This week's editor

Mary Fitzgerald

Mary Fitzgerald is Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Are we all beheaded Copts?: outrage in Libya

Is the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians by ISIS in Libya associated with a broader political project of cleansing the region of religious minorities? Would this not deserve demonstrations of solidarity?

Rest in power, Assia Djebar

Why is it that the homeland always rejects its most erudite children? Latefa Guemar pays tribute to the feminist writer remembered for her intellectual honesty and unflinching stance against Algerian patriarchy, even from beyond its borders.

Sharia law, apostasy and secularism

Opposing religious fundamentalism is a dangerous political activity. It is not a distraction from ‘real’ politics - the demands of social justice and civil liberties - but a pre-condition for achieving them.

Islam and the "culture of offence": missing the point

In the age of ISIS, dissent and criticism of religion is a life and death necessity. It has been - and remains - key for human progress.

Gendered paradoxes of Egypt’s transition

Four years after the downfall of Mubarak, women face a new patriarchal bargain: abandoning all forms of independent organizing in return for protection of their rights.

To take a stand is more important than to take a distance

Instead of distancing ourselves from terrorist crimes, as progressive Muslims we should confront the ultra conservative, violent Wahhabi/salafi version of Islam that is practised by both professional terrorists and despotic nations like Saudi Arabia.

The ethics of feminist engagement: discussing feminism-as-imperialism

The responses by Saadia Toor and Deepa Kumar to Meredith Tax's article depend on a one-dimensional and tired discussion of a collusive feminism as the continuing source of justifications for imperialism.

"Support the right to make fun of extremists": an interview with Caroline Fourest

We are facing a political threat, a totalitarian Islamist threat that manifests in terrorism. Journalists are defending something which is elementary to our democracy: our freedom to breathe and to laugh.

Freedom of expression: a sacred right

There is a disconnect between the teachings of the Qur’an and much of the Muslim population’s understanding of the Qur’an. How do we address and resolve this issue?

Charlie Hebdo: "There is no way they will make us put down our pens."

Pen against Kalashnikov: courage against atrocity. People of Muslim heritage call for combatting Islamist ideology by political means and mass mobilisation.

"Truth needs witnesses"

The column Saïd Mekbel published the day before he was assassinated in 1994 remains sadly topical today - recalling murdered journalists everywhere. Republished in tribute to the people killed today at the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo

Article 11: feminists negotiating power in Egypt

Faced with unequal power relations at the negotiating table and authoritarian consolidation, a member of the 50-committee explores how feminist voices achieved leverage when drafting the 2014 Egyptian Constitution to include article 11. 

Egypt: a reality too dark in which to glimpse hope?

The last known message from the Egyptian activist Zainab Mahdy reads, " It's like we're digging in water...There is no justice…I am aware of that…there is no victory coming…we are just lying to ourselves so that we can live."

Progressive Muslims in a world of ISIS and Islamophobes

Ani Zonneveld, president of Muslims for Progressive Values, explains the struggle to organize progressive Muslim communities and institutions in a fight back in the era of ISIS.

Young feminists: resisting the tide of fundamentalisms

Fundamentalism is a root cause of multiple forms of violence experienced by young women and trans*youth worldwide. Young feminists human rights defenders are key actors in this space.

The stories we tell about ISIS and women

Political and popular discussions about strategies to confront ISIS are doing women in Iraq and Syria a disservice, and playing into the hands of ISIS.

Sexualized violence in Iraq: how to understand and fight it

Sexualised and gender-based violence in Iraq, highlighted in recent weeks in relation to ISIS atrocities, has been at the heart of sectarian and authoritarian politics and developments since 2003. How can we talk about it and mobilise against it?

The Handmaid's Tale of El Salvador

Poverty, misogyny, and Christian fundamentalism in El Salvador lie behind the prison sentences of up to forty years handed down to seventeen women who were arrested for the crime of abortion, but sentenced for murder.

Iran: a 'bloody stain' on the nation

The war on women continues to manifest itself in different forms and intensity globally; tarnishing all societies with a ‘bloody stain’. In Iran, hard-liner interpretations of Islamic principles dictate gender norms, violation of which can be fatal.

The Antis: anti-imperialist or anti-feminist?

