Silent Struggle: 34% of Egyptian Women with Disabilities Face Violence from Husbands

Silent Struggle: 34% of Egyptian Women with Disabilities Face Violence from Husbands

Silent Struggle: 34% of Egyptian Women with Disabilities Face Violence from Husbands

By: Taha Al-Khudari

Violence against women is undoubtedly a violation of human rights, as recent global statistics show that one out of three women suffers from physical or sexual violence. They fall victim to many negative consequences that can impact entire families, communities, and nations. Disability is a risk factor for abuse, and when it comes to gender, women, and girls with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence for being women first and people with disabilities second. Women and girls with disabilities face many challenges and difficulties that hinder their empowerment, enhance their participation in society, and prevent them from effectively contributing to progress and developmental achievements. They are denied effective participation in society because they do not receive the same care and education as others.

Most violence against women happens at the hands of the husband regardless of social, economic, religious, and cultural differences. According to the World Health Organization, more than 38% of femicide cases worldwide result from the husband’s abusive behavior. If we shed light on Egypt, we find that 34% of women with disabilities are subjected to violence due to their disability by their husbands, while 61% of women with disabilities aged 18 years and over are exposed to some form of violence at the hands of their husbands—54% of this violence is considered psychological violence, 43% is regarded as physical violence, and 20% is considered sexual violence. Additionally, 14% of previously married women suffered from all four types of violence at the hands of their husbands.

The National Council for Women and the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics conducted a study entitled “Violence against Women with Disabilities” in February 2022, which was the first of its kind. The study was conducted on poor women aged 18 years and over who suffer from disabilities (movement, hearing, visual, or multiple) and benefit from the Karama program. However, women with psychological, intellectual, and developmental disabilities were excluded due to their difficulty communicating with them and the need for mediating intervention during interviews. The study is one of the first studies of its kind in the world and was conducted in partnership with UN Women, the United Nations Population Fund, and the United Nations Development Program, with the generous support of the United Nations Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Kingdom of Norway. It tackled the experiences of women with disabilities with gender-based violence (psychological or physical and sexual) committed by their husbands.

Nearly 60% of previously married women report their subjection to physical, psychological, or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands. While 33% of the women indicated that they had been subjected to such violence, these percentages are much higher than those reflected. Psychological violence is the most common type of marital violence, with about 54% of married women being subjected to one or more forms of psychological violence before marriage, and about 30% of women were recently subjected to it.

These results are close to the 2015 Gender-Based Violence Survey but reflect much higher rates. About 43% of the women who participated in the 2015 Gender-Based Violence Survey indicated that they had been subjected to psychological violence from their husbands. The study suggested that the majority of the sample of the Violence Against Women with Disabilities Survey 2020 was subjected to disability-based violence. 34% of previously married women reported being subjected to various types of disability-based violence by their husbands, while 22% had recently experienced such violence. Disability-based violence accounts for 65% compared to other forms of violence experienced by women. Whereas disability-based violence is the most common—which is evident from 17% of women with disabilities reporting that they have been humiliated, 13% have been refused assistance when assistance is needed, and 10% have experienced discrimination in general or discrimination in treatment between them and other family members in particular.

While the study continued that the woman’s age, marital status, and educational level impact the patterns of spousal violence, it showed that young people are more at risk of experiencing marital violence. Women under 35 were the most vulnerable to abuse from their husbands. Therefore, they are more likely to suffer from the effects of this experienced violence on childbearing and reproductive health. This pattern shows that younger men tend to be more violent than older men and that spousal violence begins earlier in many relationships. This finding may also reflect that younger women are more willing to disclose their subjection to violence than older women. The study concludes that a large percentage of women with multiple disabilities and women with severe disabilities have been exposed to acts of violence committed by their husbands.

This reflects how harsh some husbands can be when abusing women with disabilities. The study also revealed that younger women are more likely than older women to be subjected to controlling husband practices, as about 11% of ex-married women refused to give them the necessary money to cover household expenses, even if they were financially capable. At the same time, 10% indicated that their husbands don’t allow them to work. Although religious teachings, international conventions, and Egyptian law prohibit and criminalize severe forms of domestic violence, about 38% of women with disabilities agree with the justifications given for this type of violence, such as neglecting housework, neglecting their children, delay in preparing food, burning food, constant suspicions and questions, refusal of sexual relations, arguing, going out without permission and being financially irresponsible. The most accepting segment of this sample was women from Upper Egypt.

In comparison, about a third of the women confirmed that they feel afraid of their husbands most or all of the time. Concerning domestic violence or the surrounding environment, the results showed that 80% were subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). It also showed that 18% were married before age 18, while 14% were forced to marry. About 10% were subjected to some form of sexual violence by family members or people in the surrounding environment, about 8% were subjected to sexual harassment, 3% were subjected to sexual assault and 15 were subjected to rape. Women’s subjection to disability-based violence comes in second place, as about 3 out of 10 women, or 28%, have been subjected to some form of violence. In contrast, 16% have been subjected to such violence.

Nearly 10% were subjected to physical violence, molestation, or rape by family members or people from their surrounding environment. Being humiliated or belittled due to their disability is the most common type of disability-based violence that women or girls experience at the hands of their families or the surrounding environment. The study emphasized that women victims of sexual violence frequently do not disclose to anyone that they have been subjected to such violence, or they only inform their families. The study also stated that violence against women and girls in public places limits women’s freedom of movement and negatively affects their education, employment, other life opportunities, and health and well-being. Moreover, gender-based violence defines women’s integration into social and public life. About 9% of women with moderate disabilities and 6% with severe disabilities (completely blind) experienced all forms of violence in public places. Most of them had passive reactions. 

To reduce and prevent these criminal acts, in 2014, Egypt passed the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law as an amendment to Article 306 (a) of the Egyptian Penal Code. The law states strict punishments if the offender has authority over the victim, several people committed the crime, or at least one carried a weapon. Penalties usually range between two to five years in prison, and fines range between 20,000 to 50,000 Egyptian pounds. 

It should be noted that there has not yet been issued a unified law to combat gender-based violence, in addition to the lack of implementation of Article 306 (a) as well as failure to form the Anti-Discrimination Commission stated in Article (53) of the 2014 Egyptian Constitution. Additionally, it is necessary to enact legislation in which the husband is punished if he fails to notify the wife, manipulates, or colludes with others of a second marriage according to the text of Article (11) bis of Law No. 25 of 1929 amended by Law No. 100 of 1985. This law states that the man has to acknowledge his marital status in the marriage certificate. If he is married, he must indicate in the certificate the identities of the married women.

