Haneen Al-Sayegh & Hamed Abdel-Samad

  • The invisible ribbon
  • In dialogue, Literature

In the mountains of Lebanon, young Amal grows up in the strict, patriarchal religious community of the Druze. She only wants one thing: to go to school and study, but girls have no rights there. Her grandfather has a wall built between himself and his wife, but her mother is at least allowed to bake bread, which she uses to pay her daughters’ school fees. When Amal, the youngest, is married off at fifteen and leaves the family home, her mother remains silent. Undeterred, albeit against much resistance, the young woman goes her own way and begins to understand what it means to live a self-determined life and to truly love. A novel about freedom, tradition, the ambivalence of feelings and the bond that unites the women of the Arab world and allows them to fight for a fairer society.

Haneen Al-Sayegh, born in Lebanon in 1986, studied English literature at the American University of Beirut. Her debut novel The Invisible Ribbon (2024) caused a sensation in Lebanon when it was published due to its taboo-breaking nature and was celebrated as a literary sensation in the Arab media.

Political scientist and journalist Hamed Abdel-Samad, born in 1972, translated Al-Sayegh’s novel into German and accompanies her as a discussion partner. He is one of the most prominent Islamic intellectuals in the German-speaking world. A fatwa was issued against him in 2013 for his criticism of Islam and he has lived under police protection ever since.

Languages: German/English

Fotos v.l.n.r.: Martin Hangen / hangenfoto; Hentschel

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