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Women's Participation In Revolt

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Women make their power felt in Egypt's revolution

Cassie Biggs

Last Updated: Feb 14, 2011

CAIRO // When Hosni Mubarak caved in to public pressure and resigned, it was a victory not only for the pro-democracy protesters but also for Egypt's women, who were enjoying their own social revolution.

Azza Kamel, a women's activist and writer, camped out for 18 days and nights, under a tarpaulin in Cairo's Tahrir Square demanding the removal of Mr Mubarak, an autocratic leader whose government, she says, had oppressed a nation for far too long.

Ms Kamel and other women say they did not hear of a single incident of sexual harassment since the protests started on January 25."The revolution changed us," said Ms Kamel, 50, who left the square only for a few hours each day to collect blankets and food for her fellow protesters.

"Men were not touching women; in fact, they were saying sorry every time they bumped into a woman."

This may not sound like a lot, but in Egypt, where a study in 2008 for the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights showed that more than four out of five women had been sexually assaulted at some time, it was nothing short of revolutionary.

In the days leading up to January 25, an email was sent out to women taking part in the protests advising them to wear two layers of clothes, nothing with a zip and to double-wrap their hijabs.

This was not paranoid fear-mongering, but a practical precaution based on decades of experience. The police, who faded away as the protests took on momentum, are notorious for groping, stripping and raping women as tools of intimidation. Such endemic harassment understandably drove women into their homes and out of the political limelight. Until now that is.

"I really believe the revolution has changed us. People are acting differently towards each other," Ms Kamel said.

She pointed to the culture of fear that has pervaded Egypt for four decades as partly to blame for endemic harassment of women.

"An oppressed people look for someone else to bully and oppress. Now, this is the first time in 40 years people have tasted freedom. Men are no longer touching women."

While the demands for Mr Mubarak's removal crossed all barriers - religious, class as well as gender - it was the freedom women experienced in the square that kept them coming back, bringing friends, sisters and mothers, said Mozn Hassan, the director of the Nasra Feminist Studies Centre in Cairo."No one sees you as a woman here; no one sees you as a man. We are all united in our desire for democracy and freedom," she said.

Indeed, thousands of women poured into the square each day. They came on their own, with friends, colleagues, husbands and children; university students, teachers, doctors and housewives; Muslims, dressed in hijab and without, and Christians.

They took turns checking the IDs and bags of protesters, handing out food and manning the clinics, leading chants to fire up the protesters and running a steady stream of Facebook and Twitter posts.

Where in previous protests women had accounted for, at most, 10 per cent, in Tahrir Square that number stood at about 40 per cent to 50 per cent in the days leading up to Mr Mubarak's resignation. Women such as Mai Shoukoury, 30, a researcher with a think tank in Cairo, said she had never voted, and never protested before, but felt compelled to join the protests in Tahrir Square, and Doaa, 23, an economics student who, on the day after pitched battles in the square between democracy protesters and supporters of Mr Mubarak left more than 100 people dead, was back at the barricaded entrance, ad fearlessly took on the soldiers who were trying to prevent her from getting in.

So what changed?

Ms Hassan puts it down to the changing tools of civil protest.

The internet initially provided women with a safe platform on which to campaign, and that then segued into their physical participation, she said.

Not only were women posting blogs and tweets, but they confidently led crowds of men in protest chants, prayed alongside men, instead of behind them, and spent the night sleeping under tents with men they might only have just met.

Ms Hassan said that, for years, state media had portrayed women as weak and vulnerable, which had caused ruptures in society. "For years the media and government have tried to keep men and women apart, to drive a wedge between us.

"But in the square, you had people from different classes, both men and women, mixing, talking and debating. They [men] were seeing that women are strong, that they can look after themselves."They were seeing women work hard for the revolution, leading protests, and their response [not groping] is their way of saying, 'I respect you'."

Ask any woman in the square why she protested, however, and she will not say for women's rights. Most Egyptian women think they have all the gender equality they need.

"Egyptian women are strong. We control our households and we control our lives. Like Lebanon, we are not bound by these headscarves," says Riham Muntaz, 25, an English teacher at a private school, dressed in a sky-blue hijab and dark sunglasses.

"We have suffered the taste of teargas, but we are not afraid. The women who are afraid to leave the house, even they see us and gain courage."

What Ms Muntaz wants is a better life. Like many of her fellow protesters, male and female, she struggles to make ends meet.

