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The minister of ‘sexual harassment’

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Sara Abou Bakr

Sara Abou Bakr

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.

About the author

Sara Abou Bakr

Politics editor at Daily News Egypt Twitter: @sara_ab5

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  • al tawheed

    this is a seriously badly written piece by a “supposed” journalist. as a journalist, there are professional and formal ways to pointing a public figure’s (or anyone for that matter) mistakes. this however sounded more like a rant by a little girl on facebook. there is no literary class in this article at all

    • Reda Sobky

      When women are insulted by high officials with vulgar comments, it is not unreasonable to write an emotional piece. Your words appear to generalize that newspapers should use a literary style or form. These are revolutionary times and in my entire life i have never seen a diminishment of an important issue by crying about literary style (in the middle of a revolution). Your protestations are phony and issueless and attack the messenger’s style based on the fact that you don’t seem to like it. Get real and grow up.

      • Guest

        FYI, it is a revolutionary time IN Egypt but not in the rest of the world. We also have a lot of women issues where I live but not in a single newspaper will you find a journalist writing in this manner. Views are two types: one that you can discuss openly and in a format that is presentable to the readers and or listeners, and the other that you can keep to yourself as they are fueled by a lot of emotions. This one is similar to the latter form. And if people outside of Egypt were to read this (as in my case) they will think that journalists in Egypt are retarded and cannot express opinion with class. Yes you have the freedom to say what you want to say but in a whatever form as it just makes you one hot mess of estrogen waiting to explode. If you want to explode, please do so outside the realms of journalism.

      • Sofia

        Well said Reda. I certainly agree.

  • Sofia

    Actually does it matter if the English in the article isnt up to your standard, as long as the article is the truth?.The point IS that theres a sexual harrasser in a prominant position so to speak.
    It sounds to me your the one having a rant about nothing important .
    And before you maybe comment about what i have commented on , Im English and find Sarah’s English format fine

    • al tawheed

      Well you’re a disappointment to the English language Ms. English as you cannot even punctuate properly. You do not capitalize letters after a comma and you always capitalize I when referring to yourself. Perhaps they don’t sell dictionaries where you come from Ms. English?

      • Sofia

        Says him who uses small letters on his name ! And you missed my point about your comment on the article .

        • al tawheed

          Once more and I hope this is the last time I will educate you on the use of the word, always capitalize I when referring to yourself. When you start using I properly, maybe I will start my sentences with a capital letter ahaha

          • Sofia

            LOL so in other words your English grammer is useless ! .So you cannot educate yourself, let alone me ;) )

        • al tawheed

          Look, to stop the nonsense, I’ve got nothing against the author’s opinions. I myself support many of hers. What I do not approve of is the style of writing. Like I said, this is more like a rant posted on Facebook, but certainly not a professional piece, much less an opinion piece, posted on a respectable newspaper. That is it. Other than that, if it is indeed true that this Minister has made such repeated remarks and in the context described above in the article, he not only should resign but answer in court for such derogatory comments.

      • Sofia

        Checking out your other comments i see you started a sentence without a capital letter. You have no room to talk!

  • http://twitter.com/BibaEternity Vivian

    I’m also English, and I’d like to say that this is a respected form of journalism called an opinion piece. Al tawheed, This is not the place to flaunt your ignorance.

    • al tawheed

      Oh but why can’t I flaunt my ignorance if the author is allowed to make inappropriate remarks in her “opinion piece” when I am guaranteed free speech? Bad articles attract bad comments.

  • Truthbetold

    The author isn’t married so she doesn’t understand sexual pleasure or motherhood and how they can bring a woman fulfillment and happiness in her life, as much as, and sometimes more than, a career in journalism!

    • Truthbetold

      I should add, just like she is only 30 years old and naively thinks that going to the gym will keep her healthy forever. Just wait ten years or so and then you will see your friends start getting terminal diseases that can’t be protected from by exercises and watch them start dying around you. Immaturity is the mark of this so-called journalist.

      • Reda Sobky

        Another slur, is your tongue always dirty like this, is it not possible for you to act in a civilized way. All you do is show what kind of a person is behind these comments, a woman hating ideologue hiding behind self aggrandizement and male superiority.

        • Truthbetold

          Actually I am a MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN who found her slurs against married mothers offensive. She has a lot of her life ahead of her still and she constantly judges others for experiences she has yet not had and belittles them for it. And it is “Truth be told” not “truth bold.” It’s a common expression in the English language. Look it up.

          And please don’t fake the sensitive male role who respects women. Because with your judgmental remarks against ME, you have acted as a MAN insulting a WOMAN, assuming that you really are named Reda.

    • Reda Sobky

      Crawl back where you came from, you have no understanding of the times we live in and seem to want to stay where you are, very difficult while the word is changing and moving on. If you want to be left behind, so be it, but why do you work so hard to retard other people? Is it envy that she is successful and you are a nobody, giving yourself adjectives like truth bold, you are neither, a hidden coward who thinks he is better than women, what a twit,

    • al tawheed

      Another reason why I don’t like this author’s style of writing: read her sentence on how she describes the female members of the Muslim Brotherhood. She says their thinking is twisted. Now there’s no problem if you don’t agree with someone’s thinking, but there is a problem when you attack them for it. You don’t like how this Minister talks about women because in your eyes his thinking is primitive, but that is the exact same thing you’re doing towards your female counterparts of the Muslim Brotherhood. Who gives you the right to insult them for their beliefs? Similarly and in all fairness, who gives them the right to belittle you because you’re not married?

  • Truthbetold

    And by Sarah’s standards Obama would have resigned by now as he make sexually inappropriate remarks about a female minister a few weeks ago!

    • Reda Sobky

      Obama apologized and self corrected, this one is baiting women by making it deliberate and repeating it. Anybody can have a momentary lapse and correct themselves, that is the essence of personal change and improvement, and we should admire any admission of lapses in high places but this minister sets a poor example of both, much like the previous group’s behavior when they were intoxicated with power.

  • Reda Sobky

    A new low, insulting and vulgar ministers, when the debased ascend to power you know the end is near.

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  • Nadia

    Women have always had it rough in this male-dominated society, and it’s only going to get worse. It’s sad when those in power are as mentally crippled as the predators on the streets.
    I wish that more people would realise how dangerous the situation is becoming, and the mayhem that could ensue as a result.
    I’m really, sadly not surprised though. Double standards and hypocrisy have always been at the core of this one-great nation. Those who actually have some semblance of a moral compass are a minority.

  • Rosemary Sabet

    I have to admit that I agree with Al Tawheed; the grammar and punctuation in this article leave a lot to be desired. While the standard of writing in this piece would be acceptable for a blog, it really is not what one would expect from the only independent English newspaper left in Egypt.
    However, I am British so perhaps I am expecting too much.

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  • Ibrahim Abou El Seoud

    I am sorry to say this but after analyzing these comments , I have come to the conclusion that :

    1) We seem to have a lot of grammar Nazis

    2) Look grammar Nazi up (see what I did there?)

    3) Most of the people here feel the need to speak English while trying to convey their superiority and belittle the other person.

    Okay analysis over ……………..carry on.

    (Also concerning this topic , I am shocked at how someone like that is even in office)


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