What Women Want in New Egypt

Over the past weeks we have seen mass protests by people across all segments of society calling for political change and reform, in hope that this change would reflect on economical and social issues in the future. As the days progressed we saw workers striking and protesting for their rights, journalists protesting for free and honest media, artists and film makers against censorship, people with disabilities protesting for an inclusive society and infrastructure, and many others according to their fields or backgrounds. Women are 50% of the society, and they face marginalization, unfairness politically, socially and under Egyptian law. It’s about time we do something about it. Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, long time acivist psychologist and especially concerned with women’s rights said “The cause to libirate women [in Egypt] who are half the population, is not separated from liberating the nation” .

That is why next Tuesday, to celebrate the International Day for Women, everyone in Egypt who believes women should be equal members of society on every level, need to take the streets. A group of women’s rights activists are organising a “Million Women March” in Tahrir at 3 pm.

My favourite slogan from the event on Facebook is: “I have a mother and father, I want a female or male president”.

In Egypt, no one can deny that women are not treated equally in society. That includes on a legal, political and most importantly cultural level. Here is a few main issues women face, not all issues I might add, that I would like to highlight that should be worked on in the new Egypt.

Politically:

  • We were left out in the constitutional revision committee
  • The clause on the Egyptian president’s origin assumes that the Egyptian president needs to be a man
  • Women’s quota is not helping women find seats but rather limiting them
  • Women always have minimal representation in the cabinet

Socially/Culturally:

  • A large percentage of women suffer domestic violence and never report it
  • Female Genital Mutilation is practices heavily in Egypt even though it is no longer legal
  • 85% of Egyptian women suffer sexual harassment in big cities
  • A woman’s role in society is often confined to being a wife and mother

Legally:

  • Sharia law discriminates against women in both inheritance and divorce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tunisia might have started this wave of revolutions in the Arab world, but we took it to the next level as a global movement. Our country has a responsibility now, towards the Arab world, and the whole world, to show that revolutions can succeed and bring about real change, and active participation of all members of society. Gender is a factor. We need to be the model on how women are just as important to men on all levels of society, as we’ve seen, the snowball effect in the region is unreal.

So join the movement on Tuesday, which is a continuation of the revolution that called for social justice and real change. Not just on a political level, but a cultural one as well. It not only aims to call on the government to take concrete actions, but on our collective society to change their perspective on a woman’s role in society. It’s not a march by women, it is for women, by women and men.

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Egyptian army shows its true colours

Egyptian soldier in Tahrir early February

On January 25th, various Egyptians across different spectrums took the streets in peaceful protest demanding the removal of the regime, bread, freedom and human dignity. The 18 days of protests that inspired people around the world caused many changes, the most notable of them was the resignation of Mubarak. Egypt’s streets spent the night of his departure in endless celebrations since he handed over the country to the army. If you thought the revolution was over then, think again.

At midnight at the end of Feburary 25th, exactly one month since the revolution started, the Egyptian army cordoned then attacked people in Tahrir with sticks, electric shocks and by detaining people. Not to mention the thugs that were fighting the protesters. The army was chasing people down the street and beating them up, claiming that they were doing this because they were out after curfew.

Human rights activist Ramy Raoof, was there during the attacks and he streamed a few minutes live on bambuzer here.

Here is a collection of tweets from people there during the attacks:

2:30 am – Ramy Raoof tweeted: army soldiers are runing behind us and attacking. #Egypt #Jan25

2:55 am – Jano Charbel tweeted: Army forcefully dispersed protest outside parliament. Soldiers punched, kicked & slapped me. Then clubbed me w/ an electric prod in my face.

3:00 am – Gigi Ibrahim tweeted: Revolution phase 3 begun tonight, I heard the taser guns, witnessed the beatings and arrests carried BY THE ARMY.

And my personal favourite: Hosni Mubarak Everything that’s happening in #Libya is all part of the plan to divert your focus while i quietly return to power. #Egypt (Parody, obviously.)

A thought: Why were we still under curfew two weeks after Mubarak stepped down and the ongoing protest in Tahrir was dispersed? Is it maybe so the army can use it as an excuse for this violence? Or maybe to remind us exactly of who is in charge?

Egyptian media is acting exactly the same as in Mubarak days. Between midnight and 2 am no reports on the attacks. At 2:30 am they anounced that the Egyptian military told protesters at midnight they had half an hour to leave, whereas actually by 12:02 am they were attacking them. As for the Egyptian independent channels, ON TV tweeted: The army does not allow journalists and channels to enter the square.