There is also a need to remove the link between the text mentioned above of Article (306) of the Penal Code—related to harassment— and the idea of sexual benefit. In many cases, sexual harassment is based on humiliating and belittling women and imposing some kind of male control over them. Furthermore, it is necessary to consider revoking the text of Article (60) of the Penal Code, which allows the assaulting of women and girls under the name of the right to discipline (a concept borrowed from Islamic teachings).

On another note, it is necessary to issue a unified law to combat violence against women. From this standpoint, a draft law was submitted by Representative Nashwa El-Deeb, a member of the House of Representatives, and 60 other members. The draft law consists of 7 chapters that contain 50 legal articles. The first chapter includes definitions for all forms of gender-based violence, whether moral, physical, sexual, rape, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, or domestic violence.

The Egyptian law guaranteed and supported many rights for people with disabilities. For instance, law No. 10 of 2018 provided many privileges and forms of care and protection to people with disabilities. Moreover, the House of Representatives law guarantees the allocation of 8 seats for people with disabilities within the party-list system according to the provisions of Article (244) of the constitution. In addition, law No. 11 of 2019 aims to promote, develop, and protect the rights of people with disabilities. Additionally, law No. 200 of 2020 calls for establishing a “Support Fund for People with Disabilities” headed by the Prime Minister and the fact that the rights of people with disabilities are stipulated in “Egypt’s Vision 2023.”




([1])  دراسة العنف ضد المرأة ذات الإعاقة، فبراير 2022م، الجزء الأول.ولأ

([1]) دراسة العنف ضد المرأة ذات الإعاقة، فبراير 2022م، الجزء الثاني.

([1]) دستور جمهورية مصر العربية وفقاً للتعديلات الدستورية التي أدخلت عليه في 23 أبريل 2019.

([1]) ﻣﺸﺮوع اﻟﻘﺎﻧﻮن اﻟﻤﻮﺣﺪ ﻟﻤﻜﺎﻓﺤﺔ اﻟﻌﻨﻒ ﺿﺪ اﻟﻤﺮأة

([1])  قانون العقوبات رقم 58 لسنة 1937 وتعديلاته، وآخرها تعديل بالقانون رقم 141 لسنة 2021 .

Medieval Arab Sex Work in Al-Tifashi’s Writings

Medieval Arab Sex Work in Al-Tifashi’s Writings

Medieval Arab Sex Work in Al-Tifashi’s Writings

By: Kareem ElQueer


“أدخلت امرأة من قحاب هذا العصر رجلا إلى بيتها، فبينما هي معه قرع زوجها الباب فأدخلته -عشيقها- خزانة… وخشيت أن يدخلها زوجها فاستدعت جارتها وطلبت ملحفة… وأقامتها في وجه الزوج، ثم أشارت إلى الرجل بالخروج، فخرج ومضى والزوج لم يشعر”


The above quote is from a story mentioned by Al-Tifashi in his book Nazhat Alalbab Fema La Yogad Fe Ketab. He is Ahmed bin Yusuf Al-Tifashi, who was born in a small village in the Almohad state (currently Algeria) in 1184 AD and died in 1253 AD in Cairo after moving during his life between the Arab countries from West to East. He was known for his contributions to mineralogy and wrote a book on it entitled Azhar Al Afkar Fe Jawaher Al-Ahjar. Additionally, he wrote books on sex and sociology, including but not limited to Resala Fema Yahtag Elayh Al Rejal Wa Al Nesaa Fe Istaamal Al Bah Mema Yador Wa Yanfaa. However, the book which we will tackle in this essay is Nazhat Alalbab Fema La Yogad Fe Ketab. in which he dealt with several social issues in a funny way through the recording of facts, monitoring and analyzing them and transmitting news and poems that he heard during his many trips in the Arab and Islamic countries. Therefore, this book is a rare social history of the public’s sexual life, especially in the second and thirteenth centuries (or the sixth and seventh Hijri centuries). It is referred to in English as “people’s history” during the eras of the Almohad state in the West along with the Ayyubids and the Abbasid state in the East.

In his book, Al-Tifashi records 22 different types of pimps [1] in that era, which suggests that sex work was not criminalized. It also indicates that such practice was normalized in the sense that he could mention it without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. Al-Tifashi mentions the job of each one of the pimps in detail along with how their wages were determined. For example:

1- Al Hawash who does not have a fee and whose duty is to deliver the worker to the customer’s house and carry her luggage. He depends on tipping (whatever the customer gives him).

2- Hawash Al Hawash is the person who gets one-sixth of the sex worker’s fare in exchange for organizing the night and guaranteeing that the fare is correct.

3- Al Maaras, a term used today in colloquial Egyptian dialect which indicates that its origin might stem from this era. The job of Al Maaras is to host the sex worker and the customer. His fee is a quarter or half of the fare.

4- Al Symsar (the broker) his task revolves around highlighting the virtues and the pros of the sex worker—whether they were truths or lies. He gets half of the fare.

5- Al-Qarnan, or what is described today as “Al-Qorani,” which refers to the pimp whose family works as sex workers. One of those Qarnan was mentioned in a poem and was called Ibn Hamdoun:

إن ابن حمدون ذو قرون… شمخن في رأسه، طوال

لو أنها في زمان موسى… أغنت عن الصرح ذي المحال

وكان فرعون قد تدلى… منها إلى الله بالحبال

6- Al Mosken, which lies on the top of the pimping hierarchy and earns the most money. He has a house full of sex workers both males and females. He targets merchants and charges them extensive amounts of money in exchange for his services.


Pimping, however, was not exclusive to men. Al-Tifashi mentions 10 types of female pimps. Most of the female pimps are elderly women which explains the Arab imagination’s assumption on evil old women who corrupt other women as it is easier for them to enter strangers’ houses without suspicion or worry. Other types of female pimps are Al Dalalah, Al Mashtah, Al Qabelah and Al Hegamah, they are the ones who try to seduce women. Lastly, the third type of female pimps is the servants and the “effeminate.” They are the ones who are not considered by Al-Tifashi to be men or women, meaning that they are eunuchs. They were also considered as a third gender in the Arab collective consciousness and as such were assumed to have feelings of jealousy and hatred towards those who were not deprived of their sexual pleasures.


