Stability and Sustainability: Interview with Dr Hawa Abdi


It is a calm and cool afternoon in Nairobi, Kenya, when I catch up with Dr Hawa Abdi over Skype. After working hard in Mogadishu’s difficult circumstances with her two physician daughters Deqo and Amina Mohamed, she sometimes comes to Nairobi to rest and relax. Speaking over a passable internet connection, our conversation is peppered with silences, as our words travel between Kenya and Singapore. 68 year-old Dr Abdi, affectionately known by Somalis as Mama Hawa, is more than Somalia’s first gyn … [Read more...]

Dear Muslim Leaders: I am a Convert not an “Extremist”


  A few months ago I was applying for a job when I was suddenly required to attend an in-person interview with a member of the intelligence services. I was interviewed by a white male, who very politely went on to ask me questions for the next two hours. The most puzzling part of the interview though was that I suddenly saw my life through a very gendered lens.I was asked about my conversion to Islam and whether or not a “boyfriend” had tried to recruit me for the purposes o … [Read more...]

No Culture for Niqabis

Part of the infographic produced by Libération.

The French "niqab" ban (burqa ban, whatever ban…call it what you will) of October 2010 has not faded away from the public consciousness in France at all. What I had originally hoped was just right-wing propaganda has turned out to be, since its entry into force in April 2011, part and parcel of a unique French interpretation of democracy and a revisionist version of French secularism, or laïcité. What started as laïcité was a series of what were originally anti-Catholic laws in 1882 and 1905, whi … [Read more...]

Malalagate, Patriotism, and Disingenuous Agendas

Art by Eiynah (@nicemangoes).

Last week, Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai was declared a co-winner of the coveted Nobel Peace Prize, along with activist Kailash Satyarthi. Since then there have been numerous articles, support pieces and critiques addressing her win, and the expected conspiracy theories. The announcement even reheated a discussion on the validity and relevance of the Nobel Peace Prize itself.We have covered Malala a few times on MMW. Merium has written of the media frenzies that have engulfed … [Read more...]

Why Major Mariam Al Mansouri, the First Emirati Woman F-16 Pilot, Is Not My Hero


On September 23, an American-led campaign was launched to attack different targets that belong to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, referred to as ISIL. A number of Arab countries announced their participation in the campaign, among them Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.Two days later, FOX News discussed the participation of Emirati Major Mariam Al Mansouri in the fight against ISIL. In a video posted on September 25, one presenter was joking and asking whether Al … [Read more...]

Syrian Series “Bab Al Hara” and the Need to Combat Traditional Images of Women

Image from Bab Al Hara.

Every year, the holy month of Ramadan brings lots of spiritual moments, as well as hours of continuous entertainment in the form of shows and soap operas. Every Ramadan, I pick a number of soap operas to watch and write about. This year, there was a large number of television series that discussed issues faced by women in Arab societies. Some issues included women in prisons, such as Egyptian series Sijn Al Nesa, and women in wars and revolution, such as Syrian series Halawet Al Rouh.On … [Read more...]

Darkest Before Dawn: Ramadan in a Time of Disillusionment

Salwa Bugaighis. [Source].

On June 25th, Salwa Bugaighis was shot dead at her home in Benghazi. A human rights activist and lawyer, Bugaighis was a charismatic figure who played a leadership role in the uprising and in the women's movement, supporting a campaign which sought to establish minimum quotas for female lawmakers in parliament as well as being vice-president of a preparatory committee for national dialogue that travelled around the country holding town hall meetings – one of the few post-2011 initiatives in L … [Read more...]