Thursday, November 30, 2006
When asked, a Hamas represenative said his group does not condone such behavior because changing society should not be done by force but by laws, with the approval of the people.
There were four Arabs on the list: the Sudanese painter Ibrahim el Salihi, and 3 Algerian singers: Khaled, Rachid Taha, and Souad Massi (I'll never forgive myself for missing her D.C. performance last year). I would have liked to see some Arab writers on the list, but thus is the nature of such lists.
I have posted some songs by Rachid Taha before (apparently his hit song "Ya Rayeh" originally belongs to a female popular singer). Below you can watch Khalid and Faudel sing "Aisha" live. Also a glimpse of Souad Massi.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Here's a pretty informative article (in Arabic) in Al Sharq al Awsat about the popularity of the hijab in Egyptian society and the attitude of the state (mainly State TV and the foreign ministry). The only problem is that the article at the beginning collapses the veil and the niqab: Qasem Amin and Huda Sha'rawi were against the niqab and the role it played in separating women from the public sphere. I find the comments of the readers also instructive. One mentions an omission in the article, which is the contribution of the Gulf culture to the popularity of the hijab in Egypt via Egyptians who migrated to work there. A similar influence is noticeable in Palestinian society.
"Human rights defenders working in the Occupied Territories are at risk of attack by Israeli settlers. Amnesty International is concerned at the latest such attack against those who seek through their presence to afford protection to Palestinians and to bear witness to the abuses perpetrated against them by Israeli settlers in the area.
On 18 November, Tove Johannsson, a 19-year old Swedish human rights defender, was assaulted by Israeli settlers as she accompanied Palestinian school children through an Israeli army checkpoint near the Tel Rumeida Israeli settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron . . Tove Johannsson was ... hit in the face with a broken bottle by an Israeli settler, and sustained broken cheekbone and a fracture near her eye. Her colleagues reported that as she fell to the ground, a group of settlers who were watching the attack clapped and cheered and some tried to take photos of themselves next to her bleeding face, giving the camera a ‘thumbs-up’ sign."
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The Iranian "Ministry of Censorship (oops, I mean culture) and Islamic Guidance" banned Zoya Pirzad's bestselling novel I Will Turn Out the Lights. The novel tells of a love affair of a bored Armenian Iranian housewife. From the reviews I've read, the main character thinks too much to be an Emma Bovary, but I guess thinking is more subversive than anything she might "do".
Here in Arabic
Well, that should take care of it!
Translation: "Al Sheja3yeh stabs Palestine five times."
I mean we don't have enough real violence, we need to use metaphorical violence to describe scoring soccer goals? How about a truce in this constant deployement and mobilization of the language of violence and war to talk about friendly sport competition?
Monday, November 27, 2006
Wow! I read a whole article on Arab women without encountering the word "veil"! What is going on?
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Those questions, sister,
too close to the center!
For if we had asked
why Jane Austen's people
carouse all day
and do no work
would Europe in Africa
the test of time?
and would she still maul
the flower of our youth
in the south?
Your elegance of deceit,
lulled the sons and daughters
of the dispossessed
into a calf-love
with irony and satire
around imaginary people.
While history went on mocking
the victims of branding irons
that made Jane Austen's people
wealthy beyond compare!
Eng. Lit., my sister,
was more than a cruel joke--
it was the heart
of alien conquest.
How could questions be asked
at Makerere and Ibadan,
Dakar and Ford Hare--
with Jane Austen
At the centre?
How could they be answered?
* POTATO FAMINE
In 1997 Tony Blair said sorry for Britain not doing more to relieve suffering from Ireland's 19th-century potato famine.
This year some 300 First World War soldiers shot for refusing to fight (many of whom were shell-shocked) were pardoned.
In 1995, the Queen officially apologised to the largest Maori tribe in New Zealand for the devastation wrought on their land in the 1860s.
* AMRITSAR MASSACRE
In 1997 the Queen visited Amritsar in the Punjab, scene of a massacre of up to 1.200 people in 1919. She said it was "distressing", and said: "History cannot be rewritten, however much we might sometimes wish otherwise."
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Then there is this kind of standard orientalist stuff: "In societies where religion dominated all aspects of life, the notion of authors creating a separate fictional world was widely viewed with suspicion."
