This week, Egyptians are celebrating the 8th anniversary of the June 30th Revolution. On June 30, 2013, millions of Egyptians led a successful nonviolent rebellion against the Muslim Brotherhood regime. The civilian masses were later supported by military and police forces, which made it impossible for the Muslim Brotherhood regime to endure.
The Muslim Brotherhood took power, through a flawed electoral process, that took place following the 2011 revolution that removed Mubarak’s 30 years of autocracy. It took the Egyptian people only one year to realize that the Muslim Brotherhood regime was as corrupt and manipulative as the former regime. Therefore, they decided to fix this mistake by employing nonviolent tactics to remove them from power, the same way they did with Mubarak’s regime two years earlier.
There are several outstanding outcomes of the Egyptian anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution, besides the fact that it saved Egypt from becoming another Iran, however under Sunni rule. First, it enabled a quick resolution to the many conflicts, stirred up among various political groups, following the fall of Mubarak’s regime. Second, it fixed the rift between the Egyptian people and the police forces, while strengthening the bond between the Egyptian public and the military. Third and most important, it empowered women to defend the unique identity of Egypt.
In the spring of 2012, I received an invitation from the presidential election campaign of the then-candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi. They wanted to hold a meeting with leading human rights workers to represent their vision of improving human rights in Egypt, especially on the issues of women’s rights and religious freedoms. After much hesitation, I decided to attend the meeting, especially since a good number of fellow human rights activists confirmed their participation.
The meeting started with a too-long and boring theoretical presentation on how the Muslim Brotherhood is forward-thinking and respectful of human rights. One of my colleagues, a human rights lawyer, who resented the many lies mentioned in the Muslim Brotherhood presentation about their so-called unconditional respect for women and religious diversity, under Sharia Law, decided to challenge the panel. “We, human rights guys, believe that there is a contradiction between the way UN conventions treat women, in contrast to how your Sharia Law mistreats women. How do you respond to that?” my colleague asked.
The response of the panel was too shocking to handle. “We, the Muslim Brotherhood, believe that the Sharia has given a woman more rights than what is given to her in the human-made UN conventions. For example, according to Sharia, the woman may ask for a salary from her husband for cleaning his house and breastfeeding his children;” responded the presenter.
While I drowned in silence, out of shock, of course, some of my colleagues burst out laughing, and some left the room in anger. The Muslim Brotherhood could not see women as equal partners to men. For them, a woman is only an object that a man uses for sexual pressure and daily house service. A decent man may pay his woman money for being his slave! That is how they think and that is what their shocking answer revealed.
As soon as the Muslim Brotherhood seized power, in June 2012, the leaders of the group started to reflect this flawed perception of women into legislative and political decisions. The parliament, which was mostly dominated by the more extreme Salafists, at that time, helped them in this mission. They attempted to pass new regulations that tighten man’s economic and legal authority over the women in his family, legalize the horrible practice of Female Genital Cutting, and legalize the marriage of minor girls under 13 years old. Thank God, women’s rights activists fought hard against them to prevent such laws from being passed.
Therefore, it was not strange to see that women were the majority of those who participated in the June 30th rebellion against the Muslim Brotherhood regime, in 2012. Egyptian women were not only standing up for themselves but also for defending the unique Egyptian identity that the Islamists, in the presidential office and parliament, attempted to substitute for an Islamist identity. The best fruit of this struggle was availing the presidential seat for Abel Fattah El-Sisi, the leader who has shown unprecedented respect for women’s rights since he became president in 2014. He truly empowered women to lead the future of Egypt shoulder-to-shoulder with men.
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