Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Gender Equality

From CNN:

'...Muslim extremist women are challenging al Qaeda's refusal to include -- or at least acknowledge -- women in its ranks, in an emotional debate that gives rare insight into the gender conflicts lurking beneath one of the strictest strains of Islam.

In response to a female questioner, al Qaeda No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said in April that the terrorist group does not have women. A woman's role, he said on the Internet audio recording, is limited to caring for the homes and children of al Qaeda fighters.

His remarks have since prompted an outcry from fundamentalist women, who are fighting or pleading for the right to be terrorists. The statements have also created some confusion, because in fact suicide bombings by women seem to be on the rise, at least within the Iraq branch of al Qaeda...'

I have some quibble with the wording in this article (‘pleading for the right to be terrorists’, etc.), though it is an interesting read. I also have a problem with the inherent censorship in this article, like others, which refer to online forums as sources without giving any URLs. Nonetheless it’s an interesting analysis of the role of the internet in allowing marginalized women’s voices to be heard.

Also of note are Shabana Mir’s comments in the Religion Dispatches blog:

‘…[al-Zawahiri’s] statement also works with the (Western and secular) Other’s single-dimensional notions of extremist Muslims—the men fight in the field and the illiterate women care for innumerable children indoors. In a sense, the statement upholds the Orientalism of the other. It reaffirms the binaries, the black-and-white ideas of self and difference on both sides…’