LettersRace

Solidarity with Muslim Women: A Personal Letter

Asifa Quraishi-Landes, Associate Professor of Law at University of Wisconsin, sent the following e-mail to her colleagues on December 3, 2015. It was subsequently circulated through her network, resulting in Nancy Fraser bringing it to our attention. We publish it in solidarity with Asifa Quraishi-Landes and “visibly Muslim Women.” -JG

Hi UW Law colleagues,

I just wanted to let you all know that if you see a Muslim woman in hijab/headscarf out in public today and in the near future, she is likely wearing it with a strong sense of bravery and vulnerability. I suspect that any solidarity and support you can show her would be infinitely appreciated.

Visibly Muslim women have always been targets of various forms of Islamophobia (harrassment, violence, even murder), but in the wake of the Paris attacks and last night’s San Bernardino shooting, many of my Muslim female friends are currently debating whether or not they should dress in any identifiably Muslim way right now. Islamic law clearly allows all sorts of accommodations to protect life and safety, so many are choosing not to go out today and/or not send their kids to Islamic schools and/or change their dress, while others are braving the unknown without any changes other than in their emboldened hearts. I respect them all, but thought I could go one step further — and let all my work colleagues in on the complicated and vulnerable situation in which American Muslims — especially women — feel right now.

(FYI, If you’re curious about my own personal practices — I although I do not wear a headscarf every day, I do wear it often out of personal identity and the subliminal messaging it sends about who Muslim women are. Since 9/11, I have been very strategic about my choices [concern for my own safety as a new mother became paramount over my civil and religious rights]. Today, I’ve adjusted my strategy [thanks, Josh Cutler, for an enlightening conversation that helped me come to this]. I have decided to make a special effort to wear my scarf in places where I feel safe, as a subliminal message of “I trust you. I feel safe here.” It has already been an interesting experiment to see where I feel that way.)

Thanks all. Looking forward to a day when none of this is necessary!

Asifa

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Asifa Quraishi-Landes

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