الثلاثاء، 28 أكتوبر، 2014

The Government of Sudan Must Act Immediately to Control or Prevent an Ebola Outbreak

The issue of Ebola Virus disease is creating a lot of debates in Sudan while the authorities being ambiguous and giving shady statements to calm the people.

As I mentioned earlier in the post Ebola in Sudan?  unofficial sources prefers to remain anonymous testified that there was a case identified in Khartoum hospital. Oil companies in West Kordofan warned its' employees as another case identified in Alfola hospital. All the government efforts since then was meeting with Ethiopian authorities, attending a meeting in Tunisia, creating a kind of mechanism with DRC & CAR as well as implementing emergency measures in airports and keeping a blind eye on the fact that, there is a huge population mobility among the loose boarders of Sudan, specifically with West African countries. In North Darfur, there is a cluster of villages known as Korma, that is connected by a long trade route to Mali. While Algineana; the capital of West Darfur is well known for its perfumes and fabrics market, enriched with West African products from Nigeria, Ghana and other countries. Never mentioning the across boarder tribes that move all the way long with Chad and refugees movement between Central African Republic and Sudan. Basically; the population mobility to Sudan cannot be regulated neither Ebola could be controlled through controlling the airports. I might hear that there is no Ebola in Chad, Ghana, CAR and Nigeria is Ebola free (though it wasn't few weeks ago). The mentioned examples is to demonstrate that controlling Ebola through monitoring population mobility seems nearly impossible.

 Khalid Abdel Ati, a Sudanese pathologist told Sudanese Dream "The danger in Ebola outbreak extends beyond the high mortality rates to the destruction of the whole health system. Whenever there is case of Ebola discovered in a certain hospital; people would ban that hospital and hence might die as a result of complications of other health conditions. The health workers would be reluctant to provide medical care to any patients with hemorrhage of unknown cause. Never mentioning that the reagents to test the Ebola are not available in Sudan as well as the laboratory safety for handling suspected specimen is Level 4. Upon this circumstances, any case of hemorrhage should be handled as Ebola until proofed to be another condition"

The fact that Ebola cannot be tested in Sudan was confirmed by Dr. Hayat Salah, the head of Epidemiology department in the ministry of health in an interview with Alsaiha, a Sudanese daily newspaper on 27th, Oct 2014 issue.

Panic of Ebola spread widely among Sudanese social media users, specially after the news of an 8 years old child died of acute hemorrhage in Ibrahim Malik hospital in Khartoum. The Khartoum state ministry of health spokesperson Dr. Moez Albakheet stated that the girl died of severe Malaria, which for many Sudanese people who knew Malaria for decades was simply not convincing.

I think an Ebola emergency is waving on the air which is beyond any individual or voluntary groups capacity. Not having the means to verify a suspected case of Ebola is actually Ebola that doesn't mean an outbreak didn't and wouldn't happen. As a Sudanese citizen; I urge the government of Sudan to act immediately and do the following:

1. set out laboratories that could test Ebola in different parts of the country as soon as possible.
2. Launch massive health education programs through local media and door to door advises, the messages on the disease transmission and symptoms must be delivered as widely as possible. It should reach all the citizens in urban centres and IDP settings.
3. Take the necessary protective measures to health workers seriously. Patients shouldn't pay for the water and sanitation products when they need care in public hospitals. They should not be asked by health workers to bring water and soap, as its happening in many hospitals. This is your responsibility and obligation towards the health workers as well as the patients.

I'm demanding the government to act not because it represents me, neither many Sudanese people, but I assume at least some officials in the ministry of health might have sincere commitment to Abokrat's medical oath.

الأحد، 26 أكتوبر، 2014

Reclaiming the People's Power

On Tuesday 21st, October 2014 Ibrahim Ghandour, the Sudanese presidential assistant announced that Elbashir will be running for presidency again in 2015. This was approved on the 25th October by the general conference of National Congress Party according to the official website of Albashir.

I was not amazed by the news but by some reactions of Sudanese community online, who expressed anger, surprise and frustration.

