Happy International Womens’ Day! (Or, Is It?)


Well, today’s the day that we celebrate women and commiserate on the secondary role that women are forced to occupy in many aspects of our lives. It is a beautiful sight to see so many women (& men!) out in solidarity and with equality in their minds.

On Saturday, I went to a wonderful event organised by several charities called 6 billion ways, which was all about ‘making another world possible’. Imagine my excitement when I saw that revolutionary socialist and activist Gigi Ibrahim was speaking. She has been a loud and eloquent member of the revolution who has (in my opinion) been a wonderful ambassador for Egyptian women and one who I have been proud to see, as it shatters many ideas that I have encountered about Muslim/Arab women (such as being passive and without a voice). I asked her at the end of her presentation about the revolution about the representation of women and what part she thought that feminism played in the revolution and what role the revolution will play in the future of feminism in Egypt and more widely in the Middle East? I guess she gets asked this alot, or about the role of women in Egypt as she replied that she is sick of being asked this question and that women played their part in the revolution and were present and that the problem  of gender discrimination/inequality is NOT big in Egypt, and the big problem is class discrimination. I have to say, I was quite disturbed by her reply. She said that they do not show women on the media, but that they are present and represented. I think she also assumed that I was British (& didn’t really know what I was asking about). It’s a shame that I was not given the opportunity to respond, as I know personally that gender is a big issue in Egypt. I would like to know if she thinks it acceptable that women have not had a SINGLE representative on the national committee which was created to write and establish the new constitution, which illustrates why inequality is a problem which doesn’t seem to have ended with the revolution.

Personally, I find class and gender discrimination a big problem, as well as many other types of discrimination and inequality in Egypt. There is a problem with racism, as well as homophobia, some religious intolerence and many other problems. I do think, however, that discrimination against women is rampant and needs to be addressed URGENTLY in Egypt and I am extremely upset that the lives of my sisters that fell in this revolution seem to be valued less than those of the men. Why are we being denied the opportunity to rebuild Egypt. How are we expected to change the entrenched bigotry that blights womens’ lives all the time if we are not present in the committees that will be shaping our new country. I am still impressed with Gigi’s story and with her bravery, activism & eloquence. I do hope, though, that more women of Egypt are given a platform, as Gigi was literally the first woman (& even man) that comes from Egypt that I have spoken to that denies that there is a problem with gender inequality in Egypt. Perhaps women that aren’t sick of being asked questions that they don’t like, it’s not exactly the best decorum for a speaker on a panel to have that kind of attitude – not the best impression to give. I hope that more Egyptian women are given a platform, heaven knows we have precious few!

Lastly, I think the actions of the men attacking my sisters in Tahrir today, who were marching for the advancement of womens’ rights and to celebrate International Womens Day (the first time they have been able to!) is an illustration of the entrenched endemic hate that many men have with women in Egypt. I am sick of this problem being brushed under the carpet. If being attacked, insulted, spat upon, harrassed and sexually harrassed is what women are putting up with in public with the media present and on a day like today, then imagine what they go through everyday of their lives?

I don’t feel like there is much to celebrate today as I see the plight of women today in the world. All I can hope for is that this time next year, I can look back at today and think about how much things have changed for the better.

I have said it before and I will say it again – Egypt needs a feminist revolution. The time is now or never.

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Libyan Solidarity Protest today at Downing Street


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Today’s demonstration was very moving and very passionate. My friend & I were in tears for alot of it, such was the high emotion and the sadness at what is happening right now. Bless Libya, Down with Gaddafi the murderer.

Very Apt Quote on Liberty by Benjamin Constant.


‘The danger of modern liberty is that, absorbed in the enjoyment of our private independence, and in the pursuit of our particular interests, we should surrender our right to share in political power too easily.

The holders of authority are only too anxious to encourage us to do so. They are so ready to spare us all sort of troubles, except those of obeying & paying! They will say to us: what in the end, is the aim of your efforts, the motive of your labours, the object of all your hopes? Is it not happiness? Well, leave this happiness to us and we shall give it to you.

No, Sirs, we must not leave it to them. No matter how touching such a tender commitment may be,let us ask the authorites to keep within their limits. Let them confine themselves to being just. We shall assume the responsibility for being happy for ourselves.’

Benjamin Constant 1820

Especially relevant today as Cameron goes to the Middle East to encourage more sales for UK arms companies, like the corrupt BAE. As Gaddafi massacres innocent citizens using weapons that until yesterday afternoon, were still licensed to be sold to Libya, Cameron sees fit to get more weapons to kill more people into the Middle East. Shame on him!

As The Libyans Are Slaughtered, Cameron goes to the Middle East To Sell More Weapons To Kill More People.


Gaddafi is proving himself to be tyranny & inhumanity, par excellence. As the plane loads of African (& unconfirmed reports of Italian & Ukrainian) mercenaries descend on defenceless citizens to slaughter them, with weapons that were until yesterday afternoon, still licensed to be sold to Gaddafi by the UK. YES, until yesterday!

David Cameron, our Prime Minister is in the Middle East on a tour at the moment – most likely defended as ‘helping the region transition into democracy’.  He has taken EIGHT weapons companies with him. The first country he visited on this tour, was my beloved Egypt. Egypt has still not made the transition to a DEMOCRATICALLY elected government. We are living under a military dictatorship, with a junta which has no legitimate right to be making any kind of deals with arms companies, or negotiating with other governments – that is what the elected government will be for, not this unelected bunch of military men.

At a time when so many have already paid the ultimate price for claiming their rights from their governments and when so many governments have already used deadly force on innocents, it is reprehensible that Cameron should be out in the Middle East encouraging and legitimising the inhumane use of weapons by trying to sell them. Shame on him. It remains to be seen whether he will follow in Blair’s footsteps & have the blooded hands of and accomplice to murder.

A swift google of BAE systems will show you the calibre of the companies that want to trade in the Middle East. The  types of deals that this company has become infamous for, including bribery, creating slush funds and aiding corruption & oppression wherever they go. One of Britain’s most shameful companies. Exploiting death & oppression for financial gain, is there anything lower than that?

I will leave you with a small clip of Prince Bandar Al-Saud’s comments on the investigation into the billions of dollars put into slush funds for him and the Saud Royal Family by BAE, rather telling of the typical Middle East ‘leader’s’ attitude to corruption and entitlement.

IF YOU ARE IN LONDON TODAY – PLEASE COME ALONG & SHOW YOUR SOLIDARITY WITH THE LIBYANS AT 10 DOWNING ST FROM 3PM.

Solidarity Rally outside Bahrain Embassy 19.2.11


For more photos of the protest, please see my set here http://www.flickr.com/photos/el_amster/sets/72157625969138181/

Unbelievably the other Middle Eastern ‘leaders’ did not learn the right lessons from Ben Ali & Mubarak. Instead of listening to the people, they have cracked down murderously as the events unfolding in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen are proving. Using weapons bought with the permission and mostly likely encouragement from the British Government on innocent and brave but defenceless civilians, the ruling royal family in Bahrain have proven themselves to be the amongst the lowest in all humanity, even bringing in mercenaries to come and murder their own people. They have vindicated the protesters and shown their true colours to the world. Shame on them and their supporters.

The sorrow I feel as an Egyptian watching this is immense. Watching others go through the same inevitable hell to gain freedom and dignity is terrible. Solidarity to my sisters and brothers fighting for freedom everywhere.