Leading Saudi Woman Blogger Alhodaif Passes Away at 25 Ebtihal Mubarak, Arab News For 25 days supporters and friends of Saudi blogger Hadeel Alhodaif have waited anxiously, hoping that she would emerge from the coma she fell into unexpectedly. But on Friday these hopes died as the 25-year-old writer and social critic — known for fearlessly using her real name in her criticisms — passed away. ... ... ... When blogger Fouad Al-Farhan was detained late last year for openly defending a group of conservative academics that had been arrested for meeting and discussing the need for political reform, Alhodaif was the only Saudi woman who came out publicly calling for Al-Farhan’s immediate release. She started a “Free Fouad” website and created a forum on the social networking site Facebook to keep interested people up to date on the case. “She was truly courageous speaking to the BBC Arabic eloquently and bravely about Al-Farhan’s detention when most Saudi bloggers wanted only to be quoted anonymously,” said a fellow blogger, who preferred to be quoted anonymously.To read the full Arab News article click here. If you have a facebook account you can join a group created in her memory here. An Arabic Wikipedia page of her is now also available. Rest in Peace Hadeel
Iman Mersal was born November 30, 1966 in Mit ‘Adlan, a small village in the northern Egyptian Delta. Her first poems were published in local poetry magazines while she was still a student in high school. Subsequently, she attended the University of Mansura, graduating in 1988 with honors in Arabic literature. From 1985 to 1992, she co-edited the independent feminist magazine, Bint al-Ard (Daughter of the Earth), which published the creative work of young female writers, as well as non-fiction articles on feminism and Islam. From 1988 until 1998, she lived in Cairo writing, editing, studying, and teaching Arabic literature. Mersal’s first book of poetry, Ittisafat (Characterizations, Dar al-Ghad, Cairo) debuted in 1990. A stellar collection of measured verse, Ittisafat was enthusiastically reviewed by the renowned novelist and literary critic Edward Kharrat in the London-based al-Hayat (September 1, 1991). Following its publication, she stopped writing for several years. Her second book Mamarr Mu‘tim Yasluh li Ta‘allum al-Raqs (A Dark Passageway Is Suitable for Learning to Dance, Dar Sharqiyat al-Qahira, Cairo, 1995) took a new direction, forming part of an avant-garde poetic movement. Mersal and other poets of the “90s generation,” adopted new genre that came to be known as qasidat al-nathr or prose poem. The new form freed them from the grandiose rhetoric and large ideological focus of modern Arabic poetry, enabling them to explore the details of daily life. Because of resistance from the mainstream, the nascent movement found its home in independent magazines—often small and struggling—including al-Garrad (The Locusts) and al-Kitaba al-Ukhra (The Other Writing)...[Here is one of her poems recited by her] Thanks SP
This is what happens when military men rule a country.
Benazir Bhutto killed in attack
Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated in a suicide attack. Ms Bhutto - the first woman PM in an Islamic state - was leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi when a gunman shot her in the neck and set off a bomb. At least 20 other people died in the attack and several more were injured. President Pervez Musharraf has urged people to remain calm but angry protests have gripped some cities, with at least 11 deaths reported. Security forces have been placed on a state of "red alert" nationwide. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack. Analysts believe Islamist militants to be the most likely group behind it.
Benazir Bhutto had been addressing rallies in many parts of Pakistan
It was the second suicide attack against her in recent months and came amid a wave of bombings targeting security and government officials. Nawaz Sharif, also a former prime minister and a political rival, announced his Muslim League party would boycott the elections. He called on President Musharraf to resign, saying free and fair elections were not possible under his rule. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session and later said it "unanimously condemned" the assassination.
Benazir Bhutto's coffin has now been taken from the hospital
Today is officially the first day of the academic year in Egypt and for this occasion I would like to talk a little about a woman who helped pave the way for other women to become teachers, school principals and professionals in all fields, the woman who contributed to the establishment of an equal educational system for both sexes, Nabawiyah Moussa.
Nabawiyah Moussa was born in 17 December 1886, in Zaqaziq to a conservative family that objected to sending her to school. At the age of 15 Nabawiyah left her home and secretly joined the Saniyah Girls' school and after she received her certificate she was appointed as teacher of Arabic at the Abbas I school in 1909 at a time when all headmistresses of girls' schools were English.
In her writings Nabawiyah called for replacing men with women in administrative jobs related to supervision over girls' schools and for replacing foreign teachers with Egyptian ones. She also called for ending discrimination against women in all professional fields.
