"This is a big shift," said Amel Boubekeur, a social scientist at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, who is writing her doctoral thesis on Europe's "new Islamic elites." "Instead of having to be passive, women now become teachers," she said. "It used to be taboo for women to recite the Koran." But now, she added, "It offers them a new prestige, new jobs and, not least, it gives them a stronger voice in dealing with their parents, brothers and husbands." In fact, Ms. Boubekeur said, women found religious texts more effective than secular arguments....
As educated Muslim women assert themselves, they appear to be forging a strand of Euro-Islam, a hybrid that attempts to reconcile the principles laid out in the Koran with life in a secular, democratic Europe.
"I tell women, 'We can honor the Koran from our perspective and apply it to our experience today,' " said Dounia Bouzar, an anthropologist who is both Algerian and French. "We must recover the religious texts and free them from an exclusively male interpretation that belongs to the Middle Ages. Most important right now is that women get into the universities."
December 29, 2005
Muslim women in Europe turn to education, specifically in Islamic studies, where they are learning to make effective arguments against the oppression of women: