  Fear can be thought of as unease or suspicion that professed views of love and tolerance are not sincere; it is then rational to withhold trust, the trust that liberal societies need to function.  If one is accused of Islamophobia, one ought to be able to respond, “Yes, I am.  Here’s why.”

For the cover page of its 8 Nov 21 on-line issue, the Journal used this stock photo.  There was no contextual link to any one article in the issue.  It seems to have been a generic free-standing cover photo in that it appears on the sidebar for each of the articles in the issue.

Dr. Sherif Emil, a senior academic surgeon in pediatrics at Montréal Children’s Hospital and McGill University wrote to the editor of the Journal objecting to depicting such a young child wearing a hijab.  He quoted Yasmine Mohammed, a Vancouver activist who has championed equality for Muslim women:  “The cover of @CMAJ features a little girl in hijab. How disheartening to see my so-called liberal society condone something that is only happening in the most extremist of religious homes.”   Emil then acknowledged his respect for the women he sees in his practice who wear the hijab—mothers and some adolescent patients.  He continued (direct quotations indented hereafter):

But respect does not alter the fact that the hijab, the niqab and the burka are also instruments of oppression for millions of girls and women around the world who are not allowed to make a choice. We are currently being reminded of this daily, as we see the tragic return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and its effect on the subjugation of women and girls. Girls as old as those in the picture are being sold into marriage to old men — institutionalized child rape. The mentality that allows this to happen shares much with the one that leads to covering up a toddler. But even in so-called moderate Islamic countries, such as the one I grew up in, societal pressures heavily marginalize women who choose not to wear the hijab. In addition, women in these countries who are not Muslim and do not wear the hijab are often subject to intense harassment and discrimination. I know that because some of these women are in my family. I respect the women who see the hijab as liberating. But we must also remember the women and girls who find it oppressive and misogynistic.

Ironically, the article [which he interpreted the photo as referring to] explores evaluating interventions to address social risks to health. A young girl such as the one depicted in the image is typically also banned from riding a bike, swimming or participating in other activities that characterize a healthy childhood. She is taught from an early age, directly or indirectly, that she is a sexual object, and it is her responsibility to hide her features from the opposite sex, lest she attract them. A heavy burden for modesty is placed squarely on her shoulders.  So many women have been traumatized by such an upbringing, which, I believe, frankly borders on child abuse. Is that not a social risk to health? Are these children not a vulnerable population?

This link includes a citation to the tweet by Ms Mohammed quoted in the letter.  (Link found and posted by Retraction Watch commenter Andrew.)

The letter appeared in the Journal’s 20 Dec online issue under the heading, “Don’t use an instrument of oppression as a symbol of diversity and inclusion”, a form of words of the editor’s choosing, not the author’s.

Advocacy groups claiming to represent the interests of Muslims in Canada and Québec vigorously protested the publication of the letter and called for its retraction.  Dr. Emil received abuse personally on Twitter as well, as noted by Retraction Watch (q.v.)

The CMAJ editor responsible, Kirsten Patrick, apologized particularly for her choice of words in the heading.  The uproar, a lengthy happy-talk on why hijab is not oppressive, and the Journal’s efforts at damage control, are reported in a long CTV news article of 20 Dec from which I’ve taken a small snippet:

[Lina] El Bakir [Quebec advocacy officer for the National Council of Canadian Muslims] argues that publishing the letter was irresponsible, especially during a pandemic when doctors who wear a hijab are dealing with prejudices in their daily practice. . . .

A pre-written response to the CMAJ, included on the national council’s website as part of an online letter-writing campaign, cites a few sections in the Canadian ‘Medical Association’s Code of Ethics and Professionalism that medical professionals must adhere to.

“This article falls short of these standards,” the response states.

“We are asking CMAJ to retract this article immediately and issue a public apology before it does any further harm to a demographic that has been targeted by some of the most violent forms of Islamophobia in this country.  [Emphases mine,–LM]

The Canadian Medical Association itself, which owns and publishes the Journal, piled on with an official and gratuitous swipe at the author.

Islamophobia and other forms of hate [there’s that incorrect conflation again –L.M.] must not be tolerated in the health care profession or in our society. Like CMAJ, the Canadian Medical Association deeply regrets the harm caused by the publication of an opinion letter in CMAJ on Dec. 20, 2021.

CMAJ is operated independently of the Canadian Medical Association with its own governance structure and editorial board. While we will always uphold the editorial independence of CMAJ, we feel a responsibility to speak out and express our sincere apologies for the harm caused.

On 23 Dec., the Journal buckled to this pressure and not only retracted the letter but removed it from its website.  It made no visible effort to send the commentary to the author, publish some of it, and invite a response before doing so.  Click on the screenshot or read the text below.

The letter “Don’t use an instrument of oppression as a symbol of diversity and inclusion” (DOI:; author: Sherif Emil)1 published in the Dec. 20, 2021, issue of CMAJ has been retracted by the interim editor-in-chief of CMAJ because the editorial process for the article was flawed and biased, and the letter should not have been published.

CMAJ acknowledges and is deeply sorry for the considerable hurt that many people across Canada have experienced from reading this letter. A formal apology from the interim editor-in-chief has been published at

Retraction Watch criticized the removal, contrary to guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics, which recommended marking it as retracted (as the PubMed copy is)

The author of the letter has posted his own conciliatory statement at the Canadian Healthcare Network here.

CTVnews reported further on 24 Dec:

Tabassum Wyne, executive director of the Muslim Advisory Council of Canada, [said] she was glad the CMAJ “took the necessary steps to correct that mistake” and hear from diverse voices. . . .The council had a virtual meeting with the CMAJ’s interim editor-in-chief, Wyne said, during which it was suggested that the journal look at anti-Islamophobia training in the future.

Wyne also expressed concerns about having anyone on the internet read the letter in an accredited journal.   “And that’s why we pushed so hard to have it retracted, and we’re happy with the results.”

It gets worse.  The CMAJ editorial group “seeks to remedy” the current lack of Islamic representation on its Editorial Advisory Board.  The Muslim advocacy organizations clearly seek to exercise prior restraint instead of merely complaining about it afterward.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has since thanked the CMAJ for removing the letter, saying it appreciates “the efforts of the editor in chief for taking action and doing the right thing” and looks forward to working with her to “ensure this never happens again.”

(This CTVnews article misleadingly shows a photo of someone protesting Québec’s  laïcité law, la Loi 21.  This affair has nothing to do with that law and the author says he disagrees with it anyway.)

If the CMAJ follows through on this, there will be religious oversight of what an academic medical journal is permitted to publish.


I have written the CMAJ and the CMA criticizing them for their lack of integrity in this episode. I encourage readers, particularly Canadian physicians, to do the same, even if you are not members of the CMA (as I am not), and even if you would not have published the letter in the first place were you the editor.  The Journal has received comments from readers mostly criticizing the decision to retract and censor —see the retraction e-letters link below—but I don’t see awareness of the undertaking to invite Muslim advocates to exercise prior restraint on publication.  This hidden censorship is especially dangerous.  I recommend that letters specifically call this out so the CMAJ knows you are watching.

Contacts for responding:

This site refers to the retraction announcement, not the original letter. You can submit e-letters there.

At this site you can contact the Canadian Medical Association.

John Locke argued that it is better for a society to be governed around religious tolerance because this would lead to less social disorder than for the state to enforce adherence to one religion and, necessarily, to suppress all others.  This works only if the religions themselves are compelled by secular laws to tolerate people who reject or even mock their every teaching—otherwise you have a state religion sneaking in the back door under the guise of stamping out (in this case) Islamophobia.

Growing up in secular Canada, I was always glad that believers could enjoy their freedom of religion but was even gladder that I enjoyed my freedom from religion.  Religious differences just never came up in ordinary or professional life.  The idea that someone should be enjoined from doing something because it offended someone else’s religious views, and that could be called “harm”, was unthinkable.  Increasingly it looks as if we risk losing this freedom out of fearful acquiescence of our institutions to intolerant and censorious religious pressure.  Islamophobia (my correct definition) afflicts them, too, and they don’t even notice it.  It’s up to us to open their eyes.

Ilhan Omar’s “Combating International Islamophobia Act”

December 31, 2021 • 10:00 am

Reader Debra, in a comment on a recent post about the UN’s ongoing anti-Israel resolution, called attention to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s “Islamophobia Resolution,” which you can read about in the ABC News, the conservative site The Daily Caller, or the The Elder of Ziyon.

But you’ll want to see the latest version of the bill itself, here, or as a pdf by clicking on the screenshot of the latest version below. This bill was approved by the House of Representatives in a strict party-line vote of 219-212 last Tuesday.

A few words before we get to the bill itself.  I will pull no punches in saying that I believe Omar is both an Islamist and an anti-Semite, though I have more confidence in the latter than in the former. Regardless, both she and Rashida Tlaib seem determined to use their power in Congress to promote Islam in America and prevent its criticism. I think that this bill is part of that effort, and you can see its purpose under the words “A BILL” above: to establish a special Office in the U.S. State Department to monitor and report on incidents of “Islamophobia” outside the U.S. (it would never get passed if it incorporated America, but, as we’ll see, it might well do that).

I also think the bill is misguided, ambiguous, pushes a form of blasphemy law (though probably not in the U.S.), and would be unconstitutional in America because it privileges one religion—Islam—over all others.  We need no such bills: no “anti-Semitism department” bills, not “anti-Christian department” bills, no “anti-Hindu department” bills, and so on.  Imagine what would happen if we had a surfeit of such bills. India would be the subject of many reports by the Islamophobia and Hinduphobia departments, every Arab country would be the subject of innumerable reports of anti-Semitism from the “Judeophobia Department”, and so on. So my first objection is that this bill is a big waste of time, accomplishing little but serveing Omar’s political ambitions. I suspect the Democratic approval was a kneejerk reaction to soothe Omar (the Progressive Left is pro-Islam and anti-“Zionism”).

In fact, several sources say that the bill is Omar’s personal reaction to being denigrated unfairly by the even more odious Lauren “Glock-Packing Mama” Boebert, who has repeatedly denigrated Omar as a “terrorist” and a member of the “jihad squad.” Here’s a CNN report on Boebert’s statements:

Boebert is bigoted, unhinged, and “Muslimophobic”. A congresswoman should not be talking this way about a colleague. She may well be punished by the Congress for her statements by being removed from committees, and I hope to Ceiling Cat that she won’t be re-elected.

