Yalla, Egypt!

(Photo: Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters)

Egypt, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Click here for more images from Egypt; and stay tuned to major and independent news for all the latest. Follow activists and journalists on Twitter, as well, for on-the-ground coverage. Suggestion: Ben Wedeman of CNN International.

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Congratulations, Mona! And for another female journalist…

Alif mabrouk (a thousand congratulations) to Mona Eltahawy for her receipt of the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press!!  Read Mona’s award-winning article here.

Dr. Ibtihal Al-Khatib
Dr. Ibtihal Al-Khatib

For those of you who haven’t heard of her, another interesting  journalist to check out is Dr. Ibtihal Al-Khatib. I saw this interview last year. In it, she argues that secularism may be a path to religious freedom for everyone – including, if not especially – Muslims.  (The previous link is a transcript. Here is a video of Dr. Al-Khatib’s interview, in Arabic with English subtitles.)

Devastation in one of Cairo’s poorest neighborhoods

Shawn Baldwin for the New York Times)
(photo: Shawn Baldwin for the New York Times)

This morning, a large portion of a stone cliff fell and toppled apartment buildings in one of Cairo’s poorest neighborhoods. At least 24 people are dead, and it is feared that hundreds of people, including entire families, are still trapped beneath the rubble. Officials have been slow in responding to the disaster – which has struck mainly working class families living in substandard conditions to begin with.

Read more here and here. Above all, please take a moment to keep Cairo in your thoughts and prayers this Ramadan.

Mona Eltahawy: “When did Egyptian women become candy, and when did Egyptian men turn into flies?”

In Egypt, a billboard reads "a veil to protect or eyes will molest"
In Egypt, a billboard reads "a veil to protect or eyes will molest"

Please see this article by Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy. I’m including an excerpt, but the entire piece is worth your attention. I thank her for her honesty – it’s voices like hers that will one day break the shackles of shame.

Excerpt:

“When did Egyptian women become candy and when did Egyptian men turn into flies?

There is no law criminalizing sexual harassment in Egypt, and police often refuse to report women’s complaints. And when it is the police themselves who are harassing women, then clearly women’s safety is far from a priority in Egypt.

The State itself taught Egyptians a most spectacular lesson in institutionalized patriarchy when security forces and government-hired thugs sexually assaulted demonstrators, especially women, during an anti-regime protest in 2005, giving a green light to harassers.

So there was little surprise that during a religious festival in 2006, a mob of men went on a rampage in downtown Cairo, sexually assaulting any woman they came across as police watched and did nothing.

It was only when bloggers broke the news that the media reported the assaults. Still, the Egyptian regime has never acknowledged it happened. At a demonstration against sexual harassment that I attended in Cairo a few days later, there were nearly more riot police than protestors.

My sister Nora was 20 at the time, and she, with several of her friends, joined the protest. She had never been to a demonstration before but was incensed when she heard the State was denying something that had happened to her many times. We swapped our sexual harassment stories like veterans comparing war wounds, and we unraveled a taboo which shelters the real criminals of sexual harassment and has kept us hiding in shame.

And that is why I began here with my own stories — to free myself of the tentacles of that shame.”

The full article can be read by clicking here, and you can see Ms. Eltahawy’s blog here.