I assume, if Albashir has chosen to resign or will not seek re-election, that wouldn't make him a hero neither manifest a democratic behavior after 25 years of oppressing the Sudanese people. His regime, the NCP would still exist with another foreground. If he would step down, would we let him go without achieving justice for the people he killed, tortured and forced them to flee their homeland?
One of NCP's propaganda to hold on power is to convince the people that there are no alternatives to lead and govern beside them. Moreover they drive people blindly of the consequences of their presence in office. The question of the alternatives to NCP has been answered by several initiatives from Sudanese youth, who stood up to meet the demands of the people whenever the government failed to meet them. A few examples of those initiatives are Education Without Boarders, providing volunteer teachers, free books and maintenance to public schools. Shariee Alhawadith which covers the costs of emergency medications of people who cannot afford it. Nafeer initiative of 2013 which was found in response to floods and rainfall disasters in Khartoum and recently the Sudan Shadow Government Initiative which presents an alternative program to manage the state and works as a monitor of the government performance. Never mentioning the unbreakable efforts by Girifna, a non-violent resistance movement which is challenging and protesting against the regime regardless of the crackdown on the movement's members.

I see the alternatives for NCP regime in youth, the people with motives to create a change and lead to serve the people of Sudan. The alternatives might fail, but also there is a possibility of success which cannot be verified unless they found the space to operate and implement their aspirations. However, gaining this space will not come as a result of Albashir's resignation but as a result of toppling the regime down through popular peaceful revolution. As long as Albashir has the power to choose whether to seek election or not, we remain passive and even more powerless if we seek salvation in the hands of the oppressor. Reclaiming this power relies on our ability to rebel, and change needs the courage to lead.

الأربعاء، 22 أكتوبر، 2014

Ebola in Sudan?

According to WHO, the most severe outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease has started in west Africa in Dec 2013 when the first case was identified in Guinea. The outbreak incited a worldwide panic as there is no certain medication for the disease and it has 90% mortality rates.

Fears among Sudanese people from Ebola outbreak in Sudan evolved after the Sudanese Football Association offered to host the Africa Cup of Nation finals in January 2015 after Morocco rejected hosting the tournaments. The news incited public anger among social media users, saying that our lives and well being worth more than your relations to confederation of African football. The consumers' protection society has issued a press statement on 14 Oct against the decision calling the officials to postpone hosting the event. Although the government of Sudan has refused to host the tournaments; yet the Sudanese Football Association seems not convinced by the decision according to Sudan Tribune.

Sudan is a country with loose boarders' control and a huge population mobility from and to west and central Africa with across boarders tribes, conflict driven displacement and migration; never mentioning the centralized health services and poor primary health care that exclude millions from accessing health services and makes it difficult to diagnose and report the possible cases of Ebola.

On Oct 19 an unofficial source in Khartoum Teaching Hospital confirmed that one patient was diagnosed with Ebola, One day after, workers at oil companies in West Kordofan State said that they have received alerts from their employers as there is a patient was identified with Ebola in Alfola hospital, however there is no official statement about the two cases yet.

On 21st, October, Altaghyeer an online newspaper cited a story from Almeghar Alsyasi, a daily newspaper in Sudan claims that WHO announced there are 19 identified cases in South Sudan, and Sudan government announced emergency situation on its boarders and ports. However nothing on WHO  website on Ebola cases in South Sudan till the moment of writing this post. According to Sudan Tribune, the cabinet in South Sudan advised people not to shake hands in order to avoid catching the infection, yet this sounds not enough as there are more than 91% of the population lacking the improved sanitation facilities(world bank statistics of 2009-2013) beside the poor hygiene, lack of clean water resources in both Sudan and south Sudan.

The government of Sudan seems to be taking measures of boarders control, while Sudan Shadow Government; a youth initiative aiming to change the political practice in Sudan has prepared and published health education materials on Ebola prevention. The following days might be hard on Sudanese people and even the whole regions of East Africa and Middle East.

