Three Swiss women who have converted to Islam explain their views on what practices and beliefs are rooted in religion, and what are simply local traditions.
Nora Illi is a women’s delegate in Switzerland’s radical Islamic Central Council. Natalia Darwich is a Shiite, while Barbara Veljiji and Illi are Sunnis.
All three say they are well versed in the Koran and believe in its literal interpretation. At the same time, they identify with Swiss cultural values, like the emancipation of women. They all differentiate between religion and culture.
Equality of the sexes
“A man and woman have equal rights but are not the same,” says Darwich. Illi counters that they are not equal since only women can have children and nurse them. They all affirm that according to the Koran, the man is the provider, while it’s the woman’s responsibility to look after the family, even if Veljiji herself lives differently: since the birth of her children, she provides for the family while her husband takes care of the household. They all agree that the Koran states it’s the man’s duty to work. Women are allowed to work, but do not have to.