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Jun 27, 2016
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Swiss-Based Yemeni Writer Elham Manea Justifies Women Leading Prayers: A Mosque without Women Reflects a Society in Which Women Are Invisible

#5547 | 02:55
Source: Deutsche Welle TV Arabia (Germany)

Interviewed on Deutsche Welle TV on June 27, Swiss-based Yemeni writer and political activist Elham Manea explained why a woman had led the prayers and she had delivered the Friday sermon in late May at the House of Religions in Bern. "The time has come for the mosque to mirror the new social reality," said Manea, who added that "a mosque without women reflects a social reality in which women are invisible." Manea has faced accusations of apostasy and even death threats following the event, in which Halima Gosai Hussain, chair of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative, had led a mixed congregation of men and women in prayers and Elham Manea herself had delivered the Friday sermon. The Inclusive Mosque Initiative, which organized the prayers, is a grassroots activist organization based in London.


Interviewer: "Elham, you have caused an uproar in the social media, because of a Friday sermon you delivered on the last Friday of May. This was done in cooperation with the Inclusive Mosque Initiative in London, and was delivered here, in Bern. What was the goal of having a woman deliver the Friday sermon?"



Elham Manea: "I believe that the time has come for the mosque to mirror the new social reality. The time has come for women to find their place in the mosque. The goal was to be able to say: Men and women are human beings and are equal in the eyes of Allah - no more and no less. I realize that this is something new, and that many people consider this to be a violation of principles, but let me tell you, we are doing this out of love. We love our religion, we love our societies - we cannot shed our skins - but at the same time, we want a mosque that respects our humanity. What is the problem with a woman leading the prayer or delivering a sermon? With all due respect, we stick to principles and customs that belong to past centuries, and perhaps do not reflect our contemporary social reality. As I said in the sermon, mosque without women reflects a social reality in which women are invisible. It's as simple as that."






"With all due respect, the time for change is now. Today. The present."



Interviewer: "Why?"



Elham Manea: "Whenever anyone has tried to make a change, he would be told: Now is not the time.' Wait until we get independence.' Fine, independence is important... 'Revolution is important, but leave it for later.' I want it to happen now. We will never get our rights unless we demand them. If we sit and wait, they will never come. No one will just give us our rights."






Interviewer: "You have been accused of apostasy and so on... You have even received death threats. How have these accusations and this harsh rhetoric affected your life after the sermon?"



Elham Manea: "To be honest, it hurt me. I am praying, and you accuse me of heresy?!"


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