Photo Credit: Reuters/Stringer
Egypt’s Appeals Court in Alexandria reduced an earlier ruling jailing fourteen Islamist women for 11 years for protesting to one-year suspended terms, setting the stage for their immediate release according to Reuters. In the same case, seven girls under 18 years-old, convicted of obstructing traffic and damaging property, saw their sentences reduced to three-months probation.
Kristen Chick, of the Christian Science Monitor cautions against seeing the release of the 21 women and girls as a positive sign. Instead, she warns, “it is unlikely that all pro-Morsi protesters can expect similar outcomes,” because their arrests and convictions “garnered sympathy even outside Islamist circles, both because of the harsh sentences and because those convicted were young women.”
Author Alaa al-Aswany of the famous book, “The Yabcoubian Building” criticizes the current treatment of women as a result of Wahhabism’s influence on Egyptians and a reversal from Egyptian women’s rights in the early twentieth century. Al-Aswany argues, “Women’s rights are a bellwether of the current conflict in Egypt. The revolutionaries are fighting for equality, whereas the reactionary forces of both the Brotherhood and the Mubarak regime are trying to strip women of their political and social rights.” But al-Aswany …
Photo Credit: the Inkerman Group
On Wednesday, December 4, 2013 the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing titled “Transition at a Crossroads: Tunisia Three Years After the Revolution.” the hearing featured testimony from three witnesses: Mr. Scott Mastic, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Republican Institute; Mr. Leslie Campbell, Senior Associate and Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Democratic Institute; and Mr. Bill Sweeney, President and Chief Executive Officer at the International Institute for Electoral Systems. The hearing was presided over by the Subcommittee Chairperson, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
For full event notes, continue reading or click here for a pdf.
Representative Ros-Lehtinen opened the hearing by presenting introductory remarks. The Congresswoman noted that while the country underwent free and fair elections in October 2011, “there is still much that needs to be done to meet the goals and aspirations of the Tunisian people.” She noted that the transition and National Dialogue has stalled, and that “compounding these political problems are the economic and security challenges facing Tunisia,” including “Islamic extremism,” which she described as “one of the most …
Photo Credit: Reuters
The Wall Street Journal reports that United States officials have reached out to Islamist militias fighting in Syria to undercut al-Qaeda, but acknowledging the gains Islamists have made on the battlefield. As part of their talks, U.S. officials have reportedly pressed “the Islamists to rein in their criticism of moderate leader General Salim Idris and the Syrian National Council, the opposition’s political umbrella group, arguing that tensions between the opposition factions risk undermining the Geneva peace conference.” Addressing questions on U.S. involvement with Islamists, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Marie Harf stressed, ”We do not engage with terrorists,” but, ”We engage with a broad cross-section of Syrian people and political and military leaders in the opposition, including a variety of Islamist groups.”
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel went further and indicated, “If a diplomatic solution is the responsible approach [in Syria], all parties involved are going to have to be represented in some way” in any deal that is struck. He added that any peace plan in Syria “cannot be achieved by [limiting] ourselves to narrow strips of interest.” Similarly, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey suggested, ”I think it’s …
Photo Credit: Atlantic Council
Mohammed al-Hassani, of the Yemen Times, reports that members within the 8+8 Subcommittee tasked with reaching consensus on the “Southern Issue” are urging for a final decision to be made after the National Dialogue ends, according to subcommittee member Nadia Abdulla. Al-Hassani suggests that Southern participants favor a two-region solution, one in the north and one in the south, whereas the General People’s Congress (GPC), former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party, proposed a five-region state, three in the north and two in the south. The youth, civil society representatives, and the Nasserite Party, al-Hassani notes, oppose postponing the “Southern Issue” decision until after the dialogue and instead support forming a committee composed of local and international experts to resolve the issue before the end of the National Dialogue.
According to Gulf News’s Saeed al-Batati, the GPC filed an official complaint to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon against U.N. Special Envoy Jamal Benomar for “abandon[ing] his role as a mediator and [throwing] in his lot with the Joint Meeting Parties.” The Secretary General, al-Batati suggests, has ignored the complaint and urged all parties to work with Benomar on the transition process.
Analyzing the …
Photo Credit: Reuters
Women’s rights and human rights nongovernmental organizations have criticized the Islamist Party of Justice and Development led coalition for not including women rights activists and trying to dilute the proposed bill. Najat Errazi, the head of the Moroccan Association for Women’s Rights, expressed frustration declaring, ”we have waited for years for this law and we are now very disappointed by its content.” Sara Soujar, another activist, specifically critiques the bill for failing to include provisions for single women. Soujar said, ”this category is totally absent… Reading the text, you get the impression that violence basically only affects married or divorced women, even though others may be more exposed.” She added, ”young women who work in factories or as housemaids, many of whom are minors, are no less exposed.”
Concerns over the bill reflect a recent study published by the state planning commission (HCP) that indicate one in every two unmarried women were subjected to physical and/or verbal sexual abuse and nearly 9 percent in Morocco have been physically subjected to violence at least once.
In particular, the NGO’s have accused Bassima Hakkaoui, the Minister for Women’s Affairs and member of the ruling Islamist party, …