In a tit-for-tat war of words, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni is demanding that parliament apologize for the way MPs referred to him during a heated discussion on Monday and Tuesday.
Angry MPs who charged Hosni had no right or authority to criticize the hijab headscarf called on the government to force the culture minister to retract his statements and apologize.
Muslim Brotherhood MPs, who were joined for the first time by their counterparts from the National Democratic Party, went further and called on the minister to resign.
But Hosni would have none of it.
On Tuesday he accused parliament of misquoting him and misrepresenting his comments on the hijab and those who choose to wear it.
He denied saying the hijab was regressive and said parliament should be a forum for discussion and not a mechanism for suppression of ideas and freedom of expression.
On the Saturday episode of 90 Minutes, a talk show on El-Mehwar satellite TV, Hosni asked that his statements not be misconstrued to indicate his disrespect for veiled women. Every woman is free to dress as she likes. I do not ask veiled women to get unveiled. I have lots of veiled employees and they were never discriminated against because they are veiled, he said.
I do not like the veil, but anyone who wishes to wear it, is free to do so. I just do not like it, just like I do not like to wear a galabeya. What is so wrong in saying that? Hosni reiterated.
“Unless they believe that we men are animals and cannot control our sexual desires. Why do not we ask men to get veiled too? Women have feelings too and can get affected by seeing men s naked arms and legs, he said.
But the fallout and verbal tirade is a waste of the nation’s energies, say political analysts.
Is the Egyptian woman’s dress code an issue on our agenda nowadays? asked Diaa Rashwan, head of the Comparative Politics Unit at Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies and editor in chief of “The World of Islamic Movement Directory.
“If we are to interfere in women s dressing style, then we are no longer a liberal democratic country, Rashwan added.