"If women's rights are a problem for some modern Muslim men, it is neither because of the Koran nor the Prophet, nor the Islamic tradition, but simply because those rights conflict with the interests of a male elite."
There's some awkwardness here. I'm a white feminist blogger who has never even visited a country where the majority of the population is muslim. A lot of what I know about Islam comes from someone I never met. After September 11, Women's rights in Afghanistan became a propaganda tool in the most disgusting and hypocritical way. New Zealad sent troops to that war. I don't write this in a vacuum.
But that's no excuse not to write at all. Men have long used religions as a tool to exert their control over women, and women fighting back isn't that new either. As feminists it is important that we actively support women like Fatima Mernissi, and her observation is so important I'm going to quote her twice: "If women's rights are a problem for some modern Muslim men, it is neither because of the Koran nor the Prophet, nor the Islamic tradition, but simply because those rights conflict with the interests of a male elite."
Now my position is a little bit stronger than that. I'm enough of a materialist girl to believe that a religion will only become institutionalised, if it serves the needs of power structures, and men's power over women is a pretty important power structure. Despite this I also believe that religion can become a site of resistance, and those who hold power in a religion will serve those power structures over whatever their religion professes to believe (see any of the Christian right and most of the New Testament). But ultimately she's right, the problem for women in Saudi Arabia, isn't actually the Koran, it's men's power over women.