Beware of the Solidarity of White Feminists
The picture above is from a protest in ’90s in Turkey; a protest by high school students who were prohibited from entering their school with their hijabs (headscarves).
I know dozens of women who have been harassed, humiliated, beaten by police and/or family, detained, jailed all because they simply wanted to study without taking their hijab off, in high schools and universities. There were hundreds may be thousands of such women across Turkey, from 1980’s to early 2000’s; unfortunately very little data has been collected.
A family friend who was planning to drop out of her fourth year in Law because of hijab ban in early 2000’s, was threatened by her conservative father to not drop out, he said: “It would be better to me if you were dead or a prostitute than you dropping out; if you are going to do it, do not even think of coming back our home.”
One of the well-known universities in Turkey even set up “Persuasion Rooms” at the time, to “persuade” hijabi students through psychological pressure to take off their hijabs.
No international news organisation followed and covered plight of these young women. Nobody abroad cared when they were beaten or harassed. No Western feminist movement rallied for their rights or cared when government or their families brutalised them. Nobody in Europe or the US hailed them as heroes of women’s rights. Despite the very fact that what they wanted, what they protested for, what they struggled for was a cornerstone of modern Western mentality: education.
For the last couple of days I have been asked quite a few times to comment on Amina’s case. A woman being threatened and publicly shamed, humiliated is something obviously morally wrong; so why would they even ask my opinion? I am not even Tunisian, if their concern is with respect to Tunisian politics. So why, due to the sole fact that I am a Muslim hijabi feminist, they attempt to use this case which they regard as almost the singlemost greatest injustice against women of colour in MENA, as a litmus test of my feminist ideals and convictions?
Who gives you the right? Where were you when girls and women of colour were killed by drones paid and manufactured by your taxes? Where were you when Afghan girls and children were killed “accidentally” with airstrikes paid by your taxes? Where were you when religious women were systematically discriminated and brutalised in Turkey by a government your governments supported by your taxes? Where were you when Iraqi women and men were tortured, raped, killed by your soldiers? Where are you when multitudes of injustices are committed all around a vast geography by your very own governments, either directly or indirectly?
White feminists do not regard women of colour in terms of solidarity; even when they emphasise “solidarity” what they are after is simply instrumentalising tragedies and struggles of women of colour to further their own agenda based on their own classist, racial, cultural, and socioeconomic interests.
So please, leave us alone. We do not need your “solidarity”, “sympathy”, or “empathy” - for it is all just a cover for your ugly history and present.