The Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO) has taken the opportunity of International Women’s Day 2010 to issue a statement advocating the “the freedom of Muslim women to choose the way they dress.” According to the FEMYSO statement:
On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2010, the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) celebrates the enormous advances made by women across the world, of all faiths, races, nationalities and backgrounds. Women have made great advances in the field of education, employment, innovation, social rights, political participation and many others. However, many challenges remain. Muslim women in Europe continue to be seen by many as oppressed, downtrodden victims, with little capacity for independent thinking or action. The image of the subjugated Muslim woman is used to justify discrimination and perpetuate prejudice – on the street, in the workplace, political discourse and even in our legislatures. Laws supposedly aimed at liberating Muslim women only succeed in further demonising them and restricting their right to live and participate as equal European citizens. Meanwhile, the voices of Muslim women themselves are curiously absent from these debates – not for any lack of capable Muslim women, but often because of a lack of willingness to listen. Regressive laws proposed in some European countries restricting the freedom of Muslim women to choose the way they dress will only be yet another obstacle to their participation. We believe that it is time to stop talking “about” European Muslim women and talk “to” and “with” them. European Muslim women must be allowed to tell their own story, voice their own opinions and make their own choices. In these current times of widespread ignorance and misunderstanding about the position of women in Islam – both by those within Muslim communities and outside – we wish to highlight and revive an egalitarian spirit of Islam, which emphasises the equal value and dignity of women and men. Indeed, the Muslim world produced a large number of outstanding female scholars and custodians of knowledge as early as the 7th century, on whose work much of the edifice of Islam was built. Indeed, as the Prophet Muhammad said, “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim”, both women and men. FEMYSO is working to ensure there is more education and awareness-raising among Muslims themselves to enable European Muslim women to be active and full participants in public, social, economic and political life. We extend out hands to our wider European communities to work together to make this year’s theme “Equal Rights, Equal Participation” more of a reality for all women in Europe.
FEMYSO is the youth/student arm of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. Over the years, FEMYSO has developed a relationship with both the Council of Europe and the European Commission where it has been invited since 2003 to attend meetings of the Group of Policy Advisers (GOPA). One of the important leaders of FEMYSO over the years has been Ibrahim El-Zayat, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany and last reported to be under investigation by the German government in connection with the financing of Hamas.