This past year the Middle East was defined by the Arab uprisings that began in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Syria. Tunisians were the first to successfully remove their leader, President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in January. While the successful removal of Ben Ali was a sign of hope and change, Tunisia is undergoing a difficult transition with instability, continued protests, and in some case violence. One example of this continued instability is a series of protests around the recent broadcast of the film Persepolis. Continue reading
In her memoir, The Bread of Angels, Stephanie Saldana wrote about an Italian Jesuit who restored a tenth century monastery near Damascus, and then dedicated it to Muslim/Christian dialogue. Father Paulo was recently forced into exile by the Assad regime, but he’s back. Stephanie joins us with an update.
Even though 98% of its population practices Islam, the Western African country of Niger is a secular state, protected by laws mostly inherited from the French. In recent years, the government has adopted some woman-friendly policies but rejected a few as well. What’s behind those rejections? What role does Islam play in the politics of women’s rights laws? Alice Kang, a PhD candidate in political science at UW-Madison with focus on African Studies, spent a year in Niger to look for answers. She sat down with Inside Islam to share her findings. Continue reading