Headscarves and Hymens – Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution

27.09.2015 La rédaction

Through her articles and actions Mona Eltahawy has fought for the autonomy, security, and dignity of Muslim women, drawing vocal supporters and detractors. Now, in her first book, Headscarves and Hymens, Eltahawy has prepared a definitive condemnation of the repressive forces-political, cultural, and religious-that reduce millions of women to second-class citizens.
Drawing on her years as a campaigner for and commentator on women’s issues in the Middle East, she explains that since the Arab Spring began in 2010, women in the Arab world have had two revolutions to undertake: one fought alongside men against oppressive regimes, and another fought against an entire political and economic system that represses women in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and other nations.
Eltahawy has traveled across the Middle East and North Africa, meeting with women and listening to their stories. Her book is a plea for outrage and action, confronting a “toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend.” A manifesto motivated by hope and fury in equal measure, Headscarves and Hymens is as illuminating as it is incendiary.

In her book Mona Eltahawy, recalls a meeting with a Muslim Brotherhood leader. He was trying to demonstrate that Muslim Brotherhood group believed in pluralism and inclusion.

“And as proof, you are here meeting me and you are naked,” he said. “I am not naked,” Mona Eltahawy protested . “Your hair is naked, your arms are naked, according to God’s law you are naked.”

Headscarves and Hymens – Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution; Mona Eltahawy, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £16.99.

Capture decran 2015-09-27 à 10.49.43

Inside the Brotherhood

Inside the Brotherhood

08.12.2014 La rédaction

This is the first in–depth study of the relationship between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and its own members. Drawing on years of participant observation, extensive interviews, previously inaccessible organizational documents, and dozens of memoirs and writings, the book provides an intimate portrayal of the recruitment and socialization of Brothers, the evolution of their intricate social networks, and the construction of the peculiar ideology that shapes their everyday practices.

Kandil shows why attempts to compare the Brotherhood to secular social movements or typical forms of religious activism obscure its unique nature, and he seeks instead to unlock the organization s unique logic. Building on his original research, Kandil reinterprets the Brotherhood s slow rise and rapid downfall from power in Egypt, and compares it to the Islamist subsidiaries it created and the varieties it inspired around the world.

This timely book will be of great interest to students and scholars of the politics of the Middle East and to anyone who wants to understand the dramatic events unfolding in Egypt and elsewhere in the wake of the Arab uprisings.

Polity Press (21 novembre 2014)


Lille : the Role of Preachers

Lille : the Role of Preachers


Here, the ideological re-Islamisation turns Islam into a support of a communitarian strategy seeking to develop a balance of power within French society in order to have shari‘a law adopted in France. This requires reform of Islamic law, but mostly involves a redefinition of fundamental values of democratic and secular citizenship in France.

Entering this perspective, as the young re-Islamised people say, requires being accompanied by mentors: The role of preachers mobilised by the tendencies of re- Islamisation proves to be crucial. The references quoted by the young people generally show their preferences for one of the tendencies of re-Islamisation. However, in some cases, one of the young people quotes, on the one hand, Sheikh Yunis, a famous preacher of the Tabligh and on the other hand, Tariq Ramadan and Hassan Iquioussen, lecturers of the UOIF.

The discourses of these preachers challenge in various forms the young Muslims as actors of a re-Islamisation. The young people interviewed who are involved in this process appreciate, in fact, the “personal search” as proof of access to another Islam, an Islam different from that of their parents’ which is assimilated in traditions. As they point out, their individuality is involved in this process, but this individuality is far from being autonomous. Instead, it is seen as incomplete and in need of being under the guidance of Islam through intermediary mentors, which breaks with the value of autonomy of the so- called Western model. This value is also presented by Islamism as the cause of the breakdown of the relations of the community and the source of moral confusion and social ills. Communitarian Islamism thus reasserts the young people through the upgrading of a Muslim community based on respect of standards and laws of redemption in a world filled with crisis and uncertainty.

“Youth and Islamist Radicalisation”

Lille, France


Tariq Ramadan : Brother or not a Brother?

Tariq Ramadan : Brother or not a Brother?

08.06.2008 Caroline Fourest

“I have no functional connection with the Muslim Brotherhood“, Tariq Ramadan made a point of declaring for the benefit of the press. As if the Brotherhood was a party that issued membership cards. As if the lack of a formal tie vindicated the rehabilitation of his grandfather and the teaching of the latter’s thought to European Muslims – without any attempt to adopt a critical perspective. “It’s time to put a stop to these fantasies,” he declared to the Nouvel Observateur. I am independent; there are differences of opinion between me and the Brotherhood in regard to matters of doctrine, even if one of my uncles, Al-Islam al-Banna, is a member of the movement’s governing body.   But you know, the Brotherhood is not a homogeneous organization.   There are differing groups and subgroups….”[1] There are in effect different tendencies within the Brotherhood. But it is important to understand that these differences concern questions of method – never the objectives to be attained. It is quite likely that certain Muslim Brothers do find the heir’s methods a bit too modern for their taste. But that does not make of Tariq Ramadan a modern Muslim! You can be communist without having the party card and disagree with other communists; but that doesn’t turn you into an anarchist. Wherever he goes Ramadan spreads the form Islamism that he inherited. An ambassador for Islamism all the more dangerous and difficult to pin down since he claims to be autonomous. Antoine Sfeir, founder of the Cahiers de l’Orient [The Orient Review] who has written several books on Islamism, and who was one of the first to have exposed Tariq Ramadan’s double-speak is certainly not mistaken in saying: “As far as I’m concerned, he is no doubt one of the key figures of the Brotherhood.” [2] Richard Labévière, an RFI [Radio France International] reporter and author of several books on Islamist terrorism, bears him out. In April 1998, in the course of a trip to Cairo, he had occasion to interview the head of the Brotherhood, Guide Machour. The latter confirmed the fact that belonging to the Brotherhood was not a question of “being a member” or “not being a member”, but a question of adhering to a certain way of thinking; and he added : “The work carried out by Hani and Tariq is totally in keeping with the purest traditions of the Muslim Brotherhood.”[3]

[1] Serge Raffy, “Le vrai visage de Tariq Ramadan [The True Face of Tariq Ramadan], Le Nouvel Observateur, 29 January-4 February 2004.

[2] Interview with Antoine Sfeir, 29 December 2003.

[3] Interview with Richard Labévière, 15 May 2004.

More in Brother Tariq.