The reviewer concludes by anticipating that the anthology will be treated less as a literary sampler and more as a "telescope" through which to view Arab culture and customs from a "safe remove."He adds: "in the current climate, with suspicion of all things Arab and Islamic at an all-time high, that may not be entirely a bad thing." I disagree. I think it is a bad thing because using literature as sociology during hostile times is not going to yield much understanding or appreciation of another culture. Readers are going to find what they already know. Some might even conclude with: "I'm lucky to be American."
Frankly, I'm not crazy about anthologies of fiction. I don't like to read excerpts from novels. What's the point? But I guess having these anthologies is better than not having them.
Ok, I think this crancky review of a review has gone too long.
Friday, November 24, 2006
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 . . .
No, I didn't come to New York to attend the conference. I wasn't invited : (
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Good stand, folks. Stick to it.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
For some reason, they don't mention, Dana Ana Dundun who won this blog's award for worst video clip ever (she got the highest rating: "just dreadful".
But brethren and friends, not to worry. The Muslim bothers in parliament are always awake. Their eyes are always open; they are always watching.
This is why they are again asking that these singers be banned from performing in Egypt because they are ruining the yout of the nation.
Here's some advice:
watch less TV, take cold showers, get a life or a remote control. But no matter what you do, do not click on the button below.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
"Welcome to paradise, where carrying a film camera on the street without a permit is a criminal offence."
male homoxuality seems to be the most problematic, since many of the laws are expressly against it. In Kenya, male homosexulaity is illegal, but lesbian relations are not.
It's in the struggle against apartheid that acceptance of gay rights emerged. Imprisoned political prisoners had at some point to confront the fact that one of their own was a homosexual.
Can't believe it. I almost fell off my chair and broke my head.
I guess when Abu Ahmad says they stole my land, he sounds like a broken record and no one believes him. Arabs lie, you know. And when Umm Ahmad says: what about the other 60%; is it owned by Martians ya Khouy? No one believes her, because she's a peasant woman who can't possibly have anything to say.
But, hey, it's now on the front page of The New York Times. I think the Palestinians should make November 21st a national holiday. Brothers and sisters: We have arrived!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
This tactic is not new. The women in Beit Hanoun used it a couple of weeks ago to lift the siege from a mosque. More importantly it was used on a daily basis by women in the first intifada: they would surround the young man who was about to be arrested in the street by soldiers and would yell and elbow and do all they can to secure his release. No body used the militaristic term "human shields" then.
I don't like the term "human shields" to describe what's going on. The Israelis are using it to argue that the Palestinians don't respect human life and endanger the lives of their civilians. The Palestinians are trying to redefine it and use it as a term of civil resistance to occupation, but usually the weaker side loses the war of definitions. Moreover, I'm concerned that civil, non-violent resistance can be obscured by the continued use of militaristic terms and metaphors. One other such term is the word "hudna" that Hamas insists on using: they don't want to use the sissy word "peace agreement" because that is now synonymous with "Oslo"--a dirty word--so they adopt a militarisitc term to ask for "peace," giving the wrong impression that the Palestinians too are an army that can cease hostilities.
Not to sound too pessimistic, but the Israelis will try to neutralize this tactic. In other words, they will continue to fire their missiles without giving advanced notice, which is the rule anyway (everytime a missile or tank shell is fired in Gaza it is potentially fired into a crowd, let's not forget that). Therefore, what I hope will emerge from this is a realization that collective, non-violent action has an incredible potential to bring about change and that it will be adopted as a "strategy" of resitance and not as a marginal tactic that we use along side militaristic means. The Qassams and the suicide bombers are ultimately the antithesis of this kind of resistance.
I always believed that civil resistance is the way to go. It's better for Palestinian society in the short and long run, whether we end up with one state, two states, or no state.
This belief hasn't earned me many friends over the years. In fact, every time I express it I lose a few. This time, I'm sure, will be no different.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
No, I’m not bald under the scarf
No, I’m not from that country
where women can’t drive cars
No, I would not like to defect
I’m already American
But thank you for offering
What else do you need to know
relevant to my buying insurance,
opening a bank account,
reserving a seat on a flight?
Yes, I speak English
Yes, I carry explosives
They’re called words
And if you don’t get up
Off your assumptions,
They’re going to blow you away.
