Educated women armed with computers have defeated extremists by denying them a monopoly to define cultural identity and interpret religious texts. No extremist can say that women are inferior to men without being made a laughingstock on Al Jazeera. Islam insisted on equality between everyone.
The Taliban is the Muslim version of the Salem witch trials.
I was amazed to realize that for many Westerners, Scheherezade was considered a lovely but simple-minded entertainer, someone who relates innocuous tales and dresses fabulously. In our part of the world, Scheherezade is perceived as a courageous heroine and is one of our rare female mythological figures.
There, they tell me to wear the veil. Here, they are telling me to put my hips in a little girl’s skirt, and I am this lovely full woman. You’ve got this Ph.D. and you’re worrying, ‘Am I skinny enough?’
So much of Islam is Judeo-Christianity. It’s impossible to divorce them. Islam is 600 years after Christ. Thousands of years after Judaism. Christ, Moses, Abraham – they are all in the Koran.
While Muslim men describe themselves as insecure in their harems, real or imagined, Westerners describe themselves as self-assured heroes with no fears of women. The tragic dimension so present in Muslim harems – fear of women and male self-doubt – is missing in the Western harem.
The waves of religion based on terrorism in the 1990s are based on the tormented response of a mutilated Muslim society whose progressive forces have been savagely emasculated. Why on earth is the Arab world so hostile to women? Why can it not see women as a force for development?
To understand the fanatic rejection of women’s liberation in the Muslim world, one has to take into account the time factor. Most of us educated women have illiterate mothers. The conservative wave against women in the Muslim world is a defense mechanism against profound changes in both sex roles and the touchy subject of sexual identity.
Growing up, I was taught that a woman should lower her gaze so that men could never know her thoughts. The so-called modesty of Arab women is, in fact, a war tactic.
If women’s rights are a problem for some modern Muslim men, it is neither because of the Quran nor the Prophet, nor the Islamic tradition, but simply because those rights conflict with the interests of a male elite.