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Women share their stories of sexual assault at Haj; #MosqueMeToo becomes top social media trend

The #MeToo movement that originated after movie tycoon Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed a number of aspiring and famous actresses, became a global phenomenon.

Women – cutting across national borders – shared stories of how they were assaulted by both family members and strangers, creating global outrage.

More recently, several Muslim women came out to share their sexual harassment stories while visiting Mecca, the holy centre for Islam.

The first post was shared by a woman on Facebook, which has subsequently been deleted.

This is what it said.

“*I was afraid to share this because it might hurt your religious sentiments*.

While performing my tawaaf around the Kaaba after isha prayer, something really weird happened. It was my 3rd tawaf, and I felt a hand on my waist. I thought it was just an innocent mistake. I completely ignored. Then… I felt it again. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I kept moving. During my 6th tawaf I suddenly felt something aggressively poking my butt, I froze, unsure of whether it was intentional. I ignored and just kept moving slowly because the crowd was huge. I even tried to turn around but woefully couldn’t. When I reached the Yemeni corner, someone tried to grab and pinch my butt. I decided to stop there. Grabbed his hand and threw it off me *couldn’t move or turn around* I was literally petrified. Couldn’t even escape, so I stood, and turned around as much as I could, to see what’s happening, I turned around but… couldn’t see who it was.

I felt so violated. I felt unable to speak out. Stayed quiet because I knew no one would trust me, or nobody would take it seriously, except my mum. So I told her everything when I returned to the hotel room. She was incredibly confused and devastated. After this incident, she never allowed me to go there again alone.

It’s sad to say that you are not even safe at holy places. I’ve been harassed, not once, not twice, but thrice. My entire experience at the holy city is overshadowed by this horrible incident.

I believe it’s totally okay and important to be open about harassment.

Don’t know how many of you had a similar experience there but this incident has unfortunately left me feeling upset.”

Since the post several women have come out and #MoqueMeToo has become one of the biggest trends on social media.

But the longest thread was shared by Mona Eltahawy, a columnist with The New York Times, who had shared her experience in her book that was published in 2015.

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