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Focus Group Social/Religious .Issues:
Women in Islam

Muslims have very different views about the role of women in society.  Some Muslim countries restrict greatly the role of women in society, proscribing strict dress codes and even going so far as to forbid them from going to school.  Other Muslim countries are more lax in requiring in their views towards women.  The Koran itself expressly supports women, but the roles of men and women in most Muslim societies are distinctly different.  Islam has a reputation in the West for being prejudicial towards women and women's rights, but many Muslims would not agree.  

Questions to keep in mind:  How do Muslims who restrict women's freedoms defend their actions and rules?  How do some Muslim women respond to these restrictions?  Why do they support them?  Why do they object to them? Some Muslims have argued that their societies should become more "Western," while others have said that traditional values should be even more closely observed.  What policies towards women's rights issues such as equality do each of these options mean?  (Check this link out!)  What were the policies of the Shah, for example, and then of the Khomeini government?  How was life different for Muslim women in Iran before and after the Islamic Revolution?  The veil has been described as a "symbol of rejection" for Muslim women?  What are they rejecting? Are all Muslim women happy with the changes that have taken place in Iran? 

Islam and Feminists, book review.  Another informative book review on Women in Islam. There are some very good articles here - read them!  Check out these Lycos sites on women and Islam and this site on Middle Eastern feminism.  Check out these articles and also this site which has good radio broadcasts of lectures dealing with women in Islam.  Read this essay and this one also for a good overview.

Beyond the Veil is an excellent link about Iran, including a  fascinating dialogue between two women, Iranian Sima Daad and American Deborah Whitley. Also check out these links: Islam in Iran: The origins of Islam and its evolution in Iran;  The Islamic Revolution: Explore why the '79 Revolution took place and what has happened since then; Women In Iran: Women's rights in Iran, pre-Islamic Revolution through today.

Read all about Afghanistan here, and check out all the various links in that page -- an excellent source of information about Afghanistan.  See what it is like to live with the Taliban.

CNN Sites: Afghan Woman Refugees, UN and Muslim Women, Bangladesh Writer to Death
Bad, Band.

NPR Programs: Women in Iran, Women in Islam: Pros and Cons, Feminist Writer, Muslim Women.

Egyptian Women's Rights -- NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports from Cairo on a new law in Egypt that gives women some, limited rights in divorce cases, such as the legal means of trying to recover alimony payments that are in arrears. The law is considered a small, but incremental improvement for Egyptian women's rights. (5:40) 

Honor Killing Deportation -- NPR's Barbara Bradley reports on a Jordanian woman who is seeking asylum in the US because her family is planning to kill her if she goes home. The woman had premarital sex. Her father said she brought shame to the family, and its honor could only be restored if she were killed. The woman and her fiancÚ, now her husband, fled to the US. The Bureau of Immigration Appeals says she is not eligible for asylum because her case is a family situation, not government persecution. She has taken her case to a federal appeals court. How much, if anything, does this have to do with religion? How much with Arab culture? (7:30)