Arab feminist group banned
By Susan Mackie
The international Arab Women's Solidarity Association (AWSA), based in Egypt, has been outlawed by the Egyptian government, according to the November 7 Human Rights Co-ordinator newsletter.
The group has consultative status at the United Nations and has worked for the rights of Arab women in many countries since 1983. Organisation president Nawal El Saadawi is an internationally renowned writer and activist who was imprisoned under Anwar Sadat.
Supporters say the decree — by which all activities of the group were declared illegal, its bank account frozen and its office locked — is a reaction to the association's support for women's rights and opposition to the Gulf War. Egyptian government officials maintain that the banning was due to "irregularities"in AWSA's financial accounts.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights says this latest move by the government "represents a new assault on freedom of association which is already restricted in Egypt".
The law has not stopped international activity of the group, and Saadawi, who is now challenging the law in court, is looking forward to the group's upcoming conference in Algiers.