Fundamentalisms

In a tiny hall in Nasarallah, a poor agricultural village in the hills beyond Tunisia's historic Islamic city of Kairouan, Jamila Brahid is irate. Sitting in a huddle of country women wearing traditional rural headscarves, the 50-year-old villager is proud to have had a primary school education in a place where many of her female friends – mostly seasonal fruit-pickers – cannot read or write. A carpet-weaver who owed debts on wool and has never married because of her obligations looking after elderly relatives, she gives thanks for Tunisia's prized status as the most feminist country in the Arab world. But, she says, Sunday's elections will be the true test.

The Issue: The practice of some public schools in Ontario to allow Muslim Friday congregational prayers during school hours and within the school’s space for students has created controversy and aroused strong feelings amongst other faith groups. We appreciate the non- Catholic Toronto School District Board’s effort to implement “freedom of religion” by accommodating the religious needs of their Muslim students.  However the provision of school space, such as the cafeteria at Valley Park Middle School raises a number of questions which require careful conside

Edited by Algerian sociologist and WLUML founder, Marieme Hélie-Lucas, this bumper dossier brings you papers by over 15 contributors, including Karima Bennoune: The Law of the Republic Versus the ‘Law of the Brothers': A story of France’s law banning religious symbols in public; Pragna Patel: Cohesion, Multi-Faithism and the Erosion of Secular Spaces in the UK: Implications for the human rights of minority women; and Gita Sahgal: ‘The Question Asked by Satan’: Doubt, dissent and discrimination in 21st-century Britain

Egyptian feminist writer and activist Nawal El Saadawi on her country's long-awaited revolution and why Egypt still has a long way to go. Watch the video at the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2011/jul/25/nawal-el-saadawi-revolution-video.

"My concern is the Toronto District School Board (is) using tax money to tell girls that they are second-class citizens," Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, told the Toronto Sun. He's talking about the District's decision to allow a Muslim Friday prayer session in the Valley Park Middle School cafeteria, where it forces girls to sit behind the boys, and sends menstruating girls to the back where they can only listen, but not participate.

 

The freedom to drive is rarely considered a human right, or even a subject worthy of a heated discussion; however, in Saudi Arabia this normal daily activity has been the source of mass debate amongst the population because it happens to be the only country in the world which prohibits women from driving. On Friday 17th of June, approximately 45 women decided to defy the driving ban by driving in cities across the country. They also documented their defiant actions by taking videos and pictures and posting these online. The campaign called Women 2 Drive (W2D) and was launched via the internet - through social media sites such as twitter, youtube and facebook - by a group of Saudi Arabian women. W2D encourages women with an international driving license to use their right to drive, and to do so in the cities where they can be publically seen to be defying the ban.

Like every other citizen of Oslo, I have walked in the streets and buildings that have been blown away. I have even spent time on the island where young political activists were massacred. I share the fear and pain of my country. But the question is always why, and this violence was not blind. The terror of Norway has not come from Islamic extremists. Nor has it come from the far left, even though both these groups have been accused time after time of being the inner threat to our "way of living". Up to and including the terrifying hours in the afternoon of 22 July, the little terror my country has experienced has come from the far right.

Comme toutes les autres religions, l’islam doit prendre conscience d’un fait capital : pour survivre dans le monde moderne, il doit se justifier d’un point de vue universel. Seul ce point de vue rend une idée ou une proposition acceptable par tous, en tant que moralement supérieure. L’auteur s’interroge sur une conception moderne des droits de l’homme existant dans l’islam.

The establishment of the Republic of South Sudan came with high hopes that it might improve the lives of women there. But women’s rights activists in the country left behind–the mostly Muslim Sudan–are bracing for a battle against an escalation of Islamic fundamentalist law. Following South Sudan’s independence, its neighbor to the north, Sudan, is left in the hands of the widely-acknowledged-to-be-corruptNational Congress Party. President Omar al-Bashir, who took power in a 1989 military coup, was criticized for introducing Sharia law (based upon patriarchal interpretations of the Koran) in 1991, in a move that was opposed by the country’s Christian and Animist population. 

This week’s FirstCast features Shehrbano Taseer, the daughter of Salmaan Taseer who was assassinated for publicly condemning the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. She is continuing her father’s work and has become an international voice for the victims of extremism and religious intolerance. Shehrbano has been speaking out against the forces that killed her father and against laws that persecute in the name of religion. Follow the link to listen to the podcast.

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