On Hany Abu Asad’s Omar and the “Missing Voice” of Women

Hany Abu-Assad’s film Omar (2013) has been described as “a film about love in the face of grueling adversity,” with the various obstacles facing the young couple symbolized by the very literal obstacle of the separation wall  that meanders into the West Bank, cutting off Palestinian areas from each other. Omar routinely scales the wall to meet up with Nadja, but as Abu Assad puts it in an interview: “This is the outside obstacle, because the inside obstacle between the… Read more

Indonesia’s trans Muslim Maryani: “Seeking Paradise is not limited to our sex or clothing”

An article in the Jakarta Post last week followed the latest developments on a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) for transgender people in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Although it is called a boarding school, the Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-Fatah functions more like a religious school where students can learn classical religious subjects like fiqh and Qur’an recitation, as well as a community centre where students gather to break the fast together during Ramadan. It was opened in 2008 by the late Maryani, who… Read more

Friday Links | April 25, 2014

A new campaign aimed at discouraging young British Muslims to go to Syria to fight, is now asking Muslim women to play an active role in convincing their male family members to stay put. Mistrust of the police among Muslim women, however, makes that many women would be afraid to report their family members, one activist says. Unlike past elections, the number of female candidates for the upcoming Iraqi elections is actually quite promising and some are hopeful that this will… Read more

The Countdown to the Jaafari Law Decision

On April 30th the Jaafari Personal Status Law will be voted on in the Iraqi Parliament. The Jaafari Law, as it’s being referred to, has been controversial because it would enable Shia men to marry girls as young as 9 years old. Whereas the legal age for marriage in Iraq is 18 years of age, the Jaafari Law does not state an age limit for marriage, but spells out the divorce conditions for girls who have reached the age of… Read more

Book Review: “Normal Calm” by Hend Hegazi

According to statistics provided by RAINN, the United States-based Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, “1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.” The organization further notes that women who have experienced sexual assault are at higher risk for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and thoughts of suicide. Such important consequences of rape led American writer Hend Hegazi to tell the story of a rape survivor in her first… Read more

Friday Links | April 18, 2014

The predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey has the highest number of female mayors after the March 30 elections, partly because of a quota for women in the popular pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). One of the new female mayors in this region is former child bride Berivan Kilic. The controversial draft law in Iraq that would allow 9-year-old Shi’ite girls to get married has stirred controversy all over the world, but according to experts it is unlikely that… Read more

Book Review: I Am the Beggar of the World

Last month, I looked at Eliza Griswold and Seamus Murphy’s work profiling Afghan women poets particular form of poetry, the landay. Their work, as they presented it in an article on Slate, came across as nuanced and reflective (my own words) of Afghan women’s experiences. I was eager to review their book, I Am the Beggar of the World, which is available this month and was kindly provided by the publisher. Griswold worked with Pashtun women translators to find and… Read more

Negotiating Muslim Steampunk

This post was originally published at wood turtle. Goggles and gears, corsets adorned with brass and lace brocade, Victorian aesthetics meshed with clockwork, artisans selling creative curios, side show fancies and handmade wares — all came together seamlessly for an imagined moment in time that transformed the historic Gladstone Hotel in Toronto for an annual steampunk street festival. With my feathered top hat pinned firmly to my hijab and my robotic “ocular enhancement” painted on my face, I joined hundreds of… Read more

Friday Links | April 11, 2014

Indonesia had its elections last Wednesday. This time around, parties had to ensure that 30 percent of their candidates were female, but in a country notorious for its corruption, many of these female candidates come from political dynasties or are celebrities; it is even suggested that to become a female candidate not much more is required than to be gorgeous and have some claim to “fame.” Still, women remain hopeful that something will change as a result of this election and… Read more

What Do We Make of the “Indian” Converts to Islam

There is a lot of talk recently about “Latin” and Spanish-speaking converts to Islam, particularly women, which I have discussed in previous posts (here and here). Female converts to Islam, in general, give us a lot to talk about; thus, my question in a previous post on “Are converts news?” Some converts are treated as “cool” and progressive members willing to speak to the media. Others are used to represent media obsessions with wild-girls-gone-Muslim stories, which many Muslims and non-Muslims love. … Read more

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