knowledge that introduces people to themselves and brings them freedom. That’s why we see them popularizing ‘the dark word’, ‘the blind word’. They promote human blindness because, if our society changed – if knowledge became a part of who people are – they would be sure to reject tyranny and darkness and begin to think about justice.
No entity on Earth fears knowledge more than our dark, tyrannical societies, especially those whose tyranny is directed toward the woman. I deal in my writing with the fact that, despite the ruin that’s been caused by the failure of attempts to struggle against religious and political regimes, there remains a passion for life, for art. I share in my protagonist’s passion for life, in her will and fortitude, and in her adamant determination to overcome illness. The character’s passion for life, her resolve to resist illness and reclaim her body belong to me, too, and these are the things that will rescue us all. KT: At one point in the narrative, Amina’s character says:“Don’t beautify me. Don’t make me an attractive, sophisticated, strong woman like you. I’m afraid the man will run away” (p. 282).Why does this novel present us with male characters that are so deficient, and with female characters that are both weak and content in their weakness? Why these truncated models?
AS: Amina is aware of the fact that Arab men are afraid of strong women. So, not wanting to risk her chances of getting married, she prefers to appear weak.Women in our Arab societies are raised on the idea that the man’s violence represents protection, strength, and a symbol of manhood.Viewing herself as men have portrayed her, the woman then becomes the fiercest advocate for the very patriarchal mindset and patriarchal social constructs that oppress her. But this terrible fear of women is something I don’t understand.
I’m not against men, and I don’t always portray men as bad in my novels. What I am against is the concept of male domination. Youssef, for example, the sweetheart and the husband, has a positive presence in the novel and in Basma’s life. When he is a painter, and before becoming a member of Hezbollah, he believes in and promotes women’s freedom. He encourages and embraces it. But when, as a reaction to his disappointments, sorrows and losses, he joins Hezbollah, he changes.Youssef is a dramatic
BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021 75
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