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Beyond the Veil
Egypt's Salafists Seeking a Few Good Women

The head of Egypt’s largest remaining Islamist party has said that the party is looking for female candidates, but he has a few conditions. As Al-Ahram reports:

The head of the Salafist Nour Party said Wednesday the party’s electoral list for the upcoming parliamentary elections will include women on “condition of good morals and wearing hijab (the Muslim head veil).”

Youness Makhioun told Al-Ahram Arabic news website the party will field female candidates for the elections and a priority will be set for competent figures.

“We have put conditions for the candidacy of women on the lists of Al-Nour Party, like having good manners and reputation, wearing hijab, having experience and qualifications,” Makhioun said.

Despite the legal requirement that each party field a certain number of women in each election, Egypt’s Islamists have gone to great lengths to ensure that women never win. Typically women are relegated to the very bottom of the party lists, meaning they would only be elected if the party won in a landslide.

But the efforts of the Salafists to keep women unheard and unseen often reach the level of self-parody. In the last election, photos of female candidates for the Nour party were replaced with stock photos of roses. In 2011, one female candidate used a photo of her husband in campaign materials. Hijabs can be quite colorful and even fashionable when worn as a headscarf but it’s unlikely that the Nour Party would ever back a woman who showed her face. Huda Sharawi, who led a campaign against the veil in the 1920s, weeps from the grave.

No word from Mr. Makhioun on whether male candidates would have their manners, reputations, and morals tested before being allowed to run.

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  • Andrew Allison

    However much we may deprecate the Muslim attitudes toward women and their attire, “When in Rome” comes to mind. Additionally, as noted in the post, ḥijāb can refer to a simple head covering, so it would be useful to know whether prospective candidates are required to cover both their heads and their faces.

    • Corlyss

      I suspect the Brothers wouldn’t have much of a problem with the women showing their faces if they kept their mouths shut and didn’t use any means of expressing their differing viewpoints.

      • Andrew Allison

        You are probably right, but my point was the absence of thought behind the post, not the political realities.

        • B-Sabre

          I don’t suppose the ad stated whether a clitorectomy was required or not…that may be what they mean by “good morals”.

  • Corlyss

    Someone should tell them that’s been tried before and doesn’t work. Of course here in the US, we never got to the point of killing them like I’m sure the Islamists will . . . Instead, we opted for Prohibition, which only made things worse for the male power structure.

    • Andrew Allison

      Having very much enjoyed the first three seasons (they’ve lost it on the fourth) of Boardwalk Empire, I feel compelled to point out that by encouraging the growth of criminal enterprises Prohibition made things worse for everybody. Unhappily, as I’ve commented before, the U.S.A. learned absolutely nothing from the experience and has repeated it in spades. The beneficiaries of the nonsensical “War on Drugs” are not even US citizens and the perps of victimless crimes are being educated in criminality at public expense.

      • Corlyss

        “Prohibition made things worse for everybody.”

        It liberated women from the stigma associated with patronage of saloons. Women went to speakeasies in droves. That only emboldened women across a larger swathe of cultural life. As with the drug trade, the money went somewhere, like Joe Kennedy’s pockets and many others.

        “the beneficiaries of the nonsensical “War on Drugs” are not even US citizens”

        You’re assuming facts not in evidence. Believe me, if power structures in the US weren’t profiting from the drug trade, it would be snuffed out in a heartbeat. That’s the way of money and power. Back in 1986 NPR did a spot of reporting on the drug trade in Florida and qui bono. Those were the days when Miami Vice made it look so smart and cool. The Fla. Dept. of State reckoned that the drug trade amounted to 1/3 of the state’s income, with citrus farming and tourism. and was pleasantly distributed among the purveyors of high-end products like luxury cars, expensive jewelry, gated real estate, yachts, planes, etc. I seriously doubt that the share of the state’s income has gone down even a tad.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Of course this is ridiculous. But I don’t think Egypt is headed back down the tube in the manner suggested by its previous election of the Muslim Brotherhood. The goal there is for women to be elected—-just not from this particular party’s list.

  • Curious Mayhem

    What do they want? Probably just some burqas and abbayes staring out of a picture, and a slogan: “Looking for a few good women to fill these empty, upside-down bags ….”

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