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Beyond the Veil

Voices, features and reports from the Middle East and elsewhere that go beyond the veil of mainstream media, current headlines, gender stereotypes, prejudice and language.

Brief an... Nasrin Sotoudeh

on Sunday, 08 September 2019.

Nasrin Sotoudeh

 


Bild: Helene Aecherli


Liebe Nasrin Sotoudeh,

Sollten Sie diese Zeilen jemals lesen, werden Sie sich vielleicht darüber wundern, dass ich Ihnen hier ein Kompliment mache. 

Brief an...Stephanie Siegrist

on Sunday, 08 September 2019. Posted in General

Stephanie Siegrist

 

 

 

Bild: Julia Hegemann


Liebe Stephanie Siegrist,

Ich muss gestehen: Ich habe mich beim Versuch, Ihr Engagement griffig zu beschreiben, eben ziemlich verheddert. Erst wollte ich das Bild von David und Goliath heraufbeschwören, doch das schien mir irgendwie zu aufgeblasen und vor allem, zu abgedroschen.

Brief an... Rana Ahmad

on Sunday, 08 September 2019.

Rana Ahmad

 

Bild: Christian Faustus


Liebe Rana Ahmad
,

als wir vor kurzem miteinander telefonierten, Sie in Köln, ich auf der Redaktion in Zürich, sagten Sie etwas, das mich zutiefst bewegte und das ich wohl nie aufhören werde zu zitieren.

"Yemen should be a just, civic and democratic state for all"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Friday, 21 December 2018. Posted in Jemen

Civil society in Yemen

The first round of peace negotiations in Stockholm offer a big chance for war-torn Yemen to finally enter into a sustainable peace process. But there is one central aspect missing: Yemeni women still aren't included in the negotiations. Antelak Almutawakal, one of the strongest voices of Yemeni civil society, asks the international community to relentlessly push for peace in Yemen, to stopp the arms trade to forces involved in the war and above all: to get women from all conflict parties to the negotiation table. “It’s not only a matter of rights”, she says. “It’s a matter of needs.”

 


View of the rooftops of the Yemeni capital Sana'a. The photo has been taken before the war.
But Sana'a is still one of the most beautiful capitals of the world.
Photo: Helene Aecherli 

 

From The Edge of Hope

Written by Helene Aecherli, Abdo K. Ramadan on Friday, 26 October 2018. Posted in Jemen

A spotlight on Yemen

Far beyond international attention the war in Yemen is entering its fourth year. It's a multi-layered war in which national as well as regional actors are hopelessly entangled, the Saudi military coalition being one of the driving forces. Tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed and a famine of epic dimensions is lingering. The famine is not only due to the lack of food but also of the lack of means to buy food as government employees haven't received any salaries for over two years. That's the layer of economic warfare. So far there is no political will to push for peace negotiations. 
And in the midst of this all there are civilians fighting for survival, hope and dignity. One of them is Abdo Ramadan, father of five, manager of a big company in Sana'a. He goes to work every day, even if there is hardly any work to be done. He and his wife struggle desperately to send their kids to school and to uphold the routines of everyday life. To ease his despair Abdo Ramadan seeks refuge in poetry, its rhythms and rhymes. He wrote two poems to publish here and frames them with pictures of his youngest daughters as for him and his wife they are symbols of hope - and of the future of their country.

Aseel (7) is getting ready to face the day. Photo: Abdo Ramadan

«With the hijab Islamists are marking their territory»

Written by Helene Aecherli on Friday, 03 August 2018. Posted in General

«Wherever Islamists become active, they start by targeting women», says renowned Yemeni-Swiss political scientist Elham Manea. In her new book, she asks societies and policy makers to remain focused and address the challenges of non-violent Islamism. We discussed the dangers of non-violent Islamism, the burqa ban, the failings of Western feminists and how Sweden was infiltrated by Islamist ideology.

