The article opens with the following paragraph
“This is about mosques being a space for women,” declared Kadriye Avci Erdemli, Istanbul’s deputy mufti, the city’s second most powerful administrator of the Islamic faith. “When a woman enters a mosque, she is entering the house of God and she should experience the same sacred treatment. In front of God, men and women are equal; they have the same rights to practice their religion.”
This is a muslim woman, who holds an important position in the established religious order speaking about the equality of women. I am impressed that this article even got published let alone with this quote in it. Mainstream western media tends to suffer from a confirmation bias where only items that fit our preconceived notions (muslim women oppressed! muslim man bad!), or can be read easily in a way that fits these preconceived notions get published. The religious muslim woman is so caricatured in western media as being silent, suffering and veiled that to see an article where such a woman has a voice and is using it is quite a shock to the system.
Obviously (or not so obviously to many) the muslim community just like the christian, or jewish or atheist or any other community has a diversity of people with a diversity of opinions and a diversity of beliefs around their religion.
What I like most about this article is that unlike oh so very many it does not deny muslim women their agency . Muslim women (and men) fight every day for gender equality, but it is something that is rarely talked about because portraying muslim women as passive victims of oppressions fits so much better with our world view.
Unlike the Western media would have you believe, change does come and can be supported by allies with privilege from within and it is this type of change that is most sustainable and long lasting, because it comes with buy in. Change that is sparked or forced from without almost inevitably faces backlash based upon the preservation of values that are under threat from a colonising western ideology. It becomes so much harder to get the kind of buy in you need when new ideas are framed in this way.
Muslim women and women in the ‘east’ in general are not the passive, oppressed, victims, that the mainstream media would have you believe. If helping or empowering women is important to you then you would do well to support local grassroots initiatives which are proven to be much more effective. It may not be as satisfying to you personally but it will do much more good.