Date: 21 February 2016
In the Muslim TV debate programme Forum on Friday, journalist Nazan Gökdemir interviewed Sineb el-Masrar, a German-Moroccan writer and activist, and discussed the latter’s new book Emancipation in Islam: A Reckoning with Its Enemies. El-Masrar has attained an increasingly high public profile after founding Gazelle, an intercultural women’s magazine, and after participating in several rounds of the government-sponsored ‘Islam conference’ that sought to bring together Muslim representatives and political decision-makers. El-Masrar sees herself as providing a voice for Muslim women who want to live their faith in ways that might not be accepted by more conservative and traditionalist segments in the Muslim community. In this regard, she directs some of her harshest criticisms at the Muslim organisations in Germany and their representatives, whom she deems unresponsive to women’s concerns. For el-Masrar, fellow Muslim women also need to rethink their strategy: according to her, it is not just that many of them are complicit in the maintenance of patriarchal structures that limit women’s choices; rather, even self-styled ‘Islamic feminists’ are often too narrow-minded in their conceptions of permissible forms of Islamic religiosity, or so el-Masrar argues. For her, what is necessary is a reappraisal of the diversity of Muslim women’s lives. This applies to Islamic history, which el-Masrar takes as offering a range of powerful female figures, as well as to contemporary society.