The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Linking Laura Bush with Egyptian Female Protesters

Today, the WaPo has an editorial where Eugene Robinson links Laura Bush's visit to the region on behalf of women's rights with the beatings that occurred on the 25th in Cairo during a national referendum.

The heart of the editorial is:

U.S. involvement in the Middle East deepens every day, as the Bush administration struggles to push autocratic regimes toward democracy. Ultimately the moral responsibility to ensure that women are liberated along with men falls upon the president. But I'm hoping the first lady doesn't forget that she now has personally invited women in the Arab world to dream forbidden dreams.
If she had stayed in Cairo a few more days, and seen police allow pro-government thugs to pummel anti-Mubarak demonstrators in the streets, she might have noticed, as reporters did, that the goons singled out women for especially rough treatment. That's the challenge that the president faces -- and that I hope Laura Bush now feels she shares.

The reason to post this is that many in Egypt's activist circles have questioned if they mismanaged the symbolism around the First Lady's visit (she departed the day before the referendum vote).

Tomorrow when the demonstrators, clad in black or with white ribbons, take to Cairo's streets again we will see if Washington is watching.

If more violence rules the day and tame comments follow from Washington, then we will know that Laura Bush's women's rights rhetoric is as empty as her husband's regarding supporting democracy and freedom in Egypt.