Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Rape Epidemic in Morsi’s Egypt

February 18, 2013 12:44 am 1 comment

Cairo's Tahrir Square in November. Photo: Wikipedia.

Since the “Arab Spring” came to Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood assumed power, sexual harassment, abuse, and rape of women has skyrocketed. This graph, which shows an enormous jump in sexual harassment beginning around January 2011, when the Tahrir revolts began, certainly demonstrates as much. Its findings are further supported by any number of reports appearing in both Arabic and Western media, and from both Egyptian and foreign women.

Hundreds of Egyptian women recently took to the streets of Tahrir Square to protest the nonstop harassment they must endure whenever they emerge from their homes and onto the streets. They held slogans like “Silence is unacceptable, my anger will be heard,” and “A safe square for all; Down with sexual harassment.” “Marchers also shouted chants against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood group from which he hails,” wrote Al Ahram Online.

The response? More sexual harassment and rapes.

One woman recently appeared on Egyptian TV recounting her horrific experiences. On the program, she appeared shaded, to conceal her identity—less because she felt personal shame or guilt at what happened and more to protect her and her family from further abuses. She recounted how she had seen a Facebook notice that Egyptian women were going to protest the unsafe conditions for women on the Egyptian street and decided to join them on their scheduled march in Tahrir Square on January 25, the anniversary of the revolution. “I did not realize I would become the victim,” she lamented. When it started to get dark, her group heard that “strange looking men” were appearing and that it was best to leave the area.

During some chaos she was lost from her group. One man told her “this way,” pretending to help her to safety—”I was so naïve to believe him!”—only to lead her to a large group of men, she estimated around 50, who proceeded to encircle and rape her. “This was the first time someone touched me” quietly recounted the former virgin: “Each one of them attacked a part of my body.” Several pinned her down while others pulled off her pants and stripped her naked, gang-raping her for approximately 20 minutes. She explained how she truly thought she was going to die, and kept screaming “I’m dying!” In response, one of her rapists whispered in her ears: “Don’t worry. Take it,” even as the rest called her derogatory names she would not recite on the air.

Considering that in late November last year, when many Egyptians, including women, were protesting President Morsi’s Sharia-heavy constitution and the Muslim Brotherhood responded by paying gangs and thugs to rape protesting women in the streets, anecdotes like the above are becoming commonplace. Indeed, to appreciate the regularization of sexual harassment and rape in Egypt, consider the words of popular Salafi preacher Abu Islam, who openly, and very sarcastically, blamed the victims:

“They tell you women are a red line. They tell you that naked women—who are going to Tahrir Square because they want to be raped—are a red line! And they ask Mursi and the Brotherhood to leave power!” Abu Islam added that these women activists are going to Tahrir Square not to protest but to be sexually abused because they had wanted to be raped. “They have no shame, no fear and not even feminism. Practice your feminism, sheikha! It is a legitimate right for you to be a woman,” he said. “And by the way, 90 percent of them are crusaders [i.e. Christian Copts] and the remaining 10 percent are widows who have no one to control them. You see women talking like monsters,” he added.

No doubt some will argue that Abu Islam is just a “radical” who speaks for himself. Yet many more formal bodies made similar observations, including the new Egyptian parliament’s Shura Council’s “human rights committee,” whose members said

that women taking part in protests bear the responsibility of being sexually harassed, describing what happens in some demonstrators’ tents as “prostitution.” Major General Adel Afify, member of the committee representing the Salafi Asala Party, criticized female protesters, saying that they “know they are among thugs. They should protect themselves before requesting that the Interior Ministry does so. By getting herself involved in such circumstances, the woman has 100 percent responsibility.”

These sentiments are widely shared in Egypt. A study by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights said that 62% of men admitted to harassing women, while 53% blame women for “bringing it on.” Nor is this phenomenon limited to Egyptian women: while 83% of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment, so have 98% of foreign female visitors.

After describing her own personal experiences with sexual harassment in Egypt, Sarah A. Topol asserts that “Sexual harassment — actually, let’s call it what it is: assault — in Egypt is not just common. It’s an epidemic. It inhabits every space in this society, from back alleys to the birthplace of the newest chapter of Egyptian history…. For the 18 days of protest last year, for me, Tahrir Square was a harassment-free zone. I noticed it, everyone did. But as soon as President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, the unity ended and the harassment returned.”

Journalists Sophia Jones and Erin Banco also elaborated on the epidemic of sexual harassment in Egypt:

It’s difficult to write about sexual harassment and assault in Egypt without sounding like Angry White Girls. But as journalists, it is not merely our job to report in such an environment, it is an everyday psychological and sometimes even physical battle. We open our closets in the morning and debate what to wear to lessen the harassment—as if this would help. Even fully veiled women are harassed on Cairo’s streets. As one young Cairo-based female reporter recently remarked, “it’s a f-ked-up reality that we will be touched.”…. Like hundreds of other countries around the world, sexual harassment and assault happens everyday in Egypt. It happens to both Egyptian women, and to foreign women. It happens at all times of the day, despite what some may think, at the hands of men—young boys, grown men, police officers, military officers, and almost everyone in between.

The journalists then offer an all too familiar story:

Nor is this merely limited to sexual harassment, but it often, under the right circumstances—few witnesses, the availability of dark allies—culminates into fullblown gangrape. For example, Natasha Smith a young British journalist covering Tahrir Square, was dragged from her male companion into a frenzied mob in the hundreds. “Men began to rip off my clothes,” she wrote on her blog. They “pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way … All I could see was leering faces, more and more faces sneering and jeering as I was tossed around like fresh meat among starving lions.”

All this is yet another indicator of the true nature of the Obama-supported “Arab Spring.”

This column was originally published by Front Page Mag. Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

1 Comment

  • It’s obviously a damned joke how us europeans reply to these events. The very same journalists who get raped by gangs of men choose to act with forgivefulness. They simply don’t have a choice, if they want to remain in their business they better take it and forgive the sweet egyptian culture which on most parts is “so cheerful and wonderful”. Enough with this, enough with the madness, enough with tolerance, enough with forgiving.

    God damn it soon our own women will be raped on our own streets because of the color of their skin, and western men don’t do anything. We’re a silly excuse for protection for our own kind.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →