In 2016, it was reported that David Cameron, then British Prime Minister, privately suggested that the ‘traditional submissiveness of Muslim women’ was a leading factor in leaving young men vulnerable to radicalisation.
When Mariam Khan read this, she remembers: ‘That really just stayed in my mind, and I really wanted to say no, hang on, that’s not who I know or what I know of Muslim women, and I wanted us to have a say.’
Since 2016, conversations within the media around Muslim women have further deteriorated, as evidenced by Boris Johnson’s reported descriptions of the burqa, claiming that women who choose to wear it resemble ‘letter boxes’ and ‘bank robbers’. It would seem that the burqa itself has become central to, and almost symbolic of the conversation around Muslim women in the West.
Mariam felt that too often, only one narrative of Muslim women was portrayed within the national news headlines, and what’s more, this narrative and the conversation surrounding it are not only being lead by those who are white and male, but they exclude Muslim women themselves entirely.
Where is the space for Muslim women to comment? To share their own thoughts, truths, opinions and realities? Feeling as though the voices of Muslim women were being pushed increasingly into the very fringes of the conversations of which they were the subject, Mariam set into action, and It’s Not About the Burqa began to take shape.
In a pioneering collection of essays, seventeen Muslim women speak openly about the hijab, about love, sex, divorce, queer identity, feminism, mental health, faith and so much more.
We asked a handful of the inspirational writers who contributed to It’s Not About the Burqa, which three words or phrases come to mind when they are asked to describe a Muslim woman. Their answers? Opinionated. Outspoken. Empowered. Curious for knowledge. Kind. Having faith. Fierce. Fearless. Revolutionary.
Moving, witty, enlightening and empowering - this is an anthology that, regardless of what walk of life you come from, should be considered compulsory reading.
What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it’s all about the burqa.
Here’s what it’s really about.
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