What are the political effects of the Tariq Ramadan affair? Houria Bouteldja, spokesperson for the Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR), responds to this question and the state of feminist affairs. Below is an excerpt of her piece.
“In France, since the 2000s, we have witnessed the emergence of new feminist dynamics that intend to challenge hegemonic feminism, which as you can imagine is white. ‘White’ in the sense that it mainly defends the interests of white women.
Following the veil affair, an Islamic feminism emerged that pushed against the idea of a supposed incompatibility between Islam and feminism. Later, with the emergence of the de-colonial movement and political antiracism, there was intersectional feminism. A whole galaxy of non-white feminists claim Islamic feminism and Afro-feminism. I would like to point out that these movements, which are rather dynamic, represent only a minority of women from post-colonial immigration because, in fact, the more women are crushed by their condition, the less they campaign. This also applies to the de-colonial militancy of which I myself claim. We are only an active minority.
Here, I would like to analyze the reactions of these different feminist sectors to the imprisonment of Tariq Ramadan… It should be noted that non-white feminisms lie between two poles: white feminism, itself a stakeholder in what Sadri Khiari has theorized as the ‘white political field’ and the de-colonial pole that represents indigenous power and which assumes a political, theoretical and organizational break with the first. The hypothesis I will try to defend here is that most non-white feminisms are struggling to fulfill their promise of truly expressing gender oppression and race oppression, namely, defining a truly emancipatory strategic policy for indigenous women who have been damaged by power.
But how did hegemonic feminism react when Tariq Ramadan was incarcerated, knowing that other men were not worried?
I have the feeling that they understood, no doubt thanks to the progress of the de-colonial movement and non-white feminism, that they can no longer play with fire. Nevertheless, most of them did not denounce the excessive incarceration of Tariq Ramadan or at least campaign for others treated like him, which ultimately amounts to a tacit complicity with State racism. The only exception I know is the piece titled “Tariq Ramadan, for Impartial and Equal Justice”. Among the feminist signatories we can find Joan Scott and Christine Delphy.
Second, non-white feminists (Islamic and/or intersectional). The reactions were of two types: silence or the affirmation of unwavering support for the complainants. It should be noted that all these feminists claim to be intersectional, that is to say that they refuse the racist instrumentalization of sexism and, conversely, the sexist exploitation of racism. In other words, they seek a path that frees them from both State racism and the sexism of their community.
Facing the white pole and the non-white feminist pole, there is the de-colonial pole of which I myself claim. Our position has been that since the justice system is racist and sexist, we must first moderate the affair and understand it in a dialectical way. We know that complaints of rape are 80% true, that the overwhelming majority of women do not lie when they report one. The statistic is indisputable. But we also know that the impunity with regard to rape essentially benefits the men of power and that, on the contrary, the justice system shows no clemency towards men of underprivileged classes, especially when they are Blacks or Arabs . We also know that racism and jail produce ultra-toxic masculinities and that these masculinities, which can also be called “non-hegemonic masculinities”, are harmful to both men and women around them because they generate all sorts of things, pathologies but also the violence that most often turns against women and children in the family.
In reality, confronted with this case, as de-colonials, we say the following: In a racist and sexist society, and taking into account 1 / the personality and the disturbing importance of Tariq Ramadan in the fight against Islamophobia and in favor of Palestine, 2 / the nature of its enemies: the French political establishment, 3 / the massive reality of sexual assault, it is non-negotiable to respect on the one hand the basic rules of speech of the complainants, alleged victims, and on the other hand, the word of the accused, presumed innocent. Thus, the Tariq Ramadan affair must not be the subject of any political or media manipulation. We added that it was wrong to say that the French justice system remained patriarchal when the accused was Black or Arab. It is indeed this way when the white patriarchal order is questioned, but with Tariq Ramadan, the power is instead strengthened. As Fanonian philosopher Norman Ajari rightly analyzed, the Mee Too campaign created the division between Whites while the campaign against Tariq Ramadan tendentially reintroduced unity among them.”