الأربعاء، 8 أكتوبر، 2014

Female Students Arrested over Al Adha Feast in Sudan

On Tuesday Limited news spread among Sudanese social media users on  NISS and police forces raiding Al barracks dorms and arresting female students who couldn't travel to spend Al Adha feast and holidays with their families.

A human rights activist working with (Hugoog group) preferred to stay anonymous narrated the incidents as follows:

"On October 1st, 2014 there was an evacuation alert for the dormitories by the National Fund to Support Students, mainly for residents who are not attending the University of Khartoum. NISS and police forces surrounded the dormitories since Sunday 5th, October and arrested an unknown number of female student while they were trying to access the building after attending a celebration organized by the regional associations. On Monday NISS and police forces bombed the dormitories with tear gas and raided the buildings, eye witnesses testified that they beaten up the students with electrical rods and steaks. Accordingly many of them has been transferred to Khartoum hospital emergency room. While officers in plain civilian clothes step directly into the rooms of politically active students and arrested them immediately, until now there are 22 arrests on Monday only and the rest of the students were forced to evacuate the building"

It worth-noting that most of the female students who were unable to spend the Eid holidays with their family are originally from war torn zones, mainly Darfur region. With the high costs of flights to the region and the risks of road trips due to insecurity and road cuts, its nearly impossible for the girls to go back home during holidays. Some of them stay for years until they manage to get back.

The National Fund to Support Students which issued the evacuation order is the government entity that managing the students' housing across the country. 

Trials has been made to get a statement from one of the student detainees' brother but no response from his side so far.

السبت، 27 سبتمبر، 2014

A Heart Can Be in Two Places

On being a diaspora, Akram's detention and remembering September 2013

Last Monday was my second day in UK for the first time, knowing that I'll be away from home for a long cold year. I was extremely sad to leave my family and friends behind, missing a lot of major incidents in their life and in Sudan as a whole. I was alert to the new environment and very excited to explore the place in my very own way. On the other hand I was looking on my Facebook updates and learnt that Akram and so many others got arrested. Akram, on my farewell party told me to study hard and not to worry about incidents happening in Sudan I promised him to do so if he wouldn't get arrested/ kidnapped. He couldn't keep his promise at least for one day.

Akram is one of the bravest persons that I ever met. He spares no effort to bring NCP down, help the patients who lack funds to get emergency medical care and always stands by your side in the hard times. Akram was arrested several times since June 2014, being physically and psychologically tortured for hours and he never wanted people to speak about his arrests. Although I disagree with him but he thinks campaigning for detainees would take time and efforts of the actual regime change activities. I met Akram last year abroad, he fled Sudan in 2012 after escaping arrest attempts and receiving threats from NISS. Akram had a great sense of humor, he made me laugh and we became friends in no time. He was the man who cried because of being forcibly displaced. His heart is as big as his voice.

I was running all back to my laptop to check "Facebook" updates to the extent that I started not to really read the detainees names and learn about what happened to them. I realized that I've to pull my self out. I cannot make it this way, I cannot get an MA while I spend most of the day scanning my Facebook home page and I should start to care less. I thought about showing some solidarity to my detained friends and I felt that I should not; a Facebook post without taking the streets seems to me like doing nothing at all; it will only drag me back to my worries, concerns and being helpless.

Being helpless is not a diaspora exclusive feeling/ status. I can tell that, I left only few days ago. I cannot even recall all the moment I couldn't do or think of any doable acts. Many of those moments happened in September of last year and the days followed that. I was helpless when I sat in our reception room with my fiance and we listened to Albashir announcing lifting up subsidies on fuel and basic food items. My thinking was towards we wouldn't be able to get married anytime soon, but that's not a catastrophe situation as of the kids in the outskirts of Khartoum who hardly can get one meal a day. I felt helpless when one of my former colleagues and a pharmacist in a hospital communicated with me on Whatsapp saying that two boys where admitted to the hospital yesterday with injuries of live ammunition and even more severe injuries are getting into the hospital that morning and .. oh  they cut-off the internet, I cannot go back home and I'm too weak to protest. I spent that night in a friend's house. I felt helpless when I got a phone call from an extended family member who were insisting to know my whereabouts and take me back home. I was scared because I had doubts on that person being NISS agent so either he thought that I'm doing something he wants to know or something might happen and he doesn't want to be in a bad position if I got hurt in anyway. I had a feeling that horrible thing will happen, neither I can stop it nor alert enough people about it. That was only an hour before the government militias started to shoot people who are randomly gathered in the streets. Few weeks later I felt helpless, trivial, angry and so small when visited some of the martyrs' families. I felt helpless when Moniem was detained and when I knew about Mohamed Salah being terribly tortured. This is only a glimpse of the moment I was helpless in Sudan. But I remembered Akram in many of those situations telling me and his eyes full of tears "not to stop what we have already started".

