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Dozens of Egyptian women chopped their hair Tuesday in protest of Egypt's new fundamentalist constitution. (Photo: Ahmed Abd El Latef / El Shorouk)

Egyptian Women Chop Their Locks in Protest of Fundamentalist Constitution

“It’s not our hair which crowns us women; our freedom does”

Lauren McCauley

Dozens of Egyptian women chopped their hair in Tahrir Square to protest the passage of Egypt’s new, fundamentalist constitution—Egypt's first since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Holding up their shorn locks protesters chanted, “A woman’s crown is her liberation!” and carried signs saying, “Your constitution is invalid,” “Don’t you dare try to marginalize the role of women,” and “A woman’s crown is not her hair, a woman’s crown is her liberty.”

The protest was held on Tuesday shortly before the national electoral commission announced that 64 percent of voters in the two-round referendum backed the new constitution; turnout was a scant 33 percent.

"They were upset by the passage of the new, Muslim Brotherhood constitution, and also by reports that fundamentalists stopped some women from going into polling stations to vote in the referendum on it," writes Middle East historian Juan Cole, adding, "They affirmed that they would continue peacefully to demonstrate, rally and camp out until the demands of the revolution were realized."

Daily News Egypt reports:

“Freedom costs a fortune,” Fatma Sherif, one of the organizers of the protest, said, “it’s not our hair which crowns us women; our freedom does.”

Sherif stated that women have been subjected to oppression since the early days of the revolution. She recalled incidents such as subjecting women to virginity tests, dragging them in the streets and stripping them off their clothes to prevent them from protesting.

“In the end, they produce a constitution which doesn’t protect our rights,” said Sherif.

Christians and liberals boycotted the referendum in protest of changes they saw as weakening human rights, particularly those of women, and the possible introduction of a form of fundamentalist Islamic law, AFP reports.

Despite the opposition, the Islamist-dominated Shura Council convened on Wednesday to swear in 90 new members appointed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Following the vote, Morsi immediately signed into law the charter, which had been written up by his Islamist allies.

According to Al Jazeera:

The charter gives the traditionally toothless upper house full legislative powers until elections for a new lower house is called within two months.

The upper house of parliament has taken over from Morsi, who had given himself the power to pass laws that led to days of violent protests.

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