Apparently Boebert tried to call Omar to apologize, but Omar hung up on her, which I probably would have done as well. Nevertheless, I have to add that Boebert did nothing illegal by her remarks about Omar; her speech is protected by the First Amendment. What she said was unwise and bigoted.

But in response, Omar wrote and sponsored the bill above, and the Dems in Congress, eager to parade their virtue, approved it. That was unwise, because it opens a Pandora’s box of religions and ethnicities competing to get their own “x-phobia offices” established in the Department of State.

Now, read the bill. The latest revision is at the end.

One of the biggest problems of the bill is that it doesn’t define “Islamophobia,” which is something it absolutely has to do. At the end we see its latest construal of Islamophobia, which has problems.  We’ll get to in a second.

The bill establishes an office in the State Department headed by a “special envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia”. The Office will do this:

So, as you see, it monitors acts of Islamophobia only outside the U.S., and prepares an annual report about what the office uncovers. There is no requirement to monitor any other international acts of religious hatred. (Can you imagine the infinite number of acts that could be reported on anti-Semitic activities of the governments of Arab States? Hatred of Jews is part of the government media in many places.) This wouldn’t fly if it included the U.S., for it would be a very clear violation of the First Amendment, for its language, as we’ll see, could act to suppress free speech as well as singling out one religion for special protection from criticism and reporting above all others.

But the following stipulation worries me because of that:

It seems to bring the Islamoph0bia issue to American organizations like CAIR, who could then use their broadly construed definitions of “Islamophobia”—definitions which often include criticism of Islam—to bear on foreign countries, indicting them for what Americans consider free speech.

Now, what constitutes “Islamophobia”? We can tell only by the things that are supposed to be reported. This is from the bill:

Of course acts of physical violence against Muslims should be condemned, but to be considered “Islamophobic” they have to be perpetrated because the victim is a Muslim. Physical violence against anybody in the U.S. is illegal, but if it’s perpetrated because of the victim’s religion, it is also a “hate crime.” (I’m not sure where I come down on whether “hate crimes” should incur extra penalties.) Thus the bill should state that the physical violence should be based on religion.

Acts of vandalism against mosques are prima facie acts of anti-Muslim activity and are properly reported.

What bothers me most about this bill, both in terms of the international community and the U.S., is not the violence, but the requirement to report “instances of propaganda in government and nongovernment media that incite such acts, and statements and actions relating thereto.”  As we know, some Muslims are easily driven to violence if they perceive an insult (“propaganda”) against Islam. That’s why a fatwa was pronounced on Salman Rushdie, why 12 people were killed in the Charlie Hebdo acts, why Theo van Gogh was murdered (and Ayaan Hirsi Ali requires around-the-clock protection), and why the Danish cartoons satirizing Muhammad resulted in widespread violence, including murder. Those could all have been construed as “incitement” to violence, and thereby excused—as they have been for some.

And what about internecine intolerance among Muslims? Is the violence between Shia and Sunni Muslims to be considered violence perpetuated because of the victim’s religion? Such violence is a regular occurrence in the Middle East, and results from warring sects within Islam.

Is it a reportable offense to criticize the tenets of Islam, like the forced veiling and covering of women, their oppression in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, their own state-run propaganda against Jews, and so on? These are valid criticisms of Islam, some Muslims and Muslim states, but do they fall under “Islamophobia” in this bill? We don’t know.

For, in the end, unlike anti-Semitism, “Islamophobia” is a recently confected term whose purpose, I believe, is primarily to prevent criticism of Islam. Yes, criticisms of Muslims because they are Muslim are rightfully criticized as bigotry, but remember that the word is “Islamophobia,” not “Muslimophobia”.

That brings me to why Omar confected this bill. Why should we care if it applies only to other countries? We should care because the bill, which requires public reporting, has the potential to chill criticism of Islam in other countries, and we should try, I think, to export our First Amendment rights to countries which don’t have such laws. Also, Omar’s bill constitutes a sort of “blasphemy law”, which could chill speech in other countries. (I believe Israel is one of Omar’s prime targets of this bill. Imagine if the bill was about Islamophobia and anti-Semitism together!).

Finally, it has the potential to chill speech against Islam in America, for if we’re holding other countries to standards that we don’t hold ourselves—for we are free to criticize Islam or any other faith whenever we want—the U.S.might be pressured to consider some kind of blasphemy regulations.  Shouldn’t we be held to the standards that Omar’s bill is trying to enforce on other countries? What Omar is trying to do, in the end, is to prevent, worldwide, criticism of her own faith. And that’s not a good basis for a bill.

The bill will now head to the Senate, where I hope it will be tabled or voted down. It is, as they say, a “problematic” piece of legislation.

Canadian girls’ book club event with Nobel Peace Prize activist canceled because of potential “Islamophobia”

November 22, 2021 • 1:15 pm

Here’s a theory that is mine. And now, my theory: Canada is more woke than the United States. Why? Because although the innate degree of wokeness may be the same, Canadians are famous for their politeness, and thus don’t push back very hard on Woke insanity, like the article I describe below. Without pushback, Wokeness, with its drive for power, spreads inexorably.

So here’s the article, which you can get translated automatically from the French (at least I could with Chrome). It’s from Le Figaro. Sadly, the story it tells seems true.

