Muslim immigration to Europe grew significantly after World War II. Guest worker programs brought over many Muslim workers who were willing to work for low wages. Over time, these temporary workers became permanent residents; they were afraid if they went back to their homelands they would not be allowed back into Europe. Men brought over their families and the next generation of Muslims was born in Europe. Europeans and Muslim immigrants often had very different perspectives on cultural issues, especially the treatment of women. Some Muslim immigrants oppressed women and even carried out honor killings. Honor killings involved the murder of a female family member for committing an act that brought shame to the family. For example, dating someone the father did not approve of could bring shame. Muslim women however began to fight against these traditions and for their rights. Europeans felt very differently about women’s rights. They tried to ban the Muslim headscarf because they felt it showed the oppression of women. Europeans were also scared of Muslims extremists whom they feared might violently oppose European affirmations of human rights. The differences in these political and social issues led to many controversies between the two cultures.
While women didn’t have many rights in Muslim countries, they fought to earn them and live normal lives, as do the women in Fay Weldon’s novels. Fay Weldon is a feminist author who portrays troubled characters who encounter heartbreaking situations. Her characters experience betrayal, divorce, and a loss of social status, leaving them to grieve. However, Fay Weldon’s characters never give up. Experiencing the good and bad, they stand tall, and when all seems lost they find a solution. They don’t quit, even when facing obstacles, knowing that as a woman they have the strength and power to do anything.
Major Works Consulted:
Ahmed, Akbar. Living Islam. London: BBC Books Limited, 1993.
Photo Credit: Weldon, Fay. Mantrapped. London: HarperCollins, 2004.
Goody, Jack. Islam in Europe. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004.
Weldon, Fay. The Bulgari Connection. London: HarperCollins, 2001.
---. Praxis. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980.