Karima Bennoune, professor of international law at the University of California-Davis School of Law, is telling the stories of women and men risking their lives to counter right-wing fundamentalistm. She asks us to do the same.
Always in her mind is the bravery of her father. In the 1990s the University of Algiers professor faced death threats for his vocal opposition to fundamentalism and terrorism. Although he was forced from his university position and had to flee his apartment, he remained in Algeria, publishing denunciations that kept him in the crosshairs of those he saw as the destroyers of true Islam.
In the TEDxExeter talk she gave in March 2014, she introduced four of the people she interviewed in writing her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Until his death of a heart attack in 2012, Faizan Peerzada and the Rafi Peer Theatre brought children’s theatre to Pakistani audiences in spite of terrorist attacks. Maria Bashir, Afghanistan’s only woman prosecutor, fights for the rights of women in spite of threats to her life. Abdirizak Bihi works tirelessly in the Somali-American community of Minneapolis to counter the recruitment efforts of the militant Al Shabaab. The 22-year-old Algerian law student, Amel Zenoune-Zouani, refused the fundamentalists’ order for women to halt their studies and was murdered as an example to other young women. That was in 1997. Today Amel’s sister Lamia practices law in Algiers.
When she spoke to CBC’s Michael Enright in December 2013, Bennoune said the people she interviewed for her book have been abandoned by the west. Their stories are virtually unknown. She wants to change that, with our help.
If we are serious about supporting the struggle for social justice, we need to know and share the stories of these courageous people. They are putting their lives on the line. They give me hope.
If you’re feeling down, meet the irrepressible Donnalou Stevens. Her Older Ladies video will rocket your spirits right out of the doldrums. It is no wonder it has gone viral since it was posted on YouTube in early June.
As an artist she creates joy and magic with her colourful art. She says in her Kickstarter video below that when people kept telling her the lyrics of her songs wouldn’t leave their heads, she decided she was never going to write another negative song. Her vision for her next project, If I Were Enlightened, is no small potatoes. She says:
I see this campaign in and of itself as an art project, a big collaboration, worldwide, with whoever wants to be a part of it, like a community, a community that stands for kindness, generosity, magic and play and celebration. That’s really what I want to create.
The 55-year-old says she feels as if she just got her wings, and it’s time to fly. Her Kickstarter fundraiser passed its original goal with time to spare. That means more good times are coming, and we are all invited.
Yee haw! Donnalou Stevens gives me hope.