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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.