How terrible is it to be born a girl in the world today? The almost daily headlines about another cruel act of violence and discrimination against women — from the kidnapping of nearly 300 school girls in Nigeria last month, to the latest gruesome stoning of a woman in Pakistan — provide plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about women’s equality and safety in today’s world.
The recent case of “misogynist extremism” in California, where a young man killed six people in “retribution” for all the girls who had rejected him, underscores the fact that all societies suffer from violence against women.… Seguir leyendo »
In a stunning reversal of fortunes, Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsy was deposed by a military coup just one year after being sworn in as president. The Egyptian protesters who took to the streets by the millions over the past several days to demand Morsy’s resignation were jubilant as news spread Wednesday that their goal had been met: Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood-backed government was gone, along with its creeping authoritarianism and mismanagement.
The leaders of the protest movement are insisting that what happened was not a military coup, but rather a remarkably peaceful demonstration of the will of the people to achieve the original goals of the revolution: bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity.… Seguir leyendo »
A year ago, Libyans celebrated the death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. I wrote then that despite enormous challenges, the country’s prospects were actually pretty good. Its small, relatively well-educated population and abundant oil wealth certainly gave it a leg up on neighboring Egypt, which has to make its transition under dire economic circumstances.
Libya’s path was never going to be easy, but its trajectory since Gadhafi’s death has defied the worst predictions of chaos and civil war.
The Transitional National Council, headed by Mahmoud Jibril, oversaw the first phase of transition. It managed to bring all of Libya’s factions to the bargaining table, crafted an electoral law and held successful elections on July 7.… Seguir leyendo »
On Tuesday, protests rocked the American embassy compound in Cairo, while heavily armed militias overran the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and several others. The incidents initially seemed related, but they are in fact dramatically different developments.
In Egypt, a 2,000-strong crowd of protesters gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy to protest a film that depicts Islam in crude and offensive ways. The film is apparently being promoted by an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian now living in the United States and Terry Jones, the Florida pastor of “International Burn a Koran Day” infamy.
At the American embassy in Cairo, some protesters scaled the walls and in the courtyard were able to take down an American flag and put up a black Islamic flag associated with militant Islam.… Seguir leyendo »
Egypt’s tumultuous political process took another dramatic turn Thursday when its Supreme Constitutional Court effectively dissolved parliament, ruling that the election of one-third of its members last year was unconstitutional. The court also ruled that former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq can remain a presidential candidate in this weekend’s runoff election, despite his close association with the former regime.
These back-to-back rulings have immediately strengthened the hand of the “old guard” at the expense of the Islamists, who held more than 70% of the seats in parliament before it was dissolved.
While some Muslim Brotherhood leaders are referring to the court’s decisions as a “full-fledged coup,” it is more accurate to see recent events as an energetic “counter-revolution.”
The remnants of the establishment, including the economically privileged military and the Mubarak-appointed judiciary, are flexing the powers they never gave up to make sure they remain in control.… Seguir leyendo »
On Friday, Egyptians again gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, this time in a victory celebration, one week after their revolution unseated President Hosni Mubarak. Tunisians have also been sampling new freedoms of speech and press along a boulevard that is no longer a war zone. But even as the exultation lingers, women in both countries have launched new protests. They want to make sure that democracy does not erode their rights.
In Tunisia, several hundred women have already taken to the streets to voice their concern about what an Islamic revival, should it come, could mean for them. In Egypt, women’s rights activists immediately mounted a petition drive when the committee named to draft a new constitution included not a single woman (although many noted female Egyptian lawyers could easily serve on that committee).… Seguir leyendo »