Devices and Desires

Population Policy and Gender Roles in the Islamic Republic

by Homa Hoodfar
published in MER190

The development of population policy in the Islamic Republic of Iran provides fertile ground for reexamining the widely held assumption that Islamist ideology is the antithesis of modernity and surely incompatible with any form of feminism. Recent strategies that the Islamic Republic has adopted to build a public consensus on the necessity of birth control and family planning indicate the flexibility and adaptability of that ideology in response to political and economic realities.

Gender, Population, Environment

by Sally Ethelston
published in MER190

Miryam lives with her family in Manshiyat Nasir, originally a squatter settlement at the foot of Cairo’s Muqattam hills, now largely a brick-built community of small apartment buildings and box-like single family homes. Most now have piped-in water and electricity. Her family is one of the thousands of zabbalin (garbage collector) families comprising a large Christian minority among Manshiyat Nasir’s mostly Muslim residents. They live in a two-story, warehouse-like structure perhaps 25 feet high and about 20 feet square. Off to the side of the main living space, a narrow room has just enough space for a loom; a walled-in area behind the house is home to the family’s 18 pigs.

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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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"Hassiba Ben Bouali, If You Could See Our Algeria"

Women and Public Space in Algeria

by Susan Slyomovics
published in MER192

On January 2, 1992, Algerian feminists demonstrated against the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and their victory in the national elections of December 26, 1991. Their target was the Islamist assault on women’s rights and the threat of violence against women. One of their posters addressed a martyred sister, a moudjahida, killed by the French during the Battle of Algiers in 1956-1957: “Hassiba Ben Bouali, If You Could See Our Algeria” (Hassiba Ben Bouali, Si tu voyais notre Algérie). At the same time, women marching in Oran waved a similar slogan: “Hassiba Ben Bouali, We Will Not Betray You” (Hassiba Ben Bouali, Nous ne te trahirons pas).

Book Review

by Zjaleh Hajibashi
published in MER193

Lila Abu-Lughod, Writing Women’s Worlds (California, 1992).

Edmund Burke III, ed., Struggle and Survival in the Modern Middle East (California, 1993).

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Recent Books on Palestinian Society

by Ellen Fleischmann
published in MER194

Marianne Heiberg and Geir Ovensen et al, Palestinian Society in Gaza, West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem: A Survey of Living Conditions (FAFO, 1993).

Ziad Abu-Amr, Islamic Fundamentalism in the West Bank and Gaza: Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad (Indiana, 1994).

Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal, Palestinians: The Making of a People (Free Press, 1993).

Ebba Augustin, ed., Palestinian Women: Identity and Experience (Zed, 1993).

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Palestine on the Edge

Crisis in the National Movement

by Dan Connell
published in MER194

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Women and Personal Status Law in Iran

An Interview with Mehranguiz Kar

by Homa Hoodfar
published in MER198

Women's Organizations in Kuwait

by Haya al-Mughni
published in MER198

Women’s groups, like all voluntary associations in Kuwait, are controlled and funded by the state. They have elected boards, written constitutions and paid memberships. Law 24 of 1962 governing the activity of associations -- partially amended in 1965 and still in force -- gives the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor full control and power over voluntary associations. The Ministry has the power to refuse to license an association, to dissolve its elected board or to terminate an association if it determines the group not to be beneficial to society as a whole or not to be abiding by its constitution.