British-Palestinian women’s rights activist Ahlam Akram said, in an interview with the Saudi channel Al-Khalijiyya TV, that the women of the East "must break out of the shell in which society has placed them." She criticized leading Muslim Brotherhood scholar Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi for divorcing his wife in her absence, saying that "Al-Qaradhawi and his ilk are a disaster to the Arab region" and adding that people cannot expect society to respect women and religious minorities when Jihad and the doctrine of "loyalty and disavowal" are taught at the schools. The interview aired on January 17, 2016.
Ahlam Akram: "Muslim jurisprudence regarding women has paralyzed half of society, making it closed up within itself, always fighting for justice. Justice and mercy are the most important attributes of Allah. Current laws (regarding women) deny justice and mercy."
Host: "Are you calling for the abolishment of jurisprudence regarding women?"
Ahlam Akram: "This kind of jurisprudence should not be taught, because it tarnishes the image of Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy. All the laws that stem from this type of jurisprudence are based on certain hadiths. Can I, as a Muslim-born human being, accept these repulsive hadiths? No way! They are not in line with the personality of the Prophet Muhammad himself. Therefore, the jurisprudence regarding women, along with the doctrine of 'loyalty and disavowal,' which has built a wall between us and the rest of the world..."
Host: "You are talking about hadiths fabricated in order to control..."
Ahlam Akram: "Of course. These hadiths are fabricated in order to gain control over society, and especially over the women. The doctrine of 'loyalty and disavowal,' the doctrine of Jihad, used by ISIS to attract the youth, the doctrine of dhimmis, which denies our fellow citizens their basic rights as citizens and human beings... We cannot continue to teach these things at schools, and then expect society to respect women or people of other religions.
"The message I would like to convey to the women of the East is that they must break out of the shell in which society has placed them – a situation that has been abused by the religious jurisprudents. I'd like to make women feel that they are human beings just like men. I would also like to send a message to Arab legislators, who, under the notion of 'honor,' justify killers or collaborate with them, by allowing mitigated sentences for killers of women."
Host: "In a recent article, you criticized Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi for divorcing his wife, Asmaa bin Qada, in her absence."
Ahlam Akram: "Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi and his ilk are a disaster for the Arab region, I'm sad to say. They reaffirm the tyrannical rule of men (over women), and paralyze the Arab mind. I don't know what else to say... The past 40 years, which have witnessed the rise of political Islam, and in which TV channels have been used in the worst possible way... These past 40 years have brought upon us a cultural change, which has rendered our society more extremist, more violent, and has intensified the denial of the other. (The fault lies with) Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi and his ilk."