Al-Tifashi differentiates between the work of each pimp from the ones who sit among the people mentioning the pros and virtues of the sex workers, the ones who integrate between the merchants and deceive them to the ones who take advantage of situations and quarrels. Moreover, he mentions the prevalence of sex work amongst both males and females, not just females, contrary to the common belief that assumes that homosexuality and queerness were not prevalent throughout Arab history. Furthermore, he mentions popular proverbs and Hadiths that tackled pimping in the Arab states at that time. They describe the collective consciousness of the public in his era, for example, the Aqwad men Zolmah, who was one of the greatest female pimps in Arab history. In his book, Al-Tifashi explains that pimping and sex work were part of the Arab culture, so they were included in Arab poetry and imaginative consciousness:


قوادة فارهة، كثيرة التوصل

لو شهدت صفين أو وقعة يوم الجمل

توصلت بالصلح بين ابن هند وعلي


As for the types of female pimps, or what was referred to in this era as “qahab,” there are seven types[2] that differ in their methods, among them are the following:

1- The Jealous One (Al Ghayrana): She is the one who claims that she has a husband who cheats on her and that she would like to cheat on him to take revenge, so the man follows her.

2- The Drunken (Al Sakrana): She walks on the streets drunk until she finds what she needs depending on how men would think that she is an easy target while she is in that state.

3- The Confused (Al-Hirana): She is the one who enters homes and claims that she is lost.

He also mentions two types of male pimps who had male sex workers, or in the language of the era, “al-alouq”: the first type is called the “mustashqoud” who has sex with the sex worker whom he is pimping. The second type is called the “sandal” who are young boys who work as pimps to other young boys. Arabs, similar to Romans and Greeks, were known for their love of young boys. Nevertheless, it was not the only manifestation of homosexuality. The love for young boys arose primarily in masculine societies as a kind of circumvention of masculinity through the removal of the masculine characteristic from young boys, and therefore having sex with young boys will not, for them, defy masculinity (however this phenomenon exceeds the purposes of this article).

Al-Tifashi determines that one of the characteristics of the male sex worker is shaving the hair off of both his feet and face. This is because the Arabs considered shaving facial hair a trick to appear younger. The masters were the pimps of the young slave boys. Those young boys didn’t have a fixed wage. It was rather set upon mutual agreement and consent between the two parties. Setting the wage was also dependent on several factors for instance: the content of the agreement and the status of its parties. For example, it ranged from a dirham and two dirhams as a minimum, to 10 dirhams or a dinar, and it may increase to 100 dirhams. However, it was more common to be between two and ten dirhams [3]. The wage was determined based on what was required from the sex worker, his beauty, the specified time and how rich and affluent the customer was. On the one hand, the more sexual services provided, the greater the wage. It is important to highlight that the wage was not only manifested in money, it could also be clothes, utensils, or other things of value. One of the anecdotes mentioned is that Abu Nawas used to pay the boy two dirhams and the eunuch one dirham, because the first is capable of more than the second. On the other hand, the growth of the beard reduced the given wage. Furthermore, sex work between two males was punishable through two forms: flagellation and execution. However, the death penalty was applied only if the relationship was between two men, not between a man and a boy.

Unfortunately, we do not have a specific estimate of the value of money in Al-Tifashi’s book because he did not specify a date and he lived in an economically turbulent time in which the dinar may have been equal to 40 dirhams[4]. Nonetheless, we can provide an estimate from the Cairo Geniza—which is a group of texts that were recorded by Jewish people who lived in Cairo during the ninth century AD [5]. These texts state that, during Al-Tifashi’s time, the daily wages for an unskilled sex worker such as a boy were two dirhams per day while the wage for a skilled worker was five dirhams per day. We have to take into account that the sex worker can earn such wage daily from any other job. It is also important to highlight that 10 dirhams are more than a reasonable wage as a minimum rate for those who engage in sex work professionally and do not just treat the profession as whims. Ten dirhams is enough where the cost of lunch for an individual is a dirham and a quarter while the cost of living for a family is at least two dinars per month (or 80 Dirhams). We can, then, deduce that two dirhams were the wage given to those who engage in non-professional sex work. We can also understand why young boys—who practiced sex work—got angry when given only one dirham, as this is not even enough for their day’s lunch. On the other hand, 10 dirhams (or more) is the most appropriate wage for professional sex work. If we wanted to compare it with the current currency, perhaps the dirham is almost equivalent to 50 pounds which equals the price of one meal today. The 5 dirhams are equivalent to 250 pounds—which is the daily wage of one worker in Egypt nowadays. Subsequently, the 10 dirhams are equivalent to 500 pounds—which is closer to the logical minimum wage of those who engage in sex work professionally. Lastly, 100 dirhams—which was explicitly said to be the wage of a young boy whose demand is high—represent the highest wage earned for a sex worker in that era.


According to Al-Tifashi’s anecdotes and stories which he collected from his travels, Al Qahab pranked people. Additionally, he provides a picture of a society in which consensual sex work took place in secrecy, but it was a secret that everyone knew about. For instance, some practiced sex work under that tree, others inside the mosque—and if someone found them, he would rebuke them and wait till they finished so he could pray. In another anecdote, a woman cheats on her husband and when he comes, she hides her lover in the closet. Moreover, he tells the stories of all segments of our society—the old and the young, the man and the woman, the homosexual and the heterosexual, the judge and the Sufi, the prince and the commoner—and how they are all involved in different forms of sexual relationships. Contrary to the common belief that such relationships are foreign to our societies, sex— and talking about it—was part of everyday lives. Although Al-Tifashi’s book was written with a mixture of humor and seriousness, as it was not a history book, its importance lies in its incorporation of the cultural history of the people who lived during that era in our society: their social history, what occupied their daily lives and how they behaved. We, then, find ourselves in front of a community where sex work was an integral part of the lives of the individuals of that community where sex work had its own known secret rules, culture and its famous people who everyone knows about their behaviors. These are all set as a large painting from a past that we did not live in.



