– Malika Boussouf: « What is a veil, but the physical illustration of this subjugation ordered by all the fundamentalists of the world?’’

Malika Boussouf: « What is a veil, but the physical illustration of this subjugation ordered by all the fundamentalists of the world?’’


Malika Boussouf was born in Algeria in April 1954. Trained as a psychologist, she started a career as a journalist in 1985 (African Revolution, Le Midi Libre, RTL) and joined the editorial staff of the independent daily Le Soir d’Algériein 1991, where she became editor-in-chief, managing editor and now editorialist. Victim of an AIG (Armed Islamist group of Algeria) fatwa in 1993, she describes the ordeal of her clandestine life inLiving tracked(Calman Lévy Editions). At the same time, she leads round tables on the Family Code and violence against women for the association « Femmes en Communication ». In 2014, she published (with Monique Ayoun) « Secular Muslim women in revolt, meetings with 20 exceptional women, their struggle is also ours » (Hugo Doc), on these Muslim women who face the force of religious conservatism resistant to any change and specific to societies whose patriarchal and religious system is built as a model of governance.

French version here

On the war against women in Muslim countries:

« The « war on women » in the land of Islam is a generic expression that covers all the wars that are being waged against us. First, the war of established powers, held by men who always work « in the right direction », that is to keep their power, and all the privileges built around it. War also fought on women’s bodies. Those who rushed to the Daesh sect enlisted to obtain women’s bodies. They have no effort to make since they are offered it as war booty. To build their model society, Daech theorists consider that it is necessary to start by controlling women, transforming their bodies into instruments of submission.

Saying that women have been the majority victims of terrorist violence is an indisputable truth. Kidnapped for the needs of Allah’s soldiers with the blessing of a father forced to acquiesce! In Algeria, we knew all this and suffered it before everyone else by Daesh’s founding fathers: the AIG. Barbarian violence has been experienced both outside and inside the home. Outside, because women have resisted the terrorist threat and refused to leave their jobs, stay at home, wear headscarves or send their children to school, they have also dared to manifest, at the call of women’s associations, their rejection of terrorism. Inside, there are those who were murdered by their children, their husbands, or their brothers or neighbours because they did not, according to their murderers, have exemplary conduct, that they were not good Muslim women.

Since we are talking about terrorist violence against women, I would especially like us to remember the fate of all those who were forcibly married in the maquis, raped or quartered, cut open and killed with swords by their executioners. Those who managed to escape told of the horror they had suffered. And they were already veiled when their executioners took them from their families.

These practices are not the work of a deviant minority: You should know that a great Egyptian imam from the great Islamic university Al-Azhar had, in the 1990s, prohibited Algerian women who were pregnant following a rape from having an abortion. Why? Because they had been knocked up by Muslims. This same religious authority had previously made it legal for Bosnian women to have abortions because they had been raped by Christians. We should also talk about the modern slavery of these women imported from the Philippines or Malaysia, who praise their labour force for so little and have to satisfy their bosses’ sexual needs at home. In Lebanon, a documentary filmmaker friend did a piece about them. I can’t help but get angry when I talk about the status of women.

There is nothing specific to Islam, all monotheistic religions are fundamentalists, they oppress men but especially women because every time we want, in a society, to control men, we go through their women, and that suits them well. Women are conditioned to be beaten. Religion was made by men and for men, to allow them to maintain themselves as rulers and keep power. »

Women in Algeria:

« In Algeria, the Family Code (editor’s note: civil regime of submission of women) adopted in 1984 is inspired by Sharia law. When a religion is a state religion and is enshrined in the Constitution, it opens the door to all kinds of abuses. When this code was voted on, we were living under a single party regime. Some women MPs voted for it! I explain this vote by enslavement to social norms established by men, to power held by men, to the one party led by men. Women who obtain a position of responsibility will immediately adopt a mimetic behaviour, that of the person in charge above them. It’s a vicious circle.

In Algeria, 40% of judges are women. So what? Women still cannot marry without a guardian, who is still a man, and this rule also applies to female judges. All women remain minors for life. To have peace, women who are studying are not ready to question patriarchal power.

Work is about financial autonomy, freedom. It is not with empty pockets that we can have a voice in this. Material dependence is the worst situation for a woman. Reaching out to the husband every morning to get a few dollars for the household’s needs is not a life! This situation is less and less widespread in our countries. The families’ economic difficulties are of course a factor (…) but more women would choose to work if they had the opportunity. Women become aware of the discrimination that affects them as women as soon as they step into the workforce. With equal, and even superior experience and competence of women, the employer will always tend to hire or promote a man. Of course, this is not specific to our societies, this phenomenon also exists in the West. But we suffer more here (…) And in this economic war against the people, women are on the front line. They are the last to be served, they are discriminated against at work, they are kept away from responsibilities. Yes, women are the cannon fodder of all wars, not just economic war.

Did you know that when it came to the resistance of Algerian women, Algerian democratic men said of them at the time that they were the men of Algeria? You see that even in the unconscious of so-called emancipated men, women remain labelled and perceived as weak beings. Women were said to be the men of Algeria because they showed courage by calling for popular revolt and standing up to terrorists as if strength and courage were typically male qualities, as if this type of behaviour were unique to men and men only. You will find that, even when they want to compliment you, they cannot help but be macho and discriminate. To return to the importance men give to the cause of women, take violence against women for example. It is not a good seller, so it does not make the headlines, not to mention that in many male journalists lies a small tyrant, an heir to the patriarchal system that governs our society. Algerian society is not a modern society. It is a conservative, retrograde society with all that this entails in terms of conduct inherent in the culture, norms and social codes established by men to the detriment of women. »

Voluntary servitude, alienation of women:

« Many young women enlisted in Daesh thinking they were serving a just cause, before realizing that they were living in a fornicatorium, specially designed for the availability and comfort of murderers. When they realized that they were no one’s favourites and that their bodies were collaborating in a huge orgy, it was often too late. We experienced the same tragedy in Algeria with the Islamist maquis in the 1990s. The « zaouadj el moutaa », a temporary marriage, allowed rape. When you compare these two very different wars, their common point is to be linked to religious belief: Islamists attack women on earth before finding their 72 houris in a beyond built at their convenience.