Due to that she clashed with the male chauvinist, English dominated ministry of education of the time to the extent that at one point she was accused of mental madness in an official statement issued by the ministry.
Nabawiya was an active member in the Egyptian Women's
She wrote many books most important of which is her own autobiography Tarikhy Bi Qalami, (My History With My Pen). Which I recommend for reading since it not just reveals the amazing type of woman shewas but also the history of Egyptian feminism in the making.
Here is an excerpt from Professor Fawwaz Traboulsi's "An Intelligent Man's Guide to Modern Arab Feminism", published in the feminist Lebanese magazine AL Ra'eda:
The Nahda The woman’s question was central to the problematic of the Nahdah, the Arab cultural renaissance of the mid-nineteenth century. The pioneers of the Nahdah regarded women’s inferior status as the basic cause for the backwardness of the Arab and Islamic societies and were unanimous in affirming that there will be no renaissance for Arabs and Muslims without the renaissance of Arab women. Bustânî, Tahtâwî, Afghani, `Abdû, Qâsim Amîn and Tâhir Haddâd.and otehrs shared the belief that the renaissance of women will be achieved mainly through education. This is the gist of the famous address by Mu`allim Butrus al-Bustânî on the Education of Women in the 1860's. But the men of the Nahdah mostly envisaged an educated bourgeois or aristocratic woman confined to her home and whose education was mainly invested in educating her children.
One major break from this tradition is to be found, very early on, in the writings of the Maronite Lebanese converted to Islam, Ahmad Fâris al-Shidyâq (1804-1887). Shidyâq's Al-Sâq `Ala-l-Sâq (
, 1855) acclaimed as a founding text in Arabic modernity, was written in praise of women and the Arabic language. More, the author declares that while writing his book, “as if I myself had become a woman”. In contrast to the rest of the Nahdah pioneers, who emphasized education, Shidyaq considered Work as the main motor of the Arab renaissance. He urged the right of women to work; attacked segregation between men and women because it treats woman as a sexual object, called for the equal right of women to divorce, and critiqued the double standards in dealing with women’s infidelity. The radical novelty of Shidyâq resides in his vision that the repression of woman’s instincts was the basis of male domination. He defended woman’s equal right to sexual pleasure. Not content with the formal equality between the sexes, he looked into the consequences of social inequality on women. In his moving pages of observations on the Paris of the Industrial Revolution, Shidyâq discusses prostitution not only as a moral question but also as a consequence of poverty England
Qâsim Amîn (1863-1908) is credited with the first work in Arabic devoted to the liberation of women. In his Tahrîr al-Mar’ah (The Liberation of Woman, 1899) to be followed a year later by Al-Mar'ah al-Jadîdah (The New woman, 1900), Amîn rejected the notion of woman as an inferior creature and called for woman’s equality with man. But, in direct contrast to Shidyâq, he was a purist concerning relations between the sexes. Although he attacked polygamy as an impediment to the progress of women and of society, he nevertheless rejected sexual pleasure and approved of the veil (the head cover) but opposed the Niqâb and the Burqu`. The anonymity imposed by these two forms of veiling, he argued, would encourage licentious behavior.
The inter war period was a period of gestation for modern Arab feminism in more than one sense.
Great strides were made in the battle for education. As early as 1928, Egyptian Universities had opened their gates to girls. The immediate results were wider access by women to administrative posts and generally an increased presence in the labor force with the development of industrialization during WWI and its aftermath.
