Culture

UC Berkeley Study Explains Why It's Wrong to Defend Muslim Women

(AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal, File)

In American colleges and universities today, marginalization is privilege and victimhood is power, so it should come as no surprise that a study conducted by – of course! – two researchers at the University of California, Berkeley has discovered that women are being oppressed not by the systemic and institutionalized misogyny of Islamic law (Sharia)—which devalues women’s testimonies and inheritance rights and sanctions the beating of women—but by “Islamophobia.”

According to the San Francisco Examiner, which reported this ludicrous nonsense with a straight face, Elsadig Elsheikh and Basima Sisemore of UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute (which must be a barrel of laughs to work in) conducted a national survey of “people living with Islamophobia, documenting their collective experiences and registering their voices.”

This makes it sound as if “Islamophobia” is some sort of disease; it’s actually a propaganda neologism that conflates two separate and distinct phenomena: vigilante attacks of innocent Muslims, which are never justified, and honest analysis of the motivating ideology behind jihad terrorism, which is always necessary. Those who use the term refer to both of those things under the rubric of “Islamophobia,” which has the effect of intimidating people into thinking that it is somehow wrong to speak about the root causes of jihad terror and Sharia oppression of women.

The study is an exercise in exactly that kind of intimidation. Elsheikh and Sisemore discovered that “most Muslims in America believe women are more at risk of experiencing Islamophobia than any other group. That stands to reason as Muslim women, particularly those who wear the hijab (a headscarf covering hair and neck) or niqab (covering head and face but not the eyes), are seen more obviously as practitioners of the Islamic faith.”

They claim that Trump singled out Omar for the most abuse because he is an “Islamophobe” and she wears a hijab. The hijab, we’re told, triggers “Islamophobia”: “One of the drivers of Islamophobia, according to both El Sheikh and Sisemore, is the media’s portrayal of Muslim women as downtrodden and needing to be saved by Western culture and ideals.” This is, says Sisemore, “liberal and imperialist feminism,” which is “an extension of Western imperialist ideology” and “helped politicians garner public support to justify the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

So you see, to criticize such coverings is “Islamophobia,” and you must not do it, despite the fact that women have been threatened, imprisoned, and even killed for refusing to wear them. Aqsa Parvez’s Muslim father choked her to death with her hijab after she refused to wear it. Amina Muse Ali was a Christian woman in Somalia whom Muslims murdered because she wasn’t wearing a hijab. Forty women were murdered in Iraq in 2007 for not wearing the hijab. Alya Al-Safar’s Muslim cousin threatened to kill her and harm her family because she stopped wearing the hijab in Britain. Amira Osman Hamid faced whipping in Sudan for refusing to wear the hijab.

Related: Taliban Guarantees Women’s Rights ‘Within the Limits of Islam.’ That’s Not Reassuring.

An Egyptian girl, also named Amira, committed suicide after being brutalized by her family for refusing to wear the hijab. Muslim and non-Muslim teachers at the Islamic College of South Australia were told they had to wear the hijab or be fired. Women in Chechnya were shot with paintballs by police because they weren’t wearing hijab. Other women in Chechnya were threatened by men with automatic rifles for not wearing hijab. And there are many, many other such examples. But the effect of UC Berkeley’s study will be to silence those who would defend such women. Such defenders, say Elsheikh and Sisemore, are indulging in “white saviorism.”

Trying to maintain some tenuous hold on reality, the study acknowledges that “in some countries women must wear head coverings or need to be chaperoned outside the house. And it is also true that in Afghanistan, women are being prevented from working, and the Taliban is brutally cracking down on women’s protests. However” – you knew that word was coming, didn’t you? – “Sisemore argued the media tend to emphasize these stories. ‘I think part of the issue is that the world needs to look like the United States,’ she said.”

Well, no, but it doesn’t need to look like Afghanistan, either. This UC Berkeley study is yet another academic inversion of reality, in the fine tradition of Orwell’s War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, and Ignorance Is Strength. Now we can add Oppression Is Liberation, and Opposing Oppression Is Imperialism. Thanks, Berkeley!