Mohja Kahf, from Emails from Shehrezad.
Or maybe I'm missing something?
Afghani society is patriarchal and has been torn by war for decades now. War does not improve women's situation. Any idiot knows that, right?
But before you start ranting about those fanatic Muslim men who live in the dark ages and who just won't leave women alone, before you reach for your copy of The Arab Mind to try to make sense of the weird Arab culture that breeds this mysogyny and intolerace, before you shake your head in disgust and say, "those poeple! I'm just sick of hearing about them and their veil"...
Friday, November 17, 2006
The New York Times sends a photographer and a reporter for two days to the West Bank to report on the chokingpoints that are ruining Palestinians lives. They come back with one photo and an article that profusely quotes Israeli officials who justify these hellish internal borders with their usual "security" arguments. At no point does the reporter examine this b.s. security propaganda.
What these chokingpoints do is just that: choke. They choke the Palestinian economy so people can't make a living and just leave. So security is the excuse, transfer is the goal.
On another note: I think the Palestinians should have taxi drivers as their national heros. Those guys are amazing.
since the war began in 2003."
Thursday, November 16, 2006
How many times have I seen this movie? I can't remember the name, which scares me. But I do remember this scene so vividly, which scares me even more!
Scene plot: she (Magda) loves him (Abdel Halim Hafez) silently. He loves someone else. He finds some poetry she wrote lying around. He sings. She listens.
Unfortunately, the newspaper story doesn't mention in what context he made his comment. Did he just get up one morning and felt a really urgent need to diss the hijab? Some context ya 3arab!
A bit of a background: once upon a time in this feminist dystopia called Pakistan, some brilliant minds decided on one dark day (or was it the other way round: some dark minds on a brillian day?) that a woman who is raped has to prduce four witnesses to prove her case, otherwise she herself will be punished for adultery! They babbled something about it being "Islamic". The Washington Post babbles after them by concluding its news piece with this sentence:
"Strict Islamic law dictates that a woman claiming rape must produce four witnesses, making a trial almost impossible."
Actually, what the Qur'anic verse says is this:
"And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations)- Flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors” (24:4)
Translation: If a woman is accused of adultery or fornication, her accuser has to bring forth four witnesses (and some argue that the four witnesses should have actually witnessed the act of penetration to qualify as reliable witnesses!) otherwise they will be punished for false accusation.
According to Muslim tradition, this verse was revealed after some Muslims spread rumors about A'isha, prophet Mohammad's wife, when she stayed behind during a caravan trip and then showed up with a young man who helped her back to the camp. Mohammad was pretty upset about it all, and A'isha left his house and went to her father's house in protest. Then the verse was revealed and her name was cleared.
Islamic feminists have been arguing that this was intended to protect women from calumny. It makes proving cases of adultery nearly impossible (think about it: four wide-eyed witnesses!! They got to be doing it in the street at highnoon). It could be used to protect women's (and men's) privacy.
But patriarchy is quite imaginative, so since 1979 the brilliant minds mentioned above managed to turn this verse upside down in the name of their Islam. And "Islamists" in Pakistan are upset that a change is being made!!
Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, nobody in the US is saying poor Pakistani women; they are oppressed and we need to bomb the hell of them to save them. Nope. Pakistan is "our" friend. But I bet you that one day if we feel like bombing Pakistan, the women's situtation there will prove handy. So stay tuned for updates.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
We had to learn this poem by heart for our Tawjeehi (high school) exam . Since half the class imagined they were in love, and the other half imagined their hearts were broken, this was the most "memorable part" of the Arabic literature curriculum. We aced it!!
(ps. in the third stanza below, the word "Shay'a" is missing at the end of the first line. I told you I aced it!).
