(CNN) — She just wanted to be heard as one of her country’s legislators, and now she’s a social media star.
Hind Al-Fayez, a female member of the Jordanian Parliament, was in a heated exchange last week with a fellow MP regarding gas imports, when the floor was yielded to another member, Yahya Al-Saud.
“Sit down, Hind!” Al-Saud loudly repeated numerous times, before banging on the desk and yelling, “God curse the person who brought the (female) quota to Parliament!” By law, 15 seats in Jordan’s 150-member House of Representatives are reserved for women, with female members determined by election results.
The gender dispute, caught on video, has raised awareness of women’s rights issues in Jordan and across the Middle East.
“Sit Down Hind” has become a popular Twitter hashtag, as well as a popular meme on social media. The competing hashtag “Do Not Sit Down Hind” has also gained popularity. While some simply poke fun, the incident is also drawing attention to gender inequality.
One meme shows Al-Fayez sitting in a chair, and the caption reads: “a rare photo of Hind Al-Fayez sitting.”
One man tweeted, “The lady made a point. She should never obey and sit down. This #sexsim stupidity should be ended #sitdownhind”
“I now know for sure that my voice will be heard when I demand my rights in the near future #Sit Down Hind should be “Don’t Sit Down Hind. Thank you Hind Al Fayez for implementing your presence in the parliament, for unlocking your voice & rejecting to be silent,” a Jordanian woman tweeted.
Video of the parliament session shows that when the floor is yielded to Al-Saud, Al-Fayez continues to yell across the floor at another member of the chamber. Numerous parliamentarians are told to sit down.
“How can I speak?” Al-Saud yells, before cursing the female quota once again.
“The quota is better than a market stall!” Al-Fayez yells before she sits down, referring to what used to be the only acceptable job for women in the Middle East — running a stall in a market.
One man posted a song on YouTube, titled “Do Not Sit Down Hind.”
The lyrics, in Arabic, include:
“Enlighten me, why would Eve have to be silent if she were the stronger one?
Don’t sit down, Hind. Don’t sit down, Hind. Don’t sit down, Hind. Don’t sit down, Hind.
Explain to me how it happened that the woman’s role is only in the house?”
Al-Fayez explained to CNN’s Hala Gorani on Monday what was going through her mind during the incident.
“What I had in mind, and you can see the way I was staring at him, (was) ‘What are you talking about? We are now MPs, no matter what, if I won through the quota, if I won through the national list, (at) the end of the day I am a parliamentarian now. You judge me by my performance, you judge me by my achievements, not by being a female or male,'” she said.
“I am surprised by the media attention of #SitDownHind,” Yahya Al-Saud told Jordan’s Ammon news.
“By the end of the day what he did probably was for the advantage of the female, and not for the disadvantage of the female. It triggered a very important issue that we as Jordanians specifically, and Arabs in general, we are not taking women empowerment that seriously,” Al-Fayez said.