[١] نزهة الألباب فيما لا يوجد في كتاب، الباب الثاني

[٢] المرجع نفسه، الباب الثالث والرابع

[٣] المرجع نفسه، الباب السادس والسابع والثامن



A Mediterranean Society, Volume I

The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza, Economic Foundations p95-110

Decolonizing Research Methods in Studying Sex Work in Egypt

Decolonizing Research Methods in Studying Sex Work in Egypt

Decolonizing Research Methods in Studying Sex Work in Egypt

By: Rawan Abbas

Decolonizing has been a widely debated topic in academia. The idea emerges from the advocacy of the Global South towards not only decolonizing what is materialistic, here the territories, but also decolonizing what is intangible such as knowledge.[1] One of the attempts to decolonize research has been done by John Law in his book After Methods: Mess in the Social Science Research where he outlines the complexity of social phenomena and the intractability of studying such phenomena using the Euro-American (colonial) research methods also known as behavioral or positivist schools of thought. According to John Law, these schools aim at creating singular, fixed, coherent, clear and simplifying realities. For instance, any pattern that contradicts the already used methods or seems to be ambivalent, Euro-American methods either try to force the phenomenon into clarity or ignore these patterns as a whole and focus on the already comforting patterns that proves already existing realities. For Law, social phenomena are multiple, fluid, incoherent, ambiguous, ambivalent, indefinite and complex realities. Therefore, they are mostly hard to grasp in one singular repeated pattern contrary to the common belief. This does not disregard quantitative tools in the social sciences but in fact it is a call to expand our horizon in order to incorporate these tools in grasping the complexity of the social phenomena under study. Law suggests that the goal is to use Aboriginal methods (decolonized methods) which are a decolonized form of research methodology inspired by the indigenous peoples of Australia which takes ethnography and cultural reflexivity as its main pillars in approaching social phenomena.[2] Aboriginal methods can be achieved through both quantitative and qualitative methods in approaching the research process from the beginning (research question) till the end (methodology) instead of restraining it only to the end. The question is then, How does this brief introduction relate to studying sex work in Egypt?

Sex work is a social phenomenon similar to other social phenomena that Law cited. It is also the societal product of socio-economic and political systems and the by-product of the continuous interactions between these systems and those who live in that society. Therefore, studying sex work, as other social phenomena, is influenced by the prevalent Euro-American methods. In the following sections I will use different produced materials that study sex work in Egypt in order to dismantle the usage of the Euro-American methods and to try and reimagine how studying sex work would be if we decolonized these methods and instead used the Aboriginal method suggested by Law.  

Existing Research

From the existing research, we can deduce that the research methods used in studying sex work can be clustered into seven categories: 1) Spatial analysis (rural vs the city, structuring Cairo) 2) Historical and political context ( World War One and Two, the British occupation, the French occupation, the Ottoman Empire, independence and rising of national sentiments) 3) Racial and economic dynamics (socio-economic status and European sex workers vis-a-vis Egyptian sex workers) 4) Social hierarchy of the practice and the integrated patriarchal systems 5) international and domestic laws as social constructs and products as well as law as sentences and arrests 6) Language, conceptions, terms and definitions, 7) Religious schemes. These seven categories had been deduced from different books and articles that attempted to study sex work, however, the methods used were Euro American whether quantitative or qualitative while some tried to deviate from it, but they have failed.

This is apparent in Abdelwahab Bakr’s book Cairo’s Secret Society where he used the spatial history of Cairo to study the prevalence and legalization of sex work from 1900 til 1951. His methodology of spatial history revolves around studying places that witnessed the legalized practice of sex work such as Al Berka, Al Azbakya, Ghet Al Nobi, Al Mouski, Bab Al Shaarya (where brothels, whether kiosks or houses, existed) and Al Hood Al Marsood (where medical checkups were conducted on those practicing this profession). In his analysis, Bakr depended on police reports, tax reports, arrests, sentences, laws, governmental decisions and military orders. He calculated the number of unregistered sex workers by comparing the number of arrests with the number of sex workers registered with the government for tax reports and medical checkups. Additionally, he used the number of registered and unregistered sex workers to study the spread of STDs in Cairo. Moreover, he made a correlation between international and domestic political events with legalizing and criminalizing sex work in Egypt through observing its prevalence before and after domestic political events such as the British Occupation, the Ottoman Empire, independence and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and international political events such as World War One and World War Two. [3]

Shimaa Abdeltawab in her article Prostitution The Country’s Permissible Income From the Mamluk era until the Mohammed Ali reign did something similar but by going further back in time and taking Ancient Egypt as her starting point till the Ottoman Empire. Nonetheless, instead of depending on reports, decisions, laws and arrests (societal level of analysis) she approached it through the acts and personalities of the rulers (individual level of analysis). In other words, she analyzed whether or not they were themselves engaged in what she described as “illicit” and “immoral” affairs.[4] Bakr followed a similar path through analyzing the conducted studies at that time on whether women practicing sex work drink, do drugs, what is their marital status, whether or not they are close to their parents and lastly whether or not one or both of their parents were deceased or absent.[5]

Another methodological aspect of their studies was racial dynamics, social hierarchy and religion. In terms of racial dynamics, the prices, demands, number of arrests and medical checkups of European sex workers were compared in a table with that of Egyptian sex workers. The findings illustrated that European women were more expensive and could manipulate the existing laws through foreign privileges to avoid being arrested or evade weekly checkups. In terms of social hierarchy, the social structure, which Bakr argued is similar to the structure of organized crime, governing sex work in Egypt constists of four degrees. Starting from the top are pimps, followed by those who run the brothels, followed by recruiters or Sahabyyn (those who recruit new women) and then sex workers at the bottom. Lastly in terms of religion, they reached the conclusion that engaging in sex work is negatively correlated with being religious. In other words, sex work is directly correlated with other “immoral” actions and practices.[6] 

How To Decolonize the Study of Sex Work

Here we pose two questions: why do these previously explained methodologies classify as Euro-American or in other words, colonial? Moreover, how can we as researchers of the social sciences decolonize the study of sex work in Egypt?

First, these studies depended on pre-existing negative emotional connections such as shame and contempt. These emotional connections made them concentrate on one form of sex work whilst deliberately ignoring the others. Borrowing the concept of shift shaping and name changing from Law’s Aboriginal method, some would argue that legal and permitted sex work exists but in other names and forms. For instance, the idea of Melek Al Yamin[7] in Islam allows men to pay other men (here can be equivalent to pimps) for women to be their mistresses. Here sex work is not prohibited nor is it sinful. This raises the need for social scientists to explore such discrepancies.

