Professor Bennoune Interviewed by Dayton Daily News, La Croix
Professor Karima Bennoune was interviewed by the Dayton Daily News and by the French-language newspaper La Croix. In the Dayton Daily News, she discussed her Dayton Literary Peace Prize-winning book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism, as well as the history of Muslim extremism and how best to combat it.
People of Muslim heritage often risk their lives to oppose extremism, yet receive little acknowledgement or support, Bennoune said.
“So I wanted to change that by telling stories,” said Bennoune. “I interviewed about 300 people from about 30 Muslim-majority countries, a diaspora population from Mali to Afghanistan, to hear their experiences of either being victims of Muslim extremism, or of standing up to it in all sorts of creative ways.”
Bennoune said that education was key to addressing the advance of groups like the so-called Islamic State.
“Everywhere I went I asked this – how do you defeat fundamentalism?” said Bennoune. “How do you defeat this ideology? From everyone, the first word out of their mouths: ‘Education. Education, education, education.’ I think that’s absolutely critical. We are seeing Muslim-majority areas around the world having a real discussion around what values we are teaching; there is a lot of controversy lately around the content of Saudi textbooks, some very worrying content. Education is critical, culture is critical – the creation of alternative spaces for young people that gives them the possibility of having a vigorous counter-course that is challenging the fundamentalists, and for that you need freedom of expression. You need people to be able to express themselves without fear. All those things are absolutely vital.”
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 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.