يا فؤادي لا تسل أين الهوى كان صرحا" من خيال فهوى
ايقيني و اشرب على أطلاله و رو عني طالما الدمع روى
كيف ذاك الحب أمسى خبرا و حديثا من أحاديث الجوى
لست أنساك و قد أغريتني بفم عذب المنادة رقيق
و يد تمتد نحوي كيد من خلال الموج مدت لغريق
و بريق يظمأ الساري له أين في عينيك ذياك البريق
يا حبيبا زرت يوما أيكه طائر الشوق أغنّي ألمي
لك ابطاء المدلّ المنعم و تجني القادر المحتكم
و حنيني لك يكوي أضلعي و التواني جمرات في دمي
أعطني حريتّي أطلق يديّا انني أعطيت ما استبيقت
اه من قيدك أدمى معصمي لم أبقيه و ما أبقى عليّا
ما احتفاظي بعهود لم تصنه و لم الأسر و الدنيا لديّا
أين من عيني حبيب ساهر فيه عز و جلاء و حياء
واثق الخطوة يمشي ملكا ظالم الحسن شهي الكبرياء
عبق السحر كأنفاس الرّبى ساهم الطرف كأحلام المساء
أين مني مجلس أنت به فتنة تمت سناء و سنى
و أنا حب و قاب غائم و فراش خائر منك دنى
و من الشوق رسول بيننا و نديم الكأس لنا
هل رأى للحب سكارى مثلنا كم بنينا من خيال حولنا
و مشينا في طريق مقمر تثبت الفرحة فيه قبلنا
و ضحكنا ضحك طفلين معا و عدونا فسبقنا ظلّنا
و انتبهنا بعد ما زال الرحيق و أفقنا ليت أنّا لم نفيق
يقظة طاحت بأحلام الكرى و تولّى اللّيل و اللّيل صديق
و اذا النّور نذير طالع و اذا الفجر مطلّ كالحريق
و اذا الدنيا كما نعرفها و اذا الأحباب كلّ في طريق
أيّها الساهر تغفو تذكر العهد و تصحو
و اذا ما التأم الجرح جدّ بالتذكار جرح
فتعلّم كيف تنسى و تعلّم كيف تمحو
يا حبيبي كلّ شيىء بقضاء ما بأيدينا خلقنا تعساء
ربّما تجمعنا أقدارنا ذات يوم بعد ما عزّ اللّقاء
فاذا أنكر خلّ جلّه و تلاقينا لقاء الغرباء
و مضى كلّ الى غايته لا تقل شئنا فانّ الحظّ شاء
An international panel of scholars, politicians and religious leaders warned that cultural stereotypes were turning negotiable disputes into "seemingly intractable identity-based conflicts" and that the clash-of-civilisations theory has obscured "the real nature of the predicament the world is facing".
see, Mass Rape:The War Against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ed. Alexandra Stiglmayer.
Monday, November 13, 2006
"Uganda has a well documented record of persecuting homosexuals. Section 140 of its penal code criminalises "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" and the offence carries a maximum seven-year prison sentence. The country's president, Yoweri Museveni, once proposed the arrest of all homosexuals, though he subsequently modified his position and called for a return to days when "these few individuals were either ignored or speared by their parents"."
"The legislation banning same sex relations was inherited from British colonial rule."
Sunday, November 12, 2006
"Nineteen inhabitants of Beit Hanun were killed with malice aforethought. There is no other way of describing the circumstances of their killing. Someone who throws burning matches into a forest can't claim he didn't mean to set it on fire, and anyone who bombards residential neighborhoods with artillery can't claim he didn't mean to kill innocent inhabitants."
Sahar Khaliefeh's novel Al Mirath (The Inheritance) ends with one such delivery.
From the point of view of apologists for the Israeli occupation: just price tags.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Fool, for those who are wondering what I'm talking about, is made up of fava beans and the usual yummy suspects (lemon, olive oil, garlic, cilantro). It is hummus's childhood friend and best buddy. But unlike its well-known and uppity friend, which has been appropriated, anglicized, and watered down to a "health food" and even called a "dip" (how humiliating!) fool is very down to earth and has not been globalized--thank the lord of beans.
Fool, they say, has a not so flattering effect on the brain--we were discouraged from eating it before exams--in case you are wondering why suddenly I'm blogging about food!
One Israeli commentator justfied the Israeli massacre in Beir Hanoun by writing: "Those who impose terrorism and fear upon an entire region... need to understand that they cannot hide behind women and children. Such behaviour carries a price tag."
What amazes me is that he can't see how this same "logic" can be used by the "other side" to explain the killing of his own women and children. Did I say "logic"? It's not logic. It's pure insanity.
