Gendered Islamophobia


Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, Non-fiction, 2023

This passionate book describes the author’s struggles as a hijab-wearing Muslim woman, who was born and raised in Tunisia, where she attended university before coming to Quebec, Canada as an immigrant. Mazigh describes her struggles against Islamophobia as it applies to women, especially those wearing hijab, who consistently get stereotyped as silent and compliant women dominated by their men. In great detail she describes this phenomenon, encountered in the streets and public spaces, in universities, and in the media, and she describes similar experiences of other women of different ethnic backgrounds across Canada, and its effects on the victims.


“By combining the personal with the empirical, Mazigh walks non-Muslim readers toward empathy through an explanation of the nuances of her experiences and she teaches other Muslim women to believe themselves and recognize their trauma – all the while exposing the bias and power imbalance within Canadian society. [. . .] Gendered Islamophobia reveals that there is much work to be done to ensure Muslim women’s safety in our society. A towering revelation indeed for so short a book.”
—Quill & Quire

“Islamophobia in Canada has reached deadly proportions. Statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims continue to grow. But there is an empathy gap that cannot be filled by these numbers. It is only by bearing witness to the stories of those experiencing anti-Muslim racism that Islamophobia becomes real and intelligible to others. Mazigh’s memoir takes aim at the apathy regarding Islamophobia by offering a compelling account of her experience of gendered Islamophobia and the fraught environment this creates for Muslim women. Mazigh deftly and accessibly weaves a sharp political analysis into her storytelling. Her journey as a hijabi challenges the clichéd Orientalist stereotypes of passive and voiceless veiled Muslim women and offers an honest, intimate, and nuanced tale of negotiating gender, faith, and identity in Canada.”
—Jasmin Zine, Professor of Sociology and Muslim Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

“Wearing a hijab might seem like a choice, but is it really? What if a hijab were intrinsic to one’s identity, as much as gender or skin colour? In this remarkable book, Monia Mazigh exposes assumptions and prejudices about Muslim women that exist across Canadian society—and challenges us to change.”
—Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law, University of British Columbia.

“In this deeply personal and insightful book, Monia Mazigh tackles one of the most pressing issues of our times—Islamophobia—with great sensitivity and skill. This is a devastatingly  forthright portrayal of the pervasiveness of misogyny directed at Muslim women, and the legal and institutional structures that support gendered Islamophobia. Mazigh’s openness and vulnerability coupled with her rich historical analysis make this book a must-read, shedding light on biases that too often go unchallenged.”
—Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of Blackwater Falls

“Dr Monia Mazigh’s journey as a Canadian Muslim woman, from her native Tunisia to her immigration to Quebec, eloquently invites us to examine the colonial and Islamophobic foundations of headscarf prejudice. Through a powerful narrative, where she connects her personal journey with a rich historical and sociological analysis on several subjects including laïcité and feminism, she shows the complexity and nuances of gendered Islamophobia. Even more, this much-needed book articulates a political thought on justice through a critique of colonialism and racism and reveals the urgency for change.”
—Leila Benhadjoudja, Associate Professor, Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies, University of Ottawa


Publication Date: June 2023

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-77415-103-7
Page size: 5.5″ x 8.5″
160 pages

eBook ISBN: 978-1-77415-104-4

photo of Monia Mazigh

Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. She speaks Arabic, French, and English fluently and holds a doctorate in finance. Monia was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband, Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge for over a year. She campaigned vigorously for her husband’s release and later fought to re-establish his reputation and sought reparations. Her book, Hope and Despair, details the account of the family’s ordeal. She is also the author of two novels, Mirrors and Mirages, and Hope Has Two Daughters. Another novel, Farida, is forthcoming. She lives in Ottawa.

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