January 4, 2010

The thousand faces of the real Islam

Her name is Anna Mahjar-Barducci, she is a young journalist and writer living in Italy, born to a Moroccan mother and Italian father, and married to an Israeli Jew. In the eyes of orthodox Islam, as well as of her fellow Muslim immigrants, her marriage and that of her mother are an apostasy. “When I see a Maghrebi on the street,” she says, “I have to change direction. He starts to greet me in Arabic, and stares at me as if I were his property. One time I was in a pizzeria with a classmate, and a Moroccan called me “sharmuta,” prostitute, and told me that I couldn’t go out with an Italian. The owner of the pizzeria had to intervene, to kick him out. Nothing like that would ever happen in Morocco.”

“Nothing like that would ever happen in Morocco,” in fact, in 2006 the most widely viewed film in Morocco was a love story (Marock) between a young Muslim woman and a Jewish young man. This means that in Morocco predominant opinion is not at all so rigid. How could this difference be explained?

In an autobiographical account—entitled Italo-marocchina. Storie di immigrati marocchini in Europa—which was released a few weeks ago in bookstores in Italy, Anna Mahjar-Barducci—who is also the founder and the president of the Associazione Arabi Democratici Liberali, the website of which is also in English—tries to solve the enigma, and to answer many other questions about the reality of today’s Muslim communities both in the West and in the non-Western world. What emerges from the book is a multiform, unknown and “individual Islam,” made up of love, ruin, passion, fanaticism, and Europe as an unfulfilled dream.

Go to Sandro Magister’s website to read a chapter of the book (in English translation).

Here are some articles in English by Anna Mahjar-Barducci:

  1. The Burqa: “I Am Not A Candy” (July 9, 2009, The Daily Star)
  2. What happened in Omdurman, and who is Khalil Ibrahim? (May 27, 2008, The Daily Star)
  3. A step backward in Moroccan freedoms (February 18, 2007, The Daily Star)
  4. Turning Abbas into a missed opportunity (July 11, 2006, The Daily Star)
  5. Fatal attraction: the Hamas-Iran alliance (May 8, 2006, The Daily Star)