Saudi scholar comes under fire in Qatar for feminist views

Hatoon Al Fassi

Hatoon Al Fassi/Facebook

Hatoon Al Fassi

Qatar University students and community members are calling for the expulsion of a Saudi faculty member this week over her Islamic views.

The backlash was ignited when QU’s Debate Club announced that Dr. Hatoon Al Fassi would give talk on Thursday, Nov. 3, about women in Islam.

The scholar has been a QU faculty member for the past six years, and teaches women’s and Middle East history in the Department of International Affairs.

King Saud University

Stephen Downes/Flickr

King Saud University

She also works at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, but has been banned from teaching there since 2001.

Additionally, Al Fassi is a well-known commentator on Gulf women’s rights, championing for women’s ability to vote and drive in her home country.

Reactions

According to the online furor, it appears that some are incensed about a recent blog post written by two of her Qatari students questioning whether the law protects their rights.

The article touched on a lack of female political participation here.

It also pointed out that Qatar does not criminalize domestic violence and that the children of Qatari women and non-Qatari men are not granted citizenship.

Under the hashtag مع_طرد_هتون_الفاسي# (I’m with the expulsion of Hatoon Al Fassi), some took aim at the scholar’s views, though they did not explain exactly what offended them:

Translation: Her ideas are bad and violate the Islamic Sharia, and it is indecent that our patriotic university retains her to spread her poison in our students’ brains. 

Translation: I’m not with suppression of expression and creativity, but I’m against anyone causing damage to the values of the Qatari society, which is based on true Islam. Therefore, I’m with the expulsion of Hatoon Al Fassi. 

But others stressed the importance of tolerance and embracing different ideas:

Translation: To the rigid, medieval and trivial minds. This is a debate between one opinion and another. Learn to listen even if it is from your enemies. Brains are a blessing. 

Translation: Those who deserve expulsion are the rigid minds that don’t work or develop, and reject the other and attack them for being different, and criminalizes them for possessing a working mind. 

QU has not officially commented on the furor yet, nor has Al Fassi.

The campaign comes just weeks after the Qatari community debated a local woman’s appearance on a France 24 TV program.

At the time, writer and entrepreneur Maryam Al-Subaiey sparked discussion after going on TV without a hijab, and declaring that Qatari women enjoy equal rights.

Thoughts?

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