One of the most exciting debates of the day was ‘Reporting back from the Arab Spring’. It was chaired by the channel 4 broadcaster Samira Ahmed, and sitting on the panel were Egyptian pro-democracy blogger and activist Salma Said, filmmaker Hanan Abdalla, BBC reporter Shainaa Khahil, Laila El-Wafi,a founder member of Women4Liybi and…we are a little embarrassed to say it, but we didn’t catch one lady’s name. Please don’t judge us, we just know she was an American who runs her own website regarding the issues of Arab women.
It was shocking to learn the truth about the Arab revolution in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain. It was clear that news stories only showed the tip of the iceberg. With regards to the Egyptian uprising; people are disappointed because they feel like they haven’t achieved anything yet. To them, it is just the beginning. It’s phase 3 as Salma Said pointed out. We were also shown clips from Hannan Abdalla’s new documentary,which was screened at the Berlin Film Festival. ‘In The Shadow Of A Man’ which depicts Egyptian women and their struggle for survival and equal rights.
It was also obvious from the debate that tradition is more powerful than the fight for change, for example the democratic election was won by the traditional political party the Muslim Brotherhood. Has Egypt got rid of the tyrant Mubarak or simply allowed a new dictatorship to come into power? A dictatorship that will reduce woman’s rights even more. Apart from a fight for their rights Egyptian are also fighting to get rid of Imperialism and Zionism. As Salma Said said, the fight is stronger than ever so although it may take longer to achieve their goal, they won’t give up.
In Libya, women are a large part of the revolution.Even though woman have taken part in the protest the government is using religion to keep woman out of the government.During the conflict approximately 40,000 people died.
To conclude, we were overwhelmed by the strength and stubbornness of Arab women in their fight for freedom, equality and a better life for them and their children. We gained a higher level of respect for these women as a result of this talk.
Written by Roxy Simons and Maggie Gogler.