Nadia Murad is an Iraqi who now lives in Germany. In 2018 she and Denis Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize; she for her campaign “to help women and children who are victims of abuse and human trafficking, and Mukwege for “repeatedly condemn[ing] impunity for mass rape and criticiz[ing] the Congolese government and other countries for not doing enough to stop the use of sexual violence against women as a strategy and weapon of war.

Murad’s drive came from personal experience, for as the Nobel Committee notes:

Nadia Murad is a member of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, and in 2014 the Islamic State (IS) launched a brutal attack on her home village. Several hundred people were massacred, and girls and young women were abducted and held as sex slaves. While a captive of the IS, Nadia Murad was repeatedly subjected to rape and other abuses. After three months she managed to flee.

Murad is the first Yazidi and first Iraqi to be awarded the Nobel Prize for anything. She was invited to a Toronto school book club, and what a catch she would be, for she was talking about her latest and autobiographical book. (There was another guest as well; see below.) But she and the other participant were canceled. As the paper describes (note: this is an automatic translation so I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it clearer):

The Toronto school board has withdrawn its support for a book club dedicated to young girls. The presence of the Nobel Peace Prize, committed to the Yazidi cause, could, according to its representatives, offend Muslim students.

Founded by Tanya Lee about four years ago, the book club where Nadia Murad is a guest welcomes young girls aged 13 to 18, from various secondary schools, themselves overseen by the said school board. Without being directly governed by the institution, the club is promoted by its members to the students. The organizer of this literary meeting told the Globe and Mail of her misunderstanding , explaining that the superintendent of the school, Helen Fisher, allegedly said that the students would not participate in the event, scheduled for February 2022 .

The reason given? Her book, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against Islamic State , may promote Islamophobia, reports The Globe and Mail . This is to forget that the 28-year-old Iraqi girl was, for three months, the sexual slavery of no less than 13 Daesh soldiers in 2014, before she managed to flee to Germany. Shocked by the exchange with Helen Fisher, Tanya Lee says she then sent her an email containing detailed information on the Islamic organization, coming from the BBC and CNN. “This is what the Islamic State means ,” she wrote to the superintendent.It is a terrorist organization. It has nothing to do with ordinary Muslims. The Toronto school board should be aware of the difference. ”

Apparently a council of the school board finally decided not to distribute the book to students. That’s absurd. What better role model for girls of that age than a woman who was abused and fought back hard—gaining a Nobel Prize in the end? The “Islamophibia” excuse of course comes from fear: that Muslims might take offense at the topic and cause trouble. But remember, Murad was abducted and sexually abused by an extremist group of Muslims. All rational Muslims should support Murad and her appearance. But of course religion has a way of eroding rationality. What the school board is doing is in effect saying that what ISIS did to Murad shouldn’t be criticized publicly, thus condoning religiously-inspired sexual slavery.

By the way, another person, also canceled, was supposed to appear with Murad in a joint event:

The event was supposed to carry discussion on two books in presence of their authors — Marie Henein’s ‘Nothing But the Truth: A Memoir‘ and Nadia Murad’s ‘The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State‘.

The board said it has withdrawn support to hold the October event with Henein, the daughter of Egyptian immigrants and one of Canada’s most prominent lawyers, because her book was “problematic” as she “defended” former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi when he was accused of sexual assault.

As far as I know, Ghomeshi was found “not guilty.” This is going too damn far, school board! Why aren’t Canadians objecting to this and writing letters to the Toronto school board?

h/t: Paul

Cancel culture alive and well

February 11, 2021 • 2:15 pm

If you laugh at the idea of a cancel culture, well, here’s a good example. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which I consider an Islamist organization, is trying to cancel tonight’s discussion with Bari Weiss and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, scheduled for the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

CAIR has a petition page where you can sign on to the cancellation (click on screenshot):

The grounds? Hate speech, which apparently doesn’t deserve airing:

CAIR-SFBA, American Muslims, and our allies across the San Francisco Bay Area are calling on the Commonwealth Club to cancel their planned February 11 event featuring anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian speakers Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Bari Weiss.

These fringe speakers are contrary to the Club’s mission to seek truth and insight about the issues we face as a society. Both speakers have a shameful track record of propagating Islamophobia, which exacerbates ongoing intolerance and hate towards Muslims, immigrants, and others.

Well, CAIR, Students for Justice in Palestine, and similar organizations, are, in my view, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, and themselves “exacerbate intolerance”, but I wouldn’t for a moment try to stop them from holding events. I’m not sure what “truth” is being effaced by the two speakers, but part of it is probably the religiously-based defensiveness of organizations like CAIR.

Apparently the Commonwealth Club, which seems to be a public-affairs group with a wide range of speakers, agrees with me, for at the bottom of the petition you can read this:

CAIR of course has a right to object to the speakers, and to petition the club to cancel them, but it would have better “optics” if they didn’t try to stifle the voices of everyone they think is “Islamophobic.” I guess Hirsi Ali better bring her bodyguards tonight. . .

h/t: Luana

Chelsea Clinton accused of causing New Zealand mosque shootings because she criticized Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism

March 16, 2019 • 11:30 am

What really saddens me about the killing of 49 Muslims worshiping at a mosque—beyond of course the slaughter of innocent Kiwis and the pain of their relatives, friends, and loved ones—is the immediate reaction of those who want to politicize the event. Some politicization is of course inevitable, as we don’t want this to happen again, but the sorrow and sadness of those in the West hadn’t even abated a bit before the anger set in (some even bypassed the anger to go straight to the offense). Who let the slaughter happen? Everybody must find a scapegoat, immediately.