"I get paid 400 [Egyptian] pounds a month," she says. "I have no health insurance, if I need an operation I have to pay for it myself. I have no contract, no job security. We want a better life for us and for our children. We deserve a better life."

foreigndesk@thenational.ae

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Does anybody else get annoyed when the media always tries to paint every example of female participation in the politics of Islamic countries as "unprecedented?" :rolleyes:

[EDITED - We encourage members to be courteous to others, and treat fellow members the way they wish to be treated. Intelligent discourse and freedom of expression is encouraged, as long as it is exercised with responsibility. Insults made against other members on this board are not tolerated, even those made via PM. Warnings will be issued to offending members.]

It's just a general point. During the "green wave" in Iran, Western media (and the Iranian traitors they invited to speak) portrayed the women's involvement in the demonstrations and riots as "unprecedented." Even though, to be honest, looking at the pictures and videos of those times, most of the greens appeared to be men. And, moreover, how can it be unprecedented, considering the level of women's involvement in the Islamic Revolution 32 years ago?

Western media just can't break out of this caricature they have made of Islamic society, and one of these caricatures is the caricature of the subjugated woman. That's why they are so surprised when they see these things. Whereas we are not surprised at all.

Edited by Nocturne
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Does anybody else get annoyed when the media always tries to paint every example of female participation in the politics of Islamic countries as "unprecedented?" :rolleyes:

BTW this isn't a knock on you personally satyaban (although I do think you're retarded). It's just a general point. During the "green wave" in Iran, Western media (and the Iranian traitors they invited to speak) portrayed the women's involvement in the demonstrations and riots as "unprecedented." Even though, to be honest, looking at the pictures and videos of those times, most of the greens appeared to be men. And, moreover, how can it be unprecedented, considering the level of women's involvement in the Islamic Revolution 32 years ago?

Western media just can't break out of this caricature they have made of Islamic society, and one of these caricatures is the caricature of the subjugated woman. That's why they are so surprised when they see these things. Whereas we are not surprised at all.

The reason they write about it is because it is news and out of the ordinary. Sort of like "Man bites dog" joke

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I seriously wonder if this is a shia imami forum. I mean people here are supporting this type of behavior:

prayed alongside men, instead of behind them, and spent the night sleeping under tents with men they might only have just met.

:o :o :o

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I seriously wonder if this is a shia imami forum. I mean people here are supporting this type of behavior:

:o :o :o

I don't know about the sleeping part, but the praying part is OK as long as there is a respectable distance between a man and woman.

Haven't you seen how they pray at Makkeh? The men and women are all mixed together.

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Does anybody else get annoyed when the media always tries to paint every example of female participation in the politics of Islamic countries as "unprecedented?" :rolleyes:

BTW this isn't a knock on you personally satyaban (although I do think you're retarded). It's just a general point. During the "green wave" in Iran, Western media (and the Iranian traitors they invited to speak) portrayed the women's involvement in the demonstrations and riots as "unprecedented." Even though, to be honest, looking at the pictures and videos of those times, most of the greens appeared to be men. And, moreover, how can it be unprecedented, considering the level of women's involvement in the Islamic Revolution 32 years ago?

Western media just can't break out of this caricature they have made of Islamic society, and one of these caricatures is the caricature of the subjugated woman. That's why they are so surprised when they see these things. Whereas we are not surprised at all.

When there are Islamic nations where women aren't allowed to vote or drive, Muslims are making a caricature of themselves.

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When there are Islamic nations where women aren't allowed to vote or drive, Muslims are making a caricature of themselves.

The only nation (not "nations") I know of where women can't drive is Saudi Arabia.

And I don't think anybody is allowed to vote in Saudi Arabia. There are no elections, to the best of my knowledge.

And remember that Saudi is not even a religious country, it's a country of a'raab that happened to get rich.

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The only nation (not "nations") I know of where women can't drive is Saudi Arabia.

And I don't think anybody is allowed to vote in Saudi Arabia. There are no elections, to the best of my knowledge.

And remember that Saudi is not even a religious country, it's a country of a'raab that happened to get rich.

Only males over the age of 21 are allowed to vote. Saudi Arabia had elections in 2005.

Saudi Arabia is where Mecca is located. It's the center of the Muslim world.

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Saudi Arabia is where Mecca is located. It's the center of the Muslim world.

Makkeh's significance dates back to far before "Saudi Arabia" came into existence.

Or, to draw an analogy: Karbala is in Iraq. Iraq was, for a long time, governed by Bathists. I suppose that means we were all muqalids of Saddam Hussein during that time?

