Deeyah Kahn gives a moving talk about her experiences as a Muslim girl and her films that document the horrific honor killings and terrorist recruitment in Europe’s Muslim communities.
The ominous repression of females inherent in cultures that embrace Islam is evident from the very beginning of her talk. She relates almost offhandedly how her father one day threw all her dolls and toys away at age 7, for her to begin practicing on a keyboard in order to become famous, as white people would never accept her and give her a fair shake in life.
We could stop the tape right there and think, “What a cold heartless thing to do your to your 7 year old daughter.” And we would be correct. It was fucking cold and heartless, but that sort of utterly insensitive treatment of women and girls is the norm across Islamic cultures. Her father was acting on what his culture had taught him. His insular Pakistani-Muslim culture existing completely apart yet within the progressive Northern European culture of Norway. It was perfectly OK for him to be so cold in order to direct the upbringing of his young daughter. If we heard of this sort of behavior in the US, we would think “What an asshole…He could have provided her a keyboard and even been strict about her practice habits…all without throwing out her toys and dolls.” And one certainly could have. But this little hint which she relates so nonchalantly is just the tip of the iceberg of the denial of basic human rights to females in Muslim cultures.
“He forced me to practice for hours and hours every day…” Nice guy.
She tells of her first encounter with racsim from “white people”, being confronted at age 12 by a pig of a human, a white Norwegian guy who dumped his racism on her, a defenseless young girl, calling her a “brown bitch” a “Paki Bitch.”
As she became successful in Norway with her music career she began to be regularly threatened by “brown people.”
“Some men in my parent’s community felt it was dishonorable” for a woman to perform in the public eye. She was attacked at her concerts, things thrown at her, and spit upon in the streets of Oslo. She even escaped an attempted kidnapping…not by white guys, not by women, but by “brown men.” Pakistani Muslim men.
“The death threats were endless.”
Deeyah describes them only as brown. As if being brown had something to do with this behavior, or her father’s utterly insensitive patriarchal rule over his daughter. She manages throughout this all too typical TED talk to avoid the elephant in the room, mentioning the word ‘Muslim,” or “Islam” but a few times, offhandedly, never direct, never as the religion responsible for this madness.
It’s “brown men”, or “brown men with beards.” There are plenty of brown men all over the world that do not behave this way. It has nothing to do with skin color, but that is how she characterizes it.
One older bearded brown man stopped her on the street to tell her why he hated her so much…because she makes
“our daughters think they can do whatever they want.”
Read that again. That is the crux of the biscuit. The insane control of women within Islam. This thinking is not a function of skin color in any way. There are plenty of brown men all over the world who love and support their daughters and provide them the freedom and encouragement to truly become whatever they want. Even Muslim men who have moved beyond the confines of their religion. I blogged some time ago on Malala Yousafzai’s father who supports his daughter’s education, freedom and independence. Too many males raised in an Islamic culture however, are fully capable of the abject violent misogyny Deeyah portrays for us in her TED talk, and in her films.
A younger Pakistani man said:
“Music in un-Islamic and the job of whores, and if you keep this up you will be raped and your stomach cut out so that another whore like you cannot be born.”
Hard to read, much less imagine hearing. Incredible, but all too true.
Brown men do this? No, ISLAMIC men do this.
At 17 she moves to London, and eventually resumes her music career and experiences the same horrific response from Muslim men: endless death threats, to be raped repeatedly before she dies in “rivers of blood.”
As I write this, today in America, we rightly recoil in disgust over Donald Trump’s ignorant braggodocio of grabbing women’s genitals and kissing them whenever he feels the urge…but, imagine the kind of threats Deeyah and countless women across the Muslim world endure, coming from any man in our Western society today instead of Trump’s macho posturing and sleaze-ball behavior. We would react with more horror than disgust, yet this is the norm within many Islamic countries or Muslim enclaves within otherwise wholly less patriarchal countries, all over the globe. Trump’s dinosaur attitude, while utterly repugnant, pales in comparison to the level of misogyny expressed, and all too often carried out, in Islamic cultures.
She leaves England for the US. And she begins to work with Muslim youth organizations in Europe helping Islamic kids deal with the same insensitivity to their needs and desires that her parent’s culture disavowed, in place of honor.
“We are not allowed to be who we are…. This is the norm in the Muslim heartlands of Europe…Our silence allows this abuse to continue.”
