Mariz Tadros gives a vastly depressing account of life for women in Egypt.
…on the streets of Egypt, inch by inch, bit by bit, women’s rights are shrinking. Women, Muslim and Christian, who do not cover their hair or who wear mid-sleeved clothing are met with insults, spitting and in some cases physical abuse. In the urban squatter settlement of Mouasset el Zakat, in Al Marg, Greater Cairo, women told me that they hated walking in the streets now. Thanks to the lax security situation, they have restricted their mobility to all but the most essential of errands. Whereas a couple of years ago they could just inform their husbands where they were going (visiting parents, friends or going to the hairdresser for example), now they have to get their husbands or older sons to accompany them if they go out after sunset.
And the Islamists have made it worse. A Coptic Christian woman said to me “we and our Muslim friends who do not cover our hair get yelled at by men passing by telling us ‘just you wait, those who will cover you up and make you stay at home are coming, and then there will no more of this lewdness’”. It was, she said, as if they were gloating over the fact that we were being pushed off the streets.
As if? Surely there’s no “as if” about it – gloating is exactly what they were doing.
Another woman told me that girls and women wearing mid-sleeved clothing had been slapped on their bare arms by men on bicycles shouting slurs. Another told me she had been spat on by men telling her to cover up. Another told me that she had her hair up in a pony tail and a young man pulled it so hard that she thought her head was going to fall off. Another recounts how she was pushed and elbowed by a passerby telling her to cover her nakedness (she was wearing a mid-sleeved blouse and trousers).
This seems to be about 80% of what Islamism is about – rabid hatred of women. Hatred, loathing, contempt, disgust, and desire for anihilation. They want women not just to “cover up” but to stay at home – i.e. inside, locked up, out of the public realm, thus non-existent in the larger world. They feel entitled to assault any woman they see.
And some Coptic Christian bossy types are imitating the Islamists, telling “their” women to “cover up.” Some of those women staged a protest on May 18. Tadros was one of them.
As one of the organisers of this protest, I tried to explain why we couldn’t wait. I explained that if there is talk of women’s modesty today, tomorrow there is more pressure on veiling, the day after it is going to be a socially imposed ban on trousers, after that a ban on women’s freedom of mobility, until bit by bit, inch by inch we are driven back home.
Back to the world our great-grandmothers had to put up with. No thank you.