Egypt

My birth at the end of July 1967 makes me a child of the naksa, or setback, as the Arab defeat during the June 1967 war with Israel is euphemistically known in Arabic. My parents' generation grew up high on the Arab nationalism that Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser brandished in the 1950s. But we "Children of the Naksa", hemmed in by humiliation, have spent so much of our lives uncomfortably stepping into pride's large, empty shoes.

بقلم نيفين مسعد. اليوم ليلة عيد الميلاد المجيد، أعود إلى بيتى فى المساء وأمر على الشرفة الزجاجية لمدام ليلى فى الطابق الأرضى من العمارة. ألاحظ نجمة فضية جديدة فى وسط شجرة الميلاد التى تتلألأ أنوارها من خلف الزجاج، هكذا اعتادت مدام ليلى أن تضيف إلى زينة الشجرة لمسة جديدة كل عام. أنقر على باب شقتها فتفتح لى متدثرة بشالها الصوف الكاروهات الذى لا يفارقها فى فصل الشتاء، أمازحها وأجذبه قليلا عن رأسها فتردنى برفق، أسألها إن كانت تطلب مساعدة فترد بالنفى، كنت أعرف أنها سترد بالنفى.

In August 2006, a 27-year old pharmacist started blogging anonymously about her futile hunt for a husband in Mahalla al-Kubra, an industrial city 60 miles north of Cairo in the Nile Delta. Steeped in satirical humor, the blog of this “wannabe bride” turned into a powerful critique of everything that is wrong with how middle-class Egyptians meet and marry. The author poked fun at every aspect of arranged marriage -- from the split-second decisions couples are expected to make after hour-long meetings about their lifetime compatibility to the meddling relatives and nosy neighbors who introduce them to each other. She joked about her desperation to marry in a society that stigmatizes single women over the age of 30. She ridiculed bachelors for their unrealistic expectations and inflated self-images while sympathizing with the exorbitant financial demands placed on would-be husbands. Thirty suitors and four years later, the pharmacist remains proudly single at 32, refusing to settle for just any man.

أعلنت مشيرة خطاب، وزيرة الأسرة والسكان، عن وجود مساع مصرية بالتعاون مع عدد من الدول لاستصدار قرار من الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة بتجريم ختان الإناث. وأكدت الوزيرة في تصريحات صحفية السبت، نجاح جهود مصر في حشد رأى عام دولي مناهض لختان الإناث، وداعم لجهود الدول الإفريقية «التي تعانى من هذه الممارسة غير الإنسانية وتسعى للقضاء عليها»، لافتة إلى أن هذه الجهود  أثمرت عن الإعلان الذي نشر بجريدة «هيرالد تريبيون»، لمناشدة الحكومات العمل من أجل اتخاذ الإجراءات الواجبة لوقف هذه الممارسة، مذيلا بتوقيع عدد كبير من الشخصيات الدولية المرموقة.

During the day, election-related violence claimed at least eight lives. Early results from the poll – described by domestic and international observers as "breathtaking" in its levels of fraud – suggest that the ruling National Democratic party (NDP) has captured 96% of the seats, while the 88 opposition members from the Muslim Brotherhood, could be erased to zero. 

From 8 am to 10 am on Election Day, monitors from the Independent Coalition for Elections Observation reported the following: The Interior Ministry refused to legalize candidates’ proxies (representatives who enter the polling centers). Moreover, representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition candidates who did receive accreditation, were not allowed in the polling stations.  Meanwhile, supporters of the National Democratic Party (NDP) continued advertising for their candidates inside the polling centers, even though campaigning is forbidden on Election Day. 

أصدرت نظرة للدراسات النسوية عضو الائتلاف المستقل لمراقبة الانتخابات تقرير عن أعمال الدعاية الانتخابية لمرشحات الانتخابات التشريعية 2010.وقد تناول التقرير أداء المرشحات لمجلس الشعب خلال مرحلة الدعاية الأنتخابية من خلال تحليل لأنشطتهن وبرامجهن الانتخابية ومدى اهتمامهن بإدماج قضايا المرأة  في البرنامج الانتخابي. وقد رصد التقرير حالات تعسف الجهة الادارية في تنفيذ أحكام القضاء الاداري وما ترتب عليه من أنفراد مرشحتان بالترشيح على مقعد المرأة (عمال  فلاحين) بمحافظتي 6 أكتوبر وبني سويف، مما يضمن فوز سهل في حال حصولهما على 10% من أجمالي عدد الأصوات المقيدة بالدائرة الانتخابية.

Wael Lutfi, assistant chief editor of the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yousuf, criticized Egyptian society for forcing women to wear the hijab even if this conflicts with their world view. In order to present the problem from a woman's point of view, Lutfi writes in the first person feminine and relates the stories of women who wear the hijab for fear of being ostracized if they do not. 

I have to admit it's always hard to ever approach homosexuality here in Egypt. Homosexual people (or behavior) here is usually seen as one of three views: deviant people who deserve to be punished or even executed; sick people who need medical attention; or normal people only with a different sexual orientation (hardly ever adopted or expressed, even by gays themselves).

I hesitated to write about the upcoming account of events, but I felt it's too disturbing to ignore. The story goes as follows:

A young boy, Kareem (16 year old) was walking by in downtown area, Cairo. He was followed by four guys who were shouting insults to the young boy calling him a faggot. The boy just ignored their insults and kept going, the thing that seemed to provoke them, so they chased him until they caught him and started slapping and beating him violently (they were older and much stronger). It's not very clear why they decided to be that violent and abusive; although it seems to be basically driven by homophobia as Kareem's appearance looked “different”. Kareem screamed and ran towards police informers nearby but they didn’t bother to help the boy.

Suzanne Mubarak, first lady of Egypt, is a woman who treats criticisms of her country with a generous dose of scepticism. Take sexual harassment, a phenomenon that has indisputably been on the rise in recent years. It's an issue in which Suzanne Mubarak, as head of the government's National Council for Women, might be assumed to take at least a passing interest. "Egyptian men always respect Egyptian women," she informed a pan-Arab television station back in 2008, a few weeks after a series of sexual assaults marred a major public holiday. "Maybe one, two or even 10 incidents occurred. Egypt is home to 80 million people. We can't talk of a phenomenon. Maybe a few scatterbrained youths are behind this crime."

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