Elham Manea
Photo: Courtesy of Elham Manea

"When the sun rises, my thoughts rise, too"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Wednesday, 14 February 2018. Posted in Oman

Poetry from Oman

Poetry has become a rare literary art. But sometimes you discover strings of pearls - words and phrases that touch your heart. Omani writer Lubna Al Balushi is passionate about creating gem after gem. She composes her poems in Arabic, English, Balochi - and in German. That bouquet of languages, her fine sense of rhythm and the fearlessness with which she expresses her emotions make her one of the most exceptional Omani artists of her time.

 
Photo: Helene Aecherli 

"Airstrike just hit, house and myself shaking..."

Written by Helene Aecherli on Tuesday, 05 December 2017. Posted in Jemen

Stop the War in Yemen

«Wir werden es euch nicht erlauben, unsere Töchter zu vergewaltigen»

Written by Helene Aecherli on Friday, 22 September 2017.

Frauenrechte im Irak

Die Irakerin Yanar Mohammed arbeitete in Toronto als Architektin. Dann kehrte sie nach Bagdad zurück, um Schutzräume für Frauen zu errichten. Denn nicht nur der IS, sondern auch die wieder erstarkten Stammesstrukturen im Land haben eine verheerende Auswirkung auf das Leben von Frauen. Ehrenmorde, Zwangsverheiratungen und Frauenhandel sind an der Tagesordnung. Doch der Widerstand gegen die Stammescodes wächst  - gerade auch unter Männern.

 


Yanar Mohammed bei ihrem Besuch in Genf. 
Foto: Mauve Serra

Frauen im Iran wollen keine weiteren Revolutionen, sondern Reformen

Written by Helene Aecherli on Saturday, 09 September 2017.

Frauenrechte im Iran

Entgegen der Versprechen des wieder gewählten Präsidenten Hassan Rohani, bleibt die iranische Regierung fest in Männerhand. Der Kampf der Iranerinnen um Gleichstellung und politische Mitsprache geht aber unvermindert weiter. Jetzt erst recht. Doch ist dieser Kampf eine Gratwanderung. "Denn durch die Kontrolle der Frauen mithilfe Scharia-basierter Gesetze wird das Gebilde der islamischen Nation aufrechterhalten", erklärt Leila Alikarami, eine der führenden iranischen Menschenrechtsanwältinnen. "Mit anderen Worten: Frauen sind die einzigen sichtbaren Wesensmerkmale dieser islamischen Regierung. Deshalb gelten Gleichstellungsfragen schnell als Bedrohung der nationalen Sicherheit."

 

 


Leila Alikarami 

 

"We are the Power of Change"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Friday, 04 August 2017. Posted in Afghanistan

New Masculinities

Ali has a job, that could put his life in danger: He helps young women entering the work force in private sector business in Firoz Koh, the capital of the province Ghor in Northwestern Afghanistan. That friends and colleagues laugh at him because he supports women, doesn't impress him. But what really worries him, is what will happen when religious extremists find out what he is doing. So far, he keeps a low profile and just goes on. Society, he says, can’t move on if half of its population is literally kept in the dark.

 

"Wir sehen uns lieber als ewige Opfer, als dass wir uns kritisch hinterfragen"

Written by Helene Aecherli on Thursday, 03 August 2017. Posted in General

Ex-Femen Aktivistin und Islamkritikerin Zana Ramadani

Sie war Femen-Aktivistin und ist heute eine der polarisierendsten Islamkritikerinnen Deutschlands. In ihrem Buch «Die verschleierte Gefahr» beschreibt Zana Ramadani, wie Toleranz und politische Korrektheit Islamisten wie Rechtspopulisten in die Hände spielen. Dabei geht sie gerade mit Feministinnen hart ins Gericht. 

 

Jörg Schulz /Chuck Knox Photography

Women as Symbols of Hope

on Monday, 17 April 2017. Posted in Jemen

Paintings by Yemeni artist Mazher Nizar

"Motherland Yemen" by Mazher Nizar


That art catches my attention and stirs emotions I cannot really grasp, happens rarely to me. It is like falling in love: You cannot explain it, but you know when it is there. And then it makes you dizzy, it moves you and doesn’t get off your mind.
Such were my reactions when I discovered the paintings of India-born Yemeni artist Mazher Nizar - will say, his paintings of women.