In college, I was VP and then president of a student organization called Woman as Hero, dedicated to raising awareness and supporting women’s empowerment causes. At a tabling event on campus, one lady looked at me (or my hijab rather) and asked how I can be a hero for women when I cover my hair up.
Since I’m not a confrontational person, sadly, I had the best comebacks once I went home later, hours after our conversation was over.
But now, I can point that lady to a new superhero that has been unveiled (bad pun), the Burka Avenger!
By day, Jiya’s a school teacher, by night, she’s the Burka Avenger fighting with books and pens against the evil Baba Bandook in the imaginary city of Halwapur, Pakistan. The Burka Avenger is a children TV series, album and series of games that promote positive, educational values for youth. The series is also supported by a number of popular South Asian musicians and celebrities who are featured in The Burka Avenger episodes.
This show is a great continuation of the important struggle for girls education and empowerment that Malala has also helped highlight (her speech to the UN assembly is simply amazing.) It’s nice to show a Muslim woman standing up for herself and fighting oppression without abandoning her own culture and religion.
There are already a number of Middle Eastern characters in comics, although they are not necessarily identified as Muslims specifically. Last year, DC Comics introduced a character named Simon Baz, an American of Arab ancestry raised in a Muslim family. There’s also Sooraya Qadir/Dust in the X-Men.
A few prominent examples of Muslim comics include:
There’s already a dearth of great women role models in comics, let alone Muslim or Pakistani women, so I’m super happy to see this representation happen and that the reception online has been pretty positive.
Now how cool would that be if real life, copycat Burka Avengers starting popping up around the world…