Read it here
Former Salafist cleric stuns Morocco with calls for gender equality
On Abu Hafs.
Read it here
City | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Cairo is most dangerous megacity for women.
Read it here
New April 09 Arab Reform Bulletin
The 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza affected Egypt more than any other country. While there is a possibility that Americans or Europeans would tolerate a Palestinian consensus including loosely-worded formulas that allow Hamas to participate, it is the Egyptians who are taking a hard-line approach and pressing Hamas into an unequivocal stance. Egypt wants to minimize the chances of Hamas winning future Palestinian elections. Egypt’s delicate domestic situation cannot withstand the emergence of a successful or partly successful Muslim Brotherhood-inspired experiment anywhere in the Arab world, and certainly not on its very doorstep. The situation is all the more sensitive because Hamas is confronting the Israeli occupation, deeply unpopular with most Egyptians, which provides a tool for Egyptian Islamists to use in mobilizing the street against the government. But Cairo is aware that Hamas’ position is awkward and its choices are limited, especially with escalating resentment against some of Hamas’ policies within Gaza before, during, and after the recent war, which is pushing Hamas to adopt a more flexible attitude.
Iman Baibars on Ramifications of Women’s Rights Initiatives:
While the NDP appears serious about increasing the number of women in parliament, it is not clear yet exactly which seats will be designated for women or how they will be selected. Will it be, for example, by means of an individual candidacy system, in which two women from each governorate are nominated (one a professional and another a laborer), a party list system, or some combination of the two? The quota is thus part of a larger discussion of overall reform of the oft-revised Egyptian electoral system. But in any case, it seems likely that a quota for women will be in place in time for the 2010 parliamentary elections. The question is no longer whether more women will enter parliament, but rather how this will be accomplished.
Intissar Fakir Western Sahara and Regional Security (IMHO overstates the security issues in the Sahel region from a US perspective, ignores political expediency of creating a “jihadist situation” in that sub-region for both local and external powers.)
Josh Landis on The Nexus of Economy, Diplomacy, and Reform (I like Landis but fear he’s rather too sanguine about this: “President Assad has also promised to put political liberalization back on his agenda because he no longer believes Western powers seek to destabilize Syria.” Forget liberalization, Assad will never do it!)
Nearly 300 teens arrested on Cairo’s streets for harassment
Egyptian police announced Wedneday they had arrested more than 550 teenagers suspected of sexually harassing girls outside schools in several Cairo districts in a single day. The culprits were awaiting interrogation and trial Thursday.
The police launched an extensive clampdown targeting stores and internet cafes near schools. Security forces raided six internet cafes that did not have permits, and another five that played pornographic videos for truants, according to a statement issued by the Cairo Security Department on the day of the crackdown.
After many families complained about girls being targeted outside schools in several neighborhods the head of the Cairo Investigations Bureau, General Farouk Lashin, launched a campaign against sexual harassment, an interior Ministry source told AlArabiya.net.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that most of the harassers were between 16 and 18 years old.
According to the source police launched an earlier campaign that resulted in the arrest of almost 300 people for harassment in Cairo streets.
And I’m sure these arrests have nothing to do with the fact that Egypt has become so synonymous with sexual harassment that it’s become a major topic of discussion in newspapers, the topic of travel warnings in foreign newspapers, and of course that it’s reached the ears of a certain First Lady.
The authorities are serious about making sure that boys behave themselves? Great. But this looks like the random arrest of the first youths that came across zealous officers, probably many of them the usual suspects who get arrested every time there’s a crime in their neighborhood, and this will be a one-off action on the part of authorities that won’t ever be followed through with awareness campaigns and a more consistent to preventing and punishing harassment. I hope to be proved wrong on this, but I won’t be holding my breath.
Let them grope cake
CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak has played down allegations of rampant sexual harassment in her country, accusing the media, and implicitly Islamist militants, of exaggerating the reports.
“Egyptian men always respect Egyptian women,” the pro-government Al-Ahram newspaper on Friday quoted the wife of President Hosni Mubarak as saying in remarks aired on Thursday by Al-Arabiya television.
The Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights (ECWR) released a survey earlier this year showing that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women in Egypt are sexually harassed.
“This gives the impression that the streets in Egypt are not safe. That is not true… The media have exaggerated,” Mubarak said.
