Fatma Ünsal: Women should take a stand against the instrumentalization of religion

  • women
  • 10:07 17 August 2021
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İSTANBUL -  Women's Rights activist Fatma Bostan Ünsal, who stated that the instrumentalization of religion causes antifeminam displays, said that conservative women should stand against Islamophobia as well as antifeminam policies developed by instrumentalizing religion.
Women in the Middle East discuss the problems they face and how to step up the struggle and resist against these problems. Women are organizing the common struggle against violence, femicide, immigration, sexism and religious and nationalist oppressions. In this context, the 2nd Middle East and North Africa Women's Conference was held in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, and formed a basis for discussing these issues and determining the common line of struggle.
The conference, which women from various countries of the Middle East and North Africa attended with all their differences, was also a representation of diversity. Aiming for the "Democratic Women's Revolution", the women offered unique solutions to the problems experienced in their countries as well as the common struggle of the women. We talked about the conference with Human and Women's Rights activist Fatma Bostan Ünsal, who attended the conference with the Turkish delegation.
Ünsal said that the most common problems of Middle Eastern and North African women are the instability in their countries, injustice, child marriage, war and the problems experienced by refugees. Emphasizing that the religiousness emphasized in the conference resolutions is a common problem that causes antifeminam policies and practices in the Middle East, Ünsal said, “In general, there are many provisions in the Qur'an that support women, but in today's understanding, the provisions and practices that support women are either forgotten or distorted."
Stating that religion is abused by the governments in Middle Eastern countries, Ünsal said that this situation was also on the agenda at the conference. Ünsal said, “Just as Islamic practices have corrupted in other areas, they are also corrupted in the field of women. Of course, women are the first to feel this corruption in religion. Religion is instrumentalized by the governments in order to maintain their power. The instrumentalization of religion also comes with mistreatment of women."
Giving an example of the Êzidîs' experiences, Ünsal said: “Today, using modern technologies, slave markets were built to sell Êzidî women and children into slavery. And it continues today. A situation that has been forgotten by human history for 200 years and should not happen is happening again. Islam is a religion that attaches great importance to human dignity. How does a professed Muslim revive the slave market? The people of Turkey, the people of the Middle East and North Africa should stand against this. Of course, the Westerners will accept the Yazidi genocide as a war crime and genocide, but before that, the people of the region should think about this situation, condemn it and erase it from the face of the earth. But unfortunately, there is a heavy silence on this issue.”
Stating that there should be a struggle against religionism, Ünsal said the following about how this struggle should be carried out: “For example, Islamophobia is a very protected area. There is hostility towards Islam in the West, but this should not be the only thing expressed here. In other words, there is Islamophobia, but in the face of it, those who complain about Islamophobia should also express how women are exposed to injustice and persecution by instrumentalizing of Islam. Anyone who talks about Islamophobia should also condemn the ISIS fatwa and the sale of women and children in the slave market. In this way, oppression of women by instrumentalizing religion will be prevented.”
Stating that the Northern and Eastern Syrian women participating in the conference are setting an example, Ünsal continued, “It was very important that women who lead in military, diplomatic and legal backgrounds were present at the conference. Rojava women set an example for the region."
Stating that the women's alliance will democratize the region, Ünsal said, “I think it will democratize the whole region in terms of contribution to the society and  democratization for the women. Democracy is not established in the Middle East. We want an administration that acts in line with human's rights. It will be defined as tyranny by us as long as it does not happen. Where there is tyranny, we have the right to revolt."
MA / Diren Yurtsever