Uncensored: Muslim women on women′s rights
A new book "Usensurert" (Uncensored) by Norwegian non-fiction writer and journalist Birgitte C. Huitfeldt takes a look behind the veil of what it means to be a woman in the Muslim world. By Jan Tomes
The need for real freedom in Egypt: the book opens with Nawal El Saadawi, an Egyptian physician, author and well-known women′s rights advocate. She explains why Middle Eastern women have so far failed to make a breakthrough in their fight: "Women can′t be liberated under the patriarchal, imperialistic and militaristic system that determines our lives now. We are governed by power, not justice; by false democracy, not real freedom"
A Syrian psychoanalyst in exile: Syrian psychoanalyst Rafah Nached was arrested in Damascus in September 2011 after organising meetings to help traumatised anti-Assad protesters. She was freed two months later and now lives in exile in Paris. "In the Arab society, change is refused because whoever does not join the mass is considered an atheist or abnormal," she says in Huitfeldt′s book
Democracy is people′s will: Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer who has dedicated her life to fighting for women′s, children′s and refugee rights. A target of threats by the government and the police in her country, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. "Democracy does not recognise east and west; democracy is people′s will. Therefore, I do not acknowledge the idea of various models of democracy," she says
Peace between Israel and Palestinians: "of course, occupation is male, especially military occupation. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is a man-made conflict and we, as women, have to end it," says Palestinian legislator, activist and scholar Hanan Ashrawi in the book. Despite making some controversial comments about Jewish refugees, Ashrawi has contributed significantly to the peace process between the two countries
Men′s fear of women in Yemen: feminist Amal Basha is from Yemen, which placed last in the UN Gender Equality Index in 2016. Women′s economic, social and cultural rights are restricted by Sharia law there - but why? "Men are afraid of women because women are the voice of peace. They have no interest in wars since they are not arm dealers willing to milk the country through all sorts of military deals," she says
A sign of hope in Libya? To end the ongoing civil war in her homeland, both genders will have to change their attitudes, says Libyan Hajer Sharief, a member of the UN advisory committee and Kofi Annan foundation: "If you look into the houses, you will see mothers pushing their young sons to go to the war. Even if they don′t carry weapons themselves, they are definitely contributing to the circle of violence in Libya"
Honour killings in Jordan: Jordanian Rana Husseini is a feminist, human rights defender and an investigative journalist, whose reporting sheds light on violence against women. "The Jordanian society blames women for everything: for being raped, harassed, giving birth to children of the wrong sex and even for their husbands′ unfaithful and womanising behaviour. The list is endless," she says on the topic of honour killings