When in doubt, harass women.
Egyptian Salafi preacher Ahmed Mahmoud Abdulla — known as Abou Islam — recently made remarks justifying sexual violence against female protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, claiming that women who join protests are asking “to get raped”…
In a video posted online last Wednesday, Abdulla said that women who join the protests are “either crusaders who have no shame or widows who have no one to control them”. He also described them as “devils”, and added that “they talk like monsters”.
Yes that’s right, just throw everything. It all sticks, so it’s all good to throw.
It’s interesting how familiar and domestic the preacher sounds though. A mere two years ago I wouldn’t have had that thought, but now it jumps off the page at me. The Salafi preacher sounds exactly like our more local harassers.
BBC World had a distressing – not surprising, but distressing – report on harassment of women in Tahrir Square yesterday, by Aleem Maqbool. He talks to some boys/young men in the square, who are frankly there to leer at and assault women, and who think rape is a joke.
Back to Shahira Amin.
While the increased violence against women has been cause for growing concern, the long-awaited new legislation, the increased willingness of women to speak out and the growing number of NGOs fighting harassment (either by spreading awareness about it, encouraging women to speak out or protecting women during protests) are all encouraging signs of positive change to come. Rights activists welcome the change but insist that more needs to be done to end gender-based discrimination.
“Changing the attitudes of men and women can only take place through education and awareness campaigns, ” said activist Azza Kamel of Fouada Watch, an NGO that has established a round-the-clock hot line for victims to report incidents of sexual harassment, verbal abuse or assaults against women. Kamel also advocates training of the police, traditionally known to take harassment reports lightly . “But above all”she said, there must be zero tolerance for those who incite violence against women (referring to the recent comments by Salafi preacher Abou Islam.)
“Such extremists must be silenced. Incitement is as big a crime as the assault itself”, Kamel added.
Don’t get your hopes up.