“Maybe one, two or even 10 incidents occurred. Egypt is home to 80 million people. We can’t talk of a phenomenon. Maybe a few scatterbrained youths are behind this crime.
“And maybe some people wanted to make it seem as though the streets of Egypt are not safe so girls and women stay at home. This could be their agenda,” she said in a reference to Islamist militants.
Of course, in her own experience, when she goes out on the street in her motorcode surrounded by bodyguards and soldiers, no one EVER gropes her. So it must apply to all other women in Egypt.
One things I discovered is that while the figure that’s commonly mentioned is that 96% of women in Egypt are circumcised, the figure for teenage girls is about 80% and they project (from government health surveys in which they ask mothers whether they plan to circumcise their daughters) that the rate for young girls will be 60% by 2015.
The Muslim Brotherhood made a big fuss over this law when it was discussed in parliament. One MP brought his circumcised daughters and wife to parliament as an argument for FGM. I had read about this and went to interview Saad Katatni, the head of the Brotherhood’s parliamentary block. He was much more diplomatic with me than his MPs had been in parliament. He actually said he recognizes that FGM isn’t required by Sharia. But he said it shouldn’t be banned because in some “exceptional cases” it’s needed. Pressed on what those exceptional cases might be, he said they were when the organ (he meant clitoris) “طويل طولا شاذا”, meaning “is perversely/abnormally long.” This harks back to the popular belief that female circumcision is necessary for some women whose clitorises otherwise would grow to a monstruous size. When I asked Katatni about the death of Budur (the schoolgirl who died last summer while undergoing FGM), he said isolated cases shouldn’t lead us to condemn the practice completely. He said: “If I as a doctor makes a mistake during a given operation, and the patient dies, do I discard this branch of medicine, do I erase this branch of science?”
Veil your lollipop
War of the CRAPs: Hirsi Ali contra Manji
First there is this paragraph:
Yet though they are allies on one level, their approaches to Islam are strikingly different, with one working outside the religion and one within. Neither one can be considered a spokeswoman for a significant Muslim constituency in the Middle East. (Indeed, their most sympathetic audiences are probably Western.) But their differences have implications for all the big issues the West grapples with in considering the Muslim world. How much popular support do terrorists have? Is a secular Middle East possible, and whatâ€™s the best way to promote it? Is Islam itself an enemy of the West?
But then this conclusion:
Clearly, this is a debate of importance not only to Muslims but to non-Muslims as well, and for a Westerner listening in, the best way to understand it may be to translate it into the language of European history. Irshad Manji sees herself as moving Islam into the 16th century; Ayaan Hirsi Ali wants to move it into the 18th. Itâ€™s as if Luther and Voltaire were living at the same time.
Is there anything more puerile, more annoying, more navel-gazing, more incredibly stupid than comparisons between modern Islam and European Christianity? This is the New York Times: the best way to understand its approach to the Muslim world may be to translate it into the language of American television: a combination of the faux-earnestness of 1950s family comedy and the fixation on the travails of minor celebrities seen in contemporary reality shows. It’s as if “Leave it to Beaver” and “American Idol” were being watched at the same time.
[From Muslim Rebel Sisters: At Odds With Islam and Each Other – New York Times]
A Shiite Tikriti
Hannah has a great post about a very coquette (and courageous) Shia Tikriti woman:
How on earth, I asked her, does a Shiite Tikriti living under control of the Mahdi Army get away with dressing as she does when these days even Christian women have begun to cover their hair to deflect attention?
K replied that she is simply tired of the fundamentalists who now rule Iraq, both in the government and in the streets, both Shiite and Sunni. The Mahdi Army doesn’t mind if she drives, K said, but she has been warned by “concerned friends” about her exposed hair. Before the sectarian cleansing of her neighborhood, it was actually Sunni militants who were worse in their targeting of women, K said.
The threats got so numerous that one day she stopped caring. She went on about her daily routine, driving and dressing and praying as she wished, crediting only God with allowing her to survive each day.
“Remember when Zarqawi wrote that if you see a woman driving, kill her? Well, they might kill two or three to teach a lesson, but they can’t kill all the women,” K said casually, popping a pistachio candy in her mouth. She began to laugh triumphantly.
“And now what?” she asked. “Zarqawi is dead and I’m alive. I’m still here.”