The Egyptian Minister of Information has done it yet again.
In a press conference last Thursday, Salah Metwally Abdel Maqsoud repeated the innuendo that got him in trouble only a week before. Receiving questions on the journalistic content of state TV from a female journalist, who accused him of offering the same content as the Mubarak regime, he told her: “Like I told your female colleague before, come here and I will show you where the content is.”
I think by now our foreign readers understand that in colloquial Egyptian dialect, what he said carries a really ugly sexual connotation—one that also implies to me, and to others, a threat of rape.
One has to wonder why he repeated such a statement after the international criticism of his previous action. Was he trying to show that this something that can be normally said and that overly sensitive journalists misunderstood?
Or- and this is more likely- this man cannot control his true abusive self when provoked.
The second hypothesis is closer to the truth due to several reasons. The first known incident of verbal abuse by this “creature” caught on camera was with Syrian TV Presenter Zeina Yezgi when he told her, “I hope your questions are not as hot as you”. Yezgi, who looked shocked for a minute, graciously steered the conversation to a more professional level, making the above incident his third.
Abdel Maqsoud’s affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood is also a telling factor. A group who views women as vessels to carry children and sexual pleasure is more than likely to produce such a mutilated way of thinking. The Brotherhood’s own female members have a twisted take on the position of women in society, honouring their motherly and wifely roles but not their contribution to the work force. The Brotherhood’s female MPs came under fire before the dissolution of parliament last year because of their widespread support of FGM, polygamy and at times marital rape. Om Ayman, who made headlines on more than one occasion, said outright in an interview with Al-Ahram last April, that: “We [the parliament] have a plan to reconsider the Family Law in Egypt.” She outlined Al-Khola’ as an example, which gives the woman the right to divorce her husband, “which has proved that it destroys the family”. She affirmed that all changes to the law will be made by “experts”.
Members of the predominantly Islamist Shura Council a couple of months ago blamed sexual harassment on women, the way they dress and mingling with men, sparking anger among various women’s groups in Egypt and abroad.
The latest attack on women’s rights came from the current Ikhwani government that criticised the UN’s declaration on violence against women, before it was even declared! Islamist parties joined in and were frantically accusing the declaration of spreading promiscuity and homosexuality. The National Council for Women, which represented Egypt in the conference, widely criticised the unwarranted attacks, particularly the Islamist belief that they have a monopoly over religion, emphasizing that comments should not be made without “reference to facts”.
A by-product of such thinking, Abdel Maqsoud’s treatment of female journalists should not come as a surprise, but what is surprising is the fact that he is still in office- business as usual.
Thus Egyptian women, angered by the fact that this “creature” is running free, decided to take matters into their own hands. Egyptian women plan to gather today at Maspero, holding slippers in their hands and demanding his resignation. The Brotherhood’s government has turned a deaf ear to journalists’ complaints and the Press Syndicate seems too busy to protect the rights of their female members even by filing a lawsuit against verbal harassment.
Egyptian women have had enough; marginalised in a mutilated constitution, suffering from extreme economic conditions while caring for their families, and suffering all kinds of harassment on the streets. Now, a minister in the post-revolution government is outright harassing female journalists on live TV, thus giving a carte blanche to all sick men to pursue their perverseness, spreading an “if a minister says it in public, why can’t I” attitude.
In a country that respects its women, this minister would have been made to resign, to apologise to each reporter he harassed, and would have been sued for verbal harassment, but then this is Egypt under Islamist rule. Respecting and honouring women, which is one of the commandments of Prophet Muhammad on his death bed, is ignored by current pseudo-Sheikhs and a hypocritical regime that uses religion for their electoral benefit.
Egyptian women will bring down Morsi and his government starting with this creature, the Minister of Harassment.