Jewish orthodox ‘mutawwa`een’

October 5, 2008

Raffe just sent me something interesting:

I thought you might be interested in this. As we were talking about the Mutaween several weeks ago they reminded me of a similar Israeli sect of orthodox Jews that are operating in Orthodox neighborhoods.

–L.L. Wynn

Another Struggle: Sexual Identity Politics in Unsettled Turkey

September 15, 2008

A very interesting article on a topic that, in the West, tends to be limited to examples of Muslim intolerance towards homosexuality. Transgender issues are notoriously under-reported too, but this article covers them well. 

From MERIP (Middle East Report Online):

Another Struggle: Sexual Identity Politics in Unsettled Turkey

Kerem Öktem

September 2008

(Kerem Öktem is a fellow at the European Studies Centre of St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford.)

What happens when almost 3,000 men, women and transgender people march down the main street of a major Muslim metropolis, chanting against patriarchy, the military and restrictive public morals, waving the rainbow flag and hoisting banners decrying homophobia and demanding an end to discrimination? Or when a veiled transvestite carries a placard calling for freedom of education for women wearing the headscarf and, for transsexuals, the right to work?

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Miss Headscarf 2008

September 5, 2008

The first Miss Headscarf contest was judged a couple of months ago in Copenhagen, Denmark. The organisers developed the idea in response to the recent controversy surrounding the Mohammed cartoons and ensuing debates on the appropriateness of Muslim women’s headscarves in Denmark. (Entrants don’t have to be Muslim; anyone can enter by submitting a photo of themselves wearing a headscarf). The contest organisers see MIss Headscarf 2008 as a way to give a much-needed visibility to the views of “all the Muslim women who are seldom heard in the debate.” As one of the contestants said, “it’s about the time the media talked to us, and not about us all the time.” (

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NYT series of articles on Saudi youth

May 14, 2008

Reading from the recent New York Times series of articles on Saudi youth and dating (from the perspective of men, from the perspective of women, and on a much more grave topic, journalistic methodology and the threat of rape, which recollected this widely publicized court case in Saudi Arabia last year), I was nostalgically reminded of my time in Jeddah some 15 years ago, when my Saudi girlfriends met men in malls and dated surreptitiously by cell phone, and teachers at the Saudi girls’ school where I worked told hilarious stories about their sons dressing up brooms with `abayas and veils and putting them in the back of their car and driving around to see how many men would follow, trying to flirt with the broom-women.

More than ten years ago, I wrote a short article for Middle East Report on the phenomenon of dating in Saudi Arabia and how it was mediated by commodity culture.  In the Times article, it seems that just about the only difference between now and then is (a) the way that Bluetooth technology is mediating the flirting of Saudi youth, and (b) the fact that New York Times reporters have gained enough access to Saudi society to write about the phenomenon.

–L.L. Wynn

Call for papers: Islam and sexuality

March 20, 2008



Contemporary Islam is an exciting and innovative multidisciplinary journal devoted to the exploration of contemporary Muslim lives. The journal provides insights into the contemporary dynamics of Muslim life by focusing on questions concerning the presence of Muslim migrants in the West as well as western-born Muslims, and the continuing active role that Islam plays in their lives. The journal also explores the idea of ‘the West’ among Muslims as well as the relationship between Muslim identities and social life. The Journal regards Islam as a modern religion in today’s global societies.

We seek high-quality theoretical and empirical articles of between 8,000 and 10,000 words to be considered for publication in a special issue on Islam and sexuality. We particularly welcome contributions in the following themes: Read the rest of this entry »