During the 2011 National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC) in Baltimore, keynote speaker Mona Eltahawy, a proud liberal Muslim who is working in the global movement for justice and equality for Muslim women, shared that one of the challenges in speaking about sexual assault is that she must also fight against the demonization of Arab and Muslim men.
After she was beaten and sexually assault last Wednesday in Cairo, she is continuing to leave culture and religion out of the conversation. As she said at NSAC, the men did not commit rape as Arab or Muslim men. They did it as men of power who were accountable to no one. During the last nine days, protests have resulted in at least 42 people dead and more than 3,000 wounded across the country.
“What happened to me is minuscule compared to that. I have a voice in the media — they don’t,” Eltahawy said in an interview with Democracy Now! “So I want to use that voice to get across to the world that our revolution continues.”
Eltahawy was covering the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square when she was arrested and detained for 12 hours — without cause. Today Egypt held its first round of parliamentary elections to elect a new government in the wake of fierce clashes between protesters and police. Now back in the United States, Eltahawy told Democracy Now!:
I feel hopeful because the people who did this to me are not Egypt. The people who did this to me are the part of Egypt, or is the group that has occupied Egypt for so many decades now, that we are trying to get rid of. We are continuing our revolution. We will not allow them to hijack our revolution. And I’m optimistic because of the the Eygypt that signed my cast. …Women are fighting. We’re kicking and screaming and shouting. Women have been part of this revolution from the very beginning. And women are demanding thats whoever wins these elections, whoever gets the parliamentary majority, recognizes that women are integral to this process.