As Eid Al Fitr (the end of Ramadan) approaches, women in Egypt are bracing themselves for even more sexual harassment than what has already become a disturbing norm.
Bloggers and online activists are also joining forces to fight the phenomenon, calling for a fun-filled and harassment-free celebration.
It all started on October 25, 2006, when Egypt witnessed the first mass harassment incident on the first day of Eid Al Adha (Courban Bairam).
On that particular incident, SandMonkey wrote:
The story is as follows for the those of you who didn't hear about it: It was the first day of Eid, and a new film was opening downtown. Mobs of males gathered trying to get in, but when the show was sold out, they decided they will destroy the box office. After accomplishing that, they went on what can only be described as a sexual frenzy They ran around grabbing any and every girl in sight, whether a Niqabi, a Hijabi or uncovered. Whether Egyptian or foreigner. Even pregnant ones. They grabbed them, molested them, tried to rip their clothes off and rape them, all in front of the police, who didn't do shit. The good people of downtown tried their best to protect the girls. Shop owners would let the girls in and lock the doors, while the mobs tried to break in. Taxi drivers put the girls in the cars while the mobs were trying to break the glass and grab the girls out. It was a disgusting pandemonium of sexual assaults that lasted for 5 hours from 7:30 PM to 12:30 am, and it turns my stomach just to think about it.
Since that day, sexual harassment has become a regular part of Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha in Egypt. Blogger Mohamed Hamdy launched a Facebook group and an online campaign calling for a fun-filled harassment-free Bairam:
شباب مصر اللى بجد عارف إن رب رمضان هو رب باقى الشهور , بالتالى عيب جدا شبابنا يكون بيصلى التراويح ويقيم الليل لحد أخر يوم فى رمضان , ومن أول يوم فى العيد نلاقى الشباب بيتحرشوا بالبنات والسيدات فى الشوارع . الجروب ده معمول علشان نقول إننا هنعيد وهنفرفش .. بس مش هنتحرش
وأتمنى كلنا نشارك فى إثراء الحوار هناك , ونعمل دعوه لكل أصحابنا على الفيس بوك عشان الفكره توصل لاكبر عدد من الناس .. يمكن نساهم فى عودة الأمن للشارع المصرى من جديد .
True Egyptian youth know that the God of Ramadan is the same God of the rest of the year; it's a shame when our youth prays, fasts, and worships God for a whole month asking for forgiveness until the last day of Ramadan then on the first day of the Bairam they roam the streets of Cairo harassing women. This group is a call for a fun-filled harassment-free Bairam. Let's enrich it with positive discussions and invite all our friends to bring back respect and safety to our streets.
The campaign made it to the Egyptian blogosphere and has been discussed on the following blogs: Shaymaa El Gammal, Mahdy Mubarak, Meshmeshya, Ego, Maha, Woman, Osama Abdel Aal, and Radio Horytna.
Blogger Ahmed El Sabbagh mourned the Egypt he knew saying:
رياضة التحرش فى مصر.. جزأ لا يتجزأ من الواقع الماسخ المُمسّخ الباهت الضائع التائه العجيب المؤسف الذى تحياه مصر فى تلك الفترة السوداء من عمر الزمان. أصدقائى الأعزاء.. أعلم أن المتحرشين لا يقرأوون غالباً ما أكتب، وربما لا يدخلون على الإنترنت أساساً إلا للتحرش الإلكترونى، ولهذا حديث أخر، وأظن – وليس كل الظن إثم – أن قراء هذه السطور لا يتحرشون، لهذا – ولهذا فقط – لن ألبس ثوب الحكمة وأدلوا بالنصائح، لكننى سأتمنى لكم:
عيد بدون تحرش
Sexual harassment has become a sport that adds more misery to the dreary reality that we live these days in Egypt. My dear friends, I know that harassers do not read what I write and most probably their online presence is associated with online harassment. I also believe that those who are reading those lines now are not harassers, this is why I will spare you the preaching and just wish you a harassment-free eid.
Egyptians are still mourning a sexually harassed Egypt after the most recent Reuters report on harassment that revealed that two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women. Also, April 18 has been declared by harassed Egyptian blogger Asser Yasser anti-harassment day.