March 27 is the first-ever Muslim Women's Day, and it's already attracted tons of support and love from both Muslim people and non-Muslim people alike who believe in passing the mic to Muslim women. Linda Sarsour, the former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York who also helped organize the Women's March, supported the notion on Twitter. And her tweet about Muslim Women's Day explains why people need to stand together more than ever. She wrote:
The vitriol, venom, hate on the #MuslimWomensDay hashtag tells you why we need to celebrate Muslim women. Keep shining ladies.
Sarsour's tweet opens up an important conversation addressing the criticism that simply having a day dedicated to Muslim women has generated. In spite of the outpouring of love for March 27 being Muslim Women's Day, there has been noticeable backlash from far-right voices as well as run-of-the-mill trolls who derive pleasure from harassing just about anyone online.
If you do a primary search on Twitter by going through the #MuslimWomensDay hashtag, you will notice that Twitter users who oppose the day use a combination of fake photos, ultra-nationalist rage against Islam, and a load of exclamation marks to get their point across.
For example, some people who are reacting negatively to Muslim Women's Day seem to believe that it is a day only for "Western Muslim women," even though there is no proof that any organizer behind the initiative has said something like that. Much of the opposition to the day itself seems to stem from the belief that "Western" countries are much more progressive than the ambiguous and ill-defined "East" in terms of women's rights.
But you don't need an extensive understanding of history to know that women's rights remain controversial in the "Western" nations, such as the United States, as well. In a most recent example, Trump's condition laid out for Planned Parenthood proves that a woman's access to reproductive healthcare - a fundamental right - is still up for debate in the United States.
Here's the thing: women's advancement should not be a contest. Oppositional tweets, including the vitriolic racism targeting Muslim women, fail to realize something so basic. It is more than possible to uphold Muslim women and non-Muslim women in the same breath. Those who oppose Muslim Women's Day fail to understand simple things like solidarity, as well as that the need to celebrate Muslim women should not be viewed as diametrically opposed to other identities.
Opponents forget that March 27 is a golden opportunity to build bridges with Muslim women over the many issues of empowerment, autonomy, expression, and much more. At the end of the day, antagonistic responses to Sarsour's tweet — and the day in general — legitimize the initiative for March 27 and prove why we need Muslim Women's Day in the first place.
Most importantly, it shows that when one is so engulfed in bigotry and a lack of knowledge about a religion with 1.7 billion followers in dozens and dozens of countries across the world, they miss out on the beautiful and critical openings for friendship, alliances, and compassion.