In a panel last night at The New School, writer/activist Mona Eltahawy, novelist Elias Khoury, and journalist Rula Jebreal discussed the current situation in Egypt. While Eltahawy and Khoury agreed on many points, they were in contention over whether an imposed “civil alliance” with Islamists would be the next crucial step towards ensuring Egypt’s development into a secular democracy. Eltahawy wondered whether such an alliance would put women’s rights at risk. Women were “the cheapest bargaining chip” in political negotiations, argued Eltahawy.
Her explosive essay, “Why do they hate us?” published in the May/June issue of Foreign Policy has already ignited a “firestorm” of debate online. (You can read highlights from the debate on Al Jazeera here. Eltahawy’s conversation with Professor Leila Ahmed can be found here.) “What I want to see happen…is for us to remove the Mubarak in our mind, the Mubarak in our bedroom, and the Mubarak in our street,” Eltahawy reiterated during the panel. “We [women] are the canaries in the coal mine. If we aren’t doing well, [nobody else] is doing well.”