Egypt: HDNet Reveals Plight of Christians, Women Post-Revolution

HDNet World Report, the network’s Emmy Award-winning news program, will air a detailed report of post-revolutionary Egypt and how minority groups, such as women and Coptic Christians, are faring.

The episode is an hour long and divided into three parts.

The first two parts take a look at the rise of violence against Christians in the post-Mubarak era. Known as Coptic Christians, this group has long been the largest minority group in Egypt, accounting for just 10 percent of the 8 million people. Fundamentalist Muslims, known as Salafis, want to build a purely Muslim country and are suspected as being the main instigators of violence.

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“For whatever reasons, the army and interim government seems to be allowing this (violence against Christians) to fester. It’s unclear as to who is behind the violence. But one thing is for certain, these two groups, Christians and Muslims, have lived side by side for years. Under the Mubarak regime they lived under relative peace. Sectarian violence has now reared its ugly head,” said Dennis O’Brien, executive producer.

O’Brien felt it was important to do a segment on post-revolution Egypt because the mainstream media has failed to provide the public with incremental updates to the happenings inside the country.

The World Report arrived in Egypt just one week after Muslims attacked Christian churches in Cairo, killing 15 people. According to the World Report, the Egyptian army “looked on and did nothing to stop it.”

“There is this huge suspicion that these sorts of outside external elements may have been instigated or brought there by elements that were related to the former regime,” said H.A. Hallyer, an expert on ethic relations in the Middle East, to World Report. “Do we know that for a fact? No, we don’t, but it is something that is definitely felt and perceived in quite a wide sway of the Egyptian society. ”

The third part focuses on the plight of women, regardless of religion, in post-revolutionary Egypt. Unfortunately, World Report exposes deterioration in women’s rights issues. Women were instrumental in bringing about the revolution that eventually ousted Mubarak. They demonstrated and risked their lives alongside their male counterparts to bring about a change in their country. However, now the majority of women claim that their rights “are being trampled on” and most “fear even worse oppression to come,” according to World Report.

Egyptian feminist Fatima Khafaghi told World Report, “The ultraconservative started saying like the laws that give some human rights to women, that we have to repeal all this because this was done in the previous regime and this is contradictory to Sharia.”

Khafaghi added, “They want children to get married. This we will not accept. They want to take back the right of women for divorce.”

O’Brien noted, “There’s a conflict going on now in regards to the women’s rights movement. Conservative Muslim groups are dominating large portions of the conversation. This is a challenge to many Egyptian women who have a Western view of what their role in society is.”

He went on to say that with the current situation it is not clear what kind of offices women will be allowed to hold or what kind of say the women will have in the new constitution.

O’Brien admits his team had experienced a lot of problems while filming the segment.

“A lot of people in Egypt don’t want the world to know about their problems. They are rightfully proud of the revolution. Our reporters were frequently confronted in the street by various people who were anxious to get them to stop filming. One time, we were chased down the street by a small group and had to take refuge in an apartment building.”

Despite production challenges, O’Brien is hopeful that viewers will come away with a deeper understanding as to what is happening in this large and important country.

“We want them (the viewers) to see what has happened in the country since Mubarak left. We want them to understand the difficulties and complications going on beneath the surface and to be aware how various groups, such as women and Coptic Christians, are faring.”

“Everyone has a stake in how Egypt develops and changes.”

The episode will air Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST.

Egypt’s revolution began in late January 2011 as citizens took to Tahrir Square and participated in a non-violent civil resistance against the unpopular regime of then President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak stepped down shortly after the demonstrations.

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