Qahera is a superhero unlike any you’ve ever seen before. The creation of mysterious Egyptian designer Deena, Qahera is veiled from head to toe, fun like your best friend, and a defender against Islamophobia.
“An evening of reading the most awful misogynistic articles on dumb Islamic websites has lead me to this,” wrote Deena, a quirky and intelligent Egyptian blogger whose superhero Qahera is causing a stir. “I’ve always kind of wanted to do a web comic starring a badass Muslim superhero who defends women against the kind of stupid idiocy we have to put up with every day,” she explained. “Do you REALIZE the potential behind a hijabi/niqabi superhero like her?” Even if you don’t realize it right now, Deena is hell-bent on making sure that you do. The female, Muslim superhero – fully covered and sporting an abaya cape – spends her days combating Islamophobia and the misogyny Muslim women face every day.
The comic, which is written primarily in English, is also translated into colloquial Egyptian Arabic to reach a broader Arab audience. The viral web comic deals with sexual harassment in Egypt’s streets, but what sets her apart is her determination to fight off FEMEN and Islam-bashing activists as well. The veiled heroine hates those condescending Western feminists who think Muslim women need their help to be rescued. This sets her apart from the Burka Avenger; Qahera (“not to be confused with Al Qahera, the city”, writes Deena) isn’t just a nice heroine saving the widow and the orphan – she uses her superpowers to get rid off the people who get on her nerves. On top of that, she’s fun, contemporary and proud of being a Muslim. Crafting a character with these strong qualities probably wasn’t too difficult for Deena who drew from the wealth of strength she saw in the women around her.
In one of her rare interviews, she explained “the majority of the themes in this comic are based on real experiences with street harassment … Qahera came around because she was everything I’d have liked to be, and [was] partially modeled on many of the women I see around me.” Qahera and her adventures, therefore, are an interesting mix of the misogynistic and Islamophobic issues in the Muslim world and the steps every day (and yet superhuman) women take to combat these two. “[Islamophobia] makes it very difficult to critique misogyny without someone somewhere abusing that as an excuse to co-opt our issues or attempt to ‘rescue’ us,” said Deena. “I’m just hoping [Qahera] can make a positive difference on the perceptions of Muslim women, as well as a positive difference to all the Muslim women who are so ignored or dehumanized in media representation.”
Follow Qahera’s adventures here
*Ayla Mrabet is Free Arabs’ Art editor