It is not only women who serve Islamist organizations like Daesh and all the small groups that revolve around it or pledge allegiance to it and work for their own alienation, but it is well known that the best reproducer of the patriarchal system are women. They are not said to be intractable guardians of the temple as a joke. In countries where FGC is practised, for example, and to name but a few, it is women who practice FGC. Not men, even if everything is organized with their blessing. When they make the headlines of the world’s media and give credit to an anachronistic façade of modernity, such as Meriem Al Mansouri, the young Emirati pilot fighting Daesh, they voluntarily participate in absolving the conservatism of the monarchies and other Arab totalitarian regimes that finance the jihadists. »

About the veil:

« I don’t know what the term « Islamic veil » means! The other two monotheistic religions are not to be outdone in this respect. All fanaticisms strongly recommend the confinement of women. All demand from them a total and absolute submission. What is a veil, but the physical illustration of this enslavement ordered by all the fundamentalists on earth?

I see, for example, that the wearing of the hijab is growing everywhere. What started in the 1990s is becoming generalized social behaviour. Women, to put an end to the injunctions and reproaches from men, their families and the group, wear the veil. At the same time, according to a Ministry of Health survey, 59% of women believe that a husband has the right to beat up his wife. Patriarchy, to my great regret, still has a bright future ahead of it.

When women voluntarily occupy positions « logically » reserved for men, the norms established by the patriarchal social organization are insulted. And since they do not obey authority completely, they get fatwas at will. When it came to attacking women, their bodies or asserting their power on the backs of women, the murderers showed no mercy. You can’t turn away from a naked body at the same time as you fantasize about the one you’re veiling. Fully covered women have not been spared, as they are not spared today either in the Middle East. Is it necessary, in view of what women are going through in Muslim countries (and mine is not on the fringes of what is being plotted against women), to conclude that, if there are situations that inhibit their evolution, there are others that send them back to the Middle Ages? »

Cultural relativism, call to « respect Muslim culture’’:

« I don’t believe in this desire to respect anything, I just believe in a populism designed to win an additional electorate. Nor do I believe in the stated desire to promote democratic action. We start with complacency about wearing the veil, then understanding that pregnant Muslim women refuse to be examined by male gynaecologists, then by the swimming pools we would like to reserve for women, etc. The concessions follow one another without really understanding how far the promoters of an ‘à la carte’ democracy would be likely to lead the European Left since, with the Conservatives, we have the advantage of knowing what we would be destined for if the power to redraw the future were given to them. The rights of women of « Muslim origin »? Why? So, some rights would be different from those of women in general? What a joke! We must stop with this paternalism in bad taste. It is dangerous for those it claims to do good to, while it continues to reduce them. There is no better way to stigmatize them than to give in to far-fetched demands. Because I do not see, if we want to enforce the republican order, how living your religion and practicing it in private, without imposing it on others, would make it less credible, less a guarantee of a fantasized paradise or would inferiorize the latter. »

New Year’s rapes in Cologne in 2015:

« I share the words of Kamel Daoud, my compatriot from Oran, who speaks of « sexual misery in the Arab-Muslim world and a sick relationship with women, the body and desire ». A war is waged on women’s bodies. I wrote a column for Le Soir d’Algériein the same vein: « I veil my sister and I rape you « **, that did not have a really negative response in Algeria. What shocked me was that the outcry against Kamel Daoud came from the French left, the one who invented the expression « moderate Islamist ». It is an oxymoron; an Islamist is not a moderate. There is a proverb that says: « Only those who have their foot on the embers feel the burning. »

** »I veil my sister and I rape you » Chronicle

« There are days like these when I hate the link quickly made between the one-night rapists and their origin, which unfortunately happens to be mine. When promoters of prohibitions in their countries come elsewhere and throw themselves on the first woman they see and are expelled for this crime, I admit that I feel no compassion for them. And I don’t feel any solidarity with all the obsessed and other agitated people that Germany has decided to kick out of its territory. When you learn that 25 of the rapists on December 31 in Cologne are Algerians, it puts your nerves right where you don’t want them to be. When the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, asks Sellal to rid her of the Algerian illegal immigrants who are polluting her space, I tell myself that I would not have liked to be in the latter’s place.

I would like to believe that the lack of prospects justifies the fact that they should try their luck elsewhere by merging into the mass of migrants to reach their destination. This is the best trick they have come up with to circumvent the visa problems they face in view of the profile they offer, which is neither attractive nor credible for the issuance of the precious sesame. But it seems that it is not only the desire to work that makes them rush to Europe. They embark with their determination to free themselves from their sexual frustrations once they have stepped on this land of Europe « too tolerant and permissive » with its children. Undoubtedly armed with the conviction that in non-Muslim land they will be able to indulge unscrupulously in the pleasures of the flesh, here they go, so as not to forbid themselves anything around these unbelievers where any aggression becomes lawful. I’m not going to apologize for thinking that way. I do not advocate for this kind of human rights. There are those who have no problem making their way into the civilized world and those who behave like savages and deserve to be returned to their country of origin, whose image they will have tarnished in the meantime. »