Debating the status of women in Tunisia


As noted in a previous post on the Contending Modernities blog by Michael Driessen, post-authoritarian Tunisia has become the site of fascinating debate between contending modernities — one being self-consciously Islamist and democratic and the other being assertively secular and liberal. One battlefield where the conflict is currently fiercest is the status of women.

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“Mooz-lum”: faith flourishing in freedom


A review of the film “Mooz-lum.

In the new film “Mooz-lum,” an American school teacher tells a Muslim pupil his name is spelled wrong because there is no “u” after the “q.” Another little boy, relishing the chance to make fun of the kid sitting next to him, shouts, “It’s a Mooz-lum name!”

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Catholicism and feminism


About twelve years ago, I gave a paper at a conference on “Women’s Health and Human Rights” at the Vatican. A highlight of the event was a special audience for the conference participants with Pope John Paul II. To the surprise and delight of his listeners, he benignly proclaimed “Io sono il Papa feminista”— “I am the feminist pope.” And Pope John Paul II meant it. He repeatedly called for the development of a “new feminism” which would honor and celebrate the “feminine genius” in all walks of life. At the same time, it is safe to say that many people don’t share the late Pope’s easy association of feminism and the papacy.

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Challenging marriage laws in contemporary Shi’i Iran


The contradictions of growing up the unveiled granddaughter of an Iranian ayatollah had not occurred to me until I was confronted in 1988 by Dr. Christian Troll, a scholar of Islam and a Jesuit priest living in India at the time. “How is it possible,” he asked, “that your grandfather did not ask you to veil?” Indeed! “Why hadn’t he?,” I wondered. What was specific to him or to Iran at that time in history that made it seem perfectly normal for him to let his daughters and granddaughters go unveiled?

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An unlikely conversation: a Catholic reaction to the CM Launch


A college president who is a Catholic and a scholar of Islam cautions that a scholarly project on Catholicism and Islam should not ignore “rapture-ready Christians,” Sufi Muslims, or Christian women who have joined the “Women Aglow” movement. A woman who converted from Catholicism to Islam while a teenager, then became a scholar of Islam and wears a head scarf to boot, criticizes modernity for attacking family and community.

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Multicultural modernity in Montréal


A remarkable experiment in urban modernity is taking place in Canada. Seeking a humane response to the reality of global capitalism and global migration, the government of Québec has enthusiastically embraced the concept of a “social economy.” Although this concept is explicitly secular, its Catholic heritage can be seen in its commitment to social justice and the common good.

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