Religious misinterpretation caused setback in Arab women situation: Hoda Badran
Hoda Badran, head of the Union of Women of Egypt - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Secretary General of Arab Women’s union Hoda Badran said that some strict scholars misunderstand religion and therefore explain it in the wrong way to others which negatively affects women in the Arab world, describing the current situation as an “apostasy” that enhances the masculine role in culture, an issue that already exists in most of these countries.

She added in statements to the “Women in Politics” television show Wednesday that  most of these wrong statements came shortly after the Arab spring giving Kuwait as an obvious example as its parliament is totally free of women.

Lately, Turkish deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç said in statements during Eid Al-Fitr that women shouldn’t laugh out loud in public places and that they shouldn’t talk on the phone in unimportant matters.

Arinç said that Turkish TV is helping increase the youth’s moral corruption. He explained that laughing out loud in public places could trigger the youth’s instincts and make them “sex addicts”.

Social media users showered the PM with a sarcastic wave of tweets using the #kahkaha (laughing) hash-tag, posting a huge numbers of photos of themselves laughing out loud in several public places.

Most of the tweets were directly challenging Arinç, as many girls demanded to go to public places with their friends and laugh, posting their photos using the Twitter hash-tag. One of the tweets by ‏‏Neelie Kroes read “LOL. I’m in Istanbul in September. And I’ll laugh when I feel like it, thanks, Mr Arinc.”

“I am half-Turkish, a woman, currently in Turkey and I’ll laugh as loudly and as proudly as I want! #kahkaha” Esra Gurkan ‏posted on Twitter. Elif Bayrasli posted a photo with the caption: “My sis, bro, & I can’t stop laughing. #kahkaha HA HA HA HA! Take that Turkey’s Dep PM Bulent Arinc!”

In Saudi Arabia, women are banned from driving, as one Saudi scholar by the name of Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Bin Naser Al-Barak issued a statement in 2013 saying that allowing women to drive cars will “open the gates of evil” in the kingdom.

He added according to Al-Masry Al-Youm that despite banning women from driving for more than 20 years, some people still demand allowing women to drive and that’s why they re-open the discussion from time to time.

This rule in Saudi Arabia went beyond traditional behavior, as the British independent reported last May that a Saudi Arabian man divorced his wife after sending him a video which showed her driving the family car.

It was reported that the wife filmed the video and sent it to her husband via mobile application WhatsApp as a joke, but he divorced her explaining that his wife broke not only the law but also “social traditions and norms.”

In another attempt to challenge traditions and rules, a group of Iranian women recently created a Facebook page called “Stealthy Freedom of Iranian Women”, where they post photos of themselves without veils, challenging Ayatollah Khomeini who had decided that hijab is mandatory shortly after the revolution in 1979.

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