Editor’s comment: The article of Stasa Zajovic from the
Women in Black-Belgrade rings a bell to all of us who live in multi ethnic,
multi religious, multi cultural countries, threatened by growing nationalism- or
communalism-, where the hatred of the Other closely entwined with population
policies (as a mild form which can evolve into its drastic form of ethnic
cleansing) put women at the forefront of these policies.
The attacks by Muslim
fundamentalists against Mr. Namassiwayam Ramalingum and against
L'Indépendant, the newspaper he is editor of, were accurately described
and rightly denounced in Index 3/1995. But Mr. Ramalingum has not provided a
clear enough picture of what was going on in general in Mauritius. This is a
pity, because knowing about the context helps towards a more thorough
condemnation of all the attacks on free speech in Mauritius.
Mauritius has seen vast
changes over the past fifteen years.
We, the women participating in the
Arab Court of Women, held in Beirut, June 28-30, 1995, as testifiers and
audience to those testimonies; we, who had the opportunity to take part in this
great event, jointly assume the responsibility of what we heard of words of
truth which broke the ring of silence that had long stifled our voices and
sufferings of women.
As increasing numbers of
scholars have pointed out, the study of Muslim peoples and their societies -
including their faith, histories, behaviours etc. - has often been made
difficult by a number of essentialisms and conflations. Before turning to the
specific concern of this paper, I want to deal with some of these because of
their implications for the issue of sexuality.
We are a group of Afghan women and their supporters who live in Pakistan and
Afghanistan. In a country where over 90% of the women and girls are illiterate,
we are a group of women who were encouraged by their families to become
educated. Many of us have university degrees. Many of us previously worked in
Afghanistan as lawyers, engineers, professors and doctors. Now we are working
with NGOs (non governmental organizations), UN agencies and schools. Some of us
are widows. Many of us are the sole support of our families.
Senegal has eight million
inhabitants, 95% of whom are Muslim, with the remainder predominantly Christian.
There are very few animists who formally practice traditional religions. I say
formally because in fact traditional practices are present in the daily life of
all Senegalese, be they Muslim or Christian, because these practices are
profoundly rooted in their cultures.
Soon after the introduction
of Islam to Senegal, Muslims organized into Confreries*. This meant that the
first religious leaders taught Islam according to the tradition of their
Editors note:The work of Prof. Nasr
Abu-Zeid has been subject of concerted attack by fundamentalist groups in Egypt.
He is currently in exile following charges of apostasy brought against him and
the ruling of the Apex court in Egypt ordering his divorce from his wife Dr.
The following extracts from the book "Women in the
Discourse of Crisis" by Prof. Nasr Abu-Zeid have been translated from Arabic by
The discourse over women in
the Arab world is generally discriminatory.
The seizure of power by the Taliban has reduced the Afghan capital to a ghost city. Half of the men are out of work,
the women find themselves forbidden from the work place. To top it all, winter
is particularly trying.
The innumerable bans imposed by
Taliban renders everyday life a veritable punishment.
The latest orders for
regulating the life of Afghans came into force yesterday. Their severity reveals
the determination of the Taliban, out to capture the parts of the country that
have so far evaded them.
In Kabul, life has become a
never-ending punishment. Since the enforcement of law on "the commandment of the
good and interdiction of the evil", whose latest measures are applicable as of
yesterday, everything is forbidden. For the Taliban government, gaiety is