“And it makes anything possible, including the unbelievable ban on women touching phallic-like fruit lest it lead to their arousal,” writes Khan. “It’s easy to believe it but irresponsible to retweet, forward on and so forth as fact when that is not necessarily the case. The only thing it leads to, and rightly so, is incredulity and also defensive reactions from Muslims arguing that this paints Islam in a bad light and not all Muslim clerics are obsessed with sex. Both are valid statements but we need to up the ante.”

For too long, writes Khan, the debate on women’s rights has been led in Egypt by “nut jobs intent on suppressing women’s freedom of

speech and movement ─ and it is their narrative that gets the most press, even if only because it makes for salacious reading.”

Khan cites recent articles, such as fears expressed by a Saudi scholar that allowing women to drive could lead to all forms of societal perversions. Another Egyptian politician announced that any female candidates in ongoing Egyptian elections should appear in public only if dressed in a head-to-toe burkha and should not speak aloud unless addressed by males. Another Egyptian politician made headlines when he said Egyptian antiquities violate Muslim prohibitions against “graven images” — and that if elected, he would ensure that the faces on Egypt’s 6,000-year-old monuments’ would be covered with beeswax.

Aliaa Mahdy

Should the news media ignore these stories? Aliaa Mahdy doesn’t think so. The Egyptian activist posted a full-frontal nude photo of herself on the Internet recently — protesting the repression of Egyptian women.

“The posting of her naked body left Egyptians and Arabs angry,” notes columnist Joseph Meyton on Egypt’s Bikya Masr.  ”Hate and condemnation quickly followed. Ironically, despite all the hatred purported in her direction, millions of people logged onto her blog to see her picture, with even lewd comments being posted. For Mahdy, it was a symbolic protest against the status of women in Egypt and across the Arab world. She said ‘enoug’h to the centuries of male-domination meted out to women in the country and the region. It launched a debate over women’s rights, or rather, ‘what is appropriate

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus