In the early I990s the Arab world
has witnessed an extraordinary publishing phenomenon. An 800 page book on Islam,
Al-kitab wa’lqur’an: qira’a mu’asira (The Book and the Qur’an: a contemporary
reading), was first published by the Ahali Publishing House Damascus in 1990.
The book challenges a millennium of Islamic tradition. It is highly critical of
the social, political and intellectual state of contemporary Arab countries. The
author has been denounced as ‘an enemy of Islam’ and as ‘a Western and Zionist
agent’. To date eleven other books have been written attacking his theses.
There are few women interpreters in
the history of Islam because women are seen to be the subject of the Islamic
shari’a and not its legislators. Yet even the few interpreters who have appeared
during the long history of Islam have been kept at the periphery, their views
never allowed to influence Islamic legislation. Moreover, even men interpreters
who were open-minded about women were marginalized and, in some cases, found
their authority questioned.
This research is an
examination of the relationship of the Sudanese state to issues of gender,
religion and class. It is one
component of my interest in the mechanisms the state employs for achieving both
political and cultural hegemony.
Editor’s note: This famous short story by the late
Ismat Chugtai (1915-1991) was written in 1941 and banned by the then State
Government on charges of obscenity. Ismat Chugtai challenged this decision and
won her law suit.
The current violence in Algeria is
both tragic and deeply alarming in its scope and intensity to all observers, but
it is especially heartbreaking for those who have followed the country's history
for the last 40 years. Algeria was once a symbol of progressive anti-colonial
struggle which brought women and men together to fight for their basic human
rights. Djamila Bouhired and the other women fighters in the war of national
liberation became the international symbols of Algeria's freedom struggle and
were revered throughout the Arab World.
On January the 18th 1985, Ustadh
Mahmoud Mohamed Taha was executed in Kober Prison in Khartoum Sudan after a
short trial on the previous day. His trial reflected the collapse of the rule of
law after the promulgation of the September 1983 Laws, the declaration of
emergency and the "Prompt Justice Courts" of 1984. Ustadh Taha's trial was a
classic example of an unfair trial.
Ustadh Mahmoud Mohamed Taha
was born in a sufist family, in the town of Rufaa (160 miles south of Khartoum)
in 1909. His mother died when he was one year old and his father died when he
Women migrants in Europe or North America have long started to
denounce the dangerous softness with which oppressive laws, customs and
practices against women, imported from our countries and cultures, are tolerated
or encouraged in the host countries, - in the name of tolerance, of respect of
the Other, of the right to difference, of putting at par different cultures or
own governments, governments of the countries of immigration are prepared to
sell out the well being, the human rights and the civil right
Today, in Algeria, the execution
and murder of women, foreigners and intellectuals by Muslim extremists have
become systematic. Such typically fascist acts have given rise to feelings of
outrage. Logically, therefore, one would expect that the most lucid would rally
around a struggle against such a political vision or, at the very least, in
defense of the memory of the victims.
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.