Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Queen Noor of Jordan's Thoughts

Throughout the extraordinary events of the last few months, across the Middle East and North Africa, long-silenced voices demanding change are being heard worldwide -- and stalwart among them are the voices of women. From the bereaved mother of the first tragic Tunisian protester, to Asmaa Mahfouz, the 26-year-old whose YouTube video brought Egyptians into the streets, to Sally Zahran, a passionate 23-year-old Egyptian woman who was bludgeoned to death on January 28, to Tawakul Abdel-Salam Karman, the activist whose arrest sparked demonstrations in Yemen and countless others, women have joined with men in peaceful protest, braving beatings, rubber bullets, and worse. In Egypt, considered the birthplace of Arab feminism in the 1920s, an estimated quarter of the million protesters at the height of the demonstration were female. In all the pictures from the protest, none was as powerful as that of the woman standing face to face with an Egyptian soldier in a pose of utmost defiance. One young female protester stated, "There are no differences between men and women here. We are all one hand." In more conservative cultures such as Bahrain and Yemen, fewer women have demonstrated, but for that very reason their presence is perhaps even more significant.

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