A Mexican Foreign Worker vs. Lila Abu-Lughod
“…girls and women like Nujood Ali, whose best-selling memoir I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced was co-written, like so many of the others, by a Western journalist, to Malala Yousafzai, they have been portrayed as victims of the veil, forced marriage, honor crimes or violent abuse. They are presented as having a deficit of rights because of Islam.”
Ms. Abu-Lughod makes a valid point, however, she dismisses responsibility for the way Muslim women are treated. Sure, Western magnification of horror stories does distort womens issues. Yet Abu-Lughod fails to examine religious chauvinism.
A Mexican Migrant Worker responded: In the comment section at Time a Mexican addressed this chauvinism, redacted below:
“I’m Mexican, and in Mexico we don’t have a sizable Muslim minority, we have some Christian Lebanese and Syrians that have been here for a few generations and they are basically Mexicans now.
A few years ago I had the experience of going to work to a Muslim country in North Africa, Algeria, and I spent four years there. On arrival I didn’t know anything about Algeria, I thought that basically they were like all Third World Countries, with a bad economy and social injustice, so I said they are like us Mexicans, to my surprise I arrived to a place that has even worse human rights than my country. I was shocked to learn the following:
-Women need a guardian to get married no matter the age.
-Women by law can only inherit half of what their brothers inherit.
-I can’t marry an Algerian woman unless I convert to Islam and change my name, even in Mexico we have civil marriage, in Mexico you can be Buddhist and marry a Christian, it does not matter what religion you are.
-Even if I convert and get married I cannot give my child the name of let’s say my grand father (Ricardo) or some other name it HAS to be a Muslim name by LAW.
-The state keeps all the imams in public payroll like any other government employee.
-It’s punishable with jail time if you proselytize or talk about religion other than Islam. In Mexico we get bothered from the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons, and even if they are obnoxious, I think EVERYONE has the right to talk about their beliefs.
The above are just a few examples, living in a country was a cultural shock, no women out when it gets dark, bands of young men harassing women on the streets, sexual frustration all over etc. etc. I can go for hours.
After the first six months I decided that my country with its flaws (narco-violence and corruption) is 1000 times better than a place without joy, and that no one can say anything against Islam. They all tell you about American conspiracy and bla bla bla.
I know someone is going to say in Mexico women are mistreated, and let me tell you this is true, but we HAVE laws that protect women, and every year we legislate more, and we have HOPE that Muslim countries don’t have, I think a kind of good place is Turkey and this thanks to its secular constitution, all the other ones are worse than Juarez or Tijuana, at least over there you can get drunk.
Stockholm Sydrome: While women in North Africa and other places are making quiet steps, they are hindered by women such as Abu-Lughod, who writes:
“Take the veil, for example. We were surprised when many women in Afghanistan didn’t take them off after being ‘liberated,’ seeing as they had become such symbols of oppression in the West.”
While it is true some prefer to wear the veil, Abu-Lughod does not understand the cultural pressure on Muslim and ex-Muslim women. Marwa Berro, Joumana Haddad, Rana Husseini, Maryam Namazie, and Irshad Manji do.