Head to Head – Do Arab men hate women?

Head to Head – Do Arab men hate women?

“Why do they hate us?”

With these five words in a controversial magazine article, Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy shot to fame, unleashing a devastating critique of women’s rights in the Arab world.

In the season premiere of Head to Head , Mehdi Hasan challenges Eltahawy on her views regarding the status of women in Arab states.

Are Arab or Muslim societies inherently patriarchal? And how does the narrative of Islam as sexist play into geo-politics and Western stereotypes of the Middle East?

Joining the discussion is Dr Aitemad Muhanna of the London School of Economics’ Middle East Centre; self-proclaimed progressive Imam Dr Taj Hargey; and Dr Shuruq Naguib, a British-Egyptian academic from Lancaster University.



The Niqab was imposed on women for centuries in many Muslim countries. The full face veil was imposed in some regions for centuries as well even though this is not a requirement according to the Quran. Women now see it as their right to wear it if given the choice. I don’t think imposing or not imposing something has any bearing on what a woman wants. It has everything to do with belief and tradition even though it makes sense or not. It’s just like female (or male) circumcision, there is no medical argument that can support this practice and yet it is done purely based on belief and tradition. When that debate comes up you can bet that there will be legions of women and men that will argue passionately for its continued practice even though it makes no sense whatsoever.

There was a nationwide debate in my country about the Niqab. Most people of Western persuasion were against it and most Muslims were for it. Women wearing the Niqab considered it a personal right and were risking their personal safety to wear it. Scene change to Afghanistan: women are risking their lives to abolish the Niqab. What an interesting world we live in!

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