So she told these stories in film: of a Kurdish girl in London, married to a young man chosen by the family who repeatedly beat and raped her. Her parents told her to go back and be a better wife. Her ears would bleed from the beatings. She disappeared after leaving her husband and finding a man of her choosing. She was found months later in a suitcase buried under a house, beaten and strangled by 3 men. (most likely repeatedly raped before her death as well).
She had gone to the police a number of times. Deeyah says others told her atrocities like this can’t be helped: “It’s just their culture, it is what those people do…”
Deeyah denies this claim: “I can assure you being killed is not my culture.”
But it is definitely a function of the strongest element within her Pakistani culture, her religion: Islam. It is the horrific controlling, violent, Muslim misogyny expressed throughout the Islamic world across dozens of nations. It infects hundreds of cultures, and not merely “brown” Pakistani people. And it starts with Dad throwing your dolls away.
Her next film was to discover how and why young Muslim kids in Europe get drawn into extremism.
“I already knew that religion, politics, Europe’s Colonial baggage… Western foreign policy failures of recent years…were all part of the picture.”
In addition she points out that so many of the young men who moved to terrorist organizations had absentee fathers…or were brutalized by racist violence. These then are her reasons for the misogyny and mayhem: politics, European colonialism, racism, Western foreign policy and absentee fathers.
Religion is included as but one of six reasons she gives for the terrorism inflicted on Muslim women daily and attacks on non-Muslims all too often but every few months somewhere in the world.
Did European Colonialism teach your father to take your dolls and toys away? Did he learn to be so insensitive to a young girls feelings, his own daughters, from centuries old colonization?
Was it politics or racism that instructed her “brown men” to rape their victims repeatedly, strangle them or carve out their stomachs?
Was it Western policy failure that told that young man it was OK, in fact his right to repeatedly beat and rape his own wife to the point of hospitalization?
Was it an absentee father that left explicit instructions to his sons to rape and strangle to death that poor girl escaping her arranged marriage husbands beatings?
Why don’t black men, living in the impoverished inner cities of America, beaten down by racism and poverty, many ignored by absentee fathers as well, blow themselves up in bus stations, gun down cartoonists and gays, or rape a woman that dares to leave her abusive husband to pieces, then bury her in a suitcase?
Because without the compulsion from within the religion of Islam, these behaviors are neither condoned nor accepted: they are not even thought of.
She pleads to Muslim parents to place their kids happiness before honor.
“The best revenge is to lead a full free life” But that is impossible to do within Islam.
“Can we find a way to reject hatred and heal the divisions between us?” she asks.
Yes, by reforming or rejecting the religion that foments it.
She avoids the elephant in the room completely. Her silence allows this abuse to continue as well. So many like her can’t bring themselves to speak and call for reform or outright rejection of the religion that promotes this madness.
Given her experiences, she has endured so much and understandably may not be able to go any further. She has already been the target of attempted kidnap and all the unbelievable threats Muslim men believe she deserves.
Who could blame her? These are not idle threats, as she has seen so many of them carried out.
But we can call a spade a spade.
We can call out the religion for being the main reason for the terrorism within and without the Muslim community.
It is estimated that honor killings may exceed 20,000 deaths per year and that 91 percent of the perpetrators were Muslim men. Not “brown men,” Muslim men. Scholars suggest that the Islamic law doctrine of Qisas and Diyya encourages honor killings, particularly against females, as well as allows the murderer to go unpunished. Often you hear the defense that such compulsion is not in the Koran, but the underlying misogyny is, and the direct compulsion is in the hadith and interpretations of Islamic law.
Resolution 1327 (2003) of the Council of Europe states that:
“The Assembly notes that whilst so-called ‘honour crimes’ emanate from cultural and not religious roots and are perpetrated worldwide (mainly in patriarchal societies or communities), the majority of reported cases in Europe have been amongst Muslim or migrant Muslim communities (although Islam itself does not support the death penalty for honour-related misconduct).”
Islam DOES support rape, torture and death for honor-related misconduct. Deeyah didn’t make any of this up. It goes on daily in Islamic countries and Islamic enclaves in other countries.
If you think a Trump-like attitude is bad (and it is) imagine him being taped saying he would rape a woman repeatedly and cut her stomach out so that another whore like her could not be born, with her dying in a river of blood, strangled and stuffed in a suitcase.
This is the reality of being a woman within Islam. Thanks to Deeyah for being courageous enough to bring this reality to the rest of the world, despite her horrific experiences, even if she cant yet point out the elephant in the room.
end religion now.