9 Things That Make Ramadan Memories Special to Me

Suhur at the open yard of Sultan Eyup Mosque.

Ramadan is here! And although its true essence is all about our pursuit of spiritual elevation, we – Muslims – celebrate it in every way possible. Thus, special memories about Ramadan are engraved in our hearts, and I would like to share some of mine here.1. I was born in Ramadan: When I was a little kid, I thought this makes me special. Ramadan is a holy month and I always believed that anyone born in this month is holy or maybe a wali (saint)! This was my childhood wishful thinking, for I’m … [Read more...]

Empowered Women in the Age of the Harem

“Backwards” is the word often associated with pre-modern ages, and “oppression” is the word that comes to our minds first when we describe the state of women during those ages. Thank God we live in the modern age where human rights activism has brought women rights that they’ve never had before. Right?Sorry to shake your beliefs, but there existed times where pre-modern women (in Egypt in particular and the Middle East in general) were granted rights that modern women strive to acquire in man … [Read more...]

Muslim Women and Graffiti: Taking Art, Politics and Gender to the Streets

Graffiti in Egypt targeting sexual attacks - Via Amnesty International

When I was a teenager, my dad and I used to enjoy looking at the graffiti painted all over Mexico City. While my dad was a critic of the graffiti that was just scribbles and swear words and obscene signs, we enjoyed those graffitos that were not only truly artistic but also political. Graffiti was, and continues to be, widely spread through Mexico as political and economic turmoil were the themes of the 90s and the early 2000’s.Graffiti, which remains illegal in most states in Mexico, is a d … [Read more...]

Undermining the Justice of Sharia, from Granting Divorce to Female Breadwinners

Picture from Hanan Abdalla's documentary, In the Shadow of a Man. Source.

A couple of weeks ago I came across this BBC Panorama  story on “Women at risk” which warns that “some Sharia councils in Britain may be putting Muslim women "at risk" by pressuring them to stay in abusive marriages.” The story presents a case of a couple going to one of the Sharia councils for the judge to decide if the woman can have a divorce, the wife accusing her husband of “refusing to work, ignoring the children and verbally abusing her.” The couple had been coming to the council for a yea … [Read more...]

HarassMap: Using Social Media to Fight Sexual Harassment in Egypt

"The Circle of Hell" by Salma El Tarzi, depicting mob sexual harassment and rape (source).

This post was written by guest contributor Yasmeen Nizamy.“Sexual harassment is a crime that's inexcusable!” This is the title of the campaign that HarassMap started recently, coinciding with the launch of their annual report on the latest statistics and analyses on sexual harassment in Egypt (the report is not yet available online, but I was able to get a copy from the founder of the initiative).  HarassMap is an initiative that started in Egypt in 2010 with the mission of ending the social … [Read more...]

Nahdet Masr: Woman, Sphinx, and the Question of Modernity


In Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soeuif’s novel, The Map of Love, there is a scene that describes the statue Nahdet Masr (Rise of Egypt), a statue of a peasant woman unveiling as she stands next to the Sphinx: "The statue of Nahdet Masr rises before her: the statue at whose feet they had gathered in the days of the demonstrations...when it had seemed that the young would conquer the world and they, the students of Egypt, would be among the conquerors. They had taken Nahdet Masr as their symbol: a f … [Read more...]

Telling the Stories of Street Children in Cairo

A picture drawn by one of the girls that Nelly Ali works with, and posted on Nelly's blog.

This post was written by guest contributor Yasmeen Nizamy.The most basic rights: that’s what we will be talking about here. Forget about the flashy statements of the declarations of human rights, for the people I’m discussing are not recognized as humans to begin with. I’m talking about street children.But, who are street children? They are known in Colombia as “the plague” or “dirty faces”. If you are Indian you’d be calling them “Sadak Chap,” while in Brazil the word for them is “Molequ … [Read more...]