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Islamic feminist challenges orthodoxy from within

Turkish academic Hidayet Tuksal has made a reputation as an Islamist feminist, studying religious texts and challenging Islamist notions that marginalize women.
Women walk past a mosque in Ankara April 22, 2007. The women at a protest in Istanbul's old quarter want to wear their headscarves in school, university and parliament, but Muslim Turkey's secular system forbids that, with laws pious Muslims see as a breach of their personal and religious freedom. The Islamist-rooted ruling AK Party says it wants to lift the ban, a key demand of its grass-root supporters, but has faced fierce opposition from Turkey's powerful secular elite.  Picture taken on April 22, 2007.

Turkish theologian Hidayet Tuksal, known as an Islamist feminist, is the author of academic studies questioning Islamic narratives about women, including notions such as Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib and the devil following women. While working on a doctoral thesis, she discovered how sexist and misogynistic mentalities shaped religious texts, doctrines and Islamic scholars. She is alarmed that the same mentality continues today.

Tuksal studied theology and is today a lecturer in the same realm at Artuklu University in the southeastern city of Mardin. She wears the Islamic headscarf, which makes her a conservative Muslim. Yet, she has another prominent feature — she holds feminist views. With her outspoken feminist attitude on women’s place in Islam, she has become a well-known figure in Turkey whose views often generate debate.

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