Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Brave Egyptian Woman

I realized that I never wrote about Egyptian women that I consider important role models for our society. The only exception was my essay about Hend el Henway, who challenged the male-dominated Islamic laws and managed to force Ahmad el Fishawy (a Muslim preacher/actor) to acknowledge that he is the father of her 2-years-old daughter. Today I will talk about another brave Egyptian woman, a woman I consider a pioneer for Egyptian women’s civil rights. I will discuss Dr. Nawal el Saadawy. Here are some of the contributions of this Muslim woman to our society:

She was the first to launch a campaign against women’s sexual mutilation. In Egypt, Islamic laws allowed the cutting of women’s clitoris, a terrible surgical operation that leaves women psychologically and physiologically damaged and unable to enjoy sex. She faced fierce resistance from the monkey shikh shaarawy who told her that she is challenging Allah’s law( see my post about him)
She was the first woman in Egypt’s history to run for president and was later removed from the ballot for unknown reasons
She was the first woman to say that pilgrimage is a sign from the pagan era and that Muslims should not spend these billions of dollars in doing things the pagans used to do
She was the first woman to speak out against the head cover (or hegab) and say that it is a sign of women’s oppression and possession by men.
Dr. Nawal was the first to advocate giving the rights for both men and women to carry their mother’s name and not being ashamed of it. You know that if you look at people’s old national id, there is a place for the mother’s name that is usually omitted because it is a shame for you to reveal your mother’s name. How sick and low!
Dr. Nawal bravely faced a law suit that threatened to separate her from her husband because she turned out to be an “infidel who left Islam.” She did not let them and she won.
She was the first author to expose Sadat’s romantic relationship with Islamic fundamentalists and how he used to them to kill socialists and communists. She ended up in jail for writing an article about that.
She was the first Egyptian author to talk about our inability to govern ourselves and how we let the government control everything.
She was challenged by the Azhar, a Muslim entity that controls the release of novels and movies, for writing a novel titled “the fall of the Imam”
Dr. Nawal is one of Egypt’s most prolific and talented writers. I enjoy reading her work and watching her talk in TV. I am inspired by her to write about societal ills. She is a true rebel and a dissident who always fought for the rights of the oppressed and marginalized. She is one of my most favorite Egyptians. If we only have few women like her in this country, we would not have had such a mess. She is not ashamed of her courage or her gender. She speaks her mind and she is getting a lot of ears.

For more on Dr. al Saadawi check out her website:


Anonymous Sarah said...

I'm sarah from egypt, i just wanted to tell you that i admire your courage and your will to speak your mind, and this is why you were attracted to the strength of someone like Dr. El Saadawy. I'm currently running an extensive research on her, and i'm as equally impressed, she's someone i really look up to, and hope to be like one day, here in egypt, she's truly one of a kind..take care..god bless ya.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Yazz said...

I read two of Nawal El Sadaawi's books I believe. I am also really happy that she exists! Indeed if we had more women like her (and not only in Egypt), we could change a lot.
Do you know whether she still lives in Egypt and if she organizes gatherings or something like that?

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Marina said...

I went to NYU to watch and hear Nawal El Sadaawi speak. She is fenomenal woman. At 80 years old she acts and sounds much younger. She is certainly very brave and draws her courage from creativity. She didn't let men, any god, or oppressive regime silence creativity in her. I read two books by her in a breathe, and the third one is waiting for me.
You can read my thoughts on witnessing her speak in my blog http://marinabrennan.com/.

11:31 AM  

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