Female Fundamentalists


A Dutch explanation:

"Are women more attracted to the life of a desperado than men?" asks sociologist Jolande Withuis in her essay "Suffer, fight, become holy" on radical women Muslims. She sees their motivation in the promise of complete devotion. "Faith offers radical women Muslims a 'total' identity that isn't limited to certain occasions and which is considerably more serious than anything else. It demands effort and renunciation, yet offers fulfilment and peace of mind. Boring or tiresome rules, such as covering oneself or not being allowed to eat certain foods, become a source of self-awareness. They are like anorexics, who derive satisfaction in overcoming hunger, even if it is harmful to their health. Correspondingly, these women occupy themselves to the point of absurdity in trying to determine whether things are 'haram' or 'halal' – and this occupies their time and gives them the pleasant feeling of pursuing a meaningful life."

(Photo: Young students study at the the women's School or Madrassa inside the compound of the Lal mosque on May 28, 2007 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The Jamia Hafsa, which is attached to the famous Lal Masjid (red mosque) has been steeped in controversy over recent years. Brothers Maulana Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi who run the Mosque been vehement in their support for the "jihad against America" and have openly condemned President Musharraf even calling for his assassination. In July 2005 Pakistani security forces made an attempt to raid the mosque following the suicide bombings that month in London, they were refused entry. By Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.)