Anti-Muslim Email Masquerades as Pro-Women’s Rights

My mother is a staunch conservative. I can tolerate that. My mother also has the unfortunate habit of forwarding those pesky chain emails. I can also tolerate that, particularly when they are filled with pictures of adorable little animals. But when these two facets of my mom’s personality join forces, the result leaves me speechless.

The other day’s email caught my eye and warranted a full read-through. The ostensible author is Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian American human rights activist who is also a Zionist Christian, although I can’t speak to its authenticity. The message in the first part of the email draws attention to the violence done to women in the name of Islam: honor killings, rape, etc.:

Often after a woman has been raped, she is returned to her family and the family must return the dowry. The family has the right to execute her (an honor killing) to restore the honor of the family. Husbands can beat their wives ‘at will’ and the man does not have to say why he has beaten her.

Most of us are familiar with such atrocities, and I began to think that this crazy forwarded email might have some value despite its lack of cuddly pictures. Perhaps my mother, who would not identify as a feminist, was nonetheless being proactive in sticking up for women’s rights.

That’s when the email took a turn for the worse.

In twenty years there will be enough Muslim voters in the U.S. to elect the president by themselves!

In bold red letters, no less. Say it with me now, WTF! Turns out the beginning of the email was simply using violence against women as “evidence” of why Islam is inherently dangerous and threatening to our country. In fact, this email is really about a fear of Muslims taking over the political process in America. It continues:

It is too bad that so many are disillusioned with life and Christianity to accept Muslims as peaceful.

There isn’t enough room in this blog for me to address why this sentiment is absurd, so I will trust you readers are with me on this one.

As much as I’d like more people speaking up about the rights of women, I don’t want it at the price of xenophobia. This email is harmful to women everywhere, including the Islamic world; these prejudices fracture society and disregard the ideals on which this country was founded.

Even though this email is now sitting in my gmail trash, it still bothers me. I hope it represents only a tiny and crazy part of conservative America. Only time will tell (20 years, remember?) In the meantime, any suggestions on how I can explain to my mom that this email is amazingly offensive and not patriotic?

Photo from Flickr user Beth Rankin under Creative Commons 3.0.

Comments

  1. I received that same e-mail. It’s atrocious!

  2. Clear Thought says:

    Hate rhetoric at it’s worst. Even Sarah Palin supports hijab.

    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-459386

    The Prophet Muhammad said, “The best amongst you are those who are best to their wives…”

  3. not sure if ur a convert to islam. if u are, i get these kinds of emails or shall i say tidbits from family and non muslim friends all the time. if u are not a convert, i applaud u for reading through the rhetoric and giving islam a fair once over as many are afraid to do. great blog looking forward to more informative posts! :)

  4. Rachana says:

    YOU SHOULD DO WHAT SHE DOES. FORWARD TO YOUR PROGRESSIVE EMAILS. HOPE THIS HELPS :) I love what you wrote. I fully support your view!

  5. Because Christians never beat, rape, or try to control women’s bodies in any way, ever.

  6. Tom Lampe says:

    It’s one of the oldest and staunchest tenets of racism. They are coming for our women!
    Great job shedding rational light on a confusing subject.

  7. I’m also wondering, is the columnist is a fan of Sarah Palin?

  8. I’m pretty sure no Ms. blogger is a fan of Palin- Erica included!! GREAT post, it’s so nice to hear the voice of reason sometimes. And it’s good to know that we’re not alone when we encounter things that make us beyond frustrated as feminists. Thanks for sharing your keen insights!! Please keep writing!!!

  9. Iliana Echo says:

    From a paper I wrote last December about Darwish’s book “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”

    “The backlash from [Sharia Law] can create as much of a threat to freedom as the policies themselves. These policies cause anger, resentment, and fear to develop both in members of the society itself and in members of the outside world as they look in. Darwish herself is an excellent example. She points out that the world has even “managed to convince some Americans that … US foreign policy is the problem”, and yet never even acknowledges the possibility that said foreign policy could ever have played any role at all. She speaks of America’s role in Iraq with praise and even reverence, stating that America “liberated Iraqis from their tyrant”, without ever even noting that said liberation came at the price of thousands of lives, including Iraqi civilians, and trillions of dollars, destabilized the country severely, and made the US many enemies among the Iraqi people.

    People like Darwish, and books like Cruel and Unusual Punishment, can also fuel the oppression of Islamic people. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, Muslims have been unfairly stereotyped and harassed all throughout the United States. The idea that all Muslims are terrorists and Islam is the enemy has brought hardship into the lives of countless Muslims who want nothing more than the religious freedom guaranteed to them by the US constitution. Darwish, who grew up under Sharia law, is now apparently unable to realize that Sharia law is only one tiny sect of the larger religion that is Islam, and that much of Islam is far more moderate than the extremest rule she is most familiar with. She spends an entire chapter warning of the dangers of Islam — Islam, not Sharia… With extremist groups now going so far as to claim that Islam is actually a cult, books like Darwish’s, written by people who themselves are or have been Muslims, are only throwing additional fuel onto the fire that seeks to consume and burn away the constitutional rights of Muslims.

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