Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A00096 - Fadwa Suleiman, Syrian Actress and Activist

Suleiman, Fadwa
Fadwa Suleiman or Fadwa Soliman (b. May 17, 1970, Aleppo, Syria – d. August 17, 2017, Paris, France) was a Syrian actress of an Alawite descent who led a Sunni-majority protest against Bashar al-Assad's government in Homs.  She became one of the most recognized faces of the Syrian Civil War.

Born in Aleppo, Suleiman moved to the capital Damascus to pursue an acting career where she performed in numerous plays, Maria's Voice and Media, and in at least a dozen TV shows, including in The Diary of Abou Antar and Little Ladies.  She also played an art teacher at an orphanage in Small Hearts, a television series that helped raise awareness about human organ trafficking and was broadcast by several Arab channels. She also acted in an Arabic adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House at the Qabbani theater in Damascus.

At the beginning of the Syrian uprising in 2011, Suleiman was one of the few outspoken actresses against Assad's government. Knowing her fate would be death or prison, Suleiman wanted to participate in the demonstration to dispel what she said was public perception that all in the Alawite community, which comprised around 10 per cent of the Syrian population, supported Assad's government. She also wanted to dismiss the government's narrative that those who participate in protests were either Islamists or armed terrorists. She appeared at rallies demanding Assad's removal, sharing the podium with soccer star Abdelbasset Sarout, one of a number of Syrian celebrities who backed the revolt.

Suleiman also delivered impassioned monologues to the camera, calling for peaceful protests to continue across the country until Assad was overthrown.  In one video message in 2011, Suleiman said security forces were searching Homs neighborhoods for her, and beating people to force them to reveal her hiding place. She cut her hair short like a boy, and moved from house to house to evade capture. In 2012, she fled with her husband via Lebanon and moved to France, where they resided in Paris. 

On August 17, 2017, Suleiman died of cancer while in exile in Paris, aged 47.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A00095 - Rula Quawas, Champion of Feminism in Jordan

Quawas, Rula
Rula Butros Quawas (b. February 25, 1960, Amman, Jordan - d. July 25, 2017, Amman, Jordan) was born in Amman, into a patriarchal society — women were not given the right to vote until 1974 — that as an adult she would refuse to accept.

Born and raised in Jordan, Rula Quawas graduated with a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of North Texas. At the University of Jordan, Professor Quawas began teaching a wide array of undergraduate and graduate courses pertaining to American Literature, one of which was a groundbreaking course on feminism, focusing on American feminism and its complexities. In addition, she has taught on Arab feminism and contemporary Arab women writers in translation for CIEE (Council on International Education Exchange). As founder of the Women's Studies Center at her university, she was the director for two years -- from 2006- 2008. In addition, she was the founder of Knowledge Production Unit at the Jordanian National Commission for Women in February of 2009. She also serves on many editorial boards such as the Journal of Women’s Entrepreneurship and EducationStudies in Literature in English, and the International Journal of Arabic-English Studies.

In the fall of 2012, Professor Quawas was removed from her position as Dean of Dean of the faculty of Foreign Languages at University of Jordan after a class project created by her students was uploaded to youtube. The video project entitled displayed women students holding signs that depicted insults and verbal harrassment that men have said to them in public.

In 2013, she was named a Fulbright scholar in residence at Champlain College in Vermont. In Jordan, Princess Basma Bint Talal presented her in 2009 with a Meritorious Honor Award for Leadership and Dedication for her efforts to empower women. And she was a finalist for the State Department’s International Women of Courage Award in 2013.