I was sitting in a majlis with a group of women when our chat on world affairs was interrupted by an urgent knock on the door; a knock that opened more than just a passage into the rest of the house. “We ran out of coffee!” I heard a male voice in distress telling the hostess as she opened the door just a tiny crack to see who it was. It was her husband, who was hosting a similar majlis in another corner of the house, with the husbands of the women here. The hostess went out to help him, leaving the door wide open to a room full of annoyed women. Several of them ran to the door to close it, because “there are men in the house”.

La mort de six fidèles accroît les inquiétudes d'une minorité: Une fusillade à l'arme automatique visant des coptes devant l'église du village de Nagaa Hammadi, en Haute-Egypte, mercredi 6 janvier, a fait sept morts, dont six parmi les fidèles venus assister à la messe de Noël copte qui suit le rite orthodoxe, et un policier, ainsi qu'une dizaine de blessés. Des affrontements violents, parfois sanglants, opposent de manière récurrente des musulmans à cette minorité chrétienne, en proie à un sentiment croissant d'isolement et de menace.

Service for Christians killed in sectarian clashes draws 5,000 protesters: Thousands clashed with police during a funeral procession yesterday for the seven people killed in an attack on churchgoers leaving a midnight Mass for Coptic Christians. The protesters pelted cars with stones. Earlier, they smashed ambulances at the hospital in frustration over delays in turning over the bodies for burial. A security official said police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. The riots follow an attack the previous night, in which three gunmen in a car sprayed automatic gunfire into a crowd leaving a church in the town of Nag Hammadi, about 40 miles from the ancient ruins of Luxor. The lead attacker was identified as a Muslim.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) today regretted the ruling on 3 January by an administrative court to uphold a new decision banning students who wear the niqab, or full face veil, from sitting for exams in public universities. The EIPR said the ban's declared objective of preventing cheating during exams could be achieved through less drastic measures. Female students wearing the niqab told the court they were prepared to uncover their faces and be subjected to body searches at the beginning of each exam.

Hedy Epstein, 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, has stolen our hearts. At four feet-ten, she is a giant. Her gentle smile lights up every room that she enters, and yet if you saw her on the street, you might not immediately sense her power.  Unless you paid close attention, you would just see a sweet little old lady. When she came to Cairo, Hedy decided to undertake a fast in support of the people of Gaza, a particularly apt form of protest given the inadequacy of both the supply and type of food the people there have access to. Malnutrition is endemic in Gaza, and children's growth is stunted; people frequently go hungry.

ائذنوا لى أن أزف إلى أربعة.. بل إلى خمسة. أو تسعة إن أمكن. فلتأذنوا لى بمحاكاتكم. ائذنوا لى أن أختارهم كما يطيب لجموح خيالى الاختيار. أختارهم مختلفى الأشكال والأحجام. أحدهم ذو لون أشقر وآخر ذو سمرة. بقامة طويلة أو ربما قصيرة. أختارهم متعددى الملل والديانات والأعراق والأوطان. وأعاهدكم أن يسود الوئام. لن تشتعل حرب أهلية ذكورية، فالموحد امرأة. اخلقوا لى قانوناً وضعياً أو فسروا آخر سماوياً واصنعوا بنداً جديداً ضمن بنود الفتاوى والنزوات. تلك التى تجمعون عليها فجأة ودون مقدمات. فكما اقتادونى دون مبررات لمتعة وعرفى وفريندز ومصياف ومسيار وأنواع مشوشة من الزيجات، فلتأذنوا لى أن أقتاد بدورى أربعة. هكذا رحت أطالب مرة بحقى فى تعدد الأزواج أسوة بحقه فى تعدد الزوجات. استنكروها، النساء قبل الرجال. والنساء اللواتى تزوج عليهن أزواجهن أكثر من المعلقات بأحادى الزوجة. والنساء المتزوجات أكثر من العازبات. كتب رجال الدين الشىء الكبير من المقالات والسؤالات حول عمق تعريفى للزواج وعمق تدينى وكتب القراء كثير من الرسائل أطرفها من يريد الاصطفاف فى طابور أزواجى المأمولين.

A member of the Egyptian parliament has filed a lawsuit over an article questioning why polygamy is allowed for men in Islam but not for women. The article in the newspaper Al Masry Al Youm was written by a female Saudi journalist, Nadine al-Bedair. It has been denounced by some Muslim clerics as inflammatory and anti-Islamic. But others have said it serves the purpose of highlighting how badly some husbands treat their wives. The article was clearly meant to cause a big stir and it has.

حت عنوان "واحة الإفلات من المحاسبة والعقاب"، يصدر مركز القاهرة لدراسات لحقوق الإنسان اليوم تقريره السنوي الثاني حول حقوق الإنسان في العالم العربي خلال عام 2009. ويأسف مركز القاهرة لدراسات لحقوق الإنسان لأن يعلن للرأي العام، أن حالة حقوق الإنسان في هذه المنطقة، تتجه إلى المزيد من التدهور، حتى بالمقارنة مع الوضع المتدهور عام 2008. يستعرض التقرير أبرز التطورات ذات الصلة في 12 بلد عربي، هي مصر وتونس والجزائر والمغرب والسودان ولبنان وسوريا وفلسطين والعراق والسعودية والبحرين واليمن.

Today the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies released its second annual report on the state of human rights in the Arab world for the year 2009.  The report, entitled Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform, concludes that the human rights situation in the Arab region has deteriorated throughout the region over the last year. The report reviews the most significant developments in human rights during 2009 in 12 Arab countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen. It also devotes separate chapters to the Arab League and an analysis of the performance of Arab governments in UN human rights institutions.

Women in Arab countries are making human rights history as they break down barriers to being treated as full citizens in their own countries. In the past few years, women in Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco married to foreigners have won the right to convey their citizenship to their children. Algerian women can also now extend citizenship rights to their spouses.

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