Has anyone spotted women in secular attire among the crowds of protesters in Egypt? I’ve seen one or two in the footage (via the Guardian). More often than not, when one does see women on the streets, they’re wearing the traditional nosebag. I understand that the self-celebrating media wants us all to slobber in unison over the protests. Fine. Whatever floats the people’s boat. (The conditions of my slobber were stipulated in “Frankly, My Dear Egyptians, I Don’t Give a Damn.”) Still, I’d like to know how representative are the images transmitted from the Egyptian street, and whether the presence everywhere of women in these nosebags correlates with their mistreatment.
Feminist Phyllis Chesler has a photo essay featuring Cairo University graduates in 1959, 1978, 1995, and 2004. I can see what she means when she observes that “the female graduates in 1959 and 1978 had bare arms, wore short sleeved blouses, dresses, or pants, and were both bare-faced and bare-headed. By 1995, we see a smattering of headscarves—and by 2004 we see a plurality of female university graduates in serious hijab: Tight, and draping the shoulders.”
Chesler equates the trends with “a regression really, in terms of women’s rights.”
A June, 2010 Pew opinion survey of Egyptians confirms that Egyptian society is thoroughly Islamized:
Fifty nine percent said they back Islamists. Only 27% said they back modernizers. Half of Egyptians support Hamas. Thirty percent support Hizbullah and 20% support al Qaida. Moreover, 95% of them would welcome Islamic influence over their politics….Eighty two percent of Egyptians support executing adulterers by stoning, 77% support whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. 84% support executing any Muslim who changes his religion…When this preference is translated into actual government policy, it is clear that the Islam they support is the al Qaida Salafist version.
I agree that the demos must have its say. But must we American prance about like fools pretending that there are no concerns about popular rule in Egypt?