[fund] resisting fundamentalisms

In response to an interview with Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International, WLUML made the following comments on Guardian online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/15/salil-shetty-amnesty-international-leader

The High Court has ruled that no women can be forced to wear burqa at work and educational institutions. The bench of justices A H M Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Sheikh Mohammad Zakir Hossain also ruled that they cannot be barred from taking to culture and sports. The orders came in the wake of a public interest petition filed by Supreme Court lawyers Mahbub Shafi and A K M Hafizul Alam on Sunday. 

Early July pulsed with reports of Iranian mother Sakineh Ashtiani's impending execution, which, at the time, was to be carried out by stoning. Her alleged crime was zina, adultery or fornication, a moral transgression for which more women are punished than men. Because stoning is defended on religious grounds (in Articles 86 and 105 of the Iranian penal code), its champions afford themselves the authority to acquiesce rarely, if ever, to external demands for clemency. So while diplomatic pressure, international offers of asylum, and a Western media push constitute the most visible efforts to "free Sakineh," a new book suggests that "Islamic feminists," or individuals working within Islamic discourse to promote women's empowerment, constitute a more potent activism over the long term.

Là où, dans la plupart des pays arabes, on imagine un affrontement, c’est plutôt un jeu permanent d’alliances, un pacte tacite entre trois puissances inégales : autorisés à élargir leur emprise dans la société, les fondamentalistes cessent de privilégier la conquête du pouvoir politique ; protégés par l’Etat de la férule des intégristes, les intellectuels laïques taisent les travers autoritaires du pouvoir et réservent leur militantisme à des causes consensuelles ; ménagé par les intellectuels et toléré par les religieux, l’Etat autoritaire perdure.

This collection of case studies is a testament to the women and men around the world who have stood up to reject the imposition of norms and values in the name of religion as well as to expose and challenge the privileged position given to religion in public policies. In 2008 AWID launched a call for proposals to document the strategies of women's rights activists confronting religious fundamentalisms. The final 18 case studies presented here are drawn from a wide range of religious and geographical contexts, and cover various fields of activism.

WE DO NOT OBEY: More women follow Ilana Hammerman`s footsteps: we shall not obey illegal and immoral laws. On Friday, July 23, we went on a trip - a dozen Jewish-Israeli women with a dozen West-Bank Palestinian women and four of their children, one of them a baby. We drove through the interior hill country (`Shfela`) and toured Tel Aviv and Yaffa together. We ate at a restaurant, bathed in the sea and had a great time on the beach. We returned via Jerusalem and watched its Old City from afar. 

 The harrowing case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani – a mother of two sentenced to stoning by an Iranian court for adultery – has rightly drawn the world's attention to Iran's draconian penal code, which reserves its cruellest punishments for women. The practice of stoning, in particular, is so abhorrent that even political allies like Brazil have been roused into action. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva offered Ashtiani asylum over the weekend in a direct appeal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran has yet to respond formally, and a foreign leader can have no direct bearing on a domestic legal proceeding. But the Brazilian intervention sends a powerful message to the Islamic Republic: its human rights record can never be divorced from its nuclear diplomacy.

Want to know whether your wife, sister or daughter has left the county? Well, in Saudi Arabia, there's an app for that. Reportedly, male guardians or mahrams in Saudi Arabia are now receiving text message notifications when their female charges leave the country unaccompanied. "iMahram", a friend of mine jokingly called it. According to Wajeha al-Huwaider, a Saudi female activist, when she left the kingdom for a holiday with her family, her husband received a text message from the foreign ministry notifying him that she had departed.

Reprising a legendary 1985 National Geographic cover, this week's Time magazine cover girl is another beautiful young Afghan woman. But this time there is a gaping hole where her nose used to be before it was cut off under Taliban direction. A stark caption reads: "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan". A careful editorial insists that the image is not shown "either in support of the US war effort or in opposition to it". The stated intention is to counterbalance damaging the WikiLeaks revelations – 91,000 documents that, Time believes, cannot provide "emotional truth and insight into the way life is lived in that difficult land".

Since the recent controversy surrounding the French government’s ban on total face coverings (burqa or niqab), the head scarf issue has once again attracted the world’s attention. Indeed, only very few Muslim women cover their face completely, which is a reflection of the attitude preached by Sayed al Tantawi, an imam of Al-Azhar in Cairo, who boldly stated that total face coverings are not in accordance with Islamic teachings. It is therefore not surprising that the education ministry in Syria, a Muslim majority country, has also issued a ban on niqab in all state and private universities.

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