Monday, January 31, 2011

Where are the women?

While following the Egypt protests, one thing I have been struck by is the apparent absence of women among the protesting masses. In the approximately 50-100 photos/videos of Egyptian crowds I have seen, there has not been even a single woman in sight. By contrast, the Tunisian and Iranian protests had a woman for approximately every 5-10 images.

In fact, one of the enduring symbols of the Iranian protests (at least in Western circles) was the killing of a woman, Neda Agha-Soltan (even though, interestingly, she was not a protester, just a bystander).

Granted, my location is remote, sample size small, and statistical approach shady. But surely, the relative difference surely says something, no?

* * * *

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton, while commenting on the Egypt situation took a jab at Iran:
"I want the Egyptian people to have a chance to....democracy. Not faux democracy, like the elections we saw in Iran..."
This was just plain nasty and unwarranted. For all its flaws (including that of having a whimsical religious leader playing the part of the constitution), Iran has a democracy of sorts which has elected the likes of the progressive Mohammed Khatami in the past.To equate Iran's rigged election with Egypt's lack of democracy is in no way reasonable.
Perhaps it would have been more fitting for Ms Clinton to have compared one of the United States' client state, Egypt, with another, Saudi Arabia, which also has no democracy to speak of.

* * * *

One wonders, how long will this moral-high-road charade of supporting "democracy" by so-called liberal Western democracies continue? The Palestinians' democratically elected government of Hamas was never recognized by them; instead they have clubbed with the Palestinian Authority to thoroughly void the Hamas government's authority through economic and military sanctions. The democratically elected but Hezbollah-dominated Lebanese government is barely off the starting block but is being roundly pooh-poohed by these paragons of democracy.

All democracies are equal, but some democracies are more equal than others, right?

* * * *

By toppling the more-or-less secular Saddam regime, the US unwittingly paved the path for a government that is decidedly Islamic in nature and supported by an openly militant Islamic cleric. As far as US interests (read Israel) are concerned, it only goes downhill from here. Is the same happening in Egypt, albeit without any material US support? What if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power?

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