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Drafting a New Story: Women's Rights in the Middle East

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An interesting article popped up in the New York Times about gender, religion, and government in Pakistan. “Satire Gets a Tough Reception in Pakistan” tells the story of Ajoka, a Pakistani theater company getting a lot of negative attention for its new play “Burqavaganza,” described as a “love story in the time of Jihad” in which “everyone in the play, both men and women, wear a burqa.”  The play, which has been performed three times at the prestigious National Art Gallery in Islamabad, was banned after complaints from female members of the women’s wing of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami.

Clearly, it’s not just the prospect of seeing men in burqas that contributed to the popularity of “Burqavaganza”–using art as a vehicle to address issues of gender and religion clearly struck a cord with many in Pakistan, including those in government, who ultimately found this work of gender-bending (or negating, if both men and women are concealed under burqas) satire too provocative for public consumption.

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