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Sisi and International Women's Day

March 10, 2023 at 8:42 pm

An Egyptian woman holds a banner as she marches in downtown Cairo to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2013 [MAHMUD KHALED/AFP via Getty Images]

Since Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi staged a coup against the legitimate President, Mohamed Morsi, he has been promoting himself in the media as an advocate for women, speaking to women on their international day with respect and appreciation. However, the truth is that, under his rule, Egyptian women have been suffering more than ever before. They are forced to bear his State’s failure to provide basic services, meaning they must play the role of a school, hospital, gym, library and mosque. As a result of the collapse of the economy, women are forced to give up all of their rights in order to be able to reduce expenses, so that the family’s income can withstand the stabbings of treacherous prices.

A woman loses her life, her health and her vitality, as she falls prey to the frustrations of her husband, her children and a society whose lanterns of values, smiles and hopes burn out all at once. Under his rule, young women are losing their youth as they are forced to work to cover their expenses, and to flee from the spectre of spinsterhood due to the deteriorating conditions of young men who, in turn, are reluctant to marry.

Recently, video clips have circulated of women, including those begging Al-Sisi to take pity on the people after he imposed high prices on them, while some are regretting their absolute support for him. However, it seems that His Excellency does not remember these women until it is time for a photo op.

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Among the women who His Excellency does not pay attention to, not even for show in front of the media, are the female prisoners, as well as the mothers, wives, daughters and sisters of prisoners. The cries of these women erase the glamorous image that he strives to establish in the mind of the viewers. One look at one of these women’s social media pages reveals the extent of the cruelty and coldness of the sensitive leader’s heart!

In this article, I will tell you just a few of their many grievances, and maybe their sighs will reach the ears of those with sincere feelings in this world.

Mona Al-Masri, the wife of Dr Ahmed Abdelati, Director of President Morsi’s office, who has been imprisoned for ten years and who was sentenced to life in prison, said, “I haven’t heard your voice in seven years. Memories made it bearable at first; then they made it painful and made me cry. Do you see us meeting? Do you see me hearing your voice? There is distance, walls, and guards between us and my greatest wish has now become checking in on you. In four years, you lost your mother and father, and you are still in prison. Have all these years really passed without seeing you?”

As for the mother of Moataz Sobeih, a student at the Faculty of Engineering, who spent more than seven years in prison, she said, “7 x 365 = 2,555 days in prison, 1,000 of which I have not seen him or heard from him. Isn’t this enough? I need him by my side, and he needs to live.”

Israa Al-Najjar’s message to her husband, Osama, the son of President Morsi, who has been imprisoned for seven years in solitary confinement, is “When my little boy, Mohammad, asks me every day when is my father coming? Is it tomorrow? I reply, soon. He repeats the question, but I have no answer and find myself saying yes, dear, to him. I say to myself, why won’t he be here with us tomorrow? I hope my son’s dream comes true; my son who does not know how his father, who left him as a newborn, looks, other than in photos. I wish the world were as simple as your little heart, Mohammad.”

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Iman Mahrous sent a message to her husband, journalist Ahmed Subai’, saying, “Good morning, Ahmed. I don’t know anything about you and haven’t left my eyes since the last time we were together. You are always with me.”

Neama Hisham, the wife of lawyer, Muhammad Al-Baqer, says, “We are the ones who clung to the hope of the presidential pardon committee or any breakthrough resulting from the national dialogue to end our suffering, but it was in vain. We are tired of clinging to hope. They have forgotten our existence. Why? Enough of our pain.”

The wife of human rights activist, Ezzat Ghoneim, who has been detained for five years and sentenced to 15 years in prison, asked, “In what law is the penalty for publishing false news 15 years?”

Hind Khaled’s message to her mother, human rights activist, Hoda Abdel Moneim, who has been imprisoned for over four years of her 5-year sentence to hard labour, said, “How are you, mother, I miss you. Time has stopped at the point when I cried and told you I need your embrace, so you pulled me to you and hugged me through the barrier in the middle of the court, as the officer pulled your hands to take you into the cage. Police officers surrounded you from every side so I couldn’t touch you. I will never forget the look in your eyes that are full of secrets. I love you mom, and I will forever be proud of you.”

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Aisha Al-Shater’s sister, Sarah, said, after being sentenced to 10 years of hard labour, “My sister is imprisoned and she suffers from spinal diseases. Wasn’t her four years of suffering enough for them?”

Mona Seif, the sister of prisoner, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, confirmed that both Aisha Al-Shater and Hoda Abdel-Moneim have been transported from prison to court in ambulances for months, due to the deterioration of their health conditions.

During the January revolution, the President and protector of women’s rights ordered virginity tests to be conducted on arrested female demonstrators. Since the beginning of the coup, about 2,800 women and girls have been arrested. According to a report prepared by the Women’s Anti-Coup Movement, the number of female detainees in Egyptian prisons has increased to more than 200 detainees. His state recently sentenced five women to life in prison and hard labour in a fabricated case that was heard by a politicised judiciary, adding years of torture to the defendants’ sentences.

Some of the rights of women that have been crushed by the coup leader is the right to secure herself and her family members from enforced disappearances, to obtain health care in detention centres, not to shed tears of longing and wishing for a loved one, not to be shuttled between prisons, not to be met with the worst behaviour during visits and not to beg to hear the voices of her husband or son. I will not add the phrase “to have fair trials”, because the law has become a game in the hand of the ruler.

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The ceiling of the Egyptian women’s ambition to have safety that the government that threatens her with imprisonment has failed to provide if she objects, or does not raise her children to submit, has fallen. The hope of the mothers and wives of prisoners to be reassured that their kidnapped relatives are alive has also declined. All the while, we watch helplessly, with nothing to do but pray for patience, for the prisoners to be released and for this government to depart.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.