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News Posted on June 9, 2017

Professor Bennoune Interviewed on Fundamentalism and Human Rights by IFEX

Professor Karima Bennoune was interviewed by IFEX (International Freedom of Expression Exchange) and talked at length about her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism and her role as United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.

Professor Bennoune spoke about her powerful personal connection to the fight against Muslim fundamentalism. Her father, Mahfoud Bennoune, was a professor of Anthropology at the University of Algiers 25 years ago, when fundamentalist extremists began assassinating Algerian intellectuals and initiated a violent, decade-long struggle in that country. He was outspoken in his opposition to fundamentalism, putting his own safety in jeopardy, Bennoune said.

Bennoune also talked about the increasing threat posed by fundamentalism and extremism and the “reciprocal radicalism” that occurs when the extremism of one group is used to justify the radical positions of another, such as when the threat of terrorism is used to justify anti-immigrant extremism.

“This is completely unacceptable,” Bennoune said. “What we have to do is to break out of this vicious circle, because what really keeps me up at night is the idea that we are going to be leaving young people with a world in which all they seem to have is the bleak choice of competing extremisms. Human rights are about making sure that other, better alternatives are available.”

Karima Bennoune is an author, lecturer, teacher, and international law scholar as well as the first Arab-American to be honored with the Derrick A. Bell Award from the Section on Minority Groups of the Association of American Law Schools. In 2014, she was awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, now available in paperback from W.W. Norton & Company. In October 2015, she was appointed UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. She was recently presented with the 2016 Rights and Leadership Award by IANGEL, the International Action Network for Gender Equity & Law.