So I need to disconnect myself a bit from Sudan, that was an advice from a friend before I leave. I started to explore the city I walked around for 2-3 hours after completing my scheduled tasks. I chat with my Chinese and Indian flatmates over dinner. I try to organize my meals time after so many years of mess.

Wednesday came soon and its time for the 57th session of human rights council on Sudan. Badrin's report is being discussed. Listening to that live web-casting was a mistake. The council member states' comments were so nauseating, full of lies and belly tickling. I was so amused to hear even Eritrea's comment not on the report but on the situation in Sudan. Never mentioning the speeches by Zibair charitable organization and working women association. I never have had hopes on Badrin; the so called UN independent human rights expert to Sudan who get most of his appointments controlled by pro-government agents. However It was frustrating and painful to hear all that nonsense. I spent most of the day listening to that bullshit although I wanted to stop. I realized it is not healthy to stay inside alone with all that frustration and anger. I went to the gym and I joined a boxing class. I imagined that I might need it someday in Sudan to punch a NISS agent or even Akram for not keeping his promise.

By today the numbers of detainees is exceeding the 70 persons in a week. I'm in a different place and I think the world neither know nor care, nothing in the news about that. Actually arrest and detention in Sudan and other oppressive countries is not even "news" its something of the daily life of the people and it shouldn't be. For this reason I'm here 3244 miles away from home, studying, experiencing new things and gaining better skills. I believe in Sudanese people, they deserve living in dignity and I would spare no efforts to achieve that.

For now I'm not around, I might not be soon but I got my heart in two places.

الأربعاء، 13 أغسطس، 2014

My life with & without Hijab

I was a child in 1989; I can hardly remember the incidents of the Islamic Front’s military coup. All I remember is what a big fan of my elder sister I was. She was a very elegant university student who had loads of coloured peeps & sandals. I remember spending hours inside her big closet playing with her makeup, wearing her clothes and walking in her shoes. I also remember our neighbour, an editor in Al Sibian Magazine, passing by our house in the early mornings and saying that she could not come in and have a cup of tea because I would start crying and ask her to style my hair like hers. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, her hair always immaculately styled.

When I was in grade two at primary school and about seven years old, our class teacher used to beat me every morning with a piece of hose asking me, “Where is your khimar?” I never knew why she was so angry, or what a “khimar” was. Once my mother came to know, she transferred me to another school but this time she bought me a white scarf which I had to put on every day.

Years passed and I was in grade seven when my mother, for the first time, talked to me about “decent attire”, which meant long skirts and covering my hair with a scarf. She told me if I didn't dress decently she and my father would go to hell for not having raised me well. I deplored her orders, because my mother herself was neither wearing long skirts nor covering her hair. I refused to cover my hair - although I had to wear the long skirts -there was no option in the market other than long skirts.

In the midst of this confusing time for me, my older sister had to leave the country to find a decent job. Our beautiful neighbour had to wear a scarf beneath her Sudanese thobe to sustain her new job in the Ministry of Education, after Al Sibian Magazine, the Sabah Magazine and other periodicals were cut. There were concerns about attending wedding parties, with men and women sharing a dance. Lots of stories were spreading about police raiding private parties and arresting people. All our neighbours started to wear hijab, saying it was for their husbands’ job promotions, and they kept asking my mother to wear it as well. My mother who considered herself a true believer of Islam rejected this hypocrisy, saying that, since she didn’t wear the hijab after pilgrimage, she would not wear it for my father's job promotion. I asked her once why she wanted me to wear hijab while rejecting it herself. She answered, "You are young will probably be harassed if you are not wearing the hijab.

