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AUC grads ban veiled girls from after-grad party
Published in Youm7 on 16 - 06 - 2011

CAIRO: The organizers of the American University in Cairo's after graduation party have banned veiled girls from attending tonight's celebration. Youm7 received confirmation via e-mail from one of the event's organizers that girls who wear the traditional Islamic veil would not be allowed to attend the event.
“Simply this party is a cocktail alcoholic party,” the e-mail said, clarifying that the event, which will be held at the Intercontinental City Stars and costs 350 EGP (U.S. $60) per person, is a “cocktail party” and not a “gathering.”
“This is a door policy all around the world veiled girls are not allowed in such places,” the e-mail added, although the hotel where the event will be held often hosts weddings and other events with veiled guests. “Out of respect to my religion why should I show up in such places [veiled]?”
“Sorry,” the e-mail ended.
The response was sent from the event's official e-mail, but the author did not identify him- or herself.
The decision has started an uproar on social media websites, with few voices defending the decision and most – AUC and non-AUC, veiled and not – decrying the ban as discrimination against women.
Many AUC students are furious with the decision, saying if a woman is veiled it should be her choice to attend such events or not and the decision should not be forced upon her. Farida Ezzat, a female AUC student, told Youm7 she was “absolutely appalled.”
“Whoever's responsible for this is manipulating the alleged ‘rights' of ‘private' events to perpetuate intolerance and suppress women's most basic rights,” she said.
The after-party is not organized by AUC or its Student Union but by independent AUC students. The Facebook event states, "To all you partygoers, hipsters we are inviting you to the AUC AFTER-GRAD party presenting you exclusively for the first time the flamboyant, theatrical and sizzling burlesque show flying to you from Spain to mark your night as one to be remembered."
One of the student organizers is Gamal Kharma. Asked by AUC student Sarah Abdelrahman via Twitter whether rumors of the veil ban were true, Kharma responded, “Yeah, didn't you take of your veil? Come!”
After an outcry by Abdelrahman and other students, Kharma defended himself, also via Twitter, saying the decision was not his, but that “we're abiding to a dress code where you can't wear a hijab, jeans, a t-shirt, a galabeyya, etc.”
Sarah later posted on her twitter account, “It's up to me as an active citizen to point out discrimination wherever I see it. Towards veiled, Christian, anyone! Equality is absolute.”
The event's private Facebook event, which Youm7 obtained a screencap of, does not mention the veil ban, nor does the event listing on the website, ‘CairScene.com.' Both sites state the dress code as: “Ladies go over the edge with vintage glamour, men 1920's suits should be your cue.”
Some have defended the decision to ban veiled girls from the party, either because seeing them would make other partygoers uncomfortable or because they are “protecting” them from an event they “shouldn't want to attend anyway.” It is worth noting that veiled women are prohibited from entering many of Cairo's bars and clubs.
The theme of the event is ‘Burlesque,' and Spanish burlesque dancers are reportedly being flown in to perform.
“We're making religious decisions for them… Who are we to decide how they should interpret their faith?” asked Ezzat.
Yet despite the debate over whether veiled girls should be allowed to attend such events for religious reasons, it seems the ‘image' of veiled girls attending a party was also part of the organizers' decision to ban them. The author of the e-mail sent to Youm7 also said the event's organizers were “going global” and implied that the decision also reflected that such parties “get ranked from abroad.”
“This is not about religion,” Ezzat said. “This is an implicit political statement intended to stifle and shackle women. It's a disgrace to see that we're still trying to conform to Western values to ‘be cool.'”


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