Saturday, March 12, 2011

Arab Women

March 8 was International Women's Day 2011. With so many revolts and revolutions occurring throughout the Arab World it is important not marginalize the role of Arab women's participation. I am posting a Riz Khan show covering this particular topic. He interviews Dr. Rabab El-Mahdi (American University in Cairo), Dr. Frances Hasso (Duke University) and Najde Al-Ali (University of London) for their thoughts and insights.

I'm posting an interview with another Arab woman from Saudi Arabia named Hissa Hilal. She has become quite famous within the Arab world for her controversial poems. Hilal originally recited her works on a popular televised Arabic poetry contest. She wears the Niqab which is a black veil completely covering a woman's face and body. Many Westerners consider the Niqab a perfect symbol of gender inequality rife in the Middle East. Hilal may not be a feminist and is proudly veiled, but she defies the stereotypical view of a passive Arab Muslim woman.

Here is a loose translation of one of her poems:
I have seen evil from the eyes of the subversive fatwas in a time when what is lawful is confused with what is not lawful;

When I unveil the truth, a monster appears from his hiding place; barbaric in thinking and action, angry and blind; wearing death as a dress and covering it with a belt [referring to suicide bombing];

He speaks from an official, powerful platform, terrorizing people and preying on everyone seeking peace; the voice of courage ran away and the truth is cornered and silent, when self-interest prevented one from speaking the truth. (translated from Hassan Hassan at the National)

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