Equality of Rights was no more a slogan. A new era of women's militancy started. As early as 1920, Egyptian women workers imposed the first legislation on working hours for women. Nabayiwwah Musa (
) was among the many pioneers in the struggle for working women's rights. Egypt
That period also witnessed the proliferation of women’s press, especially in
and Egypt : Hind Nawfal's Al-Fatat (November 1892), Rosa Antûn's Majallat al-Sayyidât wa-l-Fatayât (1903-), Mustafâ `Abd-al-Râziq's Al-Sufûr, (1915-), Nabawiyyah Musa's Tarqiyat al-Fatât (1923-), and Munîrah Thâbit's Al-Amal (1925-)... Lebanon
But the issue of the veil and segregation dominated the best part of that period. “Unveiling or death”! is the motto launched by the the Iraqi poet Ahmad Sudqî al-Zahâwî in a founding article, Evils of the Veil (1908) in which he accused sexual segregation between men and women of encouraging pederasty. In another article, In Defence of Women, a year later, he argues that freedom is a gift common to both men and women and derides the argument about man’s superiority based on his superior physical strength. Animals are stronger than men, should they have superior rights over them? Al-Zahhâwî opposed polygamy and called for women's equal right to divorce, based on a simple argument: if women are given the right to approve their marriage, according to the
`ah, how can they be deprived of any say in its dissolution? Al-Zahhâwî goes even further in his critique as he evokes the inequality inherent in the Islamic promise of Heaven in which men are promised the famous seductive houris (700 to 70.000 of them) whereas women are promised to desire only their husbands. Zahhâwî's writings on the woman question provoked demonstrations against him in the streets of Shari and the city's Ottoman wâlî ultimately dismissed the poet from his teaching post at the Law school. Baghdad
Mansour Fahmi (1886-1959) dealt with the question of the veil from a totally different angle. In his doctoral thesis entitled La condition de la femme dans la Tradition et l’évolution de l’Islamisme. (Paris, 1913) he resorts to ample philological and historic evidence in order to prove that neither in pre-Islam nor in the Prophet Muhammad’s time, there existed a piece of cloth designed to hide woman’s face from men. Among the evidence provided by Fahmi is that the hijâb in âyah 52 of
al-Ahzâb refers to a cloth partition inside the tent and the Jilbâb in âyah 59 (of Al-Ahzâb also) refers to a shawl for the body. Back in Surat , Fahmi was bitterly attacked and forced to renounce his theory. His book is still not translated into Arabic. Egypt
Arab Female Journalists Stand Up for Press Freedom By Rita Henley Jensen - Editor in Chief View larger slideshow - AMMAN, Jordan (WOMENSENEWS)--Freedom of the press and women's equality can be characterized as culturally invasive concepts in much of the Arab world. The region is dominated by nations that are still ruled by kings and queens and governed by religious leaders who advocate enforcement of gender-specific roles and clothing. Moreover, the region's violent conflicts have taken the lives of 19 journalists and three news media workers so far in 2007, according to reports by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. As the sole media representative from a Western nation attending the sixth annual conference of the Arab Women Media Center for 60 female Arab journalists on press freedom and gender equity within the media, I assumed I should behave with circumspection so as not to offend. I also expected the other attendees to do likewise. That misapprehension was quickly put to rest by the laughter and voices raised in song that filled the bus one night as it left the conference center, taking us all to dinner at an authentic Jordan open-air restaurant. A radio journalist from Palestine knew the words of traditional songs and she led the other 20 or so in the back of the bus in one song after another, each one a little bit louder and each one causing a little more laughter. She then began clapping and the others began clapping too, with the sheer joy of being together. Then high-pitched ululating started and all clapped, ululated, laughed and sang for the 30-minute ride to the restaurant. Nothing was muffled or subdued about this group, chosen from among 450 print reporters, broadcast news producers and on-air talent, and Internet journalists from the 22 Arab-speaking nations. The attendees, mostly between ages 25 to 35, spent three days in late June in Jordan to consider issues rich in complexity for their profession, their nations, their religion and their gender.To read the whole article click here.
Since the summer season has begun and many of my friends are flying outside the country I thought I should post something on air travel, something about Latifa Al Nadi, the first Egyptian female pilot.
Lotfiyah Al Nadi was born in 1906 and after finishing her schooling she found out about the newly established flying school and decided to join it. However, her father rejected the idea and when she insisted he allowed her to pursue her dream but decided that he is not going to pay for her education. This, however, did not stop her; instead she took up a job as a telephone operator in Egypt Air and with her salary paid for her flying classes.
In 1933 after 3 months in school Lotfiyah got her flying license which was number 34 meaning that only 33 men had graduated before her. This way Lotfiyah became the first Egyptian, Arab and African woman to get a flying license.
Her English teacher was so excited about the idea that he sent a picture of her to the international press and so she became very famous especially when in the same year of her graduation she won the
Will add my comments on the issue in a couple of days (when I get done with two scary exams I have to take).
