Around a year ago Mona Eltahawy started #MosqueMeToo. A Pakistani woman, Sabica Khan, wrote a Facebook post about her awful experience at the holy mosque in Mecca. To support her Mona started #MosqueMeToo and tweeted about her experience with sexual assault during hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage.
Me too! I was there for umrah and I was only a teen. Believe me, us women experience those things more than once in our lives. We can differentiate between harassment and accidents! When they reach out for you more than once, it is certainly not by accident.— Zaza Ali (@zazaxmilesoff) 8 February 2018
Above you can read my voice. I had never spoken up about it before. It’s a taboo, and when you’re young, you spend more time on trying to make sense of it. The response to Mona’s initiative was phenomenal. Many other women used the hashtag #mosquemetoo and also talked about the sexual abuse they faced during the pilgrimage.
Now, recently since the incident with Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, there’s been a lot of activity from Saudi bots and supporters to discredit Rahaf and Mona Eltahawy, the woman who amplified her voice and translated it into English. Mona has been called “feminist scum”, “whore” and “filth” just to name a few. The list is endless, and it exposes the Saudi supporters’ sexism and racism. Engaging with those trolls is a waste of time, because they’ll insult and try to discredit you. I’ve tried and during one of the exchanges, I was basically told I’ve probably never been to Saudi Arabia. So, I shared my experience with them. The response was
Ohh my god 😂😂😂 I have never heard lie as this in my life 😂😂 plz forgive Saudi guys 😜they couldn’t control themselves when they saw the most beautiful woman in the world came to Saudi Arabia 😂😂 respect our minds please😆— ليلى 🕊 (@xx23_layla) 23 January 2019
And this is a typical reaction! Anything, that doesn’t fit their narrative of how amazing Saudi Arabia is and how well-off women have it over there, can only be referred to as a lie. It reminds me of the behaviour a victim of abuse would show. Total denial! Let’s face it: half of the Saudi population, women, are oppressed and being treated as second class citizens with the guardianship system. But – men are also victims of the Saudi regime. If they oppose the Saudi family, there’ll be a lot of effort put into silencing them or even worse, if we recall what happened to Khashoggi!
So, Saudi bots/supporters, I don’t know if you get paid or what other advantages you’re being promised. You know, you’re getting abuse, too. You know, that your freedom goes only as far as the Saudi family allows you to. Your well-being and comfort are bought with the blood of fellow citizens, brothers and sisters. Is it really worth it? Can you really look in the mirror and be proud of what Saudi Arabia stands for? What your reflection stands for? You are agents of Saudi propaganda. MBS is being compared to Saddam Hussein now. Do you remember, how far the Iraqi dictator went and what he did? Even his “supporters” were scared shitless!
Also, don’t ever try to silence women again by saying they’re lying about abuse! They just don’t. One of the things #metoo showed was how wide-spread the issue was. Women and the LGBTQ community face sexual harassment all the time. And if you hear one of them speaking up, then listen. You don’t know the journey, they’ve taken, to get to the point of raising their unique voices. It’s always a journey, and it’s never easy! Calling them liars on the other hand, is the most cowardly thing you could ever do. If that’s what you would like to be remembered for, then yeah, go ahead. But don’t forget that your privilege protects you from the perception they have on things. And if you protect your own privilege, you’re not really fighting for equality, are you?
#mosquemetoo is important because it’s hard for marginalised people to be heard. There is a hashtag to tell their own stories. Their own safe space, if those exist at all. You can have a look at #ChurchToo to get an idea of sexual violence in Christian sacred spaces. And Saudi bots, keep up the fight, to expose your own racism, sexism and oppression. You’re really only doing yourselves a disservice. We will not be silenced, and I won’t stop listening to women like Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun. Women, who dare the system and fight for their right to freedom! While you’re trying to silence the truth with violence, the truth is manifesting itself in the lives of honest people, shining up there and guiding the way.