Second, these methodologies follow a top-down analysis which means that they depended on exploring the relationship between figures and systems of authorities on sex work through police reports, arrests, governmental orders, the rulers’ personalities and research produced. They failed, however, to explore the link which the whole system depends on: sex workers. Exploring here means interviewing current workers and analyzing non-conventional produced knowledge, such as anecdotes, movies, personal diaries and letters. For example, in his book All the Pasha’s Men, Khaled Fahmy illustrates how history can be tackled from below by exploring how individuals felt and interacted with Muhammad Ali’s dream of building a modernized military. His research discovered that, contrary to common belief, Egyptians were coerced into being part of that military and that the Ottoman Empire was the sole beneficiary not the Egyptians.[8]

Khaled Fahmy’s research pushed a silenced othered, here Egyptians who were forced to achieve the Ottoman Empire military aspirations, to visibility so they can tell the story themselves instead of a figure of authority telling the story on their behalf. Similarly, sex workers should be approached with a bottom-up (Aboriginal) ethnographic methodology. In order to achieve that, Sara Abed interviewed some sex workers who perceived sex work as any other work deserving of being socially and legally protected while others despised their work and wanted to find other jobs. Some were forced into it while others chose it. Some were religious and veiled while others were not. This kind of ambivalence rules out the definiteness, previously stated, that all sex workers want to leave their profession, that all are exploited, that all practice other “immoral” acts or that all are victimized. In her research, Abed was able to put her participants in control of their stories.[9]

How Should We Change Our Research Approach to the Study of Sex Work?

To conclude, the bottom-up methodology first needs to get rid of shame, victimization, contempt and condescending presumptions. It should also allow sex workers to be ambivalent, indefinite and unclear instead of adhering to assumed realities. Put another way, sex workers as participants in research production should be the ones framing the questions in the sense that the researcher would allow themselves to be part of the reality they observe. The importance of ethnography is that it gives a sense of ownership to the interlocutors as well as trust in the knowledge being produced. After using ethnography as a base, quantitative tools can be used to look for patterns and repetitions while highlighting the outliers.


[1] Vivetha Thambinathan and Elizabeth Anne Kinsella, “Decolonizing Methodologies in Qualitative Research: Creating Spaces for Transformative Praxis,” International Journal of Qualitative Methods 20 (May 4, 2021),

[2] John Law, “Imagination and Narrative,” in After Method: Mess in Social Science Research (London: Routledge, 2004), pp. 137-139.

[3] Muḥammad ʻAbd al-Wahhāb Bakr, “Chapter 2,” in Mujtamaʻ Al-Qāhirah Al-Sirrī, 1900-1951 (al-Qāhirah: al-ʻArabī, 2001), pp. 25-50.

[4] Shaimaa Abdel Tawab Sayed Abdel Majeed, “Prostitution the Country’s Permissible Income from the MAMULEK Era until the Mohammed Ali Reign,” Middle East Research Journal 4, no. 51 (September 2019): pp. 1-36,

[5] Muḥammad ʻAbd al-Wahhāb Bakr, “Chapter 4,” in Mujtamaʻ Al-Qāhirah Al-Sirrī, 1900-1951 (al-Qāhirah: al-ʻArabī, 2001), pp. 65-93.

[6] Ibid,pp. 95-97.

[7] سماحة الدكتور نوح علي سلمان، ما المقصود بملك اليمين في قوله تعالى: (…أو ما ملكت أيمانهم فإنهم غير ملومين)، دار الإفتاء المصرية، أغسطس ٢٠١٢،

[8] Khaled Fahmy, All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army and the Making of Modern Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).

[9] Sara Abed, “How Do Sex Workers Perceive Their Working Identity? Case Studies in Egypt,” Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research 2, no. Winter (2016): pp. 245-261,

The Erasure of History and Sexual Identity of the Poet Ibn Wakf al-Tanisi

The Erasure of History and Sexual Identity of the Poet Ibn Wakf al-Tanisi

The Erasure of History and Sexual Identity of the Poet Ibn Waki’ al-Tanisi

By: Rawan Abbas

This pride month we remember the queers who are forgotten in history; this article on one of Egypt’s queer historical figures who influenced the course of history and impacted Egypt’s rich literature as a poet and a critic—Ibn Al Waki’ Al Tinnisi. While this article aims to present a glimpse of the life and literary works of Ibn Al Waki’ Al Tinnisi, it simultaneously aims to highlight how his sexuality was deliberately erased from works written about him in Arabic either by not explaining the poems that discussed it or by ignoring the existence of such poems. It seemed that the whole Arab world had collectively agreed to ignore his poems that eloquently express his truthful identity by creating a new world that is purposefully designed for another Arab “world”.

Ibn Waki’ Al Tinnisi’s real name was Abu Muhammad Al-Hassan bin Ali bin Ahmed bin Muhammad bin Khalaf bin Hayyan bin Sadaqa bin Ziyad Al-Dabbi. His nickname is derived from a village called Tinnis in Damietta where he was born. He was born during the Abbasid Caliphate and died in 1003. He wrote several books and poems such as Al-Munsif Fi Al Dalalat ‘alá Sariqat Al Mutanabbi, Diwan Al Ḥasan Ibn ‘Ali Al Ḍabbi Al Shahir bi-Ibn Wakī’ Al Tinnisi and Al Nozha Fi Al Ikhwan.[1] While this brief introduction tells us a snippet of who Ibn Waki’ was, it, nonetheless, does not tell us what he was like. In order to know what Ibn  Waki’ was like we need to tell two kinds of stories: the story that is usually told and the one that is usually silenced. The former is usually written in Arabic by Arab scholars and for an Arab audience while the latter is usually told in English by English scholars and for a non-Arab audience. The two stories are not, however, coinciding but rather complementary of each other.

The First Story

Works in Arabic that tackles Al Tinnisi’s books and poems mostly focus on his critique of Al Mutanabbi and Abu Nawwas in particular and his style of criticism in general. In his criticism of both Al Mutanabbi and Abu Nawas, Ibn Waki’ focused on their deviance from religion on three accounts: exaggeration in praising which violated religious teachings (whether towards themselves or towards others), injustice and lastly mendacity without context or need. First, he criticized using a type of praise towards rulers that is only suitable for prophets. Second, not only did he censure Al Mutanabbi for using unsuitable praise but also for using unjust judgments. For instance, saying that people would be indiscriminately killed while Ibn Waki’ thinks that he should have specified that only those who commit wrongdoings would be subjected to this kind of fate by citing Quranic verses that support his argument. Third, he was critical of both Abu Nawas and Al Mutanabbi’s exaggeration and mendacity as he thought that while poetry should not always be truthful, it should at least follow reality. [2]

From his critiques, one can then deduce that Al Tinnisi was a religious and just man. However, this story only represents half of the truth.