A Present to Journalists in the Press Freedom World Day Verdict of Imprisonment and a Fine against Howaida Taha Cairo, 2 May 2007 Human Rights Organizations refused the verdict issued by Al-Nozha Misdemeanor Court against Howaida Taha Program Editor in Al-Jazeera Channel of six months imprisonment, a bail of 10 thousands and a forfeiture of 20 thousands. Moreover, they confiscated the records and a laptop. The verdict is the government's present to the journalists in the press freedom world day. The prosecution took duration of three months suspecting Howaida Taha editor of a documentary film on torture in Egypt presenting the different visions about torture crimes including the testimonials of victims, human rights organizations' representatives, police officers and physicians. In addition, the film represents some acting scenes related to victims' testimonials. The film screened in Al-Jazeera Channel on two parts in the last two weeks and became a documentary testimonial for the security apparatus violations against citizens. In a declaration by Gamal Eid Executive Director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information "We are not surprised of issuing the verdict against Howaida Taha however we expected it, but we are angry because it confirms the government's insist on hostility with freedom of the press and media in Egypt". The sentence issued was according to Article 80, Clause 1 and Article 178 repeated, Clause 1 of Penal Code, which they belong to broadcasting false news defaming the country's reputation. However, it does not related by any means to Howaida Taha's case. The film screened true torture cases tried before courts, which means the documentaries are true. On the other hand, the country's defamation comes with practicing torture crimes not introducing them, which denies the second crime. In a declaration by Ahmed Seif El Islam Executive Director of Hisham Mubarak Law Center, "From the beginning of the case we faced abusive acts by the prosecution and the court. All our defense files refused and the contradictory testimonial presented by state security officers to the prosecution was enough to innocent the editor Taha. However, it is enough to know that freedom of expression is not welcomed in Egypt although we will proceed in defending it". Moreover, the records of the film confiscated by the police in Cairo Airport infiltrated to an Egyptian TV program and presented badly degrading work values to defame the reputation of Howaida Taha. On the other hand, Ahmed Helmy lawyer and Head of Horriya Center for Political Rights and Reinforcing Democracy presented an appeal to the prosecution asking about the infiltration of the film records, broadcasted in a TV program and violating Al-Jazeera Channel's intellectual property. On the other hand, the reporter of the TV program declared that he received the records from an anonymous source and broadcasted it. The signatories on this statement state that their mission of supporting the journalists and press will continue in an attempt to establish a free and fair press reinforcing the absent democratic climate situated in Egypt. Signatories
- The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
- Hisham Mubarak Law Center
- Horriya Center for Political Rights and Reinforcing Democracy
As most of you must have heard, late in February Al Azhar decided to report Nawal Al Saadawi, Egypt's most outspoken feminist, to the police because of a play that she wrote back in the time of President Anwar Al Sadat and which she just published by the end of 2006. The play, "God Resigns in the Summit Meeting," would have passed unnoticed if not for one thing, the role of Sadat is symbolically played by God.
"So what?" you'd think, "this is just fiction, it is not to be taken literally; besides, religion shouldn't interfere with creativity." Well, try explaining that to the honorable Azhar "scholars" who (after reporting the atheist writings of their student, Abdel Karim Soliman, to the police last year) seem to be successfully working towards the resurrection of the medieval inquisition.
Anyway, now Nawal Al Saadawi is being sued for insulting "The Divine Entity" and for blasphemy and all thanks to Sayed Tantawi and his Islamic Research Council who came up with the decision that her play is an insult to the Muslim creed after three hours of heated discussions!
Fortunately when that happened Nawal Al Saadawi was in Belgium and is now in the US as visiting professor, so I don't think we will see her serving any jail time soon.
As I mentioned earlier, this happened a while ago and I should have written something about the topic back then but I got very busy. So what is new?
Well, after news of her "blasphemous" play circulated around what I like to call the "Islamist blogosphere", an interesting rumor followed. According to this rumor, Al Sadawy was a Muslim Brotherhood member, and not just that, but she used to wear the veil (back in the 40s!!) and lead women in prayer and helped get many into the brotherhood!
The source of the rumor is a book, Wa Areftou Al Ikhwan (And So I Came to Know the Brotherhood), about the history of the Muslim Brotherhood written by a Mahmoud Game', an ex-MB member, in which he claims that Al Saadawi was his classmate and that they helped organize MB events together.
What is even worse than the rumor is the way it has been used by these Islamists. According to this website, Nawal Al Sadawy is living proof that pious people are liable to lose their faith if they are not careful and avoid deviating from the right path.
So how do the pious deviate from the right path? The blogger enumerates several reasons the most outstanding being: "by hanging around "perverts" a lot who will drag the pious slowly and inconspicuously away from doing good deeds and remaining with the good people; and by reading "skeptical" books that would make them lose hold of the "useful" knowledge that helped them remain pious."
The writer then enlightens us by revealing that the first symptom of losing your piety is "rebelling" because rebellion leads to questioning God's words and the words of the prophet and the scholars which will ultimately lead to the pious becoming atheists.
Well, and I thought it was my duty as a good Muslim to question everything!
Anyway, in the following interview Nawal Al Sadawy said that she never knew this Mahmoud Game' and strongly denied ever being a member of the MB and ever wearing the veil which she has always believed is not part of Islam.
Hmm, too bad for the "how the pious turn evil" theory!