Marieme Helie Lucas is an Algerian sociologist, activist, founder of ‘Secularism is a Women’s Issue,’ and founder and former International Coordinator of ‘Women Living Under Muslim Laws.’ Here, and in a few subsequent article interviews, we will discuss gender, Islam, Muslims, and this context surrounding the urgent case of Noura Hussein Hammad.
Hammad has been sentenced to death and has less than two weeks to appeal the case. The hashtag: #JusticeForNoura. There is a petition. Sodfa Daaji’s is the person to email. Daaji’s email if you would like to sign the petition, and please provide first and last name and country, then please send an email to the following contact: [email protected].
*This amounts to an activist and educational series.*
The conversation with Helie Lucas moved into the topic of gender roles in Islam. The Islamic prescribed role for men and women. The question being: what makes for a better foundation for the rights of women compared to conservatism and traditional religion?
Helie Lucas is quick to point out. The we should fight within Islam, but, rather, within each of our societies. She does not feel personal responsibilities for the changing of Islam, Christianity, or other religions.
“As a citizen, I feel responsibility for changing laws in democratic ways, towards more equality between all human beings, regardless of class, age, sex, beliefs, etc.,” Helie Lucas said, “As a secularist, I do not want to live under non-voted un-changeable a-historical supposedly-divine laws. This is the essence of democracy.”
Helie Lucas described the ways in which activists in Muslim contexts fight conservativism. They fight to change regressive laws. They work to promote progressive ideals. She pointed to a case in Algeria.
In Algeria, since 1984, women have been working on wali. That is to say, women have worked to end the institution. In this termination of wali, women would become “legal adults and not forever minors who cannot enter into a contract, by themselves, without a male tutor. So far, we have not succeeded.”
Helie Lucas pointed to a courageous women’s rights organization “20 ans Barakat ! (‘20 years is enough!’).” It presents women and men struggling on the ground in many of their countries.
Helie Lucas provided a link:
The clip shows for instance, women’s demonstrations in the capital-city, Algiers, during which home-made bombs were thrown to demonstrators by fundamentalist groups. These initiatives need to be supported – not lead – from the outside. In Sudan, on the forefront are the women’s rights and human rights organizations that are leading the struggle for Noura’s rights. They do so at great risk for themselves.
Helie Lucas described the undergirding progressive movements in the Muslim world and elsewhere.
“But they are little considered outside their countries – especially in the West which globally tends to ignore them. Noura’s case is a good opportunity to reach out in solidarity to progressive, feminist, humanist, secular forces in our parts of the world,” Helie Lucas concluded, “It is an opportunity to create working links that would last even after we save Noura’s life – as I am now convinced we will, collectively.”
The hashtag: #JusticeForNoura. There is a petition. Sodfa Daaji’s is the person to email. Daaji’s email if you would like to sign the petition, and please provide first and last name and country, then please send an email to the following contact: [email protected].
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