If there is one thing that the women and men of the late 20th century who have an awareness and enjoyment of history can be sure of, it is that Islam was not sent from Heaven to foster egotism and mediocrity.
In the 1920s, big names in the Arab world spoke of Scheherazade as an example for intellectuals fighting for their rights. She was a fighter for the right of free expression.
You find in the Koran hundreds of verses to support women’s rights, and perhaps four or five that do not.
Contrary to what many Westerners believe, Islam has a rich tradition of secular painting in spite of its ban on images. It is only in religious rituals that the use of pictorial representation is totally prohibited.
In Morocco, for a woman to earn her own living is the essential concern.
In Islamic societies, politicians can manipulate almost everything. But thus far, no fundamentalist leader has been able to convince his supporters to renounce Islam’s central virtue – the principle of strict equality between human beings, regardless of sex, race, or creed.
One cannot understand what’s happening to women in the Middle East if they don’t realize that the mothers are a strong, progressive force. The mothers push the daughters to get out of the harem, to get the education, to achieve what they could not even dream of.
If, by chance, you were to meet me at the Casablanca airport or on a boat sailing from Tangiers, you would think me self-confident, but I am not. Even now, at my age, I am frightened when crossing borders because I am afraid of failing to understand strangers.
The modern Muslim state has never presented itself as secular. Muslim nationalist forces, trapped by a militant and colonialist West unable to share or export its humanism, were driven to build up a rampart, to entrench themselves within the past.
Sharia law does not exist in the Koran. It was created by man.