Anthology edited by Liz Byrski and Rachel Robertson. (Fremantle Press 2015)
With humour, compassion and insight, Hanifa Deen relates stories of their fight against oppression, of the friendship of women, of the joys and frustrations of the extended family, of the unwritten laws that govern women’s lives and the violence that can threaten them.
She also stumbles on the trail of a mystery—the murder of Yasmeen, an innocent young girl whose death galvanised a nation and symbolises the danger women face when they dare to step outside the ‘circle of protection.’
Read an Excerpt:
My Descent into Purple
I live in Melbourne and most of my clothes are black. Wearing black is an unwritten law one doesn't easily put aside, especially in writing enclaves and other avant-garde circles where the inner-city suburbs of Carlton and Brunswick are home to black-clad warriors of every age. Black is also the literary establishment colour and although I rarely cross this hallowed threshold, or consider myself a paid-up member, I do my best to abide by the 'bylaws' of bookish circles and my adopted city. Add to this the absurdity of walking down the Paris-end of fashionable Collins Street without showing a predilection for black!... .
Fiona Capp - The Age "Pick of the Week" August 30, 2008:
"THIS INTRICATE AND intelligent book is a reminder of the complex realities behind what seem like cut and dried, adversarial news stories. In 2002, the evangelical Christian group Catch The Fire Ministries held a seminar about Islam. Three Muslim converts who attended were deeply offended by claims made by the Pakistani-born Pastor Daniel Scot. The Islamic Council of Victoria invoked the relatively new Racial and Religious Vilification Act and after more than five years of lawsuits, the case concluded with an out-of-court agreement. Hanifa Deen—a secular Muslim—makes a skilful, informed guide through the maze of this protracted yet fascinating case. While teasing out the broader issues of free speech and Islamophobia, she concludes that the story is “convert driven”: on one side by born-again Christians and on the other by new Muslims. Most intriguingly, it’s a case that challenges stereotypes about ethnicity and the religious divide."
" ....Deen is a feisty presence throughout the book... Full points then must be given for Deen's patience and tenacity. The result is a book far removed from the lazy Islam versus Christianity narrative pushed by the mainstream press. Instead, The Jihad Seminar frames the story as being 'convert driven' with new Muslims on one side and born again Christians on the other..."
Michael Freedman - Matilda (literary weblog):
" ....The book at times is a little one-sided, but this is more due to the CTF [Catch the Fire] refusal to talk to the author than any pre-existing bias on her part…. The book remains at all times interesting, and her commentary is never condescending...."