The usual suspects were indicted: Donald Trump, the NRA (which of course doesn’t operate in New Zealand), the YouTube gamer PewDiePie, and so on. I haven’t read the suspect’s manifesto, and to be sure it may not be a complete account of his “reasons” for the murder, but people are seizing on every word so they can point a finger of blame. Right now, it seems more seemly to express solidarity with the victims (as many Kiwis, including Jews in NZ synagogues, are doing), and worry about the causes when the dust settles.

But people can’t wait. When Chelsea Clinton, now pregnant, went to a vigil at NYU for the massacred Kiwis, she was accosted by a Palestinian Muslim, whose attack was filmed by leftist Jewish activist Esor Fasa. The attacker (verbal attack!) blamed Clinton for the mosque murders.Read the Newsweek story below (click on the link) to see why Clinton took heat, as I doubt that you can guess. After all, the Clintons don’t have any history of “Islamophobia”. 

From the report:

On Friday night, the daughter of former president Bill Clinton paid her respects to the victims as she participated in a vigil at New York University in Manhattan.

However, a student at the event told Clinton “her rhetoric” had in fact contributed to help the attacks in New Zealand.

Esor, who describes herself as a “Jewish leftist, organizer & known in alt-right circles as ‘antifa chick R*se.;” then posted a video of her “best friend” lashing into Clinton, telling the pregnant mother that “it’s a disgrace that she came to the vigil, calling out Chelsea’s Islamophobia and hypocrisy.”

The video posted starts with Clinton telling Viva in reference to her supposed “Islamophobic remarks”, “I am so sorry…It certainly was never my intention..I do believe that words matter…I think we have to show solidarity…” The student then interrupts her and says, “They do matter…and this, this [vigil] right here, is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words you put out into the world, and I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deep inside. 49 people died because of the rhetoric that you put out there.”

A contemplative and patient Clinton begins to say, “I am so sorry you feel that way…” before the cameraman or somebody off screen yells, “What does that mean? Like, what does “I’m sorry you feel that way mean?”

Esor Fasa also posted a tweet (now deleted, because her account is deleted), that was this one:

The video of the encounter is below, thanks to reader cesar who sent it. Above that is the notice that Esor, who is a coward, deleted her Twitter account. I’m sure she received plenty of pushback for calling Chelsea Clinton an Islamophobe, but if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. The Muslim student is unidentified.

Notice the finger-snapping in the video, which is Woke Leftists’ way of applauding (it apparently doesn’t “trigger” those who are afraid of clapping).

The tweet below is what caused Clinton to be demonized; I wrote about it a while back, and it’s Clinton’s response to Ilham Omar’s anti-Semitism. Apparently it’s okay to be anti-Semitic but not “Islamophobic”, which is what you’re called when you decry anti-Semitism. It’s weird, though, because you’d have to say that Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats who also condemned Omar were complicit in the New Zealand murders. Such is the fury of the Woke Left.

We’ll see more of this, of course, and I don’t know how to temper the fury of those who want to demonize people who are completely innocent. I write about it, but I’m a small fish. All I can say is to urge readers not to put up with the kind of finger-pointing nonsense that this student engaged in.

Popular Kuwaiti beauty blogger complains about liberalized laws for guest workers (aka slaves); claims criticism is “Islamophobic”

July 27, 2018 • 9:45 am

This new article from The Independent highlights two aspects of Middle Eastern religious culture: the fact that a form of indentured slavery exists there, and that Muslims who are criticized for this little-known fact will cry “Islamophobia” to excuse it. (Click on screenshot to read the article.)

As the International Labour Organization reports, there are “32 million international migrants in the Gulf region,” and of those about 600,000 of these are victims of forced labor—that is, slavery. A quote:

Migrant workers make up the majority of the population in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (and more than 80 per cent of the population in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates); while in construction and domestic work in Gulf States, migrant workers make up over 95 per cent of the work force.

The system of labor contracts with foreigners in the Middle East is called the kafala system, and operates in the UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Bahrain. As the preceding link documents, this is often akin to slavery, though with some wages (often not much at all). A worker is permitted into these countries only with a sponsor, who often takes away the employee’s passport, making them unable to leave freely. Sometimes they get no wages at all, but have to lie about that to finally leave the country. Working conditions are often horrible, with no days off and long hours. As Wikipedia notes:

About 1.2 million foreign workers in Qatar, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Philippines, make up 94 percent of the labor force. There are nearly five foreign workers for each Qatari citizen, mostly housemaids and low-skilled workers.

Most of the workers labor under near-feudal conditions that Human Rights Watch has likened to “forced labor“. Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, stated “In late 2010 we conducted a risk assessment looking at basic fundamental labor rights. The Gulf region stood out like a red light. They were absolutely at the bottom end for rights for workers. They were fundamentally slave states. An exit visa system prevents workers from leaving the country without the sponsor’s permission. Employer consent is required to change jobs, leave the country, get a driver’s license, rent a home or open a checking account. Amnesty International witnessed workers signing false statements that they had received their wages in order to have their passports returned. The organization called for an overhaul of the ‘sponsorship’ system. Arab-American businessman Nasser Beydoun described their situation as: “Foreign workers in Qatar are modern-day slaves to their local employers. The local Qatari owns you.” International media attention increased after Qatar was named the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The kafala or sponsorship system practised by GCC nations has been stated as the main reason for abuse of the rights of low-income migrant workers.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has frequently criticized the kafala system, yet it’s rarely mentioned—and perhaps not well known—among Western liberals who defend Middle Eastern countries, especially in comparison to Israel’s so-called “apartheid state.” But what is more apartheid than this latter-day form of slavery? Remember, MOST of the workers in many Middle Eastern states are under labor contracts, many of them unfair and exploitative.

