A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
Volume 1, Issue 1
PDF Version of the Publication: Unveiled_Oct2013_Final1
Editor: Maryam Namazie
Design: Maha Kamal
In this issue:
Exclusive Interview: The rise of Fitnah: ready to cause affliction
Editorial: Rouhani’s fake smile; the war on women continues
News Flash: Crimes against women
Campaign: Against legal paedophilia in Iran
Arts: Voices of women against Islamism
The Rise of Fitnah Targets Islamism; ‘Ready to Cause Affliction’
Women’s eNews Interview with Maryam Namazie
The below interview was published on Women’s eNews.
Women’s eNews: Why did you label the campaign ‘Fitnah’? In the email received yesterday, you say “women are seen to be the source of fitnah or affliction”, could you please elaborate?
Maryam Namazie: In Islam, women are seen to be the source of fithah or affliction. In one hadith, Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, said: “I have left behind no fitnah more harmful to men, than women.” [Al-Bukhari, Muslim]. This is a recurring theme in all major religions. There is a Jewish prayer that says: “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler the universe who has not created me a woman”. In the Bible, there is one verse that says: “Her filthiness is in her skirts”. [Lam.1:8-9] There are of course many examples of religion’s misogynist perception of women.
In practice, this translates into an obsession with the control and restriction of women in order to maintain everything from family honour to societal order. This is most visibly experienced for women living under Islamic laws because of Islam’s access to political and state power via Islamism or political Islam.
To the extent that Islamism has power, veiling is enforced by morality police and women are imprisoned for escaping forced marriages or stoned to death for adultery.
The extent of hatred towards women runs deep. Recently in Marivan, Iran, a judge ordered a young man to be dressed in women’s clothing and a hejab and paraded around the city by security forces in order to humiliate him. Being a woman is considered the greatest of humiliations.
Whilst the term fitnah is perceived to be a negative one if one looks at it from the perspective of religion and Islamism, it represents something very different when looked at from another viewpoint. It is always the woman who transgresses norms that is deemed to be “fitnah”. It is the woman who refuses to submit, the one who resists and is disobedient. In that sense, the women’s liberation movement is a source of fitnah for those who insist on women’s oppression.
Our movement is Islamism’s worst fitnah…
Women’s eNews: What sparked this campaign? – Is it a campaign against religion? men? religious men? a state? Who are you specifically targeting with this campaign?
Maryam Namazie: Finah represents a new movement for a new era. The brutal era of unbridled Islamism, US-led militarism and free market reign is over. Today is an era of the 99% movement and revolutions and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa – many of them female-led. Whilst it may still be hard to see given the perceived “gains” by Islamists in the region (in fact as counter-revolutionary forces aimed at suppressing the revolutions), the change of era is palpable.
Fitnah is a movement of women and men defending freedom, equality and secularism and calling for an end to misogynist cultural, religious and moral laws and customs, compulsory veiling, sex apartheid, sex trafficking, and violence against women.
Whilst our focus is on Iran in particular, and the Middle East and North Africa in general, it’s an international movement. We don’t see women’s rights as being western. As women’s rights campaigners opposing compulsory veiling in Iran said during a mass demonstration in 1979: “women’s rights are not eastern or western but universal”.
We also don’t see rights as culturally relative. Rights have been fought for by the working class and progressive social movements and belong to all humanity. The right to vote is not considered western even though the first country to have the right to vote was in the west. This idea of rights being western and culturally relative is stressed in particular when it comes to women rights and freedoms.
Also, whilst all religions are anti-woman, our focus is on Islam and political Islam given its impact on our region and the world.
US suffragette and abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton said “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation”. This is true in particular with regards Islam and Islamism today.
Of course when speaking of Islam or any religion, we are not referring to religion as a personal belief. Everyone has a right to religion and atheism but Islam today is not a personal matter but an industry.