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.

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.)

News roundup – with the help of MMW

An image from the Egyptian campaign to promote hijab
"You won't be able to stop them, but you can protect yourself" - Egyptian hijab campaign in which men are flies and women are lollies.

As always, Muslimah Media Watch delivers a comphrehensive list of media about women and Islam in their Friday Links post. This week, I’m sharing with you those stories about Muslim women and men taking action against gender-based injustice.

* Arab news reports on the Saudi debate about women becoming muftis. The Grand Mufti of Syria has already opened some doors for women. The Council of Senior Islamic Scholars’ Sheikh Abdullah Al-Munai says that in Shariah regulations “the woman is like the man”, with “the exact same thinking and brain”. That’s not something we usually hear about Shariah law, now is it? He rejects the idea that women shouldn’t speak in public, and reminds us that during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) there was a “huge group of Muslim women who were considered among the Islamic scholars.”

* Noted Islamic scholars in Bangladesh call on Muslim leadership to work for women’s rights.

* Young Egyptian women and men ages 14-24 fight back against sexual harassment. The basic ideas? Not only should women and girls not be blamed for the harassment and assaults they’re targeted with, but they also need to be able to defend themselves. The campaign also believes that real men – those who don’t harass women – still exist. If you need proof, these guys are demanding that men “stand up to” those who harass women rather than ever letting their behavior slide. Men are literally calling on other men to “chase down” harassers!

* Saudi Arabia considers legislation against child marriage. It’s about time! While some leaders don’t quite seem to get it, others remind people that for a marriage to be valid, the female must express real consent.

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.


“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.