Mona Eltahawy

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Mona Eltahawy
منى الطحاوى
Mona Eltahawy 2011.jpg
Eltahawy speaking at the 2011 Personal Democracy Forum
Born (1967-08-01) August 1, 1967 (age 49)
Port Said, Egypt[1]
Nationality Egyptian/American
Education American University in Cairo
Occupation Journalist

Mona Eltahawy (Arabic: منى الطحاوى‎‎, IPA: [ˈmonæ (ʔe)t.tˤɑˈħɑːwi]; born August 1, 1967) is a freelance Egyptian-American journalist and commentator based in New York City. She gained American citizenship in 2011.[2] She has written essays and op-eds for publications worldwide on Egypt and the Islamic world, including women's issues and Muslim political and social affairs. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and the Miami Herald among others. Headscarves and Hymens, Eltahawy's first book, was published in May 2015. Eltahawy has also been a guest analyst on U.S. radio and television news shows.

Eltahawy has also spoken publicly at universities, panel discussions and interfaith gatherings on human rights and reform in the Islamic world, feminism and Egyptian Muslim–Christian relations in addition to her other concerns.

Early life[edit]

Eltahawy was born in Port Said, Egypt. Her family moved to the UK when she was 7 and then to Saudi Arabia when she was 15. She graduated from the American University in Cairo in 1990 with a bachelor's degree and earned a master's degree in mass communication with a concentration in journalism in 1992.[3]


Eltahawy was a news reporter throughout the 1990s. She was a correspondent for the Reuters News Agency in Cairo and Jerusalem[4] and has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, the International Herald-Tribune and U.S. News and World Report.[5][6]

Eltahawy moved to the United States in 2000.[4]

From 2003 to 2004, she was managing editor of the Arabic-language version of Women's eNews, an independent, non-profit news website that covers women's issues from around the world.[6][7]

She wrote a weekly column for the Saudi-owned, London-based international Arab publication Asharq Al-Awsat from 2004 to 2006 before her articles were discontinued by editor Tariq Alhomayed for being "too critical" of the Egyptian regime.[8]

On November 24, 2011, she was arrested in Cairo while covering renewed protests in Tahrir Square. She was held in custody for 12 hours and accused those who held her of physical and sexual assault.[9] Her left arm and right hand were fractured.[5]

On September 25, 2012, Eltahawy was arrested for spraypainting an American Freedom Defense Initiative advertisement in a New York City Subway station that read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."[10]

Eltahawy's first book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, was published in the United States on April 21, 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.[11] The book is based on a controversial piece about misogyny in Arab society which she wrote for Foreign Policy in 2012, entitled Why Do They Hate Us.


Eltahawy was a board member of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America during its existence from 2004 to 2006.[12]

Eltahawy has been a strong critic of both the regime of Hosni Mubarak and the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood, referring to both as "old, out-of-touch men." In an interview in February 2011, she also expressed certainty that the Muslim Brotherhood could not "gain the support of the majority of Egyptians."[13]

In 2009, The Economist said that Eltahawy used the phrase "the opium of the Arabs" referring to Israel, describing, as the magazine elaborated, "an intoxicating way for them to forget their own failings or at least blame them on someone else. Arab leaders have long practice of using Israel as a pretext for maintaining states of emergency at home and putting off reform."[14]

Eltahawy speaks out on behalf of women's rights in the Arab world, including attacking female genital mutilation. In a May 2012 article in Foreign Policy, she wrote, "Name me an Arab country, and I'll recite a litany of abuses [of women] fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend."[15] She described herself as "a secular, radical feminist Muslim" in a 2011 interview.[16]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ "Critical Voices 3 - Speakers - Details: Mona Eltahawy". The Arts Council. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Penny, Laurie (2012-05-17). "Mona Eltahawy: Egypt's angry young woman". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  3. ^ Rabie, Passant (December 2009). "Egyptian-born, US-based Journalist Mona Eltahawy Challenges the Stereotype of the Arab Woman". Egypt Today. 30. Archived from the original on 2010-07-30. 
  4. ^ a b "Interview with Mona Eltahawy - Revolution in Cairo". Frontline. PBS. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  5. ^ a b "Mona Eltahawy Reportedly Detained, Sexually Assaulted In Egypt", The Huffington Post, November 24, 2011
  6. ^ a b "Staff and Contributors Bios". Women's eNews. February 3, 2004. Archived from the original on February 3, 2004. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  7. ^ Henley, Rita (May 18, 2003). "Women's eNews Celebrates Third Anniversary". Womens eNews. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  8. ^ Eltahawy, Mona (June 19, 2006). "A perilous dance with the Arab press". The New York Times. Retrieved November 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ Malik, Shiv. "Journalist Mona Eltahawy alleges sexual assault in Egypt detention", The Guardian, November 24, 2011
  10. ^ "Woman Arrested for Marring Anti-Jihad NY Subway Ad". ABC News. Associated Press. September 26, 2012. Archived from the original on September 29, 2012. 
  11. ^ Eltahawy, Mona (April 21, 2015). Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0865478039. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Bio: Mona Eltahawy". Palestine Note. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "Interview with Mona Eltahawy - Revolution in Cairo - FRONTLINE - PBS". FRONTLINE. 
  14. ^ "Which way will they go?" 23 July 2009, The Economist.
  15. ^ Eltahawy, Mona (May/June 2012). "Why Do They Hate Us", Foreign Policy
  16. ^ "Mona Eltahawy with Yasmine El Rashidi". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "Mona Eltahawy - Power 500 2012". Arabian Business. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  18. ^ a b "Mona Eltahawy". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  19. ^ "Muslim Women: Past and Present - Mona Eltahawy". Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 

External links[edit]