Friday, 29 May 2015
Thursday, 28 May 2015
Girls are "like a timebomb ready to explode and ruin the family's reputation," the Moroccan jewelry trader tells his customer as she admires a display of necklaces.
The solution is to "get rid of this bomb" by marrying your daughters off as soon as you can, he explains.
His customer, Hannane, replies firmly that Islam does not advocate child marriage and that women can also play an important role outside the home.
Hannane is one of a new generation of female religious leaders, known as morchidat -- part of a quiet social revolution in the North African country.
Their groundbreaking work is the subject of a British film, "Casablanca Calling," which will be showcased on Tuesday night at an international conference on child marriage in Morocco's famous port city.
The morchidat were introduced in 2006, partly in an attempt to counter Islamist radicalism following suicide bombings that rocked Casablanca in 2003.
The hope is that these female spiritual leaders can both encourage a more tolerant Islam and improve the position of girls and women in Moroccan society.
"The morchidat are a rare experiment in the Muslim world," the film's Moroccan associate producer Merieme Addou told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"It's the first time in a Muslim country that a religious role has been given to a woman."
The morchidat give guidance to women and young people in mosques, schools, orphanages, hospitals, prisons and rural villages.
But Addou says they have their work cut out as they try to overcome the many problems facing Moroccan society.
"So many cultural traditions -- from early marriage to women's education -- have become confused with religious teaching and it is challenge to separate them in people's minds," she adds.
Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Tuesday, 26 May 2015
When Omaima Abu-Bakr was a teenager in Egypt, she wore miniskirts and high heels — in line with the fashion of the time. But she says the freedom in fashion didn’t translate to equity in education or work or family life.
Now a professor at Cairo University and co-founder of The Women and Memory Forum, a women's rights NGO, she dresses much more modestly, including wearing a headscarf. But she says women in Egypt actually have more rights now than they did when she was young. And she believes that with a bit of re-interpretation of classic texts, Islam and feminism can work hand-in-hand.
“We’re correcting [and] we’re reforming past, patriarchal interpretations of the religion,” she says.
Most of the conflicts between Islam and modern women's rights she attributes to culture, rather than the actual religion. She sees Islam as a dynamic religion, adaptable to the times.
In her research, she digs into the Quran and other sources of Sharia law, analyzing from what she calls a perspective of “equality and justice.”
“I still am, day in and day out, trying to deal with these conflicting orders or diversions to discourses. Trying to deal with them on a personal level because I have a personal stake,” she says. “This is part of my self-perception. I’m a practicing Muslim person and a feminist too,” she says.
Abu-Bakr represents one of several perspectives on how observant Muslim women can merge their religious beliefs with their feminist values.
Amna Nosseir is also exploring this path. She teaches Islamic philosophy and comparative religion in the women’s section at Al-Azhar University. She also served as the dean of the section for a decade before she "quasi-retired” to focus on teaching and advocating for a stronger role for women at the government-affiliated religious institution and in society in general.
Monday, 25 May 2015
Friday, 22 May 2015
Thursday, 21 May 2015
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
Tuesday, 19 May 2015
Monday, 18 May 2015
Friday, 15 May 2015
Thursday, 14 May 2015
'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
One solider, a First Sergeant in the IDF’s engineering unit who was sent to Gaza City, said: “The briefing on rules of engagement was [to open fire at], ‘Anything you think you should [open fire at]… Anyone you spot that you can be positive is not the IDF.’ The only emphasis regarding rules of engagement was to make sure you weren’t firing at IDF forces, but other than that, ‘Any person you see.’ From the very start they told us, ‘Shoot to kill.’ As far as the IDF was concerned, there wasn’t supposed to be any civilian population there.”
The Israeli air force dropped thousands of leaflets on areas it was preparing to attack, but according to the testimonies, it was assumed that once these leaflets had been distributed, anyone left would be from Hamas, or one of the other militant groups that took part in the war.
Another first sergeant, from an infantry division operating northern Gaza, said that he was told that, “if it looks like a man, shoot. It was simple: You’re in a motherf***ing combat zone. A few hours before you went in the whole area was bombed, if there’s anyone there who doesn’t clearly look innocent, you apparently need to shoot that person.”