Yesterday I interviewed a Coptic activist at a building by his church near Ramsees. As we both had our evenings free, we decided to go out for a cup of tea after the interview. This is my second meeting with him, and he has continuously been keeping me updated about the activities of his movement, as well as the rest of the opposition. On the metro from Ramsees to the High Court in downtown the train starts departing slowly, but never takes off from the station, only slowly moving forward. Some noise is heard outside, loud voices and arguing. A woman has gotten angry with the behavior of a man. The man had tried to enter the train car reserved for women. Irritancy and discussion arise among the passengers.

The train leaves the station after a few minutes, things apparently sorted out. Soon however, the emergency alarm starts ringing. At the next station we hear a loud scream coming from a woman. Security personnel are seen running towards the women’s car. Despite the apparent drama, no one was physically injured as far as we could find out, but the discussion among the passengers developed into quite a lively argument. Our fellow metro-riders (all males) seemed to think that the woman was causing unnecessary delay. My activist friend referred to the words of the woman “it is my right to have this space free from men”. The train cars are clearly marked, and the males entering these cars are well aware that they are not supposed to. “But the women are using our cars”, one man argued. “These are not our cars; the other cars are for both women and men. Also, it is a violation of the rules on the metro for males to enter the women’s car. Should we not respect the law?”  My friend found no willing ears for his argument. This was erratic behavior, no need for such outbursts.

Today, the first Egyptians are voting yes or no the new constitution. Women had no voice in the constitutional assembly that drafted it.

For more entries about observations of the referendum, check out: 


Cairo, 15.12.2012