This piece initially published in Al-Monitor
On June 30, the thunderous chanting of Egyptian women protesting against Mohammed Morsi, demanding that he leave office, echoed through the streets. Their voices were louder than their fellow men, adopting a collective firm, assertive tone that asserted their determination. Some female protesters carried very telling signs, expressing phrases such as “We are the coup,” their way of emphasizing their frustration with what many of them perceive as Morsi’s regressive policies.
In March 2013, despite the mounting opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood decided to shun half the society by releasing a strong statement condemning a United Nations declaration draft calling for an end to all forms of violence against women, claiming that it would lead to the “complete disintegration of society.” Such overtly regressive views have reaffirmed what many Egyptian women feared: The Muslim Brotherhood’s modern, progressive image is as hollow as its democratic credentials.
Although the Muslim Brotherhood has an active female branch, women members are forbidden from ever holding the position of Brotherhood guide and can’t even participate in the counsel office. Its most prominent cadres can hardly be described as feminist, even according to the most generous of definitions. Take Azza al-Garf, for example. One of only nine women elected in the short-lived post-January 2011 lower house of parliament, she severely criticized the right of a woman to divorce her husband and objected the ban on female genital mutilation, a practice that still claims innocent lives.
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