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Beirut's 'Body' Language Pioneer

A woman reads Jasad - Arabic for body - at a library in Beirut. Topics in the first issue included foot fetishism, homosexuality and cannibalism. (Photo by Cynthia Karam--Reuters)
A woman reads Jasad - Arabic for body - at a library in Beirut. Topics in the first issue included foot fetishism, homosexuality and cannibalism. (Photo by Cynthia Karam--Reuters) (Cynthia Karam - Reuters)

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"It doesn't exist there simply because they don't need it. In the West, people own their bodies. In the Arab world, our bodies have been stolen from us," she said.

The only daughter in a middle-class, fairly religious family, Haddad went to a Catholic school in Beirut. Her "revolution," she said, started when she was 12, after she read the Marquis de Sade's "Justine," which her father kept on his highest bookshelf. "Reading liberated me," she said.

Married at 17, she kept reading and studying languages: French, Arabic, English, Armenian, German, Italian and Spanish. She divorced and remarried, though she and her husband keep separate apartments "because I love him and because love can't survive the episodes of water cuts and children's bad grades at school."

Her desk is crammed with photos and statues of the Virgin Mary, and on the wall is a poster of Che Guevara bearing his slogan, "Let's be realistic, demand the impossible."

Haddad and her magazine have drawn a lot of attention, especially from Arabic blogs. Little of the reaction has been neutral.

"God bless her, there must be some angels protecting her," one blogger wrote recently.

"She is the perfect model of a person who has to be stoned to death," wrote another.


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