I’m going to be out this weekend at The New Humanism conference. One of the highlights will surely be meeting (or at least seeing in person) the writer Salman Rushdie.
I’m also reminded of Rushdie’s story because of another controversy.
Nawal El Saadawi is a 76-year-old, Egyptian, feminist author. She’s been under fire from Egyptians before. Once, she advocated the idea that “children [should] be named after their mothers, not fathers.” Blasphemy.
Recently, she published a play called God Resigns in the Summit Meeting. However, the publisher Mahmoud Madbouli has recalled the book, shredding all copies, because it “offends religion.”
In response, Saadawi has said:
My book contains nothing offensive to religion. This confiscation is a violation of the reader’s right to choose and judge the worth of a book for themselves. These people want to stifle our imagination. If my ideas are questioned and suspected, they should be debated, not suppressed. A work of art should be judged by the critics, not religious clerics or government bureaucrats…
I feel worried about the future of Egypt whose young people are denied a real chance to be educated and exercise their minds. Confiscation provides a breeding ground for extremism.
There are groups “accusing her of apostasy and disrespect for the principles of Islam” who would like to see her tried in court (and you know where that could lead…).The Arab Women’s Solidarity Association has a petition you can sign to show support for Saddawi. Part of it reads:
We call upon all the men and women of conscience all over the world, in the Arab countries and in Egypt to take the action they see fit in order to defend freedom of thought and creativity. We call upon all the associations and organizations of civil society, the unions of workers, on journalists, on all free women and men in the different countries, on the associations and organizations of women and on democratic progressive political parties to join us in our efforts to defend freedom.
Frequent commenter on this blog Mriana has met Saadawi. When recounting their meeting, Mriana had this to say:
I explained that I’m a writer working on getting something published and I’m always talking about these issues on various boards and other places, but afraid to write about it because it’s all been said before. Well, [Saadawi] gently squeezes my arm, smiles at me, and says, “Write your hatred. Write your hatred.” She stated getting published is hard (still gripping my arm), but “you must write your hatred for these things even if it’s been said before, because you are saying it in your words and your way. Someone will listen.” She never once lost her smile either as she encouraged me to write about all these things.
From one person who needs to have her voice heard to another.
Sign the petition.
[tags]atheist, atheism, The New Humanism, conference, Salman Rushdie, Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian, feminist, God Resigns in the Summit Meeting, Mahmoud Madbouli, Arab Women’s Solidarity Association, Arab[/tags]