"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Saudi Poet Is a Bright Star for Women's Rights

Every Wednesday night, Hissa Hilal steps on to the stage of the popular Abu Dhabi television show The Million's Poet

As is required of Saudi women appearing in public, she is covered from head to toe in a traditional abaya. Facing an audience carefully segregated by gender, she recites poetry that brazenly calls out for women's rights and the end of Islamic extremism.

Hissa Hillal is the voice for countless 'Invisible Women." She is the Saudi woman who has captured the Arab world's attention through her poetry.

A taste of that straight talk is below. It's an excerpt from Hilal's semifinal poem, translated by the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National, in which she decries the actions of conservative clerics in the Muslim world.

I have seen evil from the eyes
of the subversive fatwas
in a time when what is lawful
is confused with what is not lawful;

When I unveil the truth,
a monster appears from his hiding place;
barbaric in thinking and action,
angry and blind;
wearing death as a dress
and covering it with a belt

He speaks from an official,
powerful platform,
terrorizing people
and preying on everyone seeking peace;
the voice of courage ran away
and the truth is cornered and silent,
when self-interest prevented one
from speaking the truth.

Hilal aims to do more than push boundaries--she aims to break them down. "My message to those who hear me is love, compassion and peace," she has said. "We all have to share a small planet and we need to learn how to live together."

"My poetry has always been provocative," she told The Associated Press in an interview. "It's a way to express myself and give voice to Arab women, silenced by those who have hijacked our culture and our religion."

Her poem was seen as a response to Sheik Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, a prominent cleric in Saudi Arabia who recently issued a fatwa saying those who call for the mingling of men and women should be considered infidels, punishable by death.

But more broadly, it was seen as addressing any of many hard-line clerics in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region who hold a wide influence through television programs, university positions or Web sites.

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