Wednesday, March 9, 2011

International Women’s Day celebration, Islamic style

In Egypt, Cairo's central Tahrir Square (famous for the rallies against Mubarak) was occupied by women — some in headscarves and flowing robes, others in jeans — marching to celebrate International Women's Day, demanding equal rights and an end to sexual harassment. But crowds of men soon outnumbered the women and chased them out. Some men said women’s role was to stay home and raise presidents, not to run for president. Others accused the women of being “foreigners”, and had their flyers and posters torn up. Many of the protesters’ male critics invoked religion saying Islam itself decrees that men and women are different, and that men should be responsible for, and rule over, women. At one point, a crowd of male counter-protesters circled a women in a niqab (the full, black veil that covers everything but a woman’s eyes and is worn by Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt) chanting, “This is an Egyptian woman!”… (APThe Daily Beast)

Iran has just become member of the UN's Commission on the Status of Women, an organization whose mission "is dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women." In the very first demonstration for International Women's Day, protesters were beaten by security forces. Women's rights activists have called for demonstrations to advocate and defend the rights of both men and women in Iran, as well as more general democratic principles. (Amnesty International

In the Sudan, riot police in Khartoum arrested more than 40 women minutes after they started a protest against rape and rights abuses. Sudanese women's groups organized the protest against discriminatory laws on Tuesday -- marked as International Women's Day across the world. Before the rally, organizers said they were enraged by reports of the arrest and rape of Safiya Eshaq, a supporter of anti-government activist group Girifna, in Khartoum last month. (Sudan Tribune)

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