An Egyptian law requiring at least one woman candidate to be included on electoral lists is presenting a dilemma for the conservative salafist party Al Noor. They’re willing to put up veiled women as contenders but a photograph is a step too far.
So on its posters the party has substituted womens’ images, in some cases for a flower, or they appear in the name of their spouses. Men, on the other hand are afforded not only a photo but details of their function and status.
However Al Noor spokesman Mohammed Nour thinks image is unimportant: “People don’t vote for female mannequins. And even if you put a picture up of a veiled candidate, this does not interest people in any way. What interests us is that the candidates are qualified, we must focus on their CV’s and not on their photos.”
But talking to people on the streets of Cairo it’s clear that image does play a part in their assessment of candidates: “The chances of success for a veiled candidate are miminal.”
“If we do not see her face how can we vote for her? How’s does she express her ideas?
Women do have role in the party, and female members like Rana Jalal are supportive of the stance taken by Al Noor:“Myself or any other veiled woman, we want to play our role in society. Whether or not the veiled woman is at the head of the list or not isn’t interesting, because what counts is the willingness to serve the public interest.”