Marching with Dignity – “Sisters” or Not

Marching with Dignity – “Sisters” or Not January 26, 2012

Just a month ago, here on MMW, I tried to highlight the fact that mainstream media was focusing on Islamists’ statements regarding what women wear, while, in fact, what was even more dangerous was their vision regarding women and child law. I referred in that article to quotations from Dr. Manal Abul-Hassan about allowing female genital mutilation, and to Abul-Hassan’s description of child protection laws as simply an imitation of the West (and therefore bad or unnecessary).

Dr. Manal Abul-Hassan. Image via Asharq Al-Awsat

Turns that Dr. Abul-Hassan, media professor in October 6th University in Cairo, has even more to say about Egyptian women.

A couple weeks ago, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper interviewed her:

“Dr. Manal Abul-Hassan, Secretary of the Women’s Committee for the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), has accused women participating in the women’s march in Tahrir… of being funded from abroad and following a foreign agenda.”

The same day that interview was published, there was all sorts of negative feedback, all over the internet. Even Dr. Abul-Hassan’s official Facebook page was full of angry comments.

The next day, she said on her Facebook page, and on the official Ikhwan website, that she had been misquoted.

So right now, the whole fuss is about whether she actually made those accusations or not, as if that was the only problem with her interview.

According to the interview, Dr. Abul-Hassan also said: “When women goes to defend her rights, she affronts her dignity,” and then “Does she not have a husband, or brother, or son defend her and her rights?”

While most critics were on her first quote, my main problem with that interview is the last quote.

It is this way of thinking that is the root of the underestimation women have been suffering here for years.

So what if a woman – God forbid – is single?

This, to you, Dr. Abul-Hassan, means she is not entitled to defend her own rights? Or does she lose the whole concept of being a human with rights to begin with because she doesn’t have a man?

No wonder single women in our country suffer! If this is the way a mass-communication university professor sees women, what can we expect from anyone else?

Why do I get so mad when a father gets his underage daughter married because after all, a woman is always a-wife-to-be?

Do you expect single women to beg to get married in order to have a man to defend her rights, if she does not want her dignity to be affronted?!

And before anger takes over everything here, here is more irony, from the same article:

“Abul-Hassan then said that The Sisters – women members of the Muslim Brotherhood – are in their process of being elected to be members in the Guidance Council of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Now I have a question: Don’t these “sisters” have fathers, sons, or brothers to work in politics and claim their rights? I mean what makes it so honorable for a “sister” to be active in politics while a citizen who holds a sign and walk in a march someone with no dignity?

Then things got even more bizarre:

“We do not have any discrimination between women and men within the Muslim Brotherhood group. Women in the group are represented in twelve general secretariats,   plus a whole specific Women’s Secretariat of its own .. This is similar to the Status of Women in the Koran, as women are present in all Suras, but they also have a special Sura, called al-Nisaa – ‘Women’ in Arabic.”

As far as I know, at least in Egypt, all secretariats of any party include by default women, in addition to having a specific women’s secretariat. It is not something new or special, and for Dr. Abul-Hassan to relate that to Koran is just the typical abuse of “we’re so religious, so you should like us” attitude.

Finally, I would like to remind Dr. Abul-Hassan that the sisters joined the revolution when it began a year ago. They were women, not sisters. They were Egyptian women fighting for all what the Egyptian people were fighting for.

An Egyptian woman was brutally attacked by army soldiers, and you say those women who go in a march for her – and the other women’s – rights are losing their dignity?

We are Egyptians and no one can claim having the right to define who is revolutionary and who is not, or whose right worth a fight or whose not… or, most importantly, who has a dignified right and who has not.

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