An Egyptian Feminist and the Muslim Brotherhood

Nawal al Saadawi, the 79-year old famous Egyptian author and radical feminist, had spent 15 years in and out of exile and taught at Spelman College and Duke University. But for the past couple of years she was "back at home in Egypt, writing and organizing young activists."

In an online interview with Rebecca Walker, Dr. al Saldaawi said that she and others "organized the revolution" through "Facebook, mobile phone and email." When asked if she was "concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood or other extremist groups" seizing power she minimized their influence as an innocuous political faction:

From The Root:       

I am not at all worried about the Brotherhood. There is a lot of exaggeration about this organization, and it is used to frighten women here and Western women, too. The Muslim Brotherhood is a minority. They do not lead the revolution, and many of the men involved in the organization want a secular constitution. Men and women protested in the square and died in the square together.

No, it was not the Muslim Brotherhood who hurt women, it was Mubarak's people who entered the square and killed. All of this talk about the Brotherhood is an attempt to use religion to divide the people. Do not worry; the Muslim Brotherhood will never rule Egypt.

How odd then that a little over a year ago the once imprisoned fighter for women's rights did not hold the same view of the Brotherhood's agenda. In an August, 2009 report about the prominent revolutionary which provided a prequel to last week's uprising:

Nawal al-Saadawi criticized what she called "the unclean coalition" of some political movements that have allied with the Muslim Brotherhood under the pretext of fighting against the succession of power from President Hosni Mubarak to his younger son, Gamal. Her comments come only weeks after dozens of political groups and leaders formed a coalition to combat Gamal's move to power, including the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood.

She told Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Saba'a that the political movements in Egypt do not have enough popularity compared to the Muslim Brotherhood and that the Islamic group has been working and gaining much respect on the streets since the 1970s.

In a way, she argued, the opposition is using the Brotherhood to get their legitimacy with the people increased, but this will lead to coercion by the Brotherhood.

Saadawi explained that she is not against the idea of "coalitions" as long as it is "based on respect for others, respect for principles and this matter is not verified in the case of a coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood."

She argued that "the group claims that they are seeking democracy and freedom, but at the same time they deprive women and non-Muslims from seizing power and they claim that women are equal with men, but in the framework of Islamic law that permits polygamy."

Al Saadawi left Egypt in 1993 after receiving death threats from Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Her writings on women's sexuality, patriarchal religious oppression and the horrors of female genital mutilation make it especially difficult to understand her casual dismissal of the Muslim Brotherhood now that Mubarak is gone. Like the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper she seems to believe that the Brotherhood is nothing more than a secular relic with little power. Why the sudden shift from a little over a year ago when she sounded the warning bells?

Read more M.Catharine Evans at www.potterwilliamsreport.com
Nawal al Saadawi, the 79-year old famous Egyptian author and radical feminist, had spent 15 years in and out of exile and taught at Spelman College and Duke University. But for the past couple of years she was "back at home in Egypt, writing and organizing young activists."

In an online interview with Rebecca Walker, Dr. al Saldaawi said that she and others "organized the revolution" through "Facebook, mobile phone and email." When asked if she was "concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood or other extremist groups" seizing power she minimized their influence as an innocuous political faction:

From The Root:       

I am not at all worried about the Brotherhood. There is a lot of exaggeration about this organization, and it is used to frighten women here and Western women, too. The Muslim Brotherhood is a minority. They do not lead the revolution, and many of the men involved in the organization want a secular constitution. Men and women protested in the square and died in the square together.

No, it was not the Muslim Brotherhood who hurt women, it was Mubarak's people who entered the square and killed. All of this talk about the Brotherhood is an attempt to use religion to divide the people. Do not worry; the Muslim Brotherhood will never rule Egypt.

How odd then that a little over a year ago the once imprisoned fighter for women's rights did not hold the same view of the Brotherhood's agenda. In an August, 2009 report about the prominent revolutionary which provided a prequel to last week's uprising:

Nawal al-Saadawi criticized what she called "the unclean coalition" of some political movements that have allied with the Muslim Brotherhood under the pretext of fighting against the succession of power from President Hosni Mubarak to his younger son, Gamal. Her comments come only weeks after dozens of political groups and leaders formed a coalition to combat Gamal's move to power, including the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood.

She told Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Saba'a that the political movements in Egypt do not have enough popularity compared to the Muslim Brotherhood and that the Islamic group has been working and gaining much respect on the streets since the 1970s.

In a way, she argued, the opposition is using the Brotherhood to get their legitimacy with the people increased, but this will lead to coercion by the Brotherhood.

Saadawi explained that she is not against the idea of "coalitions" as long as it is "based on respect for others, respect for principles and this matter is not verified in the case of a coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood."

She argued that "the group claims that they are seeking democracy and freedom, but at the same time they deprive women and non-Muslims from seizing power and they claim that women are equal with men, but in the framework of Islamic law that permits polygamy."

Al Saadawi left Egypt in 1993 after receiving death threats from Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Her writings on women's sexuality, patriarchal religious oppression and the horrors of female genital mutilation make it especially difficult to understand her casual dismissal of the Muslim Brotherhood now that Mubarak is gone. Like the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper she seems to believe that the Brotherhood is nothing more than a secular relic with little power. Why the sudden shift from a little over a year ago when she sounded the warning bells?

Read more M.Catharine Evans at www.potterwilliamsreport.com

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