The first part of the strange title of this article originates in a personal experience. In 1962, after a seven-year bloody war, which made two million victims, Algeria became independent from French colonisation. Shortly after independence, some of us were being introduced, as ‘Algerians’, to some left intellectuals in Paris who had been in favour of our liberation movement.
Who is to say if the key that unlocks the cage might not lie hidden inside the cage?1

If justice and fairness are inherent to Islam - as fuqaha claim and all Muslims believe - should not these virtues be reflected in the ‘Islamic’ laws that regulate the relations between men and women as well as their respective rights? Why have women been treated as second-class citizens in the fiqh books that have come to define the terms of the Shari’a?
* This paper inevitably draws on my previous writing on the international network Women Living Under Muslim Laws, especially ‘Controlled or autonomous: identity and the experience of the network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Volume 19, Number 4, 1994, pp 997-1019. Moreover, the analysis presented owes much to the women linked through the network. Any idiosyncrasies, however, are obviously my own.

The Muslim world in context
Many feminists of colour have demonstrated the need to take into account differences among women to avoid hegemonic gender-essentialist analyses that represent the problems and interests of privileged women as paradigmatic. As feminist agendas become global, there is growing feminist concern to consider national and cultural differences among women.
In the last few months, Iraqi women have witnessed with dismay the erosion of Iraq's secular family law.
When Iraq's parliament approved 32 cabinet ministers to form that country's new government last week, six of these top-ranking bureaucrats were women.
The message was delivered by an international human rights group, which accused the GCC states of failing in their duty to protect foreign female workers and contributing to a "climate of impunity".
This report is part of a project to analyse and research discrimination and violence against women in the GCC countries. In July and August 2004, Amnesty International (AI) delegates carried out research in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE.
Un appel à une plus grande mobilisation pour combattre l'excision des femmes a été lancé à Tunis par plusieurs organisations non gouvernementales à l'occasion d'un séminaire maghrébin sur le thème "femmes et médias".
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