After the Massacre: Women’s Islamist Activism in Post-Coup Egypt

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Sarah ElMasry Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, Italy,

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Neil Ketchley University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway,

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This paper draws on event data and interviews to examine the effects of repression on the gendered dynamics of Islamist mobilization in Egypt following the 2013 military coup. Our analysis shows that women’s anti-coup groups were more likely to mobilize following the killing of up to 1,000 anti-coup protestors at Rabaa al-Adawiyya in August 2013. Women’s protests were also more likely in the home districts of those killed at Rabaa. Informant testimony indicates that the Rabaa massacre figured as a transformative event that female activists drew on to motivate their involvement in street protests. Taken together, our findings suggest that very harsh repression can enable women’s participation in Islamist street politics – but this activism can come at a considerable personal cost for participants. Women who joined anti-coup protests were subjected to calibrated sexual violence by Egyptian security forces as well as other social penalties.

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