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?
The Arab Awakening or Arab Spring has transformed the geopolitical landscape.
In the Arab world, there is no link between the cultural habits of peoples and the ways of thinking and creating of modern intellectuals. They are two separate worlds.
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.
Al Jazeera is known in the Arab world as the voice of freedom of expression.
The man who buried Malcolm X – my Muslim imam, priest – he, after I got beat up by police… came to me, and he said, ‘You don’t need this American name.’ And I was susceptible to it at the time because, God knows, I had just gotten whipped near to death. So he gave me an Arab name; he gave me the name Amir Barakat.
The Arab spring confirmed that peaceful change is possible and so reinforced the vision of political Islam. The impact of this went beyond the Brotherhood to include the Salafist tendency in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya that had questioned the democratic path.
Now that Arab women are pouring into the streets by the million, men discover with dismay that they, not women, were the captives of the harem dream.
When the Islamic revolution began in 1979 under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, it aroused considerable admiration in the Arab street. It presented a model of organised popular action that deposed one of the region’s most tyrannical regimes. The people of the region discerned in this revolution new hope for freedom and change.
When people today say ‘racism,’ they mean it’s a nationalism they don’t like. Racialism used to be a good thing, a looking-out for what was best for one group… Israel comes out of that 19th-century idea of nationalism. Many Arab states also have preferences. It’s fundamentally unfair to decide that one is racism and the others aren’t.