Leader Development & Education for Sustained Peace Program: Cross-Cultural, Geopolitical & Regional Education

Topic Debate: Why Do They Hate Us?

Background: In late April, Egyptian-American feminist and political activist Mona Eltahawy wrote a contentious article for the cover story of Foreign Policy magazine. The article, provocatively titled, “Why Do They Hate Us?” focuses on what Eltahawy describes as the misogyny that is so endemic to Arab societies that it amounts to a War on Women in the Middle East. The article received a myriad of reactions from those who agree with her depiction of the Arab world to those who view Eltahawy’s article as reinforcing negative stereotypes and generalizations of the cultures in the region. Below are some of the range of responses:

  • Foreign Policy magazine collected six responses to Eltahawy’s article.
  • Monica L. Marks, Rhodes Scholar and doctoral candidate in Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University, contextualizes Eltahawy’s article with the growing genre of “native informants,” which are personal testimonies of oppression under Islam. Marks explains the implications of these testimonies when written for a Western audience.
  • In “Women on the Ground vs. Women in the (Ivory) Towers,” Dr. Sherifa Zuhur, Director of the Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Strategic Studies, comes to Eltahawy’s defense and salutes her call to action.
  • Max Fisher, of The Atlantic, argues that while Arab societies undeniably suffer from deep misogyny, the cause of this problem does not necessarily stem from “Islam, Race, or ‘Hate.'”
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