The Second Story

This second story only exists in the literature written about him in English except for Abu Mansour Al Thalabi’s Yatimat Ahl Al Dahr. Al Thalabi was an Arab historian who lived during Al Tinnis’s time.[3] Most literature in English, by non-Arabs, discusses his homoerotic poems which some scholars say were inspired by Abu Nawas.[4]

In this story, Ibn Waki’ was said to struggle between his religiosity, guilt and his love for drinking. This struggle transcends to his sexuality where he feels guilty for falling in love. One of his poems showcases the struggle between his beliefs that endorse heteronormativity and his queerness. He explains that he cannot hide either his feelings or his truth and that hiding his feelings would result in him living a dull and miserable life—which is something that he opposes as he firmly believes that life should be enjoyed. After a long struggle filled with other people’s warnings of eternal suffering in the afterlife, he reaches a point that comforts him. This point depicts acknowledgment of the eternal suffering but believing in the mercifulness of God. The poem goes as follows: 

(لَا تَأْمُرنِي بالتستر فِي الْهوى … فالعيش أجمع فِي ركُوب الْعَار)

 (إِن التوقر للحياة مكدر … والعيش فَهُوَ تهتك الأستار)

(خوفتني بالنَّار جهدك دائبا … ولججت فِي الإرهاب والإنذار)

[5](خوفي كخوفك غير أَنِّي واثق … بجميل عَفْو الْوَاحِد القهار)


Another poem tells the story of him falling in love with a Christian man. The poem starts with him describing his beauty and how it cannot be attributed to humans. He went even further by saying that if his beauty were an infinite number of blessings, it would have run out long ago.

(من كف طبي من بني النَّصَارَى … ألبابنا فِي حسنه حيارى)

(إِذا بدا جماله لذِي النّظر … قَالَ تَعَالَى الله مَا هَذَا بشر)

[6](يُبْدِي جمالا جلّ عَن أَن يوصفا … لَو أَنه رزق حَرِيص لاكتفى)


Additionally, he mentions how he often steals a kiss from his lover while being cautious in doing so. He then proceeds to describe how this kiss was better than cloudy mornings and cold breezes.  

(ظَفرت بقبلة مِنْهُ اختلاسا … وَكنت من الرَّقِيب على حذار)

[7] (ألذ من الصبوح على غمام … وَمن برد النسيم على خمار)

Furthermore, Ibn Waki’ criticizes those who have not seen his lover before because once they do, they would have to apologize and admit that they understand his love for him. In the end, he asserts that those who prohibited his love before are the ones who are permitting it now. 


(أبصره عاذلي عَلَيْهِ … وَلم يكن قبل ذَا رَآهُ)

(فَقَالَ لي لَو هويت هَذَا … مَا لامك النَّاس فِي هَوَاهُ)

(قل لي إِلَى إِلَى من عدلت عَنهُ … فَلَيْسَ أهل الْهوى سواهُ)

 [8](فظل من حَيْثُ لَيْسَ يدْرِي … يَأْمر بالحب من نَهَاهُ)


Moreover, Al Tinnisi was a cheerful and ascetic man who loved and enjoyed life. He often mixed between his ascetic ideals and his sexuality. This is apparent in one of his poems in which he advised others to follow the ascetic ideals mentioned in Islam resembling the act of not following these ideals with the world abstaining from him the same way his queer lover abstains from him.

(ازهد إِذا الدُّنْيَا أنالتك المنى … فهناك زهدك من شُرُوط الدّين)

[9](فالزهد فِي الدُّنْيَا إِذا مَا رمتها … فَأَبت عَلَيْك كعفة الْعنين)


Remembering the Silenced Parts

Silencing the second story is problematic not only because it falsifies the past but also because it falsifies the present, especially with the ongoing view of seeing homosexuality as an intruding Westernization of the Arab identity. The story of Al Tinnisi clearly demonstrates that the truth is otherwise. That queerness had existed in the Arab World long before any foreign occupation, whether cultural, political or economic, had ever taken place. Resisting the erasure of the second story depends on retelling and continuously remembering our erased queer history. Telling complete stories gives those historical figures a sense of ownership of their stories and subsequently their sexuality.


[1] 1. أسامة اختيار،”ابن وكيع التنيسي،” الموسوعة العربية،

[2] حمود حسين يونس، الاتجاه الديني والأخلاقي في نقد ابن وكيع التنيسي، اتحاد الكتاب العرب، ٢٠١٨

[3]1. Bruce William Dunne, Sexuality and the “Civilizing Process” in Modern Egypt (Ann Arbor, Mich: UMI, 1996). 

[4] Julia Ashtiany et al., Abbasid Belles Lettres (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

[5]أبو منصور  الثعالبي، يتيمة الدَّهر في محاسن أهل العصـر (الجزء الأول)، ٤٥٤،  (دار الكتب العلميَّة، بيروت 1983م).

[6] أبو منصور  الثعالبي، يتيمة الدَّهر في محاسن أهل العصـر (الجزء الأول)،  ٤٤٧، (دار الكتب العلميَّة، بيروت 1983م).

[7] أبو منصور  الثعالبي، يتيمة الدَّهر في محاسن أهل العصـر (الجزء الأول)،  ٤٥٩، (دار الكتب العلميَّة، بيروت 1983م).

[8]أبو منصور  الثعالبي، يتيمة الدَّهر في محاسن أهل العصـر (الجزء الأول)، ٤٦٠، (دار الكتب العلميَّة، بيروت 1983م).

[9] أبو منصور  الثعالبي، يتيمة الدَّهر في محاسن أهل العصـر (الجزء الأول)،  ٤٦٢، (دار الكتب العلميَّة، بيروت 1983م).

LGBTQ+ Refugees in Egypt: Hopes and Aspirations

LGBTQ+ Refugees in Egypt: Hopes and Aspirations

LGBTQ+ Refugees in Egypt: Hopes and Aspirations

By: Muddaththir Mohamed Al Tayb Ali

LGBTQ+ individuals who were forced to flee their home countries and seek refuge in Egypt face numerous challenges. With an increasing number of refugees in the country, this critical segment of the LGBTQ+ community is gaining attention. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Egypt hosts over 270,000 refugees from 65 different countries, mainly from Syria, followed by Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Somalia. These individuals have fled their countries for various reasons, including conflicts, wars, violence, climate change threats, and persecution due to their sexual and gender identity.

The UNHCR office in Egypt provides protection services in partnership with local organizations. Services include healthcare, legal protection, gender-based violence prevention, child protection, and protection against detention and deportation. Any person crossing the Egyptian border can apply for asylum-seeker status at the UNHCR office. Upon application and verification, a yellow card is issued, which can be used to obtain renewable residence from the Egyptian authorities. After a period, the UNHCR conducts a refugee status determination interview to evaluate eligibility for asylum. The UNHCR has a booklet that is updated routinely to include all services available for refugees in Egypt.

