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Eye Of The Falcon: Shaheen Bagh And Beyond

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Eye Of The Falcon: Shaheen Bagh And Beyond

Shaheen Bagh gave voice to India’s Muslim women. New, diverse collectives are now amplifying this voice of resistance and dissidence

Eye of the Falcon
Eye of the Falcon Eye of the Falcon

The spirit of the soaring falcon—shaheen—was not dismantled with the eviction of anti-CAA protestors from Shaheen Bagh in March 2020. The solidarities formed mostly by Muslim women at the peak of the protests have continued and converted into new collectives, protests sites, emotional support groups and individual acts of courage in the face of attacks on freedom and faith of the Muslim community in India. This is the new face of the politics of Muslim women in the country. Afreen Fatima, a student leader from Allahabad who pursued MA in Linguistics at JNU, was active during the Shaheen Bagh protests. Last October, Fatima formed a study circle ‘Muslimah Allahabad’ with her younger sister Sumaiya Fatima, an undergrad from Allahabad University. The study circle has 70 girls as members at present. They have held sessions on various topics, including ‘Braving hijab ban and state repression’ and another forthcoming on ‘Curating conversations: Moving forward’ on faith, politics and identity.

Fatima has also tried to allay fears and anxieties of Muslim girls who wear hijab. She even organised a protest against the clamour for a hijab ban that saw the participation of 300 girls. Such protests have been recorded in various parts of the country. A solidarity march was held at Calicut beach in Kerala, led by Jamia Millia Islamia’s student leader Ladeeda Farzana. Accompanied by men, the women were carrying banners that said, “Allahu Akbar”, “Hands Off My Hijab” and “Let me decide what to wear”. Several scholars, activists and artists from Kerala issued a statement against the “institutionalised Islamophobia” in educational institutions of Karnataka and called for “a proper legislation to protect the religious attire of Muslim women”.

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