There were two periods in my life during which I wore hijab; the first time lasted for a whole year while the second lasted five months.

The first time was when my application to Khartoum University had been accepted. I decided to try the hijab for two different reasons. One was that according to University rules, I had to sign a pledge that I would wear it on the campus. Secondly, I was depending on public transport and my brothers told me that girls without hijab are being harassed a lot. I thought that, with a scarf covering my hair, I'd get more freedom to move. Many girls I know wear hijab and some are veiled for this reason. In addition to that, styling my frizzy hair every day would otherwise consume a lot of time and money.

Surprisingly, my life with hijab was not as smooth as I expected. One day I got an opportunity to express my thoughts in a public discussion of the Congress of Independent Students. Their speaker claimed that Islam was the reason behind all the troubles of Sudan. I replied that it was not a matter of Islam, rather of the Islamists who are ruining our life and spreading false concepts of Islam.

This three-minute intervention of mine resulted in me receiving a long letter on how inappropriate it was for a woman to raise her voice in public and talk about Islam, particularly whilst she herself was being a bad example of a Muslim woman, wearing indecent clothes and speaking loudly in front of men. I kept receiving such assaults for years. I was even more shocked when, every other day, the guards at the university prevented me from entering the university campus - for not using pins in my scarf; having a split in my skirt; wearing a T-Shirt or a tight shirt and one day, for wearing leggings under a maxi dress.

At that time, I realised that the hijab has no standards. Whilst I thought myself to be “veiled”, many other people thought I was dressing indecently. I concluded that my dress style should be about me and what I like - not about others and what they think. Most interestingly the harassment never stopped – instead, it even increased with even more Islamists staring at me - those same people who offered me guidance to wear hijab. They have never heard about lowering their gaze or the sins of staring. I often used to tell them that Allah said, “You cannot guide whoever you wish”.

During my college years it was a widely held belief that girls without hijab will not find a man to marry. Most of my class mates started to wear hijab and, from one day to the next, they used to be stricter in their dress code - even in shaking hands with boys for greetings. Many friends displayed more signs of religiousness, like reading the Qur’an in public, holding a sibha - the prayer beads, and not missing an occasion to recite a duaa loudly. Unfortunately, they forgot the soul of Islam, which is being kind to people; not to be talking about people behind their backs; focusing on your own behaviour and avoiding judging others.

My second time to wear hijab was in 2009, after doing everything I could think of to try to stop harassment committed by my work mates and my boss in a public service office - that was full of Islamists and NCP affiliates - had failed. I had submitted written complaints against some work mates after personally rebuking them severely and even in front of other employees. My complaints were never taken seriously and the people in charge always used to find excuses for the harassers, even when one incident ended with an injury as a harasser squeezed my fingers against a ring I was wearing while shaking hands for greeting. I was told several times that a trainee like me could never get a permanent job while wearing such clothes. At a certain point, I realized that neither raising a complaint, nor shouting loudly at harassers was going to change anything when my boss who received the complaints was also staring at my legs under the table as I was wearing a mid length skirt in a meeting. On another occasion, he asked me to cover my neck because he cannot handle staring anymore.
On that day I cried my eyes out. I stayed at home for two days. I made up my mind that, if this humiliation continued, I'd have to quit my job and my career as well. If I could not build my future because of my dress style and I could not control my own body either, I would lose self-esteem, sacrificing it for my career development. That was when I decided to quit my career and the hijab.

I am going back to my lovely mother who, during all this hesitation, has always been there. She supported all my decisions to wear hijab or to take it off. She encouraged me to defend myself against the harassers. At home, when I used to cry from anger and subjugation she used to get sad and tell me, “I didn't raise you to cry like a little girl. You should go there and fight for your rights and teach those abusive Islamists a lesson”.
She panicked after Lubna Hussein was arrested for wearing trousers and always thought something like this would be the revenge of my work mates. She also used to tell me what the dress code was till the 1980s. People used to wear all kinds of clothes which are now considered revealing and indecent. At that time, no man would dare to harass a woman, regardless how much of her body was visible and, for sure, they were Muslims - just not in way of the harassers of women, regardless of how much of their body is covered.

