And what better way to appease Western liberals, worried about having cosied up to a mass-murdering tyrant, than to champion that favourite cause of Western elites: the victimhood of women. The characterisation of assaults as being in crowded public places also gives Sisi a legitimate reason in the eyes of the West to brutally crack down on any public gatherings. The fact that many of his political rivals are angry, bearded, Muslim men means that few in the West will be likely to challenge such repression. Sexual-harassment laws in the West are becoming ever more authoritarian in nature, allowing the state to encroach further and further into the realms of the workplace and our private relationships; why would we expect such laws to have a progressive effect in Egypt?
Far from being an out-of-character policy for Sisi’s otherwise brutal regime, the new laws chime perfectly with his totalitarianism. He can both present himself to the West as having made liberal reforms, while simultaneously using the issue of women’s safety as a smokescreen for any future crackdown on dissent.