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Muslim feminist slams anti-Islam stereotypes

Windsor Star

Friday, October 24, 2008


A Muslim feminist from Pakistan was in Windsor Thursday to discuss the tendency in North America to assume Muslims are all the same, and all have the same "bizarre" and "neanderthal" outlook.

Uzma Shakir, who was born and educated in Pakistan, spoke as part of the University of Windsor's Distinguished Visitor in Women's Studies Week.

"Only one kind of Muslim value is allowed in any room to emerge, and that voice is usually a very bizarre, right wing obscure kind of voice," said Shakir. "Then everybody turns around and says 'See, we told you these guys were bad.' It creates a mindset and a psyche that doesn't allow for a diversity of opinion."

As an example, she focused on the Ontario government's refusal in 2005 to allow Shariah Islamic religious laws to be part of the arbitration process for revolving marital conflicts, based on the public perception it would be unfair to women and children.

Shakir said the way other religions are regarded is different. With Christianity, she cited, it's understood there are different views and interpretations.

"But when anything Muslim gets talked about, it almost appears as if it has to be one Muslim interpretation, so whatever one set of Muslims says, that's it," she said. "It's always the worst opinion. So the most neanderthal, the most out to lunch, the most bizarre kind of opinion becomes the Muslim opinion."

 The Windsor Star 2008

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