Fundamentalisms

Following the violence and violations of civil liberties that took place in a number of schools, institutes and universities, when some students and professors were physically attacked or otherwise threatened due to their clothing not being to the "taste" of the perpetrators, the Association of Tunisian Women for Research on Development (AFTURD) expresses its complete disapproval of and condemns these acts which are contrary to the principles of the Republic and of the public and individual freedoms it guarantees.

TUNIS, 15 nov (IPS) - Les femmes tunisiennes sont sorties massivement exprimer leur droit de vote, leur dernière arme, lorsque le pays organisait ses premières élections démocratiques depuis qu’un soulèvement populaire a détrôné l'ancien président Zine Abidine Ben Ali, mettant fin à son règne de 27 ans sur le pays.

TUNIS, Nov 14, 2011 (IPS) - Tunisian women poured into the streets armed with the vote, their latest weapon, when the country voted in its first democratic election since a popular uprising unseated former president Zine Abidine Ben Ali, ending his 27-year- long stronghold on the country.

On the eve of the elections in Tunisia that will shape the future of the country and even that of the Arab world as well, Western do-gooders and Islamic fundamentalists hand in hand rejoice in ‘Tunisia’s first free elections’ and its access to ‘ democracy’. The recent history of Iran and Algeria have taught us better… And women in Tunisia watch in horror the rise of Muslim fundamentalists, as a possible replication of the Algerian scenario of 1989 .

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its "basic source". But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways - it was also the basis of Egypt's largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall.Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi's era that he said was in conflict with Sharia - that banning polygamy.

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.

 

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