What you're saying makes no sense. Makkeh does not have significance in the same way that New York has significance. New York is the financial center of the US because the economic power of the country is concentrated there. Makkeh is not the center of the Muslim world because of Saudi Arabia's political/economic/cultural significance but because of the kaaba; because of it being the birthplace of tawhid.

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Makkeh's significance dates back to far before "Saudi Arabia" came into existence.

Or, to draw an analogy: Karbala is in Iraq. Iraq was, for a long time, governed by Bathists. I suppose that means we were all muqalids of Saddam Hussein during that time?

What you're saying makes no sense. Makkeh does not have significance in the same way that New York has significance. New York is the financial center of the US because the economic power of the country is concentrated there. Makkeh is not the center of the Muslim world because of Saudi Arabia's political/economic/cultural significance but because of the kaaba; because of it being the birthplace of tawhid.

Perhaps calling it the "center of the Muslim world" was not the best way to phrase it. It is symbolic. The nation where Mecca is located does not allow women to drive or vote.

Are the people currently living in Saudi Arabia descended from the people who lived in the region 1300 years ago?

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Perhaps calling it the "center of the Muslim world" was not the best way to phrase it. It is symbolic. The nation where Mecca is located does not allow women to drive or vote.

Are the people currently living in Saudi Arabia descended from the people who lived in the region 1300 years ago?

Papples, you are really going off on a tnagent here. Palestine was where Christianity began, is the fact that the bulk of the Christians of Palestine were ethnically cleansed by the Zionists some sort of reflection on Christianity?

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Does anybody else get annoyed when the media always tries to paint every example of female participation in the politics of Islamic countries as "unprecedented?" :rolleyes:

BTW this isn't a knock on you personally satyaban (although I do think you're retarded). It's just a general point. During the "green wave" in Iran, Western media (and the Iranian traitors they invited to speak) portrayed the women's involvement in the demonstrations and riots as "unprecedented." Even though, to be honest, looking at the pictures and videos of those times, most of the greens appeared to be men. And, moreover, how can it be unprecedented, considering the level of women's involvement in the Islamic Revolution 32 years ago?

Western media just can't break out of this caricature they have made of Islamic society, and one of these caricatures is the caricature of the subjugated woman. That's why they are so surprised when they see these things. Whereas we are not surprised at all.

Women involvement in Islamic Revolution? Are you serious? expecting these ppl to acknowledge that? They'll call them some oppressed women if nothing else left for them to argue about. This guy and likes of him can view the women participation, especially referring to 'a few' who slept under the tent with the men to point out to the secularism nature of these anti-mobarak protesters, but they never showed or mentioned the majority 'hijabi' women who were on the demonstrations and never went to share bed with other men during the the protests...

After all, why they are blind to see the urgent need of women in Bahrain who are bleeding because of Al-Khalifa's oppression. Because the dictatorial system (led by Clinton) still shows support for Bahraini government... So these little followers will stay silenced and will never make any statement... and entirely will ignore the bloodshed against women and children and civilians in general in Bahrain.

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Women involvement in Islamic Revolution? Are you serious? expecting these ppl to acknowledge that? They'll call them some oppressed women if nothing else left for them to argue about. This guy and likes of him can view the women participation, especially referring to 'a few' who slept under the tent with the men to point out to the secularism nature of these anti-mobarak protesters, but they never showed or mentioned the majority 'hijabi' women who were on the demonstrations and never went to share bed with other men during the the protests...

After all, why they are blind to see the urgent need of women in Bahrain who are bleeding because of Al-Khalifa's oppression. Because the dictatorial system (led by Clinton) still shows support for Bahraini government... So these little followers will stay silenced and will never make any statement... and entirely will ignore the bloodshed against women and children and civilians in general in Bahrain.

Indeed, it is very strange for them to see the women of the Islamic Revolution. These are people who associate women's empowerment with the so-called "sexual revolution." Any collective symbol of modesty -- such as hijab -- is therefore seen as retrograde.

So to them it seems like a contradiction for this giant mass of women -- a "sea of black" -- to be anything other than contemptible oppressed somethings.

And I agree 100 percent about this article as well. I would like to know how many Egyptian women truly slept in tents with strange men. The author probably saw one case of this and decided to put it in his news story to reflect his agenda.

For God's sake, even in the West if such a thing happened people would prefer to separate sleeping quarters along gender lines.

