Monday, November 21, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Women are Deficient in Intelligence

Muna Saleh is running in the parliamentary elections as a female Salafi candidate. Progressive? Not when you consider her statement regarding women in authoritarian positions: “Women are deficient in intelligence.”

Excellent. I certainly wish I could vote in the upcoming elections so I could cast my ballot for her immediately. I know that I want a woman in office that really gets it. She represents a bold movement and ideology that will continue the legacy of what is already prevalent in this society: suppression.

I received an email from a friend with this article from The Blaze that highlights Saleh’s viewpoint. She goes on to say that her bid for parliament is that it would allow her a ‘partial’ rather than full authority. She told al-Sharq al-Awsat that if she wins, she hopes to implement Sharia, or Islamic law, including cutting off the hands of thieves, preventing the mingling of men and women, and specifying black clothes for women and white clothes for men.

Is this a joke? I wonder if Saleh has thought about relocating to Saudi where all her dreams can come true.

However, there was a comment on this story that struck me:

Walkabout posted on November 18:
“If she got elected, served a few years, other women got elected & she sat thru several graft & corruption scandals involving men, I think her thinking would shift more to what we consider normal.”

Maybe that’s just what she needs.

Perhaps she has been holed up in her house for far too long, never mingling with the opposite sex other than her male family members. Certainly I find it appalling that she would make such statements, but if she doesn’t know any better, how could I chastise her thinking?

Cropped photo of Aliaa Elmahdy's nude picture in protest
However, while Saleh has presented a viewpoint that is seen by many as horrifying, there is the extreme opposite found in liberal Aliaa Elmahdy who has created a ruckus throughout the Arab world. Elmahdy posted a nude photo of herself on her Twitter in protest for “real freedom.” Many liberals feel that she has hurt their hopes for parliamentary control in the upcoming elections. Islamists are using her as a way to say, “See what happens when you don’t follow religion? See what happens when you’re influenced by the West?”

And if she didn’t incur enough threats and harassment in her home land for her controversial picture, 40 Israeli women took off their clothes to show support for Elmahdy. What will happen next? The connection to Israel will begin fueling rumors of Elmahdy’s ties to Israel, probably provoking the typical reason: “She is an Israeli spy.”

I thought that Elmahdy should have been more cautious in her presentation, given the fact that she is well aware of this society. Then I stumbled upon an interview with her in CNN and while I would never have the courage to post a nude photo of myself in show of my beliefs, I respect some of what she had to say in her interview.

She candidly discussed how she was uninterested in politics, but first joined the protests on May 27 because she “might be able to change the future of Egypt and refused to remain silent.” As many against her photo have accused her of being part of the April 6th Movement, an Egyptian political group that gained recognition during the revolution, she said that she’d made it clear that she was not part of the group. The group later released a statement saying that Elmahdy was not part of their organization because she was atheist and they do not accept such non-recognition of a higher power. She said, “Where is the democracy and liberalism they preach to the world? They only feed the public [what it] wants to hear for their [own] political ambitions.”

There is a point to her words which should let everyone know that the so-called liberal faction is just as intolerant as the Islamists.

On the taboo topic of sex, she said that most Egyptians are brought up thinking that sex is something bad. “Sex to the majority is simply a man using a woman with no communication between them and children are just part of an equation. To me, sex is an expression of respect, a passion for love that culminates into sex to please both sides.”

I felt her views on that were dead-on. Children are just a part of the equation, and I’ve seen it in so many unions here. However, what really struck me were her thoughts on women after the Arab Spring. She said, “I am not positive at all unless a social revolution erupts... The (sexism) against women in Egypt is unreal, but I am not going anywhere and will battle it 'til the end.”

I'm with you Aliaa, but please don't anticipate me stripping down - no one should that ;)

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