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Posted On: 12 April 2009 09:46 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Taboos stifling Arab women writers

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Social taboos are stifling the creativity of Arab women writers across the region. The scourge of social stigmas is not letting them bring out the best in their works, said noted Algerian writer Ahlam Mosthaghanemi. Participating in a Symposium on Arab Women Writers at the ongoing “Doha Freedom and Creativity Festival”, Mosthghanemi said the ‘emotional unbundling’ by the women writers are restricted in many Arab countries. The restriction is affecting the quality of their works, she said. Mosthaghanemi, the leading literary figure from Algeria, said as women writers are forbidden from using personal emotions as a tool of creative writings, most of the works of Arab women lack the warmth of real life. “We have to take great risks to portray the basic emotions of human beings like love, lust and romance”, she said. Criticising the Western readers’ approach to Arabic writers, Mosthaghanemi said Arabic writers are accepted in the West only if they criticise their homeland or their culture and religion. The West only promotes Arab writers who criticise their own people and culture. Mosthaghanemi, who has more than 2 million readers in the Arab world, said her works are not well received by the Western world because of her great respect for the Arab culture and her religion. She shared her concern over the declining interest in reading habits and the growing appeal for singers in the Arab world recalling her experience when she went to Beirut. “Are you from the place of “Shab Khalid”( a recently popular Arab singer, according to her)?” was the immediate question that I faced on my arrival there, she said. Mosthaghanemi is the first woman Algerian author of Arabic works to be translated into English. So far, the first two of a trilogy have been translated. They are ‘Memory in the Flesh’ and ‘Chaos of the Senses.’ They reflect and feature the Algerian struggle for postcolonial success and security. Mosteghanemi’s prose has long been commented on for its sweeping and inspiring portrayal of the Algerian plight while still keeping the sparse effect of the harsh Algerian desert. Mostaghanemi lives in Beirut.