Feminist Review

, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 110–129 | Cite as

women responding to the anti-Islam film Fitna: voices and acts of citizenship on YouTube

  • Farida Vis
  • Liesbet van Zoonen
  • Sabina Mihelj


In 2008, Dutch anti-Islam Member of Parliament Geert Wilders produced a short video called Fitna to visualize his argument that Islam is a dangerous religion. Thousands of men and women across the globe uploaded their own videos to YouTube to criticize or support the film. In this article, we look at these alternative videos from a feminist perspective, contrasting the gender portrayal and narratives in Fitna with those in the alternative videos. We contend that Fitna expressed an extremist Orientalist discourse, in which women are presented as the current and future victims of the oppression of Muslim men and Islam. In contrast, the YouTube videos give voice to women themselves who come from across the globe, are relatively young and often active Muslims. Second, they express different view points in generically new ways, criticizing and ridiculing Wilders or producing serious and committed explanations of their own understanding of Islam. Third, although relatively few women appeared in the videos, those that did speak for themselves, not only take on Wilders, but also claim their right to speak within Islam. We propose to understand these videos as acts of citizenships through which women constitute themselves as global citizens, in some cases by engaging in ‘deliberation’ as it is understood in feminist political theory, in other cases by taking a ‘voice’ that can be responded to.


gender, Islam YouTube Fitna Citizenship religion 


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Copyright information

© Feminist Review 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farida Vis
  • Liesbet van Zoonen
  • Sabina Mihelj

There are no affiliations available

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