Kuwait, which has 660,000 migrant workers, passed a liberalization law in 2015 that, according to HRW, “grants domestic workers the right to a weekly day off, 30 days of annual paid leave, a 12-hour working day with rest, and an end-of-service benefit of one month a year at the end of the contract, among other rights.”  That means that many workers were, before that, working with no days off, no annual paid leave, and were working more than twelve hours a day,. These are inhumane conditions, especially considering the life of ease their employers have. But HRW notes that the new law doesn’t go far enough, leaving many workers vulnerable to exploitation.

That’s part I. In part II, a popular Kuwait beauty blogger, obviously living the life of Riley, kvetches about the law because it makes things too easy for migrants. As the Independent story reports:

The beauty blogger who sparked outrage after complaining about new laws giving migrant workers better rights has refused to apologise for her remarks, instead accusing her critics of attacking Islam, the hijab and Kuwait.

Sondos al-Qattan has attracted global condemnation since she posted a video to Instagram last week in which she expressed frustration at newly implemented changes to Kuwait’s kafala system, which now mean Filipino migrant workers can keep control of their own passports and have the right to four days off a month.

“How can you have a servant at home who gets to keep their passport with them? If they ran away and went back to their country, who’ll refund me?” Ms Qattan said in the now deleted post.

“I don’t want a Filipino maid anymore.”

Despite widespread criticism pointing out Ms Qattan’s woeful understanding of migrant labour abuse in the Gulf state, and the fact that several leading beauty brands, including Max Factor Arabia, have severed ties, the Kuwaiti social media star has repeatedly defended her remarks.

In a new video posted to her now private Twitter account on Thursday, Ms Qattan called the backlash to her comments a “foreign media campaign” designed to attack Islam, the hijab, Kuwait and the wider Gulf region.

“Of course I did not have to offer any apology, because I was telling the truth.

“Keeping a domestic worker’s passport is deemed an enslavement and racism [by these people]. Why judge me [over keeping] my worker’s passport, with the aim of ensuring my safety?

“These people express more outrage over my remarks than they have over humanitarian crises and massacres in Syria, Iraq and Gaza. Are these humanitarian values?”

Ms Qattan also called on her 2.3 million Instagram followers to boycott the brands that have dropped her sponsorship deals.

The Internet is forever. Here’s al-Qattan’s removed video complaining about the easing of Kuwaiti slavery (with English translations; there’s some repetition):

I don’t have the video in which al-Qattan accuses her critics of Islamophobia, but I assume the Independent has verified its existence. And it’s execrable. First we have a hijabi beauty blogger, who clearly makes a lot of dosh off her popularity despite the fact that the hijab is supposed to hide women’s beauty from men, which is a bizarre and somewhat hypocritical situation. Then the blogger complains about her servant getting one day a week off and being allowed to keep her (the servant’s) passport? It’s just a defense of slavery, and al-Qattan was rightly called out and lost sponsors.

Her responding cry of “Islamophobia,” of course, is a familiar defense against justified criticism of religiously-inspired malfeasance. We need to stop taking it seriously in cases like this, as there is simply no bigotry in criticizing slavery conducted by Muslim employers. Indeed, those employers are bigots, for they think of their employees/servants as a lower species of human, not entitled to minimal dignity or privileges.

The two words that Leftists hate to be called these days, and will cower in fear (and give in) rather than be called them, are “racist” and “Islamophobe”. It is this cowering that enables the Control-Left to wield such power. Fortunately, in al-Qattan’s case, nobody’s buying it.

Here’s one of her beauty videos, should you be so inclined:

h/t: Grania

Macy’s sells hijabs; Linda Sarsour and Masih Alinejad debate the garment

February 21, 2018 • 11:05 am

In the article below, CNN reports on Macy’s (a department store’s) decision to sell fashionable hijabs. I don’t care whether they do or not, though it’s a bit incongruous (and oxymoronic) to talk of “modest, fashionable clothing.” As a veiled Muslim women, you’re not supposed to call attention to yourself, and a spiffy hijab (or makeup) will do just that, defeating the religious purpose of the veil—the “modesty” part. But Macy’s has a chance to cash in on Muslim women’s desire to look good, so why not?

Click on the screenshot to go to the piece.

What’s more interesting in this article is the debate it gives: a back-and-forth between Linda Sarsour, co-head of the Women’s March, professional victim, and rapaciously ambitious grifter, and Masih Alinejad, Iranian activist and founder of the admirable #MyStealthyFreedom campaign, which displays Iranian women illegally removing their hijabs.

I can’t quite make out what’s going on in the discussion, for it sounds as if Sarsour and Alinejad are talking past each other. Sarsour constantly wants to emphasize that her hijab is her personal choice, and she’s been the victim of “Islamophobia” for wearing it. In contrast, Alinejad calls attention back to the plight of women in Iran (and other countries) where veiling is not a choice.