Refugees and asylum seekers live in an urban environment in Egypt, primarily concentrated in Greater Cairo, Alexandria, Damietta, and various cities along the northern coast. However, in recent years, Egypt’s challenging economic conditions have significantly increased the needs of refugees in general and LGBTQ+ individuals in particular and the host community. With many refugees lacking a steady income source and facing rising inflation, basic needs are barely met. Other challenges include limited livelihood opportunities, language and cultural barriers faced by non-Arabic-speaking refugees, and limited access to sustainable formal education that could support their development and integration. Moreover, many refugees and asylum seekers rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs and access medical or psychosocial support, which has become increasingly urgent due to the accumulation and complexity of challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in Egypt. These challenges include legal and social obstacles that their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts do not face.

Although there is no clear legal text criminalizing homosexual relationships, authorities employ vague legal provisions to persecute queer individuals, such as those found in the law on debauchery and immorality. LGBTQ+ people in Egypt face social stigma. According to a 2013 American Pew Research Center survey, 95% of Egyptian society strongly rejected homosexuality, while only 3% accepted it. Given these statistics, it is clear that LGBTQ+ refugees in Egypt face significant challenges. When examining the experiences of individuals who have gone through forced displacement, we consistently find proactive and engaged people striving to help their communities. This is evident in the community-led initiatives for refugees, through which social services are provided, safe spaces are created, and support networks are formed, all backed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Refugees have always relied on mutual inspiration, demonstrating a community characterized by solidarity, unity, and mutual assistance through these initiatives or individually.

One of the active organizations in the Refugee LGBTQ+ community is  Al-Qos, founded by individuals forced to flee their countries due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. The association focuses primarily on providing support, guidance, counseling, and referrals for mistreated people, reducing the risks threatening their lives or freedom through various activities. Al-Qos emphasizes sexual health education and establishing support sessions for those living with HIV. The association’s Secretary-General (M.A) stated, “We are committed to inspiring our community and clarified that they follow a human rights-based approach focusing on equality, welcoming all refugees, including those with diverse sexual orientations, to provide services and education.” However, the LGBTQ+ community still requires greater efforts from the UNHCR, related organizations, and entities to achieve convergence and assistance in finding a permanent solution, especially as they work diligently to survive safely. It is noticeable that LGBTQ+ refugees in Egypt exercise a high degree of caution and restraint in a desperate attempt to achieve social integration and avoid crossing societal boundaries openly, adhering to values of respecting the community, and not engaging in confrontations with the authorities or the host society. This commitment reveals its negative personal impacts in the short and medium term, resulting in living with a false identity and high levels of depression affecting the LGBTQ+ community members, putting organizations and institutions under greater responsibility to help them overcome these issues. We cannot ignore the cases of sexual assault that individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, especially refugees, are subjected to, often exploited through dating apps specifically for the LGBTQ+ community, such as Grindr. These apps are known to be unsafe for everyone. As a result of their lack of awareness about the dangers associated with these apps, refugees often fall victim to sexual exploitation. Dozens of reported assault cases occur monthly in related organizations. With the growth of these complex and dangerous problems, several activists in LGBTQ+ rights organizations have launched awareness campaigns to educate the community about personal and digital safety, achieving the highest degree of self-protection. This activity has extended to include small, emerging initiatives and associations. 

Despite individual and collective initiatives and the enthusiasm of LGBTQ+ refugees to achieve safety and stability for their communities, they often find themselves in a vicious cycle, facing challenges they consider beyond their capacity. Herein lies the need to consider achieving a permanent solution for them through the UNHCR or working on what is known as complementary pathways, which involve all efforts made by refugees to find their way out to a safer place without risk and the refugee’s ability to help themselves primarily. The organization makes significant efforts in permanent solutions, and resettlement is carried out for individuals exposed to severe life-threatening danger. The UNHCR defines resettlement as the process of transferring refugees from their country of asylum to another country that agrees to admit them and eventually grant them permanent residence. Although this option exists within the UNHCR, referral procedures for resettlement consideration undergo difficult stages and complications, taking a long time. Many refugees complain about the slow procedures and the limited opportunities for this process, as only 1% of refugees worldwide are resettled. The UNHCR follows a system of equality and non-discrimination among those eligible for resettlement; therefore, the UNHCR establishes clear conditions and criteria to reach the resettlement stage, which include the following:

  • To obtain a refugee recognition document.
  • The individual must be over 18 years old.
  • Exposure to threats in the second country of asylum or imminent danger.
  • The person must be in urgent need of protection and have no local integration options.
  • The person must not pose a threat to the country of asylum.  

Once these conditions are met, the UNHCR refers the files of eligible individuals to a number of countries. Once the file is approved by the designated country, the individual is informed and referred to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to complete travel procedures to the third country of asylum.

Many organizations and associations continue to call for positive discrimination for the LGBTQ+ community, prioritizing them in resettlement options due to their unique situation, challenges, and risks that exceed their capacities. The UNHCR’s demands on countries to increase the number of refugees accepted through resettlement are ongoing. Canada is one of the most welcoming countries for LGBTQ+ refugees, and its immigration ministry has established partnerships with the Rainbow Refugee Association, which helps refugees reach Canada and simplifies complicated migration procedures. The Rainbow Railroad organization is also active in assisting individuals from the LGBTQ+ community facing life-threatening risks in unsafe countries to reach safer places. In addition, the organization is designing innovative programs to achieve stability and empowerment for refugees who have already arrived in Canada. Despite the existence of these and other programs that assist refugees, obstacles prevent the majority from accessing these channels, forcing many to wait for UNHCR resettlement procedures, which can take many long months and years.

LGBTQ+ refugees in Egypt are in a highly complex situation, but despite all of this, they serve as an example of determination and resilience, inspiring everyone, including the host Egyptian society. Activities of associations and initiatives exemplify this. However, the UNHCR needs to take additional measures to protect them from exposure to risks and double efforts to find permanent solutions for them, granting more seats to LGBTQ+ community members. It is essential to remove restrictions preventing access to complementary pathways. Other international organizations also have a vital role in pressuring countries to take the necessary measures to increase resettlement opportunities and pressuring the United Nations refugee agency to give LGBTQ+ community members privileged access to permanent solutions so they are not exposed to risks in their second countries.

