Arab writers opining on Middle East issues, unpack worrying syndrome of men’s sexual harassment of women; Israel seeking a modus operandi in dealing with Iran and President Putin’s respect for Islam.

Unacceptable Behavior Toward Women

By Khaled Montaser

El-Watan, Egypt, May 5

One of the most concerning phenomena we’re witnessing among our younger generations today is predatory behavior toward women. This behavior consists of harassing any young woman who dares take to the street with her hair untied or while wearing a piece of clothing that reveals some skin. You find a terrifying number of young men and teenagers descending into the streets and parks like hungry hyenas, looking for their prey. They congregate in groups, catcall, harass and assault innocent women who pass by them. Their worldview is distorted and sick. It is supported by a long tradition of degrading and dehumanizing women. And unfortunately, these anti-women sentiments also are common on our computer and television screens.

In Plain Sight. Young Egyptian boys sexually harassing women crossing a busy Cairo street. (File photo courtesy:

Our children are playing video games and watching movies and television shows that give them a dangerous conception of toxic masculinity.  What’s even worse is that these messages also are echoed by some religious preachers, who fault women for “seducing” men with their clothing and appearance. To them, a woman appearing in public with uncovered hair is inviting this despicable behavior upon herself. Needless to say, women have full control, decision and liberty over their bodies. They can dress however they see fit and wear their hair in whatever way they want. This doesn’t give license to anyone to approach them and harass them on the street. Educating our children against this kind of repulsive behavior begins at home.

– Khaled Montaser

Israel and Its Stance Toward Iran

By Tariq Fahmy

Al-Ittihad, UAE, May 6

Israel is home to a handful of think tanks and research centers focused on identifying the risks and challenges facing the state in the short and medium term, while developing long-term national strategic visions. The best political and strategic minds in Israel work at these centers. A core focus of these research centers in recent months has been the issue of a nuclear Iran. Specifically, Israeli experts are busy analyzing how the failure of the recent negotiations with Iran over a renewed nuclear deal will affect the future of the region. Based on the reports and briefs published by these centers, it seems as if there still are a few major gaps between the Israeli and American positions on the Iranian nuclear file. The bilateral discussions held recently between the two countries didn’t help close the gaps. The US administration warned Israel against taking unilateral measures against Iran that would sabotage the agreement. The Americans also tried to convince their Israeli counterparts that the agreement poses no real risk to Israel’s security. Meanwhile, growing voices in Israel warn against overreliance on the US and are calling for Israel to develop its own plan of action against Iran’s nuclear program, even if it requires entering into a direct confrontation with Iran.

Sticking to his ‘Guns’. Following his landslide victory, Iran’s then president-elect said he wouldn’t meet with US President Joe Biden, nor negotiate over Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its support of regional terror groups.

The US administration realizes that silencing Israel’s voice isn’t as simple as it seems. Concluding arms deals, financing the Iron Dome system, or allocating additional resources to Israel’s Arrow system won’t silence the Israeli government. Rather, the US must respond to Israel’s comprehensive security concerns and protect it from any future war with Iran. The advice given by Israeli strategists to Naftali Bennett’s government focuses on the necessity of separating the strategic from the political, focusing on Israel’s long-term priorities regardless of the agreement signed between Washington and Tehran. In other words, if Israel feels a need to protect itself from an external threat, it may very well take unilateral action without receiving permission from anyone.

– Tariq Fahmy

President Putin and Islam

By Farouk Jweideh

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, May 7

President Vladimir Putin grew up in the Soviet era, in a political climate that rejected the concept of religion. Soviets were pushed to abandon religion and “convert” to atheism. Indeed, religious property was confiscated, while religious figureheads were harassed and ridiculed. However, the recent war between Russia and Ukraine revealed many mysterious aspects of President Putin’s personality and worldview. For example, the Russian president condemned the publishing of cartoons that offend the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Putin stressed that this is far from freedom of creativity, and demanded that people respect sanctities, even if their beliefs differ. He subsequently banned the publishing of any cartoons depicting the prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, in all Russian media. Among the stories that are told about President Putin is that he puts a copy of the Holy Quran on his desk and often reads verses in his meetings and conversations with Muslim leaders.

Religious Tolerance. Speaking in 2015 at the reopening of Moscow Central Mosque alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin said: “Muslim opinion leaders always contribute to the development of peace and common sense against extremism in Russia.”

He used to give copies of the Holy Quran to Muslim presidents, including historical copies, as happened with the president of Iran, the emir of Qatar, and the president of Syria. Some claim that this is mere political propaganda, but others believe that this is due to Putin’s respect for religions. Today, Russia has 6,000 mosques and millions of Muslims who enjoy full freedom of worship. Throughout history, Russia hasn’t witnessed any major hostility with Islam, nor did it enter any religious conflicts. The Islamic republics preserved all their religious and social rights. This explains President Putin’s warm relations with the peoples of these republics and respect for their religions, especially since many of them have a long history with Islam.

-Farouk Jweideh

*Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

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