Women, Islam and the State

by Deniz Kandiyoti
published in MER173

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Fischer and Abedi, Debating Muslims

by Vinay Lal
published in MER177

Michael M.J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi, Debating Muslims: Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition (Wisconsin, 1990).

In the older literature on the Middle East and the Muslim world, Islam almost invariably appeared as a religion of fanaticism: austere in its outlook, menacing in its proselytizing tendencies, intellectually impoverished, antagonistic toward reason and monolithic in its structure. Above all it was described as essentially different from Western rationalism, capitalism and democracy.

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Islam and Human Rights

by Naseer Aruri
published in MER179

Kevin Dwyer, Arab Voices: The Human Rights Debate in the Middle East (Routledge, 1991).

Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics (Westview, 1991).

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Jerusalem, The Islamic City

by Ammiel Alcalay
published in MER182

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Universalism and Solidarity

by Barbara Harlow
published in MER183

Fatima Mernissi, The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam (Addison-Wesley, 1991).

Hisham Sharabi, ed., Theory, Politics and the Arab World: Critical Responses (Routledge, 1990).

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres, eds., Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (Indiana, 1991).

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Is the "Fatwa" a Fatwa?

by Sadiq al-Azm
published in MER183

In saluting author Salman Rushdie and expressing solidarity with his plight, I would like to put on the table the question of whether the notorious “fatwa” issued by Ayatollah Khomeini against Rushdie is really a fatwa in the first place. This is neither an academic exercise nor a purely theoretical investigation, but a matter of great practical relevance to any strategy (and tactics) for helping Rushdie the prisoner, writer and human being transcend the debilitating impasse in which he finds himself.

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The New Orientalism and the Democracy Debate

by Yahya Sadowski
published in MER183

The “collapse of communism” in 1989 and the victory over Iraq in 1991 sparked a wave of triumphal declarations by Western pundits and analysts who believed that all “viable systemic alternatives to Western liberalism” had now been exhausted and discredited. Some then tried to sketch a foreign policy appropriate to the “new world order.” [1] A consistent theme of this “new thinking” was that the peoples of the developing countries must now acknowledge that liberal democracy is the only plausible form of governance in the modern world. Accordingly, support for democratization should henceforth be a central objective of US diplomacy and foreign assistance. [2]

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Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

What Is Wrong with What Went Wrong?

by Adam Sabra | published August 2003

It is no exaggeration to say that Bernard Lewis is the most influential writer on Middle Eastern history and politics in the United States today. Not only has he authored more than two dozen books on the Middle East, he trained large numbers of two subsequent generations of historians of the region. Lewis is a public figure of the first order, publishing widely read articles on Middle Eastern politics. He is perhaps the only scholar of the Middle East to be well-known outside the field -- most academics would be hard pressed to name another historian of the Middle East or the Islamic world, excepting colleagues at their own university. This is ironic, since, as we will see, his interpretation of Islamic history is essentialist and ahistorical. Furthermore, Lewis is greatly respected in US policymaking circles. His opinions on policy matters have been sought by governments run by both major American political parties, and by all reports have been especially heeded by the administration of George W. Bush. An August 29 op-ed by Lewis in the Wall Street Journal concisely states positions which are articles of faith for the Bush administration’s neo-conservatives -- notably that the problems of post-war Iraq are caused by anti-American fascist or Islamist forces seeking to defeat Western Christendom, and that the Westernized former banker Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress are the best candidates to govern a stable Iraq in the future.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Lawfare and Wearfare in Turkey

by Hilal Elver | published April 2008

With war on its eastern borders, and renewed turmoil inside them, Turkey is transfixed by something else entirely: the desire of university-age women to wear the Muslim headscarf on campus, a seemingly innocent sartorial choice that has been forbidden by the courts, off and on, since 1980. At public meetings and street demonstrations, in art exhibits, TV ads, and dance and music performances, headscarf opponents argue vociferously that removing the ban will be the first step backward to the musty old days of the Ottoman Empire. A quieter majority of 70 percent, according to a recent poll, thinks that pious students should be allowed to cover their heads, perhaps because approximately 64 percent of Turkish women do so in daily life.

An Islamic Women's Liberation Movement?

An Interview with Heba Ra'uf 'Izzat

by Karim El-Gawhary
published in MER191

Heba Ra’uf ‘Izzat, 29, is a teaching assistant in the Political Science Department at Cairo University. Active in the Islamist movement, she is known for her academic research on women’s political role from the perspective of political Islam and its theory. She edits the women’s page in al-Sha‘b, a weekly opposition newspaper published by a coalition of the Muslim Brothers and the Labor Party.

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