The Nubian: The Cause of Censorship on Art in Egypt

The Nubian: The Cause of Censorship on Art in Egypt

The Nubian: The Cause of Censorship on Art in Egypt

By Hassan Ahmed 

Sayed Suleiman is an Egyptian artist with Sudanese origins and a monologist born in Nubia in 1901. The late artist Sayed Suleiman was born in the Nubian lands in the South of Egypt to a family with a decent income, with his father working as a lawyer after attending The Frère Schools and mastering the French language. Until his father faced a financial crisis that forced him to leave his studies, he turned to simple crafts. In his youth, Suleiman showed artistic talent, as he could mimic celebrities of that time, then he started looking for theater groups to join. And sure enough, he joined the group “Badia Masabni,” one of the most popular groups of artists then. He then started performing his monologue, which impressed many, and people began flocking to hear his monologues.

Sayed Suleiman is considered one of the main causes that led to censorship of artwork after he performed one of his famous comedy monologues, “Al-Sheikh Al-Aayek,” in 1927, where he was addressing the phenomenon of verbal harassment of women on the streets, which said:

It’s me Johnson Al-Aayek

a gentleman powerful in his presence

walking and frolicking

to the promenade

in a good mood

and then I saw

a pretty thing in front of me

and like a duck

I approached her smoothly

winked at her, so she jumped

and said hehe

I said oh my lord

you’re killing me

I’m melting

you’re my dolly

This monologue gained immense popularity, and despite the monologue lyrics being normal, Suleiman wore a bizarre outfit consisting of a shirt, pants, vest, suit jacket, and a silk scarf on top, with a turban on his head like the Sheikhs from Al-Azhar, which was a mix of all the trending articles of clothing at that time, including the outfit for Al-Azhar. The goal behind this mixture was to highlight the societal diversity and the spread of the harassment phenomenon throughout its layers. Still, with the monologue becoming popular in Egypt, Al-Azhar considered this an insult to the men of religion and attacked Suleiman in the newspapers. They filed a complaint against him in The House of Representatives and the Ministry of Interior until a formal decision was made to present his artworks to a specialized committee before performing them to an audience. This decision was generalized to cover all works of art. This incident began what is now called The Censorship of Art Platforms.

Suleiman is then mentioned in an article which was published in Al-Kawakeb Magazine in 1952 with the title “The Monologue That Created Censorship,” in which he said: “One night, I was on my way to the theater, where I saw three Azhar students standing with one of them telling another: “You can only deal with his kind by using force,” I opened the curtains while feeling danger, and I started performing my monologues, but the audience shouted “We want Johnson!”, so I had to sing the monologue.” The monologist continued his story: “After the curtains closed, the students approached me, and I tried to explain to them the intentions of the monologue and that it wasn’t poking fun at them, it’s only a comedic critique to what happens in real life, and that the clothes I wear are simply a physical caricature with no offense intended, but they were not convinced.”

He added: “The reports continued to The Ministry of Interior complaining about Al-Sheikh Johnson monologue, and at that time, some explicit songs were being broadcasted like the monologue “Close That Curtain in Front of Us,” which is what helped the ministry enforce Al-Azhar’s request for censorship on songs, so they sent a warning to not perform any monologues before presenting them to the committee, and an order to stop performing Al-Sheikh Johnson monologue, the cause of this crisis.” Suleiman moved between the theater groups “Badia Masabni, Al-Kassar, and Beba Ezz Eddine.” His theatrical and cinematic works totaled 41 artworks, which he started in silent cinema with the movie “Why Is The Sea Laughing?” in 1928, directed by Stephan Rosti, leaving his fingerprint in the history of Egyptian cinema despite scarcely appearing in cinematic roles, and ending with the play “To Five.”

Even when discussing art censorship in Egypt, the Al-Sheikh Al-Aayek monologue incident is mentioned. First, Egypt knew censorship for the first time during Bonaparte’s campaign in Egypt, where the French made the theater performances and supervised them, which was an enforcement of an active law in France since 1790. And in the era of Muhammed Ali Pasha, the first laws for controlling theater and obligating the presentation of theatrical scripts to a committee for checking them were passed.

And it seems that the first enforcement of this censorship was in Yaqub Sanu’s play “The Co-Wives,” which opposes polygamy, and made the Khedivate angry, so Sanu’s friends advised him to stop performing it, and he to save his theater. After that, he performed three plays that were highly successful and were liked by the Khedivate himself. Until some people of high status convinced the Khedivate that the plays contained hidden signs and hints that opposed him and his government, he ordered the theater to be closed.

As for Khedive Tawfik, he also decided to lay the groundwork for the Publications Act, which also regulates theater censorship. The act included a section that gave the government the right to confiscate and seize all artworks that conflicted with public order, moral order, or religious beliefs. A publisher, holder, or presenter of these works is punished with a 200 to 2000 piasters fine. During that era, theater censorship rejected “Youssef” as an example of a religious play, “Adham Pasha” as an example of a political play, and “Lovers’ Pole” as an example of government defamation.

In 1911, a law was passed to form the first theater committee – an Art Censorship Committee as known today – consisting of a president who is a governor of the police, and members who are a city health inspector, an electrical engineer from the Ministry of Interior, an architect from a government or municipal council, and a commissioner from the precinct within the theater’s radius. All of that confirms the internal control over art censorship, so it’s no surprise that the committee rejected the play “Donshuway,” about the infamous incident and crime towards the country’s peasants. The censorship kept getting stricter on Arabic theaters, and the government used several secret police officers to prevent acting out forbidden plays. It seems that the committee has stopped rejecting plays starting from 1936 and until the fifties of the twentieth century until censorship law No. 430 was passed in 1955.

Al-Azhar then officially joined as an art supervisor in 1994. As law No. 121 passed by the General Collective of Edicts and Legislative Sections of the State Council, Al-Azhar must partake in the examinations of literature and works that address and analyze Islam and the obligation of the Ministry of Culture and other bodies entrusted with its decisions.

After this history brief about art censorship in Egypt, we find that it is always imposed on art and creativity with political and religious motives, whether to preserve the prestige of Al-Azhar or the political system and to ensure obedience to authority figures and benefactors from it. There is no goal for this censorship other than maintaining the current authority status, regardless of what might result from this censorship in the future, since the last thing the censorship cares about is refining the public taste or discussing societal issues. What is noticeable is the continuation of this type of censorship, as after the January 25th and June 30th revolutions, the Supreme Council for Media was founded in 2016 according to law No. 92 as a final try to impose censorship on online spaces, especially after the state took complete control of the media sector using its security devices. It is a council that practices censorship in the era of information technology, so in addition to blocking rights and news sites under the guise of lack of necessary licensing, or receiving multiple complaints against them, on September 7th, 2020, the council issued regulations and licenses for online platforms, which include abiding by the country’s societal traditions and morals by these platforms.