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.
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.