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Holy Islamophobia Batman!

So apparently the father and son duo behind Aqsa Parvez's murder pleaded guilty today. Obviously these misogynist crimes are despicable. Unfortunately, this murder has also proved that, once again, the Canadian public can ignore systemic misogyny and focus instead on racist scapegoating. Even before today's sentence noxious websites and blogs (like JihadWatch and Islamization Watch) are awash with the typical reactionary blather. The first comment on the JihadWatch "analysis" even claims "What excuse does a Pakistani have to call himself a 'refugee'?"... and the following racist comments grow more and more abhorent.

It is clearly disgusting that the male members of a family would think that it's permissible to murder a female member of the same family for transgressing patriarchal rules. The point, however, is this is not a phenomenon limited to Islam, or to the so-called "backwards people" in other parts [read: "non-white"] of the world. We live in a society where systemic misogyny lurks beneath every social relation. Moreover, almost every society in the world is still defined by patriarchal social relations whether they be the stripped bare and obvious semi-feudal/semi-colonial articulations, or the sublimated and pernicious capitalist articulations. It is no surprise that certain ways of practicing Islam would intersect with misogyny, but this is because EVERY religious expression out there has misogynist expressions. (Yes, even the Buddhism so beloved by hippydom, has ultra-misogynist versions.)

Nor is it necessary to have a religious creed to participate in the most violent practices of misogyny. We only need to look at the Robert Pickton murders to understand that the murder of women is not some sort of Islam-specific problem. And yet, although Pickton murdered numerous women (and mainly aboriginal women), he was not treated as a paradigm example of White Male Canada. Instead he was an aberration, a lamentable psychopath. Marc Lepine is yet another example of this problem. Although the Montreal Massacre initially drew attention to the problems of misogyny, eventually he was dismissed as a lone gunman - the sexism was individualized rather than understood as systemic and institutional.

The typical responses to the Parvez murder, however, are pure hypocricy. While white Canadian acts of violent misogyny are the result of aberrant individuals, it appears to be argued, non-white (and specifically Muslim) acts of violent misogyny are a product of these non-white peoples' very essence. Islam is being treated as a religious creed worse than every other religious creed, all of its devotees essentially misogynist. Again the material basis of misogyny is spirited away and we are given the most insipid and insidious culturalist explanation. Again we are told to not question the systemic reality of patriarchy (along with the isolation and ghettoization that results from systemic racism) and are given the easy target of Islam.

This comes at a time when the imperialist powers are seeking further justification for the long occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Where neocons and neolibs are trying very hard to cast themselves in the role of "feminist saviour" (despite the fact that most of these people have been opposed to every feminist cause, arguing for family values and other such patriarchal nonsense). Scapegoating Islam not only provides a convenient excuse for imperialism, but a way to hide the fact the imperialist centres are waging a war that by its very nature visits violence upon the female body. Bombed female villagers, apparently, mean nothing.

Nor do any of the Islamaphobic ideologues think there is anything wrong with punishing women for the supposed sexism of Muslim religious garb - Canada is poised to pass Bill 94 which will result in the denial of social services to women wearing the niqab. As Alain Badiou, regarding similar laws passed in France, described this idiot logic: "It's a little like saying 'this woman has been raped, throw her in jail.'" The same logic, we should note, operates in our sex laws. If prostitution is a manifestation of sexism, and the biggest anti-prostitute politicians claim that anti-prostitution laws are "feminist", then why aren't the johns and pimps being targetted over the women workers?

On JihadWatch commentators regularly post anti-immigrant complaints about an "invasion" of Muslims, lament the erosion of "Western Civilization" and contribute to the general racism that further isolates Muslim women. Radical theorists such as Samir Amin (who, by the way, is opposed in a sophisticated manner to Political Islam) and Frantz Fanon have noted, over and over, that the isolation of racist ghettoization tends to fuel cultural nationalism and create more victimization. These Islamophobes, despite all their railing over the injustice of Parvez's murder, seem content to participate in laws that further isolate women. In the end, they don't really care about the murder of a Parvez just as they don't care about the conditions that result in anti-women violence anywhere. You really have to question the self-righteous tone of rightwing papers like the National Post that, when it comes to Parvez's murder, are suddenly "feminist" but also publish anti-feminist blather.
"Westerners in general... are no more than a bunch of shivering cowards. What are they afraid of? Barbarians both at home... and abroad, the 'Islamic terrorists'. Why are they afraid? Because they are guilty but claim to be innocent. Guilty from the 1980s onwards of having renounced and tried to dismantle every politics of emancipation, every revolutionary form of reason, every true assertion of something other than what it is. Guilty of clinging to their miserable privileges. Guilty of being no more than grown up kids who play with their many purchases." (Alain Badiou, Polemics, p. 109)


  1. The irony about this entry is that, in light of the batman entries on this blog, there is nothing about batman (beyond the title) in this post.


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