On 11 February 2011, Egyptians celebrated wildly as they overthrew their dictator with the world in awe. A year later, clashes continue in Egypt, proving that the success of the revolution relied on more than toppling just the face of the regime. A year later, we have TahrirWoman, and we are back to square one.
A veiled female protester, who was beaten, dragged and stripped of her clothes by the military. The woman has became known as ‘Tahrirwoman’ or ‘BlueBra’. Whoever she may be, she has refused to come publicly forward, claiming that the picture itself has done the job, Hassan Mahmoud, a journalist for the Al Badeel newspaper, told The Guardian. Nothing, she says, can add to that. Her ordeal is common, in fact she is only the tip of the iceberg in a society where thousands of women have been sexually harassed and abused. However, what was uncommon was that the army had stripped a veiled woman and beat her viciously. This has particularly been focused on in a society that is quite socially conservative.
Videos of TahrirWoman being beaten and attacked [Warning: May disturb some readers]:
Disgusted and astonished, the world lamented this barbaric attack. In the international media, she has become the main topic of discussion when it comes to the status of women in Egypt. On the other hand, on local news, this was described as another manipulated affair, a mere ploy to incite people against the military regime. Her image has become iconic as Twitter and the blogosphere world revealed her as a hero – a representative of the plight of Egyptian women, and even women worldwide. The army has dug its own grave.
There is no doubt women in the Middle East have been on the front lines of every revolution and uprising. They have fought strongly alongside men during the Egyptian revolution and yet they have been denied a role in politics. Female protesters are outraged that their status in society has not only been abused but also ignored. The rally that took place on International Women’s Day in March represented the lack of recognition of Egyptian women’s rights and equality. The 200 women who were involved in the rally were taunted and physically abused, by men who did everything in their power to break up the rally. To add insult to injury, Amnesty international reported that 18 female protesters were arrested and forced to undergo virginity tests.
Hilary Clinton says, “this systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform, and is not worthy of a great people.” If she was really interested in protecting women’s rights maybe she should object to funding Egypt’s military’s spending. The military being the very men who are behind the “systematic degradation of Egyptian women.”
As a female protester said, in an interview on Al Jazeera Mubashir, Egyptian women will take to the streets and take back their rights even as they are dying on the streets of Egypt. Such conviction has been displayed, whether on the streets or online. Such as Samira Ibrahim, who has sued the military for forcing her to undress and to endure virginity tests. Or Aliaa el Mahdy, who posed nude in photos protesting against “a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”
One of the most important and recent actions taken against these attacks on women was the “Million Women” march on Tuesday. Women and men railed against the regime and its assaults on civilians. On the very same day the Supreme Council of Armed Forces issued a communiqué apologizing for its treatment of women. Empty words? Maybe, but its enough for Egypt, more specifically SCAF, to realize their women won’t take things lying down.
The severe tactics used by the army on female protesters is enough to peel off the mask of SCAF. These images will be seared, not only in the minds of Egyptians, but on everyone who has come across them. Just as the battered face of Khaled Said took away the credibility of the Ministry of Interior, then this TahrirWoman has eradicated every sense of legitimacy the army once had.
The question still remains, what now? Sheikh Attya, the Al-Azhar cleric quoted in Times magazine, stated that the recent violence in Cairo will most likely turn into another revolt against the military regime, “only this time more bloody.” “I cannot say how this will all finish,” he said. “But right now, I see no end in sight.”
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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