The sheer number of women sexually abused and gang raped in a single public square had become too big to ignore. Conservative Islamists in Egypt’s new political elite were outraged—at the women.
“Sometimes,” said Adel Abdel Maqsoud Afifi, a police general, lawmaker and ultraconservative Islamist, “a girl contributes 100 percent to her own raping when she puts herself in these conditions.”
The New York Times story notes how statements by president Mohamed Morsi’s “Islamist allies blaming the women have proved embarrassing.”
Embarrassing? That’s it? More like: hideously immoral and deeply revealing. Some of those Islamist allies complained that protest organizers had failed to segregate men and women. Others condemned the women for speaking out.
“You see those women speaking like ogres, without shame, politeness, fear or even femininity,” declared a television preacher, Ahmed Abdullah, known as Sheik Abu Islam.
Such a woman is “like a demon,” he said, wondering why anyone should sympathize with those “naked” women who “went there to get raped.”
Just let that sink in for a moment, then consider: The NYT describes this preacher as an “ultraconservative” Islamist. The article implies that on this issue there’s a spectrum of meaningful gradations between conservative Islamists and ultraconservative Islamists. What matters here, however, is that they basically share the same perverse view: that women are in some sense sub-human, lacking any sovereignty—physical or moral—so that if someone rapes a woman, its her own fault.
A couple of years back, the so-called Arab Spring prompted some in the West to trumpet the emergence of a new era of freedom and progress. Note that the sentiments quoted above come, not from the margins of Egyptian society, but from allies of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi government in Cairo.