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Two Tunisian Women, Emancipated But Divided Over Religion

A female Islamist member of Parliament and an alternative-minded blogger have very different ideas about the role of religion in post-Revolution Tunisia.

International Women's Day in 2014 in Tunis
International Women's Day in 2014 in Tunis
Francesca Sforza

TUNIS — Tunisia is a nation of young women. They write books, tell stories, teach in universities, write on blogs, organize activist networks, protest on the streets, and work both in and out of the home. In the winter of 2014, during discussions over the approval of the new constitution, women formed an army of volunteers that took to the streets to fight for the inclusion of gender equality. The goal was to break from the more ambiguous "complementarity" formulation between men and women in the previous constitution, and oppose the introduction of Sharia law, polygamy, and unequal rights to family inheritance. But there were others — and other women — who did and do not agree on all elements of this agenda.

"I come to parliament every day because there's still a lot left to do," says Imen Ben Mohamed, 31, a former member of the Constituent Assembly and current member of parliament for the Islamist Ennahda party, where she holds a seat in the Rights, Freedom and Foreign Affairs Commission. She wears a blue silk hijab and a hamsa, an amulet necklace, around her neck with a touch of kajal eyeliner around her eyes.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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