A recent article on "imperialist feminism" accuses the US women's movement of being a cheerleader for American empire from the war in Afghanistan to the present. Is this a sectarian strategy that misses the target and attacks the liberals instead of the right?

State racism and sexism in post-war Sri Lanka

Central to the resurgence of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism in post-war Sri Lanka is a redefinition of gender role and identities. Familial ideology is a key pillar of this discourse with serious adverse implications for women and gender equality

Speaking with a forked tongue: whither Malaysia’s moderate Islam?

Responding to the fatwa against their group, Sisters in Islam are calling for the promotion of love and compassion in Islam, in the face of rising extremism and intolerance in Malaysia.

'Shariafication by stealth' in the UK

Access to justice is being denied in the UK in the shadow of neoliberalism and religious fundamentalism. Minority women are being denied the right to participate in the wider political community as citizens rather than subjects.

Being Malala

Recipients of humanitarian awards often invite controversy. In Pakistan, religious and political identities are valued more than the contributions of such recipients. Malala Yousafzai may have the Nobel Peace Prize, but she remains the target of criticism from Pakistani conservatives and also many 'progressives'.

Secularism at risk in Sub-Saharan secular states: the challenges for Senegal and Mali

Secularism is being challenged in several Sub-Saharan African states which have long guarded it as a principle of governance. Its preservation is important for the protection of women's citizen rights from religious interventions. In French.

La laïcité à l’épreuve dans les États laïques d’Afrique au Sud du Sahara : Les défis pour le Sénégal et le Mali

La laïcité est mise à l’épreuve dans plusieurs États d’Afrique subsaharienne qui l’ont gardé comme principe de gouvernance. Or sa préservation est importante pour les femmes, car elle permet de protéger leurs droits citoyens de toute intervention religieuse qui n’a jamais été aussi conservatrice et liée à la ‘droitisation’ complice du politique.

Conquering fear with hope: Secularism 2014

The Secularism Conference taking place in London this weekend is a chance to hear activists who are transforming human rights. As western academics teach that secularism has had its day, many activists from the global south consider that it is vital to oppose the religious right.

The common factor: sexual violence and the Egyptian state, 2011-2014

We must conceptualise the epidemic levels of sexual violence in post-revolutionary Egypt at least partly as “state violence”, and resist the state’s attempt to selectively appropriate women’s rights. Every post-revolutionary Egyptian regime has the blood of women on its hands.

Promoting the global secular alternative in the ISIS era

While many of us watch in horror as ISIS advances, and fundamentalist ideas spread across religious traditions around the world, Maryam Namazie and Marieme Hélie-Lucas - secular feminists from Iran and Algeria - told Karima Bennoune why they are convening the International Secular Conference in London.

Your fatwa does not apply here

Karima Bennoune has won the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction with her book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. She spoke to Deniz Kandiyoti last year about the path that led her to collect these stories. 

The UN should not let Sudan get away with murder

When the UN Human Rights Council meets this week to discuss the human rights situation in Sudan, will member states condemn the targeted attacks on civilians and mass forced displacement caused by Sudanese forces? Or will they keep sending a strong signal that Sudan can, and will, continue to get away with murder?

IS: is Jordan next?

Islamic State has already taken over significant areas of Iraq and Syria. Jordan abuts both—and could be the next target.

Compromise with political Islam is impossible

On the 20th anniversary of the fundamentalist assassination of Algerian educator Salah Chouaki, Karima Bennoune translates his warning - so relevant today - about the need to be uncompromising in the battle against the very ideology that motivated his murder.

From 1990s Algeria to Iraq today: trampling Islam underfoot in the name of Jihad

What is the ideology motivating alleged “warriors of God” to “trample Islam underfoot in the name of Jihad”?  Algerian anthropologist Mahfoud Bennoune explored this question in 1994, offering an analysis of the political beliefs motivating “throat-slitting emirs” still much-needed today.

From 1990s Algeria to 9/11 and ISIS: understanding the history of "Homo islamicus fundamentalensis"

Today’s brutal jihadists like “Islamic State” follow in the footsteps of fundamentalists who have afflicted Muslim majority societies since the 12th century. Algerian anthropologist Mahfoud Bennoune revisited that history in order to strategize against jihadists - a task which remains essential.

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