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Egyptian presidential candidate says uncovered women should be arrested

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Summary of story from Jerusalem Post, November 14, 2011

Women in Egypt are concerned about the limits being placed on their rights and status in the post-Mubarak era, following comments made by an Islamist presidential candidate that women should be arrested for failing to cover up.

Speaking in two television interviews, leading presidential candidate and Muslim cleric Hazem Saleh Abu Ismail said he supported ‘Islamic dress’ for all women, and believed a woman wearing a bikini at the beach should be arrested.

Abu Ismail said practising al-tabarouj – leaving hair uncovered and wearing make-up – was a ‘mortal sin’ and should be made a criminal offence.

The comments are a fresh blow for women in the country, who have been sidelined from major roles in the transitional government and the current elections campaigns.

One woman, who took part in the protests that led to the collapse of the Mubarak regime, said:

‘Women are not being heard from and this is causing a lot of frustration among myself and my friends who want the ability to choose our lives and what we do.’

Another added: ‘I think these people, because they are predominantly male, want to take over a woman’s right to do anything because all they think about is sex and this is what women are to them, objects.’

  1. *sighs* This is just so depressing. I really feel for women in the Middle East. Whilst I applaud the Arab spring, the vacuum its left/leaving and who might fill it seems to be boding ill for the women in that part of the world. I hope the west won’t stand by and let this happen, but I fear my cynical self is right in this.

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