Increasing Attention to Muslim Women’s Role in Terrorism
Wed, March 16, 2016
Illustrative image (Photo © Adam Jones / flickr)
A few days ago two Muslim women were escorted off of a JetBlue passenger jet in Los Angeles after a flight attendant reported them for staring and filming a safety briefing.
Despite the concern of the crewmember, the flight from Boston landed without incident. But still, upon arrival, the women were escorted off the plane by two police officers to face questioning.
Of course, given their appearance, and the apparent innocence of their actions, many have been blaming Islamophobia, and the resulting discrimination against Muslims.
In its defense, JetBlue issued a statement regarding the incident, saying, “Our crewmembers' first priority is the safe and secure operation of our flights, and as a security precaution, are asked to be aware of anyone who may be filming or taking photographs of inflight procedures or the flight deck area.”
But, this event has given reason to bring our attention to the question of whether or not Muslim women now a legitimate security concern.
It is a fact that ISIS does recruit women around the world into its ranks; therefore, appropriate caution does not appear to be unfounded.
According to a document obtained by CNN, the women in ISIS play various roles: some turn to social media, helping to give the group positive publicity, and some act as recruiters bringing in new members for the group.
And yes, some women, like the woman and her husband who carried out the atrocity in San Bernadino, California, and the woman suicide-bomber in Paris, act as full-blown terrorists.
But, there are also many women, especially European women, who are victims themselves - persuaded to leave their homes and travel to the Middle East, where they are married off almost immediately, and are henceforth not permitted to leave.
Tawfik Hamid, a former extremist, states, in a paper issued by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, “Many Muslim women are peaceful people, but I have observed that, over the last few decades, terrorism was preceded by an increase in the prevalence of the hijab.” Accusing these Muslim women of what is known as “passive terrorism.”
Hamid’s statement, while merely his own observation, shows there is increasing attention on Muslim women’s role in terrorism, considering it was published in a U.S. Air Force document.
In the Western world, a culture that prides itself on its liberal values of acceptance, tolerance, and freedom, it is difficult to see how the complexity of Muslim women’s role in terrorism will, and should, play out.