“I am just as good as you are!” half of Arab society is screaming at the other half. The movement known as The Uprising of Women in the Arab World has launched a virtual campaign urging people to champion what they call “male dictatorship”. And in so doing, they would be completing the Arab Spring.
-Janet Nammur, Hilversum
Students, teenagers and mothers quickly began posting their pictures on the Facebook page. Each photo features a participant carrying a placard that explains why she supports the uprising. Or – because large numbers of young Arab men are also backing the campaign – why he supports it.
Many activists and bloggers have welcomed the campaign. In less than three weeks, the page has gotten over 40,000 likes.
“I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world,” writes a Syrian mother, “because I have been a Syrian all my life, but my children are Russian because that's my husband's nationality.”
Protesting against the obligation to cover her face, a Saudi girl held up a paper in front of her face: “I'm in favour of the campaign because I cannot take a picture of my own face.”
A Syrian girl writes: “My body is mine. It doesn't belong to the liberals whose only aim is to undress it, nor to the radicals whose only aim is to cover it.”
One of the main complaints on the page is the Islamic legislation allowing the marriage of underage girls. “Yemeni law allows me to be raped if I am fully physically developed, even though I am still a kid,” says one Yemeni woman. “They call that marriage.” A male compatriot says he is “tired of fatwas and a male-dominated society that condones the marriage of children”.
People are also expressing their concerns about developments in Tunisia: “the Personal Status Code is in danger,” writes one young man, “but it is the best legal framework for women in the Arab world.”
The moderators of the page have responded forcefully: “When we put up a picture of a veiled woman, no one objects to her appearance. But when we post the picture of a woman who doesn't cover herself, it is immediately plastered with comments claiming that her appearance is weakening the cause!”
They are particularly sorry to see that some of these comments come from women themselves. “This just goes to prove that women can do other women an injustice without even being aware of it.”
People are continuing to post new pictures in support of the uprising. According to Lebanese artist and activist Joumana Hada, “that's because women deserve more and they are capable of more”.