We’ve seen Muslim women arrested in France, implicated in terrorist plots. This reveals an undeniable truth that Daesh not only makes victims of women but also turns some into perpetrators of violence. It does this through a false promise of empowerment. But the reality is more sordid and grim.
Women radicalised in the west have been lured to Syria or Iraq with the fantasy of a home, husband and a holy cause to support. What has actually awaited them is a barbaric and unstable territory ruled by terror, the prospect of early widowhood and instead of pledging allegiance to a caliphate – they find themselves part of a vicious terrorist gang.
I cannot believe that those who witness the enslavement of others are not damaged. They see children groomed as executioners, neighbours killed in air strikes and mothers beaten for minor infractions of Daesh dress code. They are governed by a Daesh code that reduces them to domestic drudges living in total seclusion – though as Daesh territory has been squeezed, some have been forced to fight and have been killed.
Increasingly, Daesh is telling women to stay put in the West and carry out murderous attacks in public places. Directed by radicalisers online and offline, they are goaded into carrying explosives and then ending their lives. What on earth is empowering about being manipulated in this manner? This is a brutalising and disgusting way to treat women.
We have to expose this myth of empowerment. Muslim women must realise they are being used by cynical and utterly amoral thugs who twist and distort Islam to legitimise their acts of slaughter from Paris to Baghdad. At the pinnacle of Daesh is a self-appointed “caliph” who has personally carried out acts of rape and torture. His example has been followed by Daesh operatives who have bought and sold women, used them as pack animals to carry explosives and re-introduced stoning as a punishment.
Women have played such a key role in the history of Islam from the wife of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), Khadija, to those who have been heads of state in Muslim majority countries in modern times. Nothing in the Quran says that women have to be treated in the vile way that Daesh prefers.
We must not allow women to be disparaged or feel less empowered through the narrative of fanatics and should therefore reject this terrorist and extremist misogyny.
Watch the film 'Women's Rights' by clicking here.