At the end of the day we have to remember, the army  follows orders. Who’s orders? The Generals of the High Council of Armed Forces. Who was their leader 2 weeks ago? Mubarak. Let’s not forget that these people were a huge part of the regime and benefited greatly from it. That means that protests can’t stop now until we have a civil transitional government with the participation of the army in it. The revolution will continue, in the form of protests, strikes until we actually get people involved with the old regime out of powerful positions and replace them with people who actually want Egypt to develop into a democracy.

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Best of Egyptian Media Propaganda

One the many failures of the Egyptian regime has been its state media. Never mind that we have press laws that restrict the freedom of the independent (or rather striving to be independent) media. The state owned media, and it’s private extentions such as the Mehwar Channel, were completely used as propaganda machines telling lies to the Egyptian public. As this was just the norm, only the very extreme cases of ridiculousness stood out. Here are the awards for the most “creative” ones the government tried to pass in my opinion:

– The “Kollohom beyetkalemo English language” Crying Tamer on Nile News

This was the hilarious guy who allegedly just escaped from the vicious place of Tahrir Square where everyone speaks English and get them to make flyers. He cries that the people in Tahrir are not “us”. He has a fear of slogans, and suffers from some sort of breathing disorder. The anchor is pretending to be really concerned and can’t believe the ordeal this kid went through.

 

– The “They are all gay and humping” guy on Masriya TV

This guy is one of the protesters who was inside. Claims there are tents, blankets and meals for everyone. He refers to the fact that there are religious preachers inside brainwashing people and that the opposition groups and Muslim Brotherhood are riding the wave of the 25 of Jan youth. Apparently all the people in Tahrir Square still fighting for our rights are cowards and he’s the hero. He starts by saying people are gay there. The presenter pretends to try to stop him from making judgements, then talks about how Suleiman is awesome and is meeting with the Jan 25 youth. Oh yeah, the regular favourites of course: Foreigners are trying to cause chaos, protests are causing the country to be at a hault and the government is changing everything over night into a full on democracy because life is pink.

 

– The “Aljazeera, the Jews and Pandas are training Egyptian youth to cause chaos” on Mehwer TV

Who can forget the beautiful Shaimaa, who we couldn’t really see for her own safety of course, who told us about her paid trips to the US where she was trained on “How to overthrow dictators”. Apparently she also recieved a second training in Qatar, delivered by Israelis (Aljazeera and the Jews in one combo, nice ha?). She insists (by saying it 5 times) that she was trained along side the Muslim Brotherhood Youth movement. Blame the foreigners! All the foreigners are conspiring against us, because we’re well, awesome.

Who is prosecuting those two journalists and everyone involved in Mehwer TV? I’d like to know.

 

– The “Mubarak is our father and Foreigners are conspiring against us” on Mehwar TV

This one is a political activist who apparently received training all over the world with an organisation that is American-Israeli-Zionist working with the CIA and Mosaad (who else?). According to this one they were training them on how to peacefully bring down a regime by burning government buildings and scaring the police force. Of course she now changed her mind and joined the three million pro-Mubarak protesters (haha) telling Mubarak “We are sorry ya Baba”. Oh yeah, and all the Egyptian youth political movements are working with Hamas.

Favourite quote by the presenters “Egypt is not Tunisia, and Mubarak is not Ben Ali”

 

So the Egyptian government attempted to blame: The Muslim Brotherhood, political opposition parties, Mosaad, The US, Iran, Hamas, Qatar, Aljazeera and according to Egypt’s most trusted news source El Koshary Today: Koala bears. But themselves and their corruption, brutality and inhumane detentions for causing the first grassroots revolution in the history of the country, no way.

Then suddenly, with a magic wand, Egyptian TV suddenly calls the protesters “heroes” not zionist brainwashed crazy people and reports on the millions in Tahrir. They had to do that after Wael Ghoneim, one of the people who started a grass-roots initative on January 25th was released and appeared on Dream TV telling the story of his 12 day detention along with how him and a few youth raising awareness about the Khaled Said case called for the protests on January 25th. Also, when two Senior reporters from Nile TV quit and went on air with inside information about the “Propaganda Machine”. When the public that they were trying to hide the truth from understood their lies, they needed to change their tone, agenda and content to attempt to prove they are credible. Too late though.

Let’s not forget, that the media is still under the Ministry of Media, which is part of the regime. Even if Mubarak is not there, even if Anas El Fekki, the minister of Media, resigned, this institution is full of so much corruption and personal agendas that even if they changed their stance, it does not mean we should trust them. We will not trust our media until it is cleaned of the corruption of many of those inside it and till it is an independent institution not bound by press laws or under any governmental supervision. We are at a crucial point where we need to question everything, until we live in a democratic, just country with honest media.

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