go to content

Muslim Women Use The #TraditionallySubmissive Hashtag To Challenge David Cameron

"Traditionally submissive in three languages, including English," one woman joked after the prime minister said British Muslim women weren't empowered.

Posted on

British Muslim women have challenged the prime minister's claim they are too "traditionally submissive" to play an active role in their communities.

Last week, while encouraging Muslim women to learn English as a way to combat extremism, David Cameron said one of the driving factors of radicalisation was the "traditional submissiveness of Muslim women", The Telegraph reported.

He said the trait "prevents them from speaking out against the influence of the radical imams".

On Sunday, Muslim women used the #TraditionallySubmissive hashtag on Twitter to mock Cameron's statements.

...and a belated one from my sister #TraditionallySubmissive

Sukaina Hirji, who started the campaign, told BuzzFeed News she felt insulted by the way the prime minister had portrayed Muslim women.

Example from @SukainaHirji for twitter storm TONIGHT, 6 -9pm. Real Muslim women. #TraditionallySubmissive

"He targeted Muslim women claiming that they are traditionally submissive and [that] up to 20% may not speak English," Hirji said. "He astonishingly linked this, without any factual evidence, to radicalisation, female genital mutilation, and forced marriages.

"Loosely associating these issues that are so complex was irresponsible for Cameron to do and I wanted to start a campaign to show him this."

Many women highlighted that they could fluently speak languages other than English, too.

@David_Cameron I speak 4 languages,how many do you speak? #TraditionallySubmissive

#TraditionallySubmissive Fluent in 3 languages including English. Now on my way to another 2 languages

My mum's response to @David_Cameron... #TraditionallySubmissive

Some women hit back at claims they were "submissive" by highlighting their extensive qualifications and professions.

I am not #traditionallysubmissive @David_Cameron

Are you sick of being off message @David_Cameron ? Man up & apologise to Muslim women. #TraditionallySubmissive

Columbia grad, BBC journo, Pilates instructor, sport enthusiast and mummy. Yes, Cameron #TraditionallySubmissive

It wasn't just Muslim women either. A male SNP MP Humza Yousaf joined the campaign to celebrate Muslim women by highlighting the role models in his family.

In pic is my mum, sister, cousins & wife - all of them educated, speak English & awesome! #TraditionallySubmissive

Shelina Janmohamed, an author who helped launch the campaign, told BuzzFeed News the prime minister should be concerned about other issues that stop British Muslim women from participating in public life.

"Muslim women face huge amounts of racism and Islamophobia – and they face big challenges in the jobs market," she said.

"By making a statement like that, he is ignoring the huge diversity of Muslim women in Britain that already contribute to public life, and the level of talent among Muslim women living in the UK. A lot of people who participated in the campaign were incensed by his comments."

Hussein Kesvani is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Hussein Kesvani at Hussein.Kesvani@BuzzFeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.