Unintended Consequences: Minority Rights and Policy Making in the West

For many years now, countries around the world have been faced with the question of minority rights and religious accommodation. In Canada, where I currently live, questions about niqabs in courtrooms, voting stations and citizenship ceremonies have been raised in the past five years. Part of the debate has been the meaning of religious accommodation, the latest case being that of a student at York University who requested to be excused from working with females on religious bases. While the … [Read more...]

Officials Claim Tunisian Women are Waging a ‘Sexual Jihad’ in Syria, But What’s the Real Story?

Image © The Telegraph.

This piece was originally published at PolicyMic.By now you have probably already heard of the harem of Tunisian sex-warrior slaves heading to Syria in order to give up their young bodies to the appetites of deprived rebels to fulfill ‘jihad al-Nikkah’ --- “Sexual Jihad" --- and are coming back to the country with bellies full of Jihadi babies. Unfortunately for what seems to be that blind spot people have when it comes to stories on Muslims and sex, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence … [Read more...]

Inheritance Rights in Islam: Islamic Policies in Muslim and Secular States, Legal Systems and Media

During the past week, inheritance according to the precepts of Shari’ah was a hot topic around the world, from Australia and Pakistan to Tunisia and Malaysia. An overview of the system is available in this article, although, as always, there is much diversity both in specific understandings of inheritance laws and in broader understandings of what “Shari’ah” is.  A few days ago, Jamila Hussain wrote an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, discussing issues of equity vs. equality in inherit … [Read more...]

For Arab Women, Change in the Digital Reality is Coming, but Slowly

Women protesting in Egypt. Image via The Guardian.

By all standards, 2011 was quite an exceptional year for men and women in the Arab world. It was a year of dramatic transitions marked by the so-called Arab Spring of political democratization and social emancipation. It all started in Tunisia, going through Egypt and Libya in the West, and continuing to drag on in both Yemen and Syria in the East. An interesting facet of those transitions related to the role of social media platforms as drivers of revolutions, giving rise  to different … [Read more...]

Selective Shivers in the Islamist Winter

The election of the so-called ‘moderate Islamist’ party, Ennahda, to the head seat of the government, has put Tunisia at the center of the discussion on the rise of Islamist post-Arab Spring. Media coverage has focused primarily on the alleged ‘inevitable’ imposition of the headscarf on all women and the possibility of great setbacks to the gains made by Tunisian women.There has been little, if any, actual engagement with the evolving positions and campaigns of the party, as substantial o … [Read more...]

Women in Tunisia’s Revolution

On Friday, the President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia fled his homeland as it was engulfed by an uprising, sparked by the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate who had taken to selling fruit in Sidi Bouzid.  When authorities confiscated his wares for not having a license, Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of a government building. Protests followed, as thousands took to the street in a movement fueled by rage over corruption among the elite.Anger in Tunisia … [Read more...]

The Other Half of the Sky: Inheritance in a Tunisian Film

Tunisian filmmaker Kalthoum Bornaz's film Shtar M'Haba (The Other Half of the Sky) was recently discussed in Lebanon's The Daily Star. As it turns out, Bornaz was the only female director to enter the official competition at Ouagadougou's Pan-African Film and Television Festival earlier this month. The Daily Star tells us that she was not successful, but the message of her film has resonated with audiences.As The Daily Star points out, the "movie tackles the sensitive subject of what women … [Read more...]


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