Such a collaboration would necessitate (on behalf of Western feminists):
1. Knowledge about and sensitivity to Arab/-American and/or Muslim women's critiques of Western hegemony over movements for gender justice and
2. A reprioritization of mainstream "feminist issues"
A few points to keep in mind:
- The realities of Arab/-American and/or Muslim women's lives recast war, occupation, poverty, and the international sex trade as feminist issues.
- Much of what is considered Western feminism is based on secular “human rights” discourses that do not hold the same relevance in theocratic societies or in the lives of observant Muslim women in the diaspora. In these cases, it is more practical to argue for the rights of women through the employment of an Islamic feminist discourse. For example, some Islamic feminists have argued that the Islamic concept of ijtihad, which I roughly define as intellectual scrutiny of Islamic law with the aim of staying true to Quranic principles, allows for the realization of social justice, including gender justice.
- Western feminists must be sensitive to the frequency with which Muslim women’s critiques of their local patriarchies are used to fuel Islamophobia and thus imperialism, war, and occupation. We must be able to identify and speak out against tokenization and cooptation of Arab/-American and/or Muslim women's movements in the name of war and Western expansion.
Recommended further reading on Arab/-American feminisms:
Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging (Gender, Culture, and Politics in the Middle East), Edited by Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, & Nadine Naber, 2011
Imagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the U.S., by Amira Jarmakani, 2008
Identity Politics and Women: Cultural Reassertions and Feminisms in International Perspective, by Valentine Moghadam, 1994
You can read more about Shaima Alawadi's murder here.
I also wanted to direct y'all to some upcoming events and ongoing campaigns that address Shaima and Trayvon's cases as well as hate crimes and racism in the U.S. more generally.
San Diego Area Events:
Hijabs and Hoodies Part 1; Candlelight Vigil
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 8:00pm
Silent Tree UCSD
Hijabs And Hoodies Part 2: Rally And Speak-Out
Saturday, April 7, 2012 - 10:45am until 12:00pm