In May 2005, Nora Younis was one of 30 women picked from a group of protesters and penned into a parking garage, where members of the Egyptian police force beat her and sexually assaulted others.

Younis was able to break free from the scene before it went any further, but other women were not so lucky. When the protesters — who were agitating for political reform — were released, many had been stripped of their clothes, and were left half naked and sobbing in the street. Younis, a first-time protester who had previously attended rallies as part of a PBS crew, submitted a CD of photographs from the attack as part of a lawsuit against the police. The state declined to press charges.

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Younis is now a well-known blogger and winner of the New York-based Human Rights First award for courage. She continues to call for the arrest and trial of the Interior Minister, along with the officers who assaulted her and the 30 other women. Although the victims have yet to see their assailants come to justice, Younis believes that through new media technologies like blogging and digital video, Egyptian women can gain ground against the oppressive government.

Egyptian women are also claiming their freedom within the religious realm. In another story on Egyptian women in the Western press today, the AP reports that mosques, which have long been considered a man’s space, are now seeing greater numbers of female visitors than ever before. While these women aren’t “Western-style feminists,” and do not seek to change the faith’s teaching, their increased presence in the mosques is challenging assumptions on women’s place in society. Hana Mohammed, leader of a prayer group in a tiny mosque on the outskirts of Greater Cairo, says that "women realized there was more to life than just cooking and taking care of a husband. Women wanted to understand how her faith really was a way of life — why did she have to wear hijab, why were men allowed to marry four women." For Mohammed, and many like her, the ability to enter a mosque and pray is considered a religious awakening, and a significant step for both their freedom and faith.


Egyptian Activist Takes Fight For Freedom Online [Christian Science Monitor]
Looking To Deepen Their Faith, Egyptian Women Make A Claim On An All-Male Zone: The Mosque [AP]

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