“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair.
BROTHERS GRIMM FAIRY TALE
As an avowedly secular anthropologist who studies Islamic cultures, what better way to orient myself than a fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm. As the story of Rapunzel is spun, a young maiden is trapped in a tower by a wicked witch and forced to let down her golden hair for the old dame to climb. One day along comes a prince, who with the best of intentions tries to free the girl but is pushed out of the tower by the witch and blinded by thorns. In the children’s version the couple is eventually reunited and lives happily ever after. In the real world ever before us there are seldom such happy endings. As scholars of Islam, institutionally holed up in the Ivory Tower of Academic Isolation, there are not many opportunities to let down our doctored hair and allow our golden voices to escape the classroom. One such opportunity, seemingly out of a fantasy world not even imagined by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, is opened up by the Internet.