As discussed, sexual violence in the sacred places of the Muslim community, especially during the Hajj, is not an anomaly. The spark that ignited the #MosqueMeToo movement began in February 2018 by Eltahawy when she tweeted her experience during the Hajj after being inspired by a harrowing Facebook post by a Pakistani woman, Sabica Khan, who shared her own incident. Eltahawy wanted to distinguish the #MosqueMeToo movement from #MeToo to ensure it “breaks the race, class, gender and faith lines that make it so hard for marginalized people to be heard.”
With increased globalization, transportation technology, and the Internet, the world’s interconnectedness is unparalleled—social media platforms are giving women a voice that we may not have arguably heard before. Eltahawy noted that her Twitter thread was liked or retweeted “thousands of times” and shared in a variety of languages, such as Arabic, Spanish, and German. The synergy that has been created from the #MeToo and #ChurchToo (which exposes sexual abuse and harassment in Christian religious sites) movements are highlighting that the experiences felt by women in the Muslim community are not anomalous, but are shared across the religious and culture spectra.
Eltahawy has expressed numerous goals. Above all, she hopes for positive outcomes for the basic treatment of women. Her objectives include: men having conversations with each other and their families about sexualized violence, holy sites giving sermons and launching campaigns reminding Muslims that "Islam demands the respect of women,” insisting authorities and police need to be trained on how to discern and handle assaults, and calling for more female personnel at the holy sites. She fearlessly requested that the Grand Mosque Imam to address the safety of female Muslims during the Hajj. Inspiring her supporters to continue the movement, Eltahawy has exhorted them: “don’t let it die on social media unless it dies in the society.”
The significance of the #MosqueMeToo movement is multifaceted. Supporters seek to use the movement to empower those most vulnerable: Muslim women, who have been taken advantage of primarily by men and religious figures. By establishing a network seeking to challenge the societal norms Muslim women are joining the movement to challenge the accountability of the crimes because they refuse to simply be victimized, especially in sacred places.
The Quran and Other Concerns with #MosqueMeToo
However, the movement has faced its hurdles. Eltahawy’s insinuation that the Quran is irrelevant in addressing how women should pray is a highly inflammatory statement to many Muslims. There seems to be a division in the movement between the emphasis on a literal adherence to the Quran, versus a less rigid interpretational frame. Amina Wadud, an international Quranic scholar and mentor to Eltahawy, emphasizes the importance of reinterpreting the Quran so that the Muslim community can cultivate more liberating, inclusive, equitable laws.