Egyptian Feminist Faces Forced Divorce

If veteran feminist, doctor, and sociologist Nawal Saadawi is tried under hisba, she and her husband of 37 years could be forcibly divorced. Hisba is a concept in ancient Islamic law that allows citizens to police fellow citizens for religious righteousness.

Saadawi has been viewed as an agitator by Muslim fundamentalist throughout her 30 years of activism, but discontent with the activist came to a head when lawyer Nabih Wahsh filed suit against her.

Wahsh alleges that Saadawi “advised people not to wear the veil and “not to pray,” in a March interview with a local newspaper. Saadawi equated the practice of kissing Mauhammad’s Mecca stone to idolatry in an article printed by the Al Midan newspaper.

In 1996 the first modern-day hisbu case was tried against Nasr abu Zeid. The Arabic literature professor was charged with being an apostate, one who abandons his or her religious beliefs. Zeid and his wife escaped authorities before sentencing could be imposed and their marriage could be rescinded.

Saadawi has spoken out against male domination and female sexual repression, as author of “The Hidden Faces of Eve” and 39 other books considered “unmentionable” by the ruling class.

If convicted of being an apostate or one who renounces his or her religion Saadawi claims that she and her husband will not separate and she will continue her promotion of women’s rights.


Los Angeles Times - June 27, 2001

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