Al-Azhar under pressure not to issue women’s rights document

The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayyeb is facing pressure to halt issuing a document of women's rights from an Islamic perspective, said the head of the National Council for Women (NCW) Mervat al-Talawy.

Addressing a conference held on Monday by the Egyptian Women Union, under the title, “Systematic violence against women and civil society,” Talawy said the NCW had requested that Azhar issue this document since last May, “because it is the only answer to fatwas against women rights.”

She condemned the position of the political Islamist current on women’s rights saying, “they use Sharia and religion to isolate women. Their fatwas and statements are the greatest insult to the Islamic religion, and have [a negative impact] no less than that of films insulting religion.”

Talawy attacked the stance of the International Union for Muslim Scholars and the Muslim Brotherhood on the United Nations document to confront violence against women.

Talawy expected a fierce attack from Islamists with regard to the document and their continued efforts to change Egypt’s position in relation to it, especially during the next session of the Committee in September 2013.

She pointed to non-governmental organizations who have joined in this attack, such as Camellia Helmi, head of the Islamic Committee for the Rights of the Child, which drafted “the counter statement” to the CEDAW document.

Talawy announced the NCW’s preparation of a document on women's political, economic and social rights, in coordination with civil society organizations.

The council sent the Constituent Assembly several documents with regard to women’s rights, she said, but they were ignored in the constitution-drafting process. That is why the council will prepare this document and officially register it, she explained.

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