Lebanese have taken to social media with the Arabic hashtag #Not_Cooking_on_Sunday, after caretaker Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi suggested woman should start preparing food when a ban on deliveries came into force as part of the coronavirus lockdown.
Asked in a television interview what families should do on Sunday during a day-long suspension of food deliveries, Fahmi sparked outrage by saying: “Let women cook a little.”
The minister was quickly branded sexist as Lebanese took to social media to mock Fahmi for his comments.
One user posted a series of pictures from Saturday showing her preparing warak enab, a dish of grape leaves stuffed with a spiced ground beef and rice mixture.
She wrote: “We started cooking today to feed our family on Sunday.”
— Laury Haytayan (@LauryHaytayan) November 14, 2020
“Cooked by a man”, one user boasted on Twitter next to a picture of a chicken and rice dish.
— Joseph El-Khoury (@JEK_Psych) November 15, 2020
Meanwhile, another male user also poked fun at the interior minister’s idea that only women can cook, tweeting: “Today is Sunday and I cooked a great lunch!”
Today is Sunday and I cooked a great lunch! #الأحد_مش_طابخة
— Talal Nizameddin (@TalalNizameddin) November 15, 2020
Another user posted a collage of pictures which showed him rolling out pastry, chopping tomatoes, measuring out flour and using a hand-held whisk.
He wrote: “Sunday morning cooking..nothing unusual.” Adding an offer to teach others how to cook, he quipped: “Anyone in need of cooking class is the most welcome.”
The user also used an Arabic hashtag meaning “Fahmi_challenge”, seemingly inviting other men to take up the challenge and cook.
— Elie Saliba (@ElieSal06173094) November 15, 2020
Many men took up the challenge, posting pictures of what they had prepared on Sunday.
“Everything from scratch, panko breading, pasta, sauce,” one user wrote.
Others showed off their cooking ability by posting pictures on Instagram.
One video showed a man hollowing out courgettes, preparing to make the well-known Lebanese dish, kousa mahshi.
A female Twitter user later suggested she should be given a personal exemption from observing the coronavirus curfew because she had cooked on a Sunday.
She wrote: “Yo… just finished lunch, now curfew can be lifted for me.”
— Rula El Halabi (@Rulaelhalabi) November 15, 2020
Others, however, were more serious, pointing out that Lebanon should tackle patriarchal societal values as “cooking is something that everyone should do”.
“Lebanon should start getting rid of #stereotypes,” Sandrine proclaimed.
— Sandrine (@SandrineZeynoun) November 14, 2020
While Carmen Geha, a professor at Lebanon’s American University of Beirut, sarcastically termed Fahmi a “Genius Minister of Interior”.
She added: “#Sexism results in deep rooted repression & discrimination against us women [and] national “leaders” disgracefully support inequalities.”
Genius Minister of Interior tells the nation that on #lockdown Sundays #women can cook.#Sexism results in deep rooted repression & discrimination against us women, national "leaders" disgracefully support inequalities.#gender #Lebanon #BeirutBlast #violence #الاحد_مش_طابخه
— Carmen Geha (@CarmenGeha) November 14, 2020
Geha later said she would be happy to cook once politicians start to resolve social issues that have long been ignored.
“I will cook happily the day they pick up and recycle garbage,” Geha tweeted.
Meanwhile, Sky News Arabia reporter Larissa Aoun said she would not cook for the entirety of the lockdown in protest.
She wrote: “I will boycott cooking for the duration of the lockdown #Not_Cooking_on_Sunday, neither Monday nor Tuesday nor Wednesday.”
— Larissa Aoun (@LarissaAounSky) November 14, 2020
To date, Lebanon has reported 106,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, among them 827 deaths.
A recent spike in the number of cases has forced the country to return to a nationwide lockdown for two weeks. The renewed restrictions follow unsuccessful efforts to impose regional lockdowns.