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Sleeping under makeshift tents and on the ground is not sleeping together is it. No, of course not. Sleeping in the same bed, same sleeping bag, same two man tent is sleeping together.

It's a tent.

Stop playing coy.

You can't see the problem with two strangers of the opposite sex sleeping in a tent together? That's too intimate for any person, let alone we Muslims who are sensitive to such issues.

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It's a tent.

Stop playing coy.

You can't see the problem with two strangers of the opposite sex sleeping in a tent together? That's too intimate for any person, let alone we Muslims who are sensitive to such issues.

Perhaps I should have said tarpaulin or improvised cover. Does the size of the tent make a difference to you. When I was in the army I slept in tent for two and tents for as many as twenty.

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Perhaps I should have said tarpaulin or improvised cover. Does the size of the tent make a difference to you. When I was in the army I slept in tent for two and tents for as many as twenty.

Look at the pictures.

Those dudes aren't using army tents, they're using regular camping tents.

If someone says "I can fit 8 people in my VW Beatle," is your natural reaction "Oh well that's perfectly likely. When I was in the army, we fit 12 guys into an APC easily." ?

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Look at the pictures.

Those dudes aren't using army tents, they're using regular camping tents.

If someone says "I can fit 8 people in my VW Beatle," is your natural reaction "Oh well that's perfectly likely. When I was in the army, we fit 12 guys into an APC easily." ?

Of course you are right how stupid of me. Perhaps they can be identified by the photos and be given 60 lashes each. That way the new govt can be as brutal as the old. But you know what, this issue of yours is as much a concern of these women as a flea is to an elephant.

Lastly I know you aren't shocked by this, I mean it isn't alien to you.

BTW you misspelled "beetle" because of your filthy western influence and music I am sure. Too much "Beatles" music for you?

"

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"Men were not touching women; in fact, they were saying sorry every time they bumped into a woman."

This may not sound like a lot, but in Egypt, where a study in 2008 for the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights showed that more than four out of five women had been sexually assaulted at some time

Reporter sexually assaulted by mob in Egypt

CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan suffered a "brutal" sexual assault at the hands of a mob in Egypt while covering the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak, the US network said this morning.

"She and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy," CBS said in a statement.

"In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers."

The incident took place on Cairo's central Tahrir Square last Friday, the day Mr Mubarak stepped down, CBS said.

Logan was flown to the United States the next day.

"She is currently in the hospital recovering," the statement said.

South African-born Logan has covered the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, becoming one of the US media's most recognisable war correspondents.

She became chief foreign correspondent for CBS News in 2006.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a media watchdog group, said at least 52 journalists were attacked and 76 were imprisoned during the unrest in Egypt that led Mr Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power. All have been released, it said.

One journalist, Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ta'awun, was killed while filming clashes near Tahrir Square, the CPJ said.

"Egypt's old regime orchestrated a ferocious campaign to stop the news of this movement for change," Paul Steiger, a member of the CPJ's board and former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/02/16/3139988.htm

wa (salam)

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Papples, you are really going off on a tnagent here. Palestine was where Christianity began, is the fact that the bulk of the Christians of Palestine were ethnically cleansed by the Zionists some sort of reflection on Christianity?

Have the bulk of Muslims been ethnically cleansed from Saudi Arabia?

Edited by Papples
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Have the bulk of Muslims been ethnically cleansed from Saudi Arabia?

Don't be obtuse - that was not my point. I was simply echoing baradar Jackson's point that the signifigance of the place where a religion originates isn't necessarily reflected by the behavior of the regime which governs that particular territory (nor is it necessarily reflective of the greater civilization which was spawned there.

BTW - I agree with your point baradar about the media trying to paint every example of female participation in the politics of Islamic countries as "unprecedented". and you are quite right about "caricature of the subjugated woman" which the western media has painted for itself.

I also think that you are right that it has to do with a bizarre conflation of women's rights with the "sexual revolution"..

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Don't be obtuse - that was not my point. I was simply echoing baradar Jackson's point that the signifigance of the place where a religion originates isn't necessarily reflected by the behavior of the regime which governs that particular territory (nor is it necessarily reflective of the greater civilization which was spawned there.

If that wasn't your point, then you should not have used that example.

Religion and culture are perpetually intertwined. They mirror each other.

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Have the bulk of Muslims been ethnically cleansed from Saudi Arabia?

The bulk of non-Wahabi Muslims have been cleansed form KSA, yes. Even thought that's not the point of the original argument.

Edited by titumir
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