On Jan. 25, 2011, in Tahrir Square, an uprising marked the beginning of Egypt’s revolution against President Hosni Mubarak. Egyptian activists expressed their anger through protest on issues including Egypt’s government and society.
Now, the people still protest over the same preoccupations and are concerned with their democratic representation in the Constitution. But more importantly, women are advocating for the right of being treated humanely during protests — recent cases have shown that women have been sexually harassed, abused and raped.
As of today, men have a superior position within the Egyptian government. It would benefit society if women were equally represented. Society in Egypt has been retracing its footprints into what a non-progressive democratic government would exemplify. Because of their gender, women are being discriminated against in politics, sexually harassed on the streets and convicted of not following Islamic values and beliefs. If women participate in these protests, they should have a voice in the government.
People thought they could rely on President Mohamed Morsi, former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite his resignation from the brotherhood, Morsi consciously continues to support them and is still attempting to insert those religious ideals into the government. Since democracy was introduced, Arab countries have had a difficult time applying the Islamic religion within the bounds of democracy.
“I think it would be unrealistic to expect that everybody is going to come together and agree” Holger Schmidt, a civil wars and intervention professor at AU said.
If the U.S. could find a balance between religious influence and democratic government following the Revolutionary War, so can Egypt and other Arab countries. We live in a modern era, where change has been inevitable. Egypt should strive to find a balance between its government and its people’s opinions.
Although people are concerned about this democratic issue, Egyptian citizens need to acknowledge the treatment women have been receiving throughout these protests by men and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. If having good thoughts and doing good actions is the most important aspect of their religion, then why do some of these members commit unrighteous acts toward women while simultaneously imposing these values and Islamic beliefs on them and praying every Friday at the Masjid, Mosque?
Mariam Kirollos, a women’s rights activist, exclaimed to Ahram Online, “The revolution is not 18 days, nor a year, or two. The revolution is permanent. The fact that we, women, have not reached our aspirations does not mean we should lose hope.”
This turmoil will continue until the government realizes they need to pass a legislation pertaining to the removal of violence towards women.
While the Muslim Brotherhood continues to commit unlawful actions towards women, Morsi continues to elude any course of action. It is not what he says that creates his image, but what he supports and the choices he makes.
However, the problem runs deeper. Even if the government passes legislation, there needs to be a cultural shift in the way men view women. Men in Arab countries have grown up with the idea that men are superior to women because of religious and cultural beliefs. However, religion and culture should not be intertwined with respect for women.
If I, a young woman, have equal rights and am equally respected in the U.S. as well as in other countries, and have the ability take action, then I will. I am certain that if I were going through this turmoil, women in other countries would help me fight for what is equal and just.
Lucero Flores is a freshman in the School of International Service.