Egyptian writer Mansoura Ez Eldin sketches a bleak picture of post-revolutionary social conditions in her homeland, where she says women face political marginalization and are being robbed of their basic rights.
The “people” they are referring to are, of course, something different from the demonstrators. As far as the Salafists are concerned, “the people” refers exclusively to their own supporters.
As the Salafists rejoiced in song at their unity with the military, members of this very same army were beating, kicking and dragging around a defenseless woman on the ground out on the street and – as if that weren’t enough – tearing off her clothes as well.
Neither this episode nor other sad examples of the abuse and killing of demonstrators while the protests were being broken up in front of the Council of Ministers’ headquarters provoked the anger of the Islamists or other religious zealots, who invoke their own good morals day and night. Instead, they condemned the victim for leaving the house to demonstrate in the first place.
Their response fits right in with the publicly propagated, misogynistic views and behavior of the Salafists.
In an era when Egypt must tackle the many problems that have stacked up during 60 years of military dictatorship, these disciples of Islam (Salafists and Muslim Brothers in equal measure) view the body of a woman as the root of all evil. As a consequence, they see covering it up as their most pressing priority, all the while recklessly ignoring key issues such as repression, poverty, corruption and the decline in educational standards.
It would appear that the debate over the female body has in the meantime become a priority for all factions of the Egyptian political spectrum, to varying degrees. The Islamists want to forcibly command that body back into the house and exclude it from the public arena.