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14. Oktober 2011

Shahira Amin and Edit Schlaffer Amerikahaus © Frauen ohne Grenzen

Shahira Amin and Edit Schlaffer during a discussion at the Amerikahaus

Egypt: Call for the Greater Inclusion of Women

The Egyptian TV journalist criticizes the military and the media—the Revolution is irreversible and requires the greater inclusion of women

14 October 2011 die Standard Vienna—The TV journalist Shahira Amin, who resigned from her position as Deputy Head of the state-run television channel Nile TV live on air in protest of censorship during the political upheaval in Egypt, sharply criticized the military’s actions and called for women’s increased participation. Eight months after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak not one single goal of the Revolution had been reached, she said during a presentation in Vienna Thursday evening. Nonetheless, she believes the Revolution “irreversible.” Before commencing her remarks at the Amerikahaus, the prominent television journalist called on the many audience members to observe a minute of silence for the victims of the most recent bloody attacks on Coptic Christians in Cairo. Amin emphasized that the Copts had been fighting for their legitimate right to religious freedom. She also spoke of an “Islamic trend” in the country, which is alarming to the liberal segment of the population, the Christians in Egypt, and the West. But religion will play an important role in the planned elections, she says. The Muslim Brotherhood is very active both in the humanitarian and political realms and propagates Sharia, the Islamic right, so Amin. But nonetheless, “men and women sit side by side” at their gatherings, she noted. Amin described a section of young members of the Muslim Brotherhood who had split off from the main group and are cooperating with the Christians in the presidential election as a positive example. No Progress in the Daily Struggle The Revolution was also “about the dignity” of the Egyptians, said Amin. But the people want a “democracy that comes from within,” not “a western-style democracy.” She believes that women might wear headscarves in public, but will be “liberal on the inside.” The TV journalist highlighted the active role of women, many of whom demonstrated on Tahrir Square. But then, no women were included in the committee that drafted the new constitution, and not a single woman is part of the transitional government. Amin is thus very pleased that at least one woman is running for the presidency; there is a great deal of political motivation. On the other hand, the journalist regrets that many Egyptians have turned their back on the Revolution, particularly those from the poorer segments of society. Or they say that no Revolution took place, because they do not see any progress in their daily struggles. The economic standstill and the security vacuum are significant problems, according to Amin. She says that the military is ruling according to the broadest interpretation of emergency law. For this reason, over 12,000 Egyptians have already been brought to court, “more than during the 30-year Mubarak era.” The military bears the brunt of Amin’s criticism. Their repressive tactics are the same as those employed under Mubarak’s rule, and are frequently even worse, she says. It is therefore no wonder that the activists are urgently calling for a transfer of power to civilians, according to Amin. “The same army that was protecting people on Tahrir Square is now taking action against the Copts.” For Amin, “the entire situation is very chaotic.” The military controls 40% of the economy, she says, and does not want transparency. One event in particular makes the journalist mad: the military ordered virginity tests to be carried out on young female activists on Tahrir Square—“for their own protection,” as the military later claimed, so that they could not be accused of sexual harassment. Call for Media Reform Amin also called for media reform. Only “cosmetic changes” had taken place; those in charge had not been replaced, and many journalists were censoring themselves. The military is intimidating many of them. On the other hand, the reporter—who also contributes to CNN—commended social networking: “that was the spark of our revolution.” When asked about Islam and democracy can be reconciled, the Egyptian responded that old traditions do not disappear overnight. Until the 1970s, Egypt was a moderate, primarily Sunni country. “But then it was saudified.” Mubarak also allowed a large number of Saudi TV channels to be broadcast in Egypt, she explains. Religion was a taboo topic during the Mubarak era, she says; the term “secular” was controversial. Amin says: “I hope that the Revolution brings back the moderate Egypt we had before.” (APA) Link to article:


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