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Mona Eltahawy Explains Why Women Are Hated In The Middle East

Mona Eltahawy (center), a prominent Egyptian-born, U.S.-based columnist, and Egyptian activist Samira Ibrahim (left) march in downtown Cairo to mark International Women's Day in March.
Mona Eltahawy (center), a prominent Egyptian-born, U.S.-based columnist, and Egyptian activist Samira Ibrahim (left) march in downtown Cairo to mark International Women's Day in March.

We don't usually point out opinion pieces on this blog. But Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-born and U.S.-based journalist, is making a statement worth noting. She wrote a cover essay titled "Why Do They Hate Us?" for this month's Foreign Policy.

At its core, the essay is an indictment of the misogynist culture of the Middle East. Eltahawy throws out a lot of stunning facts — 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt have had their genitals cut, for example — and doesn't pull punches: She's equally critical of the Gadhafi regime in Libya and the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party that encouraged the revolution in Egypt but holds the view that a woman can't be president.

We encourage you to click over to the piece; it's worth a read, yet it doesn't quite answer the central question posed in the headline.

Eltahawy talked with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep about her essay, and she addressed the question at the center of her piece. He asked her plainly why she thinks Muslim religious conservatives obsess over women in this way.

Eltahawy said women are "vectors" of culture and religion.

"Our wombs are the future," Eltahawy said. "And if you don't control the future by controlling women's bodies, you've lost control generally."

Much more of Steve and Eltahawy's conversation will be on Tuesday's Morning Edition. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later in the day, we'll also add audio of the as-aired interview to this post.

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