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Arab Spring puts women's rights in the spotlight


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Marie-Louise Gumuchian

In post-revolution Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, women are exploring what the Arab Spring means for them.

Since long-time leaders were toppled in the three north African states, many -- not least in the West -- fret the power vacuum will leave the door open for Islamist groups to take power and force changes that will damage women's rights.

In Tunisia Islamists have already risen to power while in Egypt, they are leading staggered elections and have pledged to govern by Islamic laws.

Women are lobbying the political parties to protect a pioneering 1956 law granting them full equality with men and to counter the pressure mounting from radical Muslims keen to push them back into traditional roles.

"I have never been so worried about women's freedom as I am now," said Saida Garrach, a lawyer and activist in the Tunisian Association of Democratic "omen.

"The threat is everywhere - on what women wear, how they think. If you are not with them (Islamists), they will insult you, harass you. I've been sworn at in the street because of things I have said on television."

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Reuters: Egyptians back at polls, calm in Cairo after clashes
Maha El Dahan and Edmund Blair
Dec 21, 2011

(Reuters) - Egyptians returned to the polls on Wednesday in a staggered parliamentary election after five days of violence in Cairo that has cast a pall over the transition to democracy and drawn a U.S. rebuke of Egypt's security forces.


The clashes have driven a wedge between those determined to stay on the streets and other Egyptians frustrated by the turmoil, which has damaged the economy, and now desperate for a return of order. Many still see the army as the only institution capable of achieving this.


In a statement, the army council apologized, saying it "respects and appreciates Egyptian women and their right to protest and fully participate in political life." An army general said it was an isolated case and under investigation.


"An army general said it was an isolated case and under investigation."
Translation: We are now deciding who (and how many men) gets thrown under the bus.
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