Of course I’m biased in favor of Alinjad, and so my take may be colored by that, but it seems to me that Sarsour is, as she so often does, wallowing in her personal victimhood. In reality, Sarsour, while she may be vilified, is vilified more for her views on Islam, and her polarizing ideology—including favoring sharia law—than for being a Muslim.

That, at least, is what I get out of these exchanges, in which Sarsour reluctantly seems to decry oppression in the Middle East:

MA: I don’t see any Muslim communities in the West being loud and condemning compulsory hijab, especially you, when people of Iran are putting themselves in danger and risking their lives. I was loud enough to condemn both the burkini ban and travel ban, but I never saw the feminists in the West condemning compulsory hijab when they go to my country… They go to Iran and they obey it … All I see is double standards and hypocrisy.

LS: I will say on a personal level that I’ve been very vocal in support of Iranian women. For me, hijab is only a form of oppression when a government forces it on people, when a father forces it on his daughter or when a husband forces it on his wife. For me, as a woman who chooses to wear hijab, it is not a form of oppression and I will not be pushed into a position by anyone to say that hijab is a form of oppression.

Note Sarsour’s transition from saying that the hijab is often a form of oppression to asserting that she “will not say the hijab is a form of oppression.” That’s a movement from the personal to the general.

There’s this, too:

CNN: What are your thoughts on the current protests against compulsory hijab in Iran?

MA: Twenty-nine women who practiced civil disobedience, who peacefully took off their hijab, they are in prison. It’s a global issue and we should all condemn it. We shouldn’t let any feminists in the West downplay our cause and say this is a small issue, it’s not.

LS: Sister, I think I think the issue here is not whether or not we think it’s important … the issue is the narrative. In the United States, we as Muslim woman are attacked saying that we are upholding a system of oppression by wearing hijab. So we have a narrative we have to fight by saying we stand with women who choose not to wear hijab, and I will unequivocally say here that I stand with the brave courageous woman in Iran who are standing against compulsory hijab, but they also need us to create a narrative that says you also stand with my right as a Muslim woman in America who is having to endure Islamophobia.

Note that to Sarsour “the issue is the narrative,” not what counts as real and important oppression. Sarsour would rather maintain a “narrative” that gives lip service to the women in the countries of the Middle East (including the country of her parents’ origin, Palestine) but to always keep the narrative on Islamophobia, which of course Sarsour claims to be a victim of. That is what gives her credibility among feminists, even though Islam itself is one of the most anti-feminist ideologies I can think of.

There’s more, but I’ll add just one more exchange:

CNN: Why do you think hijab has become so politicized?

MA: I’m coming from a country where for four decades the Islamic Republic of Iran wrote its ideology message on our bodies. We won’t be able to get an education from the age of seven if we don’t wear it. We won’t be able to live in our own country.

LS: Hijab is solely a spiritual practice, but unfortunately there have been people who have taken it, including governments, to control women’s bodies. I hope we end this conversation by saying that you and I are actually a lot closer in what we believe that we think we are.

“Solely a spiritual practice”? I think Sarsour has it backwards. She wants it to be a spiritual practice, as that divorces the garment from its misogynistic origin, developed in post-Qur’anic Islamic theology. Every school of Islam, so far as I know, endorses the wearing of the hijab as a garment of modesty, so its wearing didn’t spread as a “spiritual practice.”

If wearing hijab was a “spiritual” practice by Muslims, then in the 1960s and 1970s, Muslim women in Iran, and Afghanistan would have been largely covered. But they weren’t, and protested when the theocracies made the hijab compulsory.  It has always been a “garment of modesty”, with some women choosing to abjure that modesty for choice and modernity. (Yes, I’ll admit that some Muslim women wear it not out of modesty considerations, but as a sign of their faith. But those motivations are deeply entwined.)

It is by wearing the hijab that Sarsour can claim victimhood. Yes, there have been cases in which bigots have ripped off hijabs or mocked their wearers to their faces. I find those actions shameful. Although that hasn’t happened to Sarsour, she claims the victimhood narrative of others, which she hopes to use as a crane to hoist her to Congress; and she’ll cry “Islamophobia” at every opportunity. Wearing the hijab is the best overt signal of your victimhood. In Iran it’s an unwanted one, but for Sarsour it’s a signal she embraces.


“History making” hijabi model steps down from L’Oreal campaign after her Twitter comments come to light

January 23, 2018 • 10:30 am

The other day HuffPo put up one of its usual hijabi-extolling posts, noting that model Amena Khan “made history” by being in a campaign for L’Oreal hair products—while wearing a hijab. I wasn’t going to post about it, as there’s not much new here beyond the usual “hijabi-is-a-hero” palaver, but developments yesterday changed that (see below). Click on the screenshot to go to the article:

As the article notes, “A blogger, model and co-founder of Ardere Cosmetics, Khan has called the new collaboration ‘game changing.’ She is the first woman who wears a hijab to be featured in a major mainstream hair ad.”

Well, you might wonder why L’Oreal would want to use a woman who covers her hair to advertise shampoo and conditioner. Khan explains it in the HuffPo video below:

Okay, fair enough. And, as Maajid Nawaz explains in this short video, although the decision to use a woman who covers her hair to advertise hair products seems weird, it’s based on financial calculations.

