Chapter

Reading Gender in September 11 Detentions: Zihada: The Journey from a Young Pakistani Wife to an Anthrax Suspect

Irum Shiekh

in Interrupted Life

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780520252493
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944565 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520252493.003.0055
Reading Gender in September 11 Detentions: Zihada: The Journey from a Young Pakistani Wife to an Anthrax Suspect

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Since September 11, the United States's war on terror has primarily targeted Muslim males. For the most part, women have been spared from detention. In the spring of 2005, however, two teenage girls from New York, Tashnuba Hayder and Adama Bah, were arrested on suspicion of a suicide bombing. Their cases convinced many activists that the government was widening the fish net for Muslims. Yet the number of detained Muslim women has remained considerably low. This chapter tells the story of “Zihada,” an eighteen-year-old Muslim woman from Pakistan who was arrested with her husband, Ali, in October 2001 for an expired visa and a fictitious identity card. Even though she and her husband were arrested for immigration violations, their religious identity put them under suspicion of terrorism. The author of this chapter met Zihada in Pakistan in March 2003 and stayed in her house overnight. In talking with her, he learned about the emotional effects of incarceration on women. Through narratives such as hers, he is reading, tracing, and locating gender in a male-dominated discourse.

Keywords: United States; war on terror; Muslims; Muslim women; gender; terrorism; detention; immigration; Pakistan

Chapter.  3223 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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