ISLAMABAD, Nov 10,  (IPS) -
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's attempt to Islamise Pakistan has been checkmated
by the imposition of Governor's rule in the troubled Pakistani province of
controversial 15th Constitutional Amendment Bill, popularly called the Shariat
Bill, has lost even the slimmest chance of ratification in the Senate, but
rights activists who are alarmed by the loss of freedom say the reprieve is at
Just last Wednesday, Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif made the bill the main plank of a public speech in the
We live in an era where
relativism and humanism affect almost every facet of our lives. Not least among
these facets is the discourse of Islam vis a vis women’s human rights. The
importance of such factors as relativism, humanism and gender sensitivity has
not come about in a vacuum.
Freedom of religion and belief is clearly stated in
all the three well recognised international human rights instruments: the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (1966) and the International Covenant of
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).
has a secular system of government and operates nominally as a democracy. It is
currently seeking membership in the European Community (EC) and has already
become part of EC customs unity agreements. Many new laws have recently been
introduced in Turkey, including a new national health service and laws that will
increase penalties for rape and domestic violence.
promising changes, many marginalized groups including ethnic, religious, and
sexual minorities, continue to be denied their rights.
There are few beliefs more entrenched in the
modern liberal imagination than that of the virtues of pluralism and a
multicultural society. The degree to which Sarajevo has assumed symbolic
significance expresses the measure of attachment to the principles of a
multicultural, multiethnic community. Just as in the thirties the struggle for
Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War became symbolic of the defence of
democracy against fascism, so the siege of Sarajevo has assumed a mythic status
as a struggle between pluralism and barbarism.
Dominating the courtyard of
the homestead of Abdul Hossain is a large and ostentatious shrine. Decorated
with Arabic designs and words, and surrounded by flags, the shrine (mazaar) is
similar to hundreds of similarly venerated graves scattered over the landscape
of rural Sylhet, in north-east Bangladesh. It proclaims for all to see that the
late Abdul Hossain is a pir.
An attempt is made in this
paper to trace the development of ethnic consciousness and religious
fundamentalism among Sri Lankan Muslims and the bearings of this development on
Sri Lankan Muslim women.*
At the outset, I should clarify the
use of the terms ethnic consciousness and fundamentalism. Both these terms are
very popular and controversial in the current socio-political discourse. There
are a number of definitions and disagreements about them.
The implementation of the Shari’a
and the institutionalization of gender inequality in the aftermath of the
revolution led to the disillusionment of the gender-sensitive Islamist women and
triggered their discontent. Through their involvement in politics they attempted
to present a different reading of Islam and Islamic laws which would be more
attentive to the condition of women.
In recent years, some post-modern
feminists have warned us about the perils of generalizations in feminist theory
that transcend the boundaries of culture and region, while feminist critics of
postmodernism have argued conversely that abandoning cross-cultural and
comparative theoretical perspectives may lead to relativism and eventual
political paralysis.As I will argue in
this article, t
Few developments in the post-Cold
War era have captured public attention, stirred primal fears, stoked the fires
of racism, and stymied critical thinking quite so thoroughly as the rise of
fundamentalism. Although it is a force to be reckoned with in virtually every
area of public endeavour, the rise of fundamentalism presents a very specific,
and somewhat unique, challenge to the emerging field of reproductive health and