Gender and Islamophobia

What is anti-Muslim racism?
How does considering gender make anti-Muslim racism more visible?

1. According to Hammer, what is anti-Muslim racism?

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2. According to Hammer, how does considering gender make anti-Muslim racism more visible?

3. According to Elia, what is ant-Muslim racism?

4. According to Elia, how does considering gender make anti-Muslim racism more visible?

5. Discuss one example from the reading that illustrates how Muslim Americans are racialized. How does the example help us understand anti-Muslim racism?

Passages to read and reflect on before submitting this forum post:

Juliane Hammer’s “(Muslim) Women’s Bodies, Islamophobia, and American Politics.”

“Taken together, these few items of discussion, selected for their merit in demonstrating the breadth of the ways in which Muslim women’s bodies are at the center of one dimension of Islamophobic discourse, point to the fact that American Muslims indiscriminately and collectively are perceived as foreign, as a fifth column for terrorists, and as a threat to the United States. Women’s bodies, especially those who visibly identify as Muslim through hijab bear the brunt of a particular kind of visual profiling that can result in verbal assaults, hate crimes, exclusion, as well as in increased surveillance of their communities and insults to their religion. But Muslim women also become victims of broader fears over shifting race relations, perceptions of racial discrimination, and a very specific fear of non-white minorities. Women birth the children of these minority communities and thus their bodies are directly linked to shifting demographic balances as well as the bogus link to terrorism for Muslims specifically. (32)

“The role of gender as a category of analysis should not be limited to Muslim women’s bodies or, for that matter, Muslim women at all. In the broader picture it should always be supplemented by rigorous and critical inclusion of how Islamophobia directed against Muslim men is, of course, gendered as well. Most obviously, the construction of violent and threatening Muslim men is routinely complemented by the representation of Muslim women as oppressed and silenced by said men. In other words, the gendered representations of Muslim women and men are but two sides of the same coin, and as such they have become part of the same register of tools for generating Islamophobia.” (29)

Nada Elia’s “Islamophobia and the “Privileging” of Arab American Women”

“After all the embrace of plurality had to stop somewhere, and the lines have historically been drawn most clearly with regards to religion. The confluence of church and state, with the presidential worldview today embracing Christianity and Zionism, is a lethal mix for Arabs and Arab Americans, who are perceived as the quintessential enemy. And as Americans speak today of “the clash of civilizations,” the foremost “us and them” binary that comes to their minds is NOT East and West, North and South, capitalism and communism, rich and poor, but Christianity and Islam…As it predates 9/11, this rejection cannot be attributed to the trauma of the terrorist attacks, and is quite clearly based in religious intolerance, the assumption that Arabs are irrevocably “other” because they are Muslim, aliens in this Judeo-Christian culture.” (155-156)

“The failure to identify racism and religious intolerance as a major social wrong in the United States – despite the country’s very long history of institutionalized discrimination grounded in these oppressive systems – closely parallels mainstream Western feminism’s failure to identify many Arab women’s oppressors in their home countries. For these women are veiled, and isn’t the veil the region’s greatest evil? Thus, many “progressive feminists” fail to acknowledge that Palestinian women’s freedom of movement, their freedom to vote, to obtain an education and access to health care, and the basic right to have a roof over their heads in their own historic homeland, is denied them not by Arab men, but by the brutal Israeli occupier, very generously backed by American tax dollars…Additionally, one could argue that the Arab regimes most oppressive of women, such as in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, would not stay in power were it not for their close ties with the American government. And while Arab men must certainly be held accountable for their treatment of Arab women, one must also keep in mind that Arab women are ultimately victimized by the United States and Israel that have very real adverse effects on their everyday lives, and that “Arab women’s liberation” (from Arab patriarchy) would be moot in the political context of an ongoing brutal occupation or tyranny kept in place by the West.” (157)

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