In Cairo tonight, several hundred protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the Shura Council, Egypt’s upper house of Parliament, to voice their fears that Egypt’s Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly is creating a constitution that will roll back personal freedoms and especially oppress women.
A draft of the proposed constitution would limits women’s rights to those that do not conflict with the Islamist members’ interpretation of Muslim law.
Many on the streets tonight were also at Tahrir Square during the massive demonstrations that eventually toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak last year. Some were still proud that their revolution had made it possible for them to continue to dissent so loudly. But most were also angry and frustrated that a renewed fight was necessary against a Muslim Brotherhood-led government that was born from their struggle against Mubarak’s dictatorship more than a year ago.
“I’m absolutely depressed and hopeless,” one young woman said. “All the people I know who died, died for nothing. People, got tortured, arrested, all for nothing.”
I will have much more about this struggle for Egypt — between political Islam, liberals, leftists, secularists, and radical Muslim Salafists — in the weeks ahead.
In the meantime, this shaky clip of a protest song from the demonstration tonight is worth watching — if only because uploading the thing has stretched the limits of my technological competence beyond the breaking point.
The lyrics are from the Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, who, along with composer Sheikh Imam, is something of a working class hero in Egypt. The song, I understand, is called “Build Your Palaces.”