Arifa Akbar: We can learn from these modern Scheherazades
When Joumana Haddad launched the Arab-language erotic magazine, JASAD, over two years ago, the West hailed the Lebanese poet, translator and administrator of the 'Arab Booker' prize as the "Carrie Bradshaw of Beruit".
Given the bags of hate mail she recieved after the first issue, not to mention the death threats and Hezbollah's attempt to close down her stand at the Beruit book fair, she might have found it a bit patronising to be
referred to as a dusky-eyed shopaholic from Sex and the City.
Talking to her
this week, she shrugs off the "rather inaccurate" comparison (although she does admit to having a thing for shoes). However, she takes issue with the West's limited perception of the average Arab woman in her latest memoir cum polemic, I Killed Scheherazade.
Gross sexual inequalities most certainly exist in religiously conservative Arab countries, she concurs, but "another model to the 'oppressed woman model' also exists that the West does not want to draw attention to, maybe because it doesn't sell as well as a story about a woman executed for losing her virginity."
Her book was written to fire a two-way sally east and westwards after a particularly infuriating comment made by a foreign journalist who, commending Haddad, said: "Most of us in the West are not familiar with the possibility of liberated Arab women like you existing."
You can read the full story in the Independent.