It’s time this kind of story got more attention than putative alienated [male] yoofs.

…a quiet revolution spreading among young European Muslim women, a generation that claims the same rights as its Western counterparts, without renouncing Islamic values. For many, the key difference is education, an option often denied their poor, immigrant mothers and grandmothers. These young women are studying law, medicine and anthropology…In the crowded immigrant suburbs ringing Paris, the scene of recent riots mostly led by young Muslim men, high school teachers say girls are the most motivated students because they have the most to gain.

Which is probably part of why they’re not the ones out setting fire to buses with people on them. Another part may be that many of the aggrieved yoofs setting the fires are the very people the studious girls want to escape.

In interviews in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, young women repeated this belief like a mantra: studying offers an escape from the oppressive housing projects, from controlling young Muslim radicals and from strict social codes enforced by fathers and brothers.

Escape from controlling male relatives, basically.

At the Islamic University of Rotterdam, a small group of theology students, most of them speaking Dutch but all tightly veiled, chatted after classes about the need to end the social segregation of men and women. “In class, we sit anywhere we choose,” said a student who gave her name only as Aisha. “In the mosques, we don’t want to sit in separate or hidden spaces.”

And maybe eventually they’ll also be able to escape that tight veiling – which is, of course, simply a portable social segregation of men and women, a portable separate and hidden space.

As educated Muslim women assert themselves, they appear to be forging a strand of Euro-Islam, a hybrid that attempts to reconcile the principles laid out in the Koran with life in a secular, democratic Europe.

Best of all would be not to have to worry about reconciling the principles laid out in the Koran, but a hybrid Euro-Islam is much better than a non-hybrid.

Women are also often at the forefront of liberal tendencies among Muslims, publishing critiques and studies about the obstacles and abuses women face. In Germany, Seyran Ates, a Turkish-born German lawyer, and Necla Kelek, a Turkish-born sociologist, have recently published books that have been read widely on the oppression of Muslim girls by their own families…As Muslim women take advantage of democracy and civil liberties in Europe, the question remains whether the impact of an educated minority will be continually blunted by the arrival of often poorly educated young brides from North Africa, Pakistan, Turkey and the Middle East. And as Europe rethinks its faltering integration policies, the place of Muslim women is a new target of scrutiny. Critics, including immigrants themselves, argue that in the name of respecting other cultures, Europeans have allowed the oppression of Muslim women in their midst.

Just so. That ice floe is beginning to break up, but slowly.

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