As to the vulgarity of his "price tag," I don't have words. Only a scream.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
"we console ourselves after every massacre by talking about full liberation and about bringing about an earthquake and tearing the sky, and we announce in front of the world that we will return to suicide bombings and that we will suspend all marginal issues such as national unity and national reconciliation and such small and silly matters because we want to focus on confronting the massacre. And there we are denouncing, condemning, pleading, shocked, surprised ....there we are crying, screaming, asking for help and doing everything and saying everything except the one thing that we must say: why have we reached this abyss and why are we in this state? Why do we die so cheaply and such a humiliating way in front of the world without finding anybody who would merely acknowledge the death of our children....We don't ask ourselves why this is happening to us and what is our responsibility in all that is happening. As long as our national movement is not self critical about its ideas, its performance, its methods and is not holding others accountable and is not giving justice to anyone ....we will be looking at a dark future...
وهنا نحن نعزّي أنفسنا بعد كل مجزرة بالحديث عن التحرير الكامل وعن زلزلة الأرض وعن شق عنان السماء ونعلن أمام العالم أننا سنعود إلى العمليات التفجيرية وسنعلّق المسائل الهامشية الصغيرة من وحدة وطنية وتوافق وطني وما شاكل من صغائر وخزعبلات، ونتفرّغ وننكبّ على مواجهة المجزرة، وها نحن نستنكر ونشجب ونناشد ونستهجن ونستغرب وندين، وها نحن نبكي ونصرخ ونستغيث ونفعل كل شيء ونقول كل شيء إلاّ الشيء الوحيد الذي يجب أن نقوله، لماذا وصلنا إلى هذه الهاوية ولماذا أصبحنا بهذا الحال؟ ولماذا نموت بهذا الثمن البخس وبهذه المهانة على مسمع العالم وعلى مرأى هذا العالم دون أن نجد من يترحّم (مجرّد ترحّم) على أطفالنا في المحيط الهادر والخليج الثائر وفي بلاد الاسلام والمسلمين. لم نسأل أنفسنا بعد لماذا يحدث كل هذا وأين نحن فعلاً مما يحدث لنا؟، وما دامت حركتنا الوطنية لم تراجع نفسها ولم تراجع رأيها وأداءها ووسائلها ولم تسائل أحداً ولم تحاسب أحداً ولم تنصف أحداً، وما زالت الحركة الإسلامية في بلادنا تعيش نشوة الوريث ولا تعرف مسؤولية الشريك وما زالت تعيش في المراحل الأولى والبدائية من أبجديات العمل السياسي وما دامت لا تفرّق بعد بين السياسة والحق وبين البرنامج والشعار وبين الايديولوجيا الخاصة والعمل المشترك فان غيابنا سيطول وتغييبنا سيستمر، وما دام كل شيء في بلادنا مباحاً ومستباحاً بما في ذلك أو قبل كل ذلك عقولنا وذكاؤنا وحكمتنا وكل التجارب التي مررنا بها ودفعنا ثمناً باهظاً لها وما دامت كل حساباتنا تقوم على مصالح القبيلة والحزب والعائلة السياسية فإن أوضاعنا ستسوء أكثر مما هي سيِّئة ومستقبلنا سيكون قاتماً أكثر مما هو حاضرنا واما اسوأ ما في ماضينا فسيصبح اياماً نترحم عليها ونذكرها بكل خير كلما جاء ذكرها.
Now, what else needs to be done to make Dubai into the Cordoba of the 21st century?
I agree with her that the timing of the Human Rights Watch Report couldn't have been worse: for the Palestinian women being slaughtered in their sleep with Israeli army shells, and for those being abused by their families.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
As I've been saying all along, since the Hamas win, the Palestinian people disappeared. They don't exist anymore. Only Hamas exists and the Palestine-Israeli conflict gets a new starting day, which is the day Hamas won the elections. Israel can do anything it wants and is not accountable to anybody because there is Hamas. Period.
This is why The Washington Post doesn't give the Palestinians a box. The narrative now is about Israel and Hamas.
Instead of The Post's box, the Palestinians have been getting another kind of box. I hear that the coffin-making business is thriving in Gaza these days.
The last time they were close to reaching an agreement with Fateh based on the so-called Prisoners' Document, the Israeli soldier was captured.