We regularly used to attend the speeches preceding the Friday prayers together and criticize when women were portrayed as the evil of the nation. All our confusion ended up with both of us being convinced that it was not wearing a hijab that would protect women but the power of using their minds, having self-esteem and not allowing any person to define what's wrong and right on their behalf.

الثلاثاء، 12 أغسطس، 2014

حياتي بالحجاب وبدونه

 كنت لا أزال طفلة صغيرة وقت حدوث انقلاب الجبهة الاسلامية العسكري عام 1989 لذا فأنا لا أتذكر الكثير مما حدث. كل ما أتذكره هو أن أختي الكبرى كانت طالبة جامعية شديدة الأناقة وتمتلك كماً هائلاً من الأحذية والملابس الراقية، كانت مثلي الأعلى في الحياة. كنت أضع مكياجها على وجهي ، أرتدي ملابسها ، أحاول السير مرتدية أحذيتها وأقضي الساعات الطوال داخل خزانتها. جارتنا التي كانت تعمل محررة بمجلة الصبيان هي إحدى أجمل النساء اللائي قابلتهن في حياتي ؛ تمر علينا في الصباح الباكر ولا تستطيع البقاء لتناول الشاي معنا لأنني سأبدأ في البكاء وأطالبها بأن تسريح شعري تماماً كتسريحتها المرتبة على مدار الساعة.

كانت معلمتي بالصف الثاني الابتدائي تضربني كل صباح  بخرطوم المياه الأسود وأنا في السابعة من عمري لعدم ارتدائي الخمار. ولم أفهم سبب غضبها ولا ماهية الخمار. عندما علمت أمي بما يحدث قامت بتحويلي الى مدرسة جديدة واشترت لي طرحة بيضاء أجبرتني على ارتدائها كل يوم.

مرت السنون وأتى اليوم الذي حدثتني فيه أمي عن الزي المحتشم ، كنت حينها في الصف السابع، و كان الزي المحتشم عبارة عن تنورات طويلة وطرحة تغطي الشعر. زعمت أمي أنها ووالدي سيذهبان إلى الجحيم لعدم تربيتهما لي تربية صحيحة ما لم أرتد هذا الزي المحتشم ؛ و هي نفسها لم ترتد تنورات طويلة ولم تغط شعرها لذلك رفضت أن أغطي شعري ولكني اضطررت إلى ارتداء التنورات الطويلة لعدم وجود غيرها في السوق.

اثناء ارتباكي وحيرتي اضطرت أختي الكبرى إلى مغادرة البلاد بحثاً عن الرزق. أما جارتي الجميلة فقد بدأت ترتدي الطرحة تحت الثوب السوداني التقليدي حفاظاً على وظيفتها في وزارة التربية بعد أن تم إغلاق مجلتي الصبيان ، صباح وغيرهما. انتشرت القصص عن اقتحام الشرطة للحفلات الخاصة ومناسبات الزفاف واعتقال جميع الحاضرين بحجة الرقص المختلط بين النساء والرجال وبدأ الناس يتخوفون من حضور حفلات الزواج. بدأت كل جاراتنا في ارتداء الحجاب وحث أمي على ارتدائه أيضاً لأن هذه الطرحة تساعد أزواجهن كثيراً في الترقي وظيفياً. إلا أن أمي التي تعتبر نفسها مسلمة مؤمنة رفضت هذا النفاق قائلة إنها لم تتحجب بعد الحج ولذا لن ترتدي الحجاب ليحصل والدي على ترقية. وقد سألتها مرة لماذا تفرض الحجاب علي بينما لا ترتديه فأجابتني قائلة أنت يافعة وسوف يتحرشون بك ما لم ترتديه.

