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Feminist activists in the Arab region

WAF has been sent links to blogs and websites set up by women living in Egypt and Yemen. We reproduce some of their writings here. First, a personal account by Hadil el-Khouly from Egypt, and followed by a sample blog from Yemeni journalist Afrah Nasser.

Musawah LogoMUSAWAH — for Equality in the Family

Musawah is a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family, calling for equality, non-discrimination, justice and dignity as the basis of all human relations; full and equal citizenship for every individual; and marriage and family relations based on principles of equality and justice, with men and women sharing equal rights and responsibilities. Hadil el-Khouly is Musawah's Outreach Coordinator. She sent out the following message from her home in Egypt at the start of the Egyptian uprising.

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I went to Tahrir square with my whole family, Mom, dad and my two younger sisters. As we approached the square we watched thousands marching towards the square, many of whom carried bags with food for protesters. We got down and marched with them till we reached a long queue of people who were getting inspected by regular youth before entering the square, to make sure no weapons or any harmful material. The military was there as well and checked our ID's.

That day in Tahrir we numbered to at least 2 Million. Just observing the scene there seemed as if everyone had an unspoken determination to resist Mubarak's "divide and conquer" strategy. Sunday was announced as the day of "martyrs" in commemoration of all the protesters who fell since the start of the revolution.

We witnessed the Sunday Coptic Mass and the Muslim Prayer, with both Father and Sheikh sending prayers of blessings for the people's uprising, and people marching and chanting with the Cross and the Qur'an. Women and girls were hand in hand with men and boys who volunteered to clean up the square and run the field hospital.

Perhaps one of the most telling scenes was the marriage ceremony (niqah) in the middle of the square between two people who allegedly met during the protests. The whole crowd joined in prayers for them. When the new bride spoke she said: "This square has turned into my home and all of you became my family, I will not find a people more precious than all of you to share my marriage happiness with than you".

I never felt safer in a crowd of 2 Million people in my life than yesterday. Sexual harrassment turned sadly into a reality that accompanied any public gathering in Egypt. This is the same Egypt where today I could stand alone in the middle of a crowd with men passing behind and in front of me without having the slightest fear and not even a single gaze or inappropriate remark. A young man who accidentally was pushed slightly against my sister turned around and was extremely apologetic. When a group of us young women stood together, young men gradually started forming a chain around us to protect us, as the masses of people increased.

Abdel-Halim Kandil, a famous political activist and coordinator of the Kefaya political pro-democracy movement, spoke to the crowds yesterday about the process of change, and that as we demand the change of the system we must change as well. This change is already happening....

As I'm writing you this update, one of the Satellite TV channels is now posting the picture one by one of each martyr who was killed in cold blood by the regime of Mubarak, most of them 16 and 17 year old, the youngest being killed is a 10 year old boy with two bullets in his body. Rest in peace my brothers and sisters...


P.S: Please feel free to share my updates with my name to your contacts and on your blogs. Many thanks to your messages of support and solidarity and apologies for not being able to respond to each of them yet.

Happy Yemeni/International Women's Day

by Afrah Nasser. Click here to read her up-to-date blogs from Yemen

Forget about Naomi Campbell launching whatever for the IWD and forget about Queen Rania launching another whatever for IWD! Yemeni women launched their voices against 33-year-old injustice at the square surrounded by their Yemeni fathers, brothers and sons. All of them had one voice/one agreement to call for ousting Yemen’s president.

Hours ago, thousands of Yemeni female protesters gathered at “Change Square” in front of Sana’a University to remark the International Women’s Day protected by Yemeni men.

Once I entered the area of protesting, I felt like VIP. Men were literary moving men in front of me aside to let me in and have an easy access for me to get to the center spot where I found thousands of Yemeni females gathered. Small girls, teenage girls, ladies, old women and all kinds of females were there. It was remarkable to be there surrounded by males who came to celebrate women’s participations and importance in making change for Yemen. It was amazing to see all the men looking at women with respect and adoration for their presence at the square.

F U to anyone who says that chaos will occur if the regime falls apart! FU to anyone who says that women will be rapped if the regime falls apart! Yemeni men proved to me and to thousands of Yemeni ladies that they will protect us and no harm will occur. Yemenis have the kindest hearts towards their mothers, sisters and daughters, no doubt.

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