Elham Manea (born 1966) is of dual nationalities, Yemeni and Swiss. She works as a Privatdozentin (compares to associate professor in the American System) and specialized on the Middle East, a writer, and a human rights activist. She has been a vocal advocate for the separation of state and religion in Islamic countries, freedoms of expression and belief, and the defence for civil, human, women's, and minorities rights in the Arab MENA region. She is also known as a harsh critic of the ideologies and policies of Islamist movements in its two forms, Societal Islamism and political Islamism (a differentiation she introduced in her forthcoming book Islamic Law in the West: the Essentialists).
Manea has published academic and non fiction books in English, German, and Arabic in addition to two novels in Arabic - Echo (2005 Saqi Books Beirut) and Sins (2008 Saqi Books Beirut).
Her latest academic publication was a book entitled The Arab State and Women’s Rights: The Trap of Authoritarian Governance.
Manea is the author of the non fiction book Ich will nicht Schweigen: Der Islam, Der Westen und die Menschenrechte (2009), Freiburg: Herder Verlag. The book is based on a series she wrote in Arabic about humanistic Islam and women’s rights.
Her latest book project is entitled Islamic Law in the West: the Essentialists. Based on her research in the Middle East and Britain, she criticizes a paradigm of thinking with four specific features, the Essentialist Paradigm, which calls for introducing Islamic law in Western legal systems ignoring citizen/human/women rights and political consequences.
Background and Education
Manea is a Fulbright scholar who holds a Venia Legendi (Habilitation) and a PhD degree in political science from the University of Zurich, Master's degree in comparative politics from the American University in Washington D.C, and a bachelor's degree in political science from Kuwait University.
She worked eight years (until 2005) as a journalist at Swiss Radio International (Swissinfo) and was the Deputy Chief Editor of the Arabic service of Swissinfo. She works now at the Political Science Institute at the University of Zurich and as a consultant for Swiss government agencies and international human rights organizations. In 2010 the Swiss Federal Council appointed her as Member of the Federal Commission for Women Affairs – a position she holds today.