Let Muslim women speak

“The last few weeks have been particularly eventful for Muslim women on Comment is Free. We would have felt extremely exhausted by all the excitement, were it not for the fact that – with the notable exception of Samia Rahman and Reefat Drabu – we were spared the ignominy of having to participate in the debate ourselves.

“AC Grayling started us off by equating the headscarf with an iron shackle and stating that Muslim women are complicit in their own oppression. In the process of attacking the abhorrent denial of freedom that Muslim women can wrongly suffer, Grayling (in)advertently takes away the very same freedom of choice to decide to wear the hijab if we choose.

“Julie Burchill bigged up Christianity, and in the process scathingly dismissed Islam and Muslim women. The only “Muslim” women she suggested as role models – Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji – were those she claimed had rejected Islam and were no longer Muslim….

“Islamic theology has a strong framework for a blueprint of gender equality…. we may say, believe and do things which don’t fit in with the caricature of a Muslim woman who would be desperate to be ‘liberated’ from Islam if only she knew it.

“You may find our voices reverberating with the view that we like being Muslim women, we just want to make our lives better and in line with true Islamic principles. It would be nice if those who debate vociferously about Muslim women would therefore move over and give us the seat at the table that we’re demanding.”

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed at Comment is Free, 2 September 2008