Standing in solidarity with Muslim women

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Bush’s “War on Terrorism” has the sickening stench of racism — as wars for profit always do. In the previous world war, Uncle Sam saved “Western Civilisation” from “Asian hordes.” Today, he’s going after “Islamic terrorists” from the Middle East and Asia.

According to Fred Nile, Christian fundamentalist Member of Parliament in New South Wales, women are the most dangerous. He wants to ban the chador, because the head-to-toe covering could hide weapons and explosives. (It’s true that in Iran’s 1979 revolution, which ousted the Shah, women used chadors for carrying secret messages and arms. For patriarchs like Nile, there’s no greater terror than women fighting for liberation!)

What’s really scary is that Nile is speaking for all racist and sexist bigots emboldened by the climate of fear whipped up by the Howard Government’s “anti-terror” hysteria. Middle Eastern and Asian migrants — Muslim women in particular — face daily harassment and danger.

This is terror, and feminists are ready to do battle. The question is: over what? Some feminists declared November 29 as National Headscarf Day. They called on non-Muslim women to show solidarity by covering their heads in protest against the attacks. In promoting the day, they said: “Let us make [Muslim women] feel that they belong, and that they are protected, by helping them blend in.”

Donning another trapping of our second-class status is not solidarity. Women hold up the global economy with our under-paid and unpaid labour. Now robbed of our welfare, social programs and pensions to pay for war, we’re being sent back into the home as the next generation of service providers for our families. The greatest act of solidarity we can give our Muslim sisters is to build a united, international, feminist movement aimed at putting an end to patriarchy forever.

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