Just when the Palestinians need a united leadership now more than ever, they are told this is not the time for it.
Nancy Ajram's new vidoe clip, "Ehsas Jdeed: new feeling" is the usual fare of girl meets boy, but with a twist: the boy in question can only use sign language. The director, Saeed al Marouk, dedicates the clip to his parents, both of whom used sign language. He spoke his first words when he was seven. Nice work.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
The movie was two hours, way too long. It had some good gags. The crowd laughed. I laughed. I won't deny it.
But the sexual politics of this film are
And if you even wondered if Condi Rice can belly dance, you may want to go see the film. She is at the center of not one, but two wet dreams of one of the main characters.
After the screening, the director took some questions. I asked him, in Arabic, why he figured the military weakness as sexual weakness, particulary of men since that shows that the defeat is really affecting the men and not the women.
His answer was that he did that because men are usually the "doers" (al fa3eleen). Not necessarily, I said. He said something about our "eastern" culture ... I tried to tell him that I am "eastern," but I don't think he heard me.
302 Palestinians and 3 Israeli soldiers dead in the four-month-confrontation in Gaza.
Among the latest on the Palestinian side are two women (Amna Abu Oudah, 42, and Intissar Ali, 40) unarmed, shot down during a women's march towards a mosque where Palestinian men where besieged by Israeli troops. The marching women helped the Palestinian men escape just before the mosque roof collapsed.
The reports in the Israeli and western press are emphasizing the role of the women as "human shields" to exonerate Israel from any responsibility. The headline in the German copy of Spiegle says it all: "Human shields die in mosque attack." Trust me, this is going to be milked to the max by Israeli propaganda.
Hamas propaganda is already at it as well. I'm curious to see if they would confirm or deny that some of the men escaped the mosque dressed up as women. The Israelis are emphasizing this to score two points: first, when they shoot at women it is because what seems to be women are really men in disguise. Second, to emasculate the macho fighters who really cannot be that heroic if they are "hiding behind women" and,even worse, dressing up as women. Some of the Arab press is not reporting the detail about clothes. One commentator on Al Arabeyya site celebrated the "free women of Palestine" and contrasted them and the armed men to the "whores" and "deviants" who left the Jericho prison in their underwear. So this siege, and the way it ended (with the men escaping) is arleady being contrasted with that other siege, when Palestinian security forces were forced to surrender to the Israelis and were stripped down to their underwear in front of the world.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
The democrats don't like it one bit.
(Thanks Rabee. I am weeping.)
A united Jerusalem at last!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Of course, there is always this argument to fall back on: "we tried to help those people. We really really tried, but they are entrenched in their ways and beyond hope or help. What can we do?"
Either way, we emerge feeling good about ourselves vs. "those" people.
Atwan uses the somewhat archaic expressions "Al Muhassanat" (the protected, the impregnable, though there must be a better translation) and "Hara'er Misr" (free women of Egypt) to refer to the molested women. I think "women walking in the street," or "Mwatinat: female citizens," would have been adequate: do we really need to "idealize" these women in order to get outraged at the violation of their rights?
It's easy to blame this event on the regime and to see it as "symbolic" and symptomatic of a larger problem. The danger of that, despite its merit, is to drown the fact that the violation is directed at women and their presence in the street. People like Atwan need to examine how their attitude to women's bodies in public is part and parcel of the whole problem. Anyone who ever demanded that women be "modest" in their dress in public or blamed them for attracting attention has contributed to this atmosphere of violation and abuse.
I'm also not happy with calling the attacking men "sexually frustrated" or "sexually frenzied" etc. One side makes use of the "repressive hypothesis" by saying all this is caused by the sexual frustration of men in the society, and their inability to get married for economic reasons. The other side blames this "sexual frenzy" on Haifa Wahbi and Nancy Ajram and on western cultural invasion. In other words, it's either too little sex or too much sex.
I don't think it's about "sex" per se. Among the attackers in the crowd were kids who thought it was fun to join in with the adults to humiliate women.
The society's tolerance of daily sexual harassment of women in public--in the street, on buses, in stores--and the "blame the victim" segregationist solutions, such as veiling, hiding at home (because it's a "woman's kingdom" you know), or separate transportations for men and women, are responsible.
Not just the regime.