A few days ago, I asked if Farouq Hosni, Egypt's Minister of Culture, is the Arab Jack Straw. The comparison was provoked by his statement that wearing the hijab is old fashioned and not necessary. His words have caused a fire storm in Egypt that is yet to abate.
It started with the Muslim Brother MPs (always alert to the most important dangers facing the nation) who asked for the minister's metaphoric head. Not to be outdone by their colleagues, MPs of the ruling party, that is, Hosni's party, have demanded his resignation on the spot. He is being accused of going against Islam by undermining a major pillar of the religion. They are even now scandalized by the minister's own sketches which shows "naked" women.
He tried to backtrack by saying this was his personal opinion and he has the utmost respect for veiled women. Didn't wash. Some Egptian intellectuals, including the director Yousef Chahine, have signed a petition supporting him and decrying "thought terrorism." The actor Hussein Fahmi proved that his choice of words is not much better than his acting when he lowered the public debate even further by saying that veiled women are "mentally retarded."
But Farouq Hosni is no Jack Straw really. The veiled women of Egypt are not in the same position as the veiled women of England. For one thing, they are a majority. The bullies in this case are the members of Parliament whose intention is to create more and more taboos and to impose their own narrowly-defined morality on people in the name of their "Islam." If anything, it's unveiled women who are on the defensive in Egypt and who have to explain themselves.
The veil musalsal (soap opera) continues . . .