Spotlight On: Deena Mohamed
Muslim girls can envision themselves as crime fighting heroins thanks to Ms, Marvel and Dust from the New X-Men, but our favorite hijabi crime fighter is Qahera. Qahera is an Egyptian Muslim woman superhero, who fights the crime of misogyny better than any superhero we know. We here at Pray, Say & Slay talked to the creator Deena Mohamed. Mohamed is a 21 year old Egyptian comic book creator, and the visionary behind the powerful “Qahera” superhero web-comic.
Ms. Mohamed has been drawing as long as she can remember, and never really saw herself as different she tells Pray, Say & Slay,
“When you're a little kid learning to draw, you don't really notice your gender. There's pencils, crayons and paper. Who cares? But when you get older you start to notice. I'm Egyptian and I live in Egypt, where everyone else is also Egyptian, but when I began making comics in English and posting them online, I was suddenly very aware that I was Egyptian/Arab/Muslim hyphen woman. And that was a pretty big aspect of why my comics stood out, some people were surprised I was even ‘allowed to draw.’”
Mohamed also states,
There's a lot of online harassment, there's a lot of paranoia. I publish comics in English and Arabic on somewhat sensitive topics... But it's mostly been a positive experience for me, so I ignore it. A lot of times I feel that because I create art so representative of a female Egyptian perspective as opposite to "the universal perspective" (usually a Western, male one) that it's not good enough, or that it only gets attention because it is ‘different’ and not ‘good.’”
Her original inspiration to move from drawing to a comic was one we didn’t expect however, we were intrigued to hear about.
“I read a bunch of really misogynistic articles online (written by Muslim men), and then created the first comic as a joke in response, and then it sort of developed from there. That was probably my first proper foray into comics. I'd always been reading them, but I kind of got into comics because of Qahera.”
When we asked who Qahera herself is inspired by Mohamed said,
“100% Egyptian women. Female activists, working women, community developers, homeowners. Qahera is modelled after them.”
“(Personal inspirations) Hiromi Arakawa, the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist. Malcolm X. Almost all of the women who work on bettering their community in Egypt, who are too many to name but who continue to be my favorite people in the world. My mother and my grandmother.”
The popularity of the comic has exceeded even Mohamed’s expectations, when we asked her if there is was a Qahera movie who would play her, Mohamed told us,
“I got this question three year ago and I found the person then forgot it! The closest I can think of currently is Iman Hammam (the model). But perhaps a little less good looking and a little more ‘broke my nose a bunch of times.’”
We wish Ms. Deena Mohamed and Qahera the best of luck! And will be in the front row if there were to be a Qahera movie.