Author Archives: Justin Stearns

Islamic Feminism Revisited

Over at Tabsir there’s a fascinating interview with Ziba Mir-Hosseini on the current state of Islamic feminism and some of the developments that are currently taking place at what she calls the periphery of the Muslim world (specifically Indonesia and Malaysia, but her remarks are relevant for movements in Iran and the Arab world). A couple of things struck me here, but what I found most valuable was how she discusses the contingent nature of advances in gaining for rights for women in the Muslims world. As Mir-Hosseini puts it, it’s not about whether Sunni or Shi’a Islam is more favorable to reinterpreting legal and theological tenets as it is about the interest of individual political regimes in supporting incremental change. In any case, for those of you who have seen her films or read her work, an interesting piece to read. Btw, Mir-Hosseini has been involved in the past few years in creating the group Musawa that is putting forth an actual platform of action to achieve the kinds of aspirational goals she is arguing for here.

Slamming the Times’ Coverage of the Middle East

I sat out J-term in terms of blogging, being bogged down in teaching my course on Orientalism, but as the Spring term begins I have convinced myself that I have time to procrastinate creatively again. In the last few days I have run across two different blogs that have taken issue with the Times’ coverage of the Middle East. The first comes off a new blog on Yemen (itself replacing the lamented Waq al-Waq, Gregory Johnsen has decided that he should probably finish his PhD instead of educating the rest about Yemen, but his co-blogger Brian O’Neill has struck out on his own). Here Brian O’Neill rips into Thomas Friedman’s recent op-ed on Yemen, not in itself a difficult task, but being a journalist himself, Brian pays close attention to Friedman’s rhetoric.
A different affair is that of the debate surrounding Ethan Bronner, Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the Times. Over at The Angry Arab, Asad Abukhalil’s blog (a Lebanese Anarchist/secularist who teaches at UC Stanislaus, and a bitter critic of Israel) there was an interesting exchange between him and Ethan Bronner a while back about the lack of Arabic speaking reporters at the Times. See here.
More recently (in the last few days), however the story of Ethan Bronner’s son serving in the IDF has surfaced, and this has occasioned commentary in the blogosphere by Abukhalil, Abunimah who also has a post over at Mondoweiss.

I’m just reading up on all this myself, but think that the whole debate raises important questions about the presuppositions that US journalists bring with them when they report on the Middle East.