Monday, August 10, 2020

the little-known fight of Muslim feminists

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Here, on Arte, an enlightening German documentary that explores the question, to say the least sensitive, of the place of women in Islam, giving voice to Muslim feminists around the world.

Facing the camera, singing or speaking, Muslim women from Tunisia, France and the Sultanate of Oman, recite their favorite verses from the Koran. This original introduction, before listening to each other’s feminist convictions, is one of the particularities of Nadja Frenz’s film: it is, among other things, from the sacred text of Islam that these believers draw their feminism. However, is their religion not considered incompatible with the rights and emancipation of women? Does not the Koranic text allow men to decide for them, depriving them of any inheritance in the process?

The choice of complexity

Although devoted to a controversial subject, the documentary chooses complexity and pedagogy, avoiding easy shortcuts. Nor does it pretend to offer a homogeneous vision of this little-known galaxy that is “Islamic feminism”: between intellectuals in favor of a theological rereading of texts, artists who overcome their feeling of oppression through performances and business women who believe that Islam has given them “All their rights”, the gap is very real. A voice is also given to women who are very critical of Islam, like the media Zineb El Rhazoui, a former journalist from Charlie Hebdo, now under police protection.

In the background, it is a complex relationship to Europe that is emerging, for these women from the Arab world. How to find your own path to emancipation, without simply transposing the Western conception of gender equality or allowing yourself to be “Dictate your feelings”, as deplored by an Omani architect interviewed at length?

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