Egypt's first female presidential candidate

Recently, I met Buthayna Kamel, TV-presenter-turned-activist and the first woman to announce she will run for the presidency her. Here's a bit about it from a profile I wrote up for The Daily Beast:

She, