Interview with a Muslim Sister

AFP interviews Makarem Al Deiri, one of the only two female candidates the Muslim Brotherhood is fielding in next month's parliamentary elections:

The only woman candidate backed by Egypt's influential Muslim Brotherhood, the 55-year-old mother of seven insists there is no point arguing for sexual equality, as such a demand "goes against nature".


"Women are men's partners at all levels, but their main role is to be good mothers who look after their children," Deiri said in Nasr City, the middle-class constituency in north-eastern Cairo where she is standing for election.


"Would women be happy if men were to stay home to look after the children while they worked outside?" she asks rhetorically.


"We believe that domestic chores are not less [than other types of work] and we oppose battling against men's superiority to women."


The widow of the late Muslim Brotherhood leader Ibrahim Sharaf, who was jailed from 1965 to 1974, Deiri is standing against a male candidate from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) -- Mustafa al-Sallab, a millionaire businessman in the ceramic industry.


One wonders why she is bothering to run rather than stay home to take care of her children or grandchildren. In fact, considering that she has a PhD in literature and is a professor at Al Azhar University, she must be a terrible mother. While I don't think it's necessarily fair or representative to zero in on her attitudes to women as AFP has in this article (I'm sure she has opinions on a lot of other issues), it's good to see some highlighting of attitudes that the Brothers tend to obfuscate when dealing with the international press. Or, in other words, that they have the sophistication of a turnip when it comes to interpreting the role of women in society, even when it flies in the face of common sense and their members' own experience. What are they, wahhabis?
4 Comments

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.