“ALL of us were there, throwing stones, moving dead bodies. We did
everything. There was no difference between men and women.” So says
Asmaa Mahfouz, an Egyptian activist, remembering the protests that
felled Hosni Mubarak at the beginning of the year. Though some men told
her to get out of the way, others held up umbrellas to protect her.
In Tunisia Lina Ben Mhenni, an activist, travelled round the country
documenting protests on her blog, “A Tunisian Girl”. Besides
photographing the dead and wounded, she included pictures of herself
with male protesters at sit-ins in the Kasbah in Tunis. Tawakul Karman,
awarded the Nobel peace prize at the beginning of October, has been a
leading figure in the pro-democracy demonstrations in Yemen, camping out
for months in front of Sana’a University, calling for Ali Abdullah
Saleh, Yemen’s president, to step down. Defying their stereotype as
victims of oppressive patriarchies, Arab women have made their presence a
defining feature of the Arab spring.
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