Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ladies doing it for themselves: Mauritanian women found political party

Or Does It Explode?, a Middle East-North Africa civil rights blog, has a post about post-dictatorship Mauritania, where a new political party called Mauritanian Hope aims for a 50% male and 50% female membership. The original article's in Arabic, so I'll presume Or Does It Explode? isn't tricking me. I don't think it is, since we have the whole interrogative blog title thing going on.

Doesn't the woman in the orange and pink hijab look like Aminatou Haidar? More equal gender roles in Mauritania should help the troubled country. Invading the Western Sahara certainly didn't. More liberal civil rights policies in Mauritania can only help Sahrawis, who are ethnically close to the Mauritanian people.

This is the first time I've mentioned Or Does It Explode?, but it won't be the last. It's a well-run blog that promotes a cause close to my heart, democracy and civil rights in MENA countries. It named the Western Sahara 2006's forgotten outrage, but hopes that will change. It doesn't play favorites, either, mocking Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's personality cult.


  1. As a matter of fact, I think the invasion of Western Sahara did a fair deal to help along gender roles -- in Western Sahara. The gender equality in the Polisario is much overblown in their propaganda, but it's certainly better than among most neighbours, and the war years are to blame (?) for that.

    Also, as a weird aside, I recently skimmed through an old HRW report (I think it was) where they mentioned that the war in the Sahara did wonders for the political consciousness of Haratine ex-slaves (who are in some cases not so very "ex") in Mauritania.

    They were mass-conscripted and sent off as cannon fodder to the front against Polisario, partly because northern Moors couldn't be trusted to fight tribal friends (they were defecting en masse to Tindouf). As soldiers, many were for the first time away long-time from their masters, given equal status with others in the army, and even earned a little bit of pocket money as soldiers, which gave them an unprecedented degree of personal autonomy when they went on leave in the capital. When they returned, some with decorations, many had a whole new world view.

    It interestingly mirrors the development of Algerian nationalism in the WW2 Indigène battalions in Europe, and similar experiences in other colonies.

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