Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Egypt's Islamists Sexually Assaulting Women

by Mudar Zahran

An Arab girl whose honor or chastity has even been questioned automatically becomes a social outcast, regardless of whether or not the accusation was well-founded. "All that happened," she added, "while the police were watching…A police officer even told a Muslim Brotherhood member, 'Whatever you wish to do, sir.'"
It is a tough time in Egypt for the non-Islamists in general and for women in particular -- all thanks to the Western tolerance for Islamists' hijacking the Arab revolutions.

The Muslim Brotherhood [MB] will apparently stop at nothing to achieve their goal of controlling Egypt. On December 1, the Daily Mail reported that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was paying gangs to rape women and beat men who were protesting the latest push for absolute power by Egypt's President and MB leader, Mohamed Morsi.

The British daily, The Times, quoted Egyptian activist Magda Adly, the director of the Nadeem Centre for Human Rights, as saying: "under Mubarak, the government paid thugs to beat male protestors and sexually assault women…this is still happening now. ... I believe thugs are being paid money to do this ... the Muslim Brotherhood have the same political approaches as Mubarak."

Marwah Farouk, an activist and member of the Egyptian Socialist National Alliance Party, spoke to ON TV on December 6, after she was allegedly held captive by MB members during anti-Morsi protests in the region of Al-Itahdia Palace. She said two of her female colleagues were kidnapped and detained by MB members, then one of the two -- a former political prisoner -- was sexually assaulted and beaten by MB members who then prevented her colleagues from taking her into the hospital. "All of that happened," she added, "while the police were watching. ... A police officer even told an MB member: 'Whatever you wish to do, sir;'" adding, "All that is happening is systematic."

The surge of sexual harassment in Egypt was also covered by Channel 4, which revealed recently that young men are being paid to attack women who protest the regime. Political activist Affaf Al-Sayed told the channel's reporter, "Muslim Brotherhood members were sexually assaulting women in order to make sure women activists would keep away from Tahrir Square" and that women "were targeted by sexual assaults by both the MB and elements of the former regime." And prominent Egyptian academic and political scientist Jamal Zahran told ON TV that the whole scene in Tahrir Square was a "political harassment" by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The MB denies the claim, and even alleges that "the assaults are executed by thugs dressed in MB T-shirts."

The Islamists' attack on Morsi's female opposition is not exclusive to non-Islamist females; it included Nawarah Nijim, a hijab-wearing activist whose father is a renowned Egyptian poet. Nawarah has been a strong activist against Mubarak's regime, the Egyptian military council and now Morsi's constitutional amendments granting him dictatorial powers. Islamists assaulted her in public last January. An orthodox Muslim, Nijim has been opposed to the Islamists in Egypt. She was interviewed by Al-Fareen TV, where she criticized Egypt's Islamists and said:" I've just come here to find a young man, around 15 years old whom I heard saying: If the Sheikhs of Islam are like those [Egypt's Islamists] I want to disbelieve in God."

While Egypt's Islamists are denying any involvement in sexual attacks against female opposition members, Islamist leaders have nonetheless been publicly threatening male opposition members with harm and even death, and at the same time defaming the honor of the female members of the opposition by describing them as prostitutes, adulterers, belly dancers or ill-mannered. In Arab culture, all accusations are taken at face value. An Arab proverb goes: "A woman's honor is like a match; it can be burnt only once;" therefore, an Arab girl whose honor or chastity has even been questioned automatically becomes a social outcast, regardless of whether or not the accusation was well-founded.

The Texas-based Arab Times, one of the most popular Arab online newspapers, confirmed that the threats and accusations against the personal honor of anti-Islamists was being made by Islamist leaders in Egypt. On December 4, the Arab Times's headline read: "Assaulting personal honor on Egypt's Islamist TV stations: The most significant feature of the Egyptian Spring." The editor comments: "Despite the fact that Islam bans accusations of adultery on innocent people and considers that [a false accusation] one of the seven deadly sins, lately we have come to see that this is not the conviction of the Islamists in Egypt."

The Quran states in the Chapter of Al-Nour (the Light): "And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses - lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are the defiantly disobedient." Therefore, Islamists in Egypt are breaking the laws of the Sharia by accusing women of being adulterers, without any foundation. This slander raises the question: Will the Islamists undergo Sharia's punishment of eighty lashes for these unproven accusations?

The latest victim of the Islamists' accusations was Halah Fehmi; an Egyptian state TV anchor who presented a show against the MB's policy only to find out she was pulled off the air in the middle of a program. In response, she held a shroud to indicate her will to give up her life for her cause; and vowed on live TV to maintain her opposition against the MB and their tactics.

Apparently, unable to withstand the criticism, Islamist TV presenter, Sheikh Khaled Abdullah went on air, called her "a belly dancer" and threatened anti-Morsi protesters with: "Advice for the opposition, don't rush to hold your shrouds, you will be wearing those very soon."

By calling Halah Fehmi a "belly dancer," Sheikh Abdullah undermined her credibility and worthiness both as a woman and as a political activist.

Abdullah Badir -- a Salafist Sheikh, religious scholar, academic and political leader-- has been bombarding Morsi's female opposition with accusations undermining their "honor". He told an Islamist TV network that "each of those in Tahrir Square [Morsi's opposition] is holding a girl under his wing and taking her into one of the tents for the public prostitution that is happening at Tahrir Square, they call it a revolution while it is actually ill-manners and sin."

Sheikh Badir did not restrict making his accusations to TV networks; he also delivered a speech after Friday mosque prayers, in which he said: "As for the thirty girls who were stripped from their clothes at Tahrir Square…of course, those girls are low; actually they go to Tahrir Square for that purpose… any girl sitting there; doesn't she have a family to take her back home? Of course she doesn't; in fact she goes there because of that."

Tarnishing personal honor does not seem to stop with women; Egypt's Islamists also have been targeting the honor of female relatives of Morsi's male opponents. For example, Sheikh Hazem Shoman attacked one of Morsi's outspoken opponents, Muhammad Al-Baradei, the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Sheikh Shoman can be seen here saying, "You want a liberal state? What liberal state Mr. Al-Baradei? You... whose daughter is married to a Christian infidel? Of course she married a Christian infidel because she is a liberal!" According to Islam and Egyptian law, a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man. By making this accusation, Sheikh Shoman is undermining Al-Baradei's honor, and undermining his character as a politician. The accusation was significant enough to send Al- Baradei onto live TV to dismiss the claim by noting that his son-in-law, an Austrian, had converted to Islam "under Sharia law and at the Egyptian embassy in Vienna" before marrying his daughter.

Further, Islamist lawyer Nabih El-Wahsh claimed in an interview with an Islamist TV channel that prominent anti-Morsi TV anchor, Amir Adib, has been breast-fed by the famous Egyptian belly dancer, Najwa Fouad. In Islam, a child who is breast-fed by a woman automatically becomes a son or daughter to her; therefore, Al-Wahsh's claim labels Amir Adib as the son of a belly dancer, reducing his personal honor in the eyes of his viewers.

It is clear that Egypt's Islamists do not observe any values or laws that might stand in their way of controlling the largest Arab country, even if that means breaking the laws of Sharia itself; and for that they do not seem to spare anyone who stands on their way, be they Muslims, or non-Muslims, males or females.

Mudar Zahran


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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