If L’Oreal wants to do this, fine. But what bothers me is the usual tactic of making a hijabi into some kind of hero. In this case, though, it’s a bit hypocritical. After all, why do Muslims wear the hijab? As I’ve discussed before, and as you can see on “Rules related to covering“—an Islamic website that mandates codes of dress—by and large the hijab is worn as a religiously-mandated sign of modesty: to hide a woman’s hair. The premise is that the sight of hair will arouse uncontrollable lust in men, and then bad things will ensue. The Muslim rules, which are patriarchal, deem it the woman’s responsibility to avoid exciting men by looking attractive.

But it’s not just the hair that should be covered: women must avoid any adornment or beautification that calls attention to them:

Their face and hands must not have any kind of beautification (zinat) on them.

Well, Khan wears so much makeup—including lipstick, eye shadow, eyeliner, blush, nail polish (also forbidden) and other products that women use that I’m not aware of—that it looks as if it’s been laid on with a trowel. (See other photos of her on her Twitter account). She also shapes her eyebrows, also a forbidden enhancement.  Have a look:

At the same time that she’s adhering to Muslim custom and covering her hair out of modesty, she’s doing all she can to call attention to her beauty,—to her face and nails and body. Well, she’s a model, and that’s what they do. But isn’t it a bit hypocritical to wear a garment whose purpose is to avoid exciting lust, while doing the exact oppostie with your face, hands, and feet? (Khan often wears sandals, a display of feet that is prohibited by the same dictates that prohibit showing hair).

I’ve said all this before, and felt no need yesterday to say to call out this dichotomy again, but then it was discovered that Khan has a rather dubious history of posting anti-Israeli messages on Twitter. These are not just criticisms of Israel occupying the West Bank or the like, but contentions that Israel has no right to exist—a sentiment that, I think, borders on anti-semitism.  Because of these, Khan pulled out of the campaign (it’s not clear to me whether she was actually fired.) You can see reports on her background and withdrawal at the BBC as well as  Israelly Cool. 

What did Amena Khan say on Twitter? Well, she’s deleted her tweets, but some were captured by the Daily Wire:



I won’t get into who is the deliberate murderer of children or whether Israel is an “illegal state”, but let’s just agree these tweets are clearly “anti-Israel”, and pretty much state that Israel has no right to exist.

When these tweets were revealed, Khan to “withdrew” from the campaign, offering a weird apology that said she didn’t really mean what she said about Israel:

L’Oreal, whether out of a dislike for Khan’s views or simple business acumen, was not reluctant to accept her “withdrawal.” From the BBC:

A spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris told Newsbeat: “We have recently been made aware of a series of tweets posted in 2014 by Amena Kahn, who was featured in a UK advertising campaign.

“We appreciate that Amena has since apologised for the content of these tweets and the offence they have caused.

“L’Oreal Paris is committed to tolerance and respect towards all people. We agree with her decision to step down from the campaign.”

I have to admit that there’s a bit of Schadenfreude here: while HuffPo and L’Oreal (and other places) were extolling this woman as a pathbreaker, a history maker, and even a kind of hero, at the same time she had a background of espousing hatred verging on the anti-Semitic. And to extol her “Muslim-ness” for wearing the hijab, while ignoring her attempts to call as much attention as possible to her beauty, smacks of either ignorance or hypocrisy.

I put a comment on the HuffPo site last night saying they should update their report, but of course they haven’t done it despite widespread reporting about Khan’s withdrawal from the beauty campaign. (Curiously, they’ve removed her Instagram posts from the site.)  Nor has HuffPo US posted any report of her withdrawal, although HuffPo UK has. But even HuffPo UK’s report is bizarre, putting scare quotes around Khan’s “anti-Israel” tweets:

A model who became the first woman in a hijab to feature in advertising for hair brand L’Oreal has stepped down from the “game changing” campaign after a series of “anti-Israel” tweets emerged.

Amena Khan, who announced her recruitment to the initiative just six days ago, said she decided to step down “because the current conversations surrounding it detract from the positive and inclusive sentiment that it set out to deliver”.

She wrote on Instagram of her regret over tweets dating from 2014, which had prompted accusations she held “anti-Israel” views.

Why the scare quotes around “anti-Israel”? Does that mean it’s questionable whether the tweets shown above really were against Israel? That’s the only reason I can imagine for the quotes, and it’s shameful. There’s no question about what those tweets say!


Meanwhile, over at LBC Radio (“Leading Britain’s Conversation”), broadcaster James O’Brien, who appears to be an anti-Brexit liberal, makes clear to a Muslim mother why she shouldn’t force her eight-year-old daughter to wear the hijab. Click on the screenshot to get to the article and the 4.5-minute video.  Remember that while women in Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia have no choice about wearing the hijab (and, in Iran, demonstrated in the streets when the theocracy forced veiling in 1979), the issue of “choice” in Western countries, where girls are veiled very young, is often problematic.

My final remarks simply echo the sentiments of Alishba Zarmeen, a feminist activist from Pakistan:

One possible counterargument for people like Khan is that some women veil not out of modesty, but simply as a symbol of their religious faith. Fair enough, but, given the above, that’s like saying that some people waving the Confederate flag are only doing so as a symbol of their “Southern heritage.” Remember the “fucking history and traditional use of that symbol”!

h/t: Heather, Orli