ارتديت الحجاب مرتين في حياتي استمرت أولاهما لمدة عام بأكمله أما الثانية فلم تستمر سوى خمسة أشهر.
بعد قبولي بجامعة الخرطوم قررت أن أجرب ارتداء الحجاب لأسباب مختلفة أولها أن الحجاب كان فرضا على طالبات الجامعة كما وجب علي توقيع تعهد بأني سوف أرتديه داخل الحرم الجامعي. أما ثاني الأسباب فهو اعتمادي على المواصلات العامة وقد أخبرني إخوتي بأن الفتيات اللائي لا يرتدين الحجاب يتعرضن للتحرش كثيرا، لذا إعتقدت بأني سأحصل على المزيد من حرية الحركة لوجود قطعة قماش تغطي شعري؛ وكان العديد من معارفي يرتدين الحجاب بل ويتنقبن لهذا الغرض. وإضافة إلى هذا وذاك فإن الحجاب يوفر الكثير من الوقت والمال اللازم لتصفيف شعري المجعد يومياً.
أن حياتي كمحجبة لم تسر بسلاسة كما توقعت. في أحد الأيام واتتني الفرصة كي أعبر عن رأيي في مناقشة عامة أقامها مؤتمر الطلاب المستقلين، ادعى أثناءها المتحدث بأن الإسلام سبب كل المشاكل في السودان. فرددت عليه قائلة بأن الإسلام لا يدمر حياتنا بل إن الإسلاميين هم من يقومون بذلك بنشرهم المفاهيم الخاطئة عن الإسلام. حالما انتهت مشاركتي التي لم تدم أكثر من ثلاث دقائق استلامت خطاباً مكتوباً فحواه عدم لياقة رفع المرأة لصوتها في مكان عام ناهيك عن حديثها عن الإسلام وهي في حد ذاتها مثال سيء للمرأة المسلمة بارتدائها ملابس غير محتشمة وتحدثها أمام الرجال. استمر هذا هجومهم علي لسنوات طوال كما اتخذ مختلف الاشكال. إلا أن ما أدهشني أكثر من ذلك هو منع الحرس الجامعي لي من دخول الجامعة مرات عديدة لأني لم أستعمل دبابيس لتثبيت طرحتي، أو لأن تنورتي مفتوحة من الجانبين، أو لارتدائي قميصاً ضيقاً بل وفي أحد الأيام لإرتدائي بنطالًا تحت تنورتي الطويلة.

اكتشفت حينها أن الحجاب لا معايير له فبينما كنت أعتقد أنني محجبة ؛ قرر الكثيرون بأنني غير محتشمة. فتوصلت إلى نتيجة بأن طريقة تزيؤي تخصني أنا وما أحبه وليس ما يرغبه الآخرون. ومن المثير للدهشة أن التحرش لم يتوقف بل ازداد بزيادة عدد المتأسلمين الذين تطوعوا للنصح والارشاد حول كيفية ارتداء الحجاب ولم يبخلوا على انفسهم  بالتحديق واطالة النظر وكأنهم لم يسمعوا بالآيات التي تتحدث عن غض البصر وحرمة اطالة النظر.

الاعتقاد بأن الفتيات السافرات لن يجدن من يرضى الزواج منهن كانت منتشراً وسط قريناتي وزميلات الدراسة. معظمهن بدأن بارتداء الحجاب وازداد تشددهن في تغطية أجسادهن من يوم إلى يوم بل إن بعضهن رفضن مصافحة الرجال. وبدأت العديد من صديقاتي في إظهار بوادر التدين مثل قراءة القرآن في الأماكن العامة والإمساك بمسبحة وعدم تفويت الفرصة لتلاوة دعاء بصوت عالٍ. إلا إنهن مع الأسف الشديد تناسين أثناء ذلك روح الإسلام ألا وهو الدين المعاملة، حرمة الغيبة والنميمة والتركيز على سلوكهن الشخصي بدلاً عن انتقاد سلوك الآخرين.

 ارتديت الحجاب ثانية في عام 2009 بعد فشل كافة محاولاتي لوقف التحرش الذي أتعرض إليه من قبل زملائي ومديري في العمل في مكتب حكومي مليء بأعضاء الجبهة الإسلامية القومية. تقدمت مراراً وتكراراً بشكاوى خطية ضد هؤلاء الزملاء بعد انتهاري لهم بشدة شخصياً و في وجود موظفين آخرين ولم تؤخذ شكاواي مأخذ الجد مطلقاً.  إن الشخص المسؤول عنها لم يتوانى عن ايجاد أعذارا للمتحرشين حتى بعد اصابة أصابعي بجروح اثناء القاء التحية على احدهم نتيجة لضغطه على يدي ضد خاتم كنت ارتديه يومها. وقد أُخبرت في العديد من المرات بأن متدربة مثلي لن تحصل على وظيفة دائمة ما لم تترك السفور. وصلت لقناعة بأن الشكاوى والصراخ في وجه المتحرشين لن يغير من الأمر شيئاً ما دام المسؤول عن الفصل في شكواي لا يخجل من استراق النظر تحت طاولة الاجتماعات والتحديق فيما يظهر من سيقان واقدام ، بل إنه في إحدى المناسبات طلب مني أن أسدل خماري على عنقي لأنه لم يعد قادراً على التحديق.

يومها بكيت ملء جفوني وبقيت في المنزل ليومين. عزمت على الاستقالة من عملي ومن مهنتي اذا استمر هذا الذل والمهانة. إذا تعذر علي بناء حياتي المهنية ومستقبلي بسبب ما أرتديه من ملابس ؛ و فقدت السيطرة على جسدي سأفقد احترامي لذاتي في سبيل مستقبلي العملي. حينها قررت أن أترك كلا الأمرين: عملي والحجاب.

أعود هنا إلى والدتي التي ساندتني طوال فترة التردد والارتباك وأعتقد أنني في مرحلة ما نقلت إليها عدوى الارتباك. لقد دعمت أمي كل قراراتي في ارتداء الحجاب أو التخلي عنه وشجعتني على الوقوف في وجه المتحرشين. عندما كنت أذرف دموع الغضب بسبب الذل الذي أتعرض له كانت تنتهرني قائلة "البكاء للصغيرات ، لم أنشئك لتقهري ، ليس عليك الاختباء بل الذهاب للعمل ومواجهة هؤلاء الاسلاميين وتلقينهم درساً". أمي التي انتابها الرعب عندما ألقي القبض على لبنى حسين لإرتدائها البنطال كانت دائمة التوجس بأن انتقام زملائي في العمل سيكون مماثلاً. كانت تخبرني عما كان يرتديه الناس حتى ثمانينات القرن الماضي من مختلف الأزياء والملابس التي تعتبر اليوم فاحشة وسافرة، وأن الرجال ما كانوا يجرؤون حينذاك على التحرش بامرأة بغض النظر عما كانت تكشفه من مفاتن. قد كانوا مسلمين حقاً بعكس الإسلاميين الذين يقومون بذلك بغض النظر عما تغطيه المرأة من مفاتن.

كنا نستمع معاً لخطبة الجمعة بانتظام وننتقد وصف المرأة بأنها سبب شرور كل الأمم. كنا نستغرب كيف لا يستحي الامام من الوصف الدقيق لمظهر النساء والفتيات في الشارع العام بطريقة لم تلحظها أياً منا؛ وكيف كان الامام "يواكب" صرعات الموضة وتسمياتها الرائجة والتي في كثير من الاحيان لم نكن نسمع عنها الا من منبر الجمعة الذي يخلص من التوصيف الى ايجاد صلة متوهمة بين النساء، غلاء المعيشة وحلول "البلاء" على الناس. كانت خطبة الجمعة كفيلة بانهاء ارتباكنا نحن الاثنتين عندما اقتنعنا بأن الحجاب لن يحمي النساء بل ما سيحميهن هو قدرتهن على التفكير، احترامهن وثقتهن بأنفسهن. وعدم السماح لغيرهن بتحديد ما هو صواب أو خطأ بالنسبة لهن.