Religion and Sight - Louise Child

Religion and Sight - Louise Child

2. Visibly Invisible: Muslim Women in Twenty-first Century Political Cartoons

Religion and Sight - Louise Child

Tahnia Ahmed [+-]
King’s College London, PhD candidate
Tahnia Ahmed recently submitted her doctoral dissertation on “Religious and Cultural Difference in Modern British Political Cartoons” at King’s College London. She received her BA and MA from the University of Cambridge, and her MSt from the University of Oxford. Her previous publications include a chapter on the representation of British Sikhs in Visualising a Sacred City: London, Art and Religion, eds. Ben Quash, Chloe Reddaway, and Aaron Rosen (I.B. Tauris, 2016). In addition to her academic work, Ahmed is a civil servant in the UK central government.


This chapter focuses on the depiction of Muslim women wearing the burqa (one-piece veil covering the entire face and body) and the niqab (veil covering the face, leaving the eyes clear) in Britain and abroad. Starting from the fall of the Taliban in 2001, I argue that this event has contributed to the idea of the burqa as a garment that is imposed on all Muslim women, making them “visibly invisible”. Examining the function of the burqa/niqab, I argue that such tropes convey messages of political and cultural deception, suspicion and oppression against women. The burqa/niqab is perceived as a self-conscious marker of subversion against Western ideals such as democracy, free speech and the freedom of movement for women. I look at how this is translated in visual culture and the implications of these tropes in the wider context relating to perceptions of gender, national identity and violence.

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Ahmed, Tahnia. 2. Visibly Invisible: Muslim Women in Twenty-first Century Political Cartoons. Religion and Sight. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 26-45 Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781797495. Date accessed: 30 Sep 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35745. Jul 2020

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