A Local Individual

It was a different Monday morning.

I could not sleep the night before.

Why? I did not know.

My heart was in pain.


I was scrolling through Twitter.

Nine words caught my eyes.

“We all know Muslims are behind Las Vegas shooting!”


What happened last night?

When I was trying to sleep, what happened?

I felt strange and broken,

Finding about sad news when the fingers were pointing at me.


As I learned more about it, I felt worse.

The shooter was not Muslim.

“He was not a terrorist,” said police.

He was a “Local Individual”.


I shook in terror because I know

This could happen in my locale

And as a Muslim, I wouldn’t know who to turn to.

You see, I am never a “Local Individual”.

My headscarf, my skin, my accent, my passport,

None of them qualify me to be a “Local Individual”.

The terror I fear is never called “terrorism”.


“A mass shooting took 58 lives”

Sounds passive.

A man, a terrorist, took 58 lives.


He closed many eyes.

He broke many hearts.

He stopped many lips from kissing ever again,

Many bodies from waking up ever again,

Many human beings from ever feeling whole again.

And if that is not terror, what is?


A member of Free Women Writers, Zahra is a sophomore in high school who loves writing and poetry. Zahra cares deeply about girls’ education and empowerment.

The Rise of Islamophobia and the Feminist Debate

High school students in Afghanistan. Picture by Graham Crouch/World Bank
High school students in Afghanistan. Picture by Graham Crouch/World Bank

After September 11 and the outbreak of the Arab spring, and as an effect of today’s wars in places like Afghanistan and Syria, the Muslim population migrating to the Western world has increased. With the increase of Muslim refugees we also have witnessed how parties from the political far right are gaining ground in several Western countries. These parties build their politics on hate against Muslims, where they target different human values depending on culture and religion.

I believe these opinions construct racism and segregation in our societies, where the construction of “us” vs. “them” becomes more common.

This increased populism also shapes the debate concerning women’s rights and feminism. Today we can witness how the far right connects Islam (and especially Muslim men) with the global oppression against women. According to the far right, the oppression against Western women would be solved if Western countries did not have any Muslim immigrants.

Syrian Refugees in Jordan. Photo: World Bank
Syrian Refugees in Jordan. Photo: World Bank

This issue is discussed in the academic article, Muslim women’s new defenders: Women’s rights, nationalism and Islamophobia in contemporary Australia, from University of Technology in Sydney. In this article the author Christina Ho (professor in migration studies) writes that in Western countries today, Muslims have become “the enemy”. The global war on terror and the local anxieties around immigrants “refusal” to assimilate have given rise to Islamophobia. Christina Ho argues that the key part of this Islamophobia is Islam’s alleged oppression of women, where the oppression of Muslim women by Muslim men is used to portray Islam as an evil religion and the enemy of the West. At the same time Muslim men are portrayed as the predators of harassing and sexually assaulting non-Muslim women, which has triggered a nationalistic response throughout the Western world.

I believe that Christina Ho’s analysis of the current situation is correct. On a daily basis it is possible to find articles, party platforms and debate statements where far right politicians portray Islam as she explained. Just to come with some few examples:

  • The English defence league’s propaganda video portrays Muslim men and Islam as the core issue for Britain’s and Europe’s safety. In the video they illustrate how Muslim men rape women and children in the name of Islam.
  • In this article, Top Sweden Democrat: Rape is rooted in Islam, Swedish Television writes how Michael Hess, a high-ranking member of the Swedish far right party, the Swedish Democrats, argued that raping and assaulting women is deeply rooted in Muslim culture.

This debate article Only Muslims can change their society, by Asma Barlas (Professor in Political Science) in The Guardian begins with the statement that the oppression of women is a global phenomenon and a global concern.

…countenancing it in the name of religious or cultural differences just evades the responsibility of trying to do something about the problem.

I fully agree with this statement. Women’s rights is one of the most important issues the world face today.

All around the world, in different countries, cultures and religions, women are oppressed and neglected their rights, it is a problem we should not reduce and make small. The lack of women’s rights its a global problem.

The global oppression against women just has different shapes in different countries, cultures and religions. The far right in the Western world tries to neglect this problem and blame the Muslims as the “only” oppressors. I argue that they don’t see the reality.

To solve this issue we have to see the complexity and not just blame one religion and one culture for the global oppression against women.

I want to make clear that I’m totally aware and totally against the vulnerable situation many Muslim women face today. In many Muslim societies women are discriminated against and neglected their rights, but to blame the whole Muslim world as the only oppressors against women is wrong. I believe that the oppression against women does not exist in just one culture or religion. I believe that the oppression against women exists everywhere.

How do you notice the oppression of women in your society? 

Write in the comments below, or tweet us at @GirlsGlobe.