As a part of Muscat Festival there are a series of workshops and lectures being held throughout February. You may not have heard a lot about them because they haven't yet been well advertised...that might just be because they are not properly organised yet, as I've heard this is a trait of the festival!
Anyway there are two ladies I am really excited about...actually I'm desperate to go to see them. Arundhati Roy (on the 12th Feb) and Fatima Mernissi (on the 14th). For those who don't know Arundhati Roy is a novelist and political activist. Her only novel was The God of Small Things and she has published a lot of her essays and speeches. I read something about her being examined for sedition in India. No surprise, she's very outspoken but incredibly articulate.
Fatima Mernissi is a Moroccan Islamic feminist. Her work on Muslim women is amazing and she has written many books from her research.
To show the kind of women they are and their areas of interest I'm putting in some of my favourite quotes of theirs:
To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.
To call someone 'anti-American', indeed to be anti-American, (or for that matter anti-Indian or andti-Timbuktuan) is not just racist, its a failure of the imagination.
The mullahs of the Islamic world and the mullahs of the Hindu world and the mullahs of the Christian world are all on the same side. And we are against them all.
The only thing worth globalizing is dissent.
In the Orient, femininity is under control. Like time, women are still and quiet. They can dance and dream, but not think. Thinking might interfere with men's pleasure.
The most subversive of all is the educated unveiled woman who can write independently and produce and disseminate information, because she breaks the Muslim ruler's monopoly over communication.
Is it possible that Islam's message had only a limited and superficial effect on deeply superstitious seventh-century Arabs who failed to integrate its novel approaches to the world and to women? Is it possible that the hijab, the attempt to veil women, that is claimed today to be a basic Muslim identity, is nothing but the expression of the persistence of the pre-Islamic mentality, the jahiliya mentality that Islam was supposed to annihilate?
(Note: The picture above is called Women Empowerment)