All-Women Islamic Choir Smashes Gender Taboos in Egypt

In socially conservative Egypt, a trailblazing choral group is challenging male domination of a traditional musical discipline. The members of Alhour, Egypt's first all-women Muslim recitation choir, are determined to change that - challenging deep-rooted taboos about women singing in public or reciting from the Quran in the socially conservative country. Choral songs and recitals in praise of God and the Muslim Prophet Mohammad are a common religious custom in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, but they are almost always performed by men and boys, writes Menna A. Farouk for Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Alhour's Nema Fathi says her women's choir is determined to challenge deep-rooted taboos about women singing religious songs in public. "Women who perform music or sing publicly are often viewed as promiscuous. Since the choir's founding, we've faced widespread attacks by some leading Muslim chanting figures who discouraged us from taking this step," Fathi said. But despite the difficulties they face, Alhour's members are determined to keep going.



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