Just like any other idea, it should be open to debate

From January, Eiynah of Nice Mangos talks to the CBC.

Pakistani-Canadian blogger Eiynah says there is an important group left out of these conversations: Muslim and ex-Muslim women who see misogyny and oppression in Islam. She argues those critiques of Islam are ignored by the Canadian left, and hijacked by the Canadian right to further anti-Muslim narratives.

Eiynah is a pseudonym. She has asked for anonymity because of the frequent threats she has received for her writing.

Many Ex-Muslims are pseudonymous for reasons of safety.

It’s a very nuanced point of view that you have, and you can see it in your own self-description: a “critic of Islam who loathes anti-Muslim bigots.” Walk us through that. 

Oh come on. Ima let Eiynah speak in just a sec, but come on – it’s not all that nuanced to think that two possibilities are not all there are. Just imagine, she is able to think of a third! Come on. Let’s not treat that as so nuanced and bizarre that most people can’t even conceive of it.

It’s something that’s hard for people to understand, because they automatically conflate criticism of an ideology sometimes with bigotry toward a people. And I think it’s terms like Islamophobia that actually confuse the matter more. When I talk about anti-Muslim bigotry, I mean specifically generalizing large groups of diverse people. Muslims are a very diverse group, and Islam is an idea. Just like any other idea, it should be open for debate, up for critique. I don’t think there is an issue with people criticizing Islam — there isn’t one with people criticizing Christianity and any other religion, so why is there this unique term for Islam the religion?

We know why it exists, but why it is so widely accepted is another story.

When you criticize misogyny and homophobia in Islam, how [d]o people on the Canadian and American left typically respond to that? 

They’re defensive, they deny, and then they lash out and accuse me of being a bigot. I’m a woman of Pakistani origin, and I’ve been called a white supremacist, an imperialist, a race betrayer, a textbook racist more times than I can tell you.

Why do you think that is? Where does that reaction come from? 

I hope it comes from a good place, where people are trying to protect a minority that they feel is persecuted — and it is, in a lot of ways — but in doing so they trample on the rights of minorities within that minority, like women, like the LGBT, like apostates and ex-Muslims, atheists who are called terrorists and killed for disbelieving.

Sadly, people can be both persecuted and persecutors. Parents who take their daughters out of school to marry them off to cousins may be persecuted by racists.

But do you ever worry that when you critique Islam, you could inadvertently end up reinforcing someone’s bigoted ideas about Muslim people? 

It does happen, but why should that be a reason for me to stay silent about my own oppression? It does happen. My work has been hijacked and published on right-wing websites without my permission. What I try to do is in each essay that I write, I will include a paragraph in detail about anti-Muslim bigotry and how it’s a big issue and how I do not agree with these bigots. I try to proof it like that against them hijacking, but if they still take my work there’s nothing I can do. I mean, then literally you can’t talk about any oppression if you worry about this…. You can always feed into someone’s bias, but that doesn’t mean you should stop talking about victims of oppression.

Eiynah’s one of the best. Nice Mangos is here.

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