My latest New Matilda column is about the role of blogging in the Arab world:
There is, of course, a wider context for encouraging new voices in the Arab world. A survey released last week in New York found that the ‘war on terror’ has radicalised Muslims to unprecedented levels of anti-American hatred. Although a majority of Muslims polled in 10 Muslim countries supported the Western democratic model, the failure of Western commentators to understand the nuances of the religion was cited as a major source of friction. ‘ Few Western commentators can see how women could embrace the veil, Sharia and equal rights at the same time,’ the UK Times wrote.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the majority of Western commentators since 9/11 have barely left their cosy, inner-city homes and failed to venture to the Muslim world itself. When was the last time [Murdoch columnist] Janet Albrechtsen travelled further than her annual holiday to Bali? Yet she is put forward as some kind of freedom fighter for Muslim women’s rights. Having spoken to many Muslim women about this, I have yet to meet one who appreciates Janet’s brave, office-bound campaigning.
Memo to Janet: reading Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali isn’t necessarily the best introduction to the Muslim faith. It would be like reading the rantings of Zionist pioneer Ze’ev Jabotinsky and believing he represented the Jewish faith.
My New Matilda archive is here.