Lebanese writer Joumana Haddad on why Scheherazade had to die

The tube strike didn’t stop the Frontline’s Forum room filling up on Tuesday for a lively and thoughtful discussion about Arab women and why one of them – author Joumana Haddad – is so angry.

Angry about the "schizoprenia" of Arab women and culture, she told BBC Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen of the "double standards and hypocrisy, especially in the Lebanon and also everywhere in the world." 

It’s really an event to be watched or listened to if you want to hear Haddad discuss her book I Killed Scheherazade Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman and answer the numerous questions from the floor.

The creator of the Arab world’s first erotic literary magazine, Jasad (Body) spoke with candour about growing up in a conservative Christian home in Lebanon "where there was a war outside and a war inside".

She explained her book’s title and its attempt to "kill off" the legend of Scheherazade, whose life was spared because of the stories she told to the Persian king over 1,000 nights – and why it’s important that Arab women are free to discuss sexuality and what she thinks of Islamic feminists.

Haddad‘s book began as a letter to an American journalist who commented that many in the West were unaware that Arab women like her existed. Committed to the need for women to work on themselves from the inside to really find freedom, the poet and writer acknowledges that there is a need for the institutional and political struggles.

I’ve avoided politics all my life because I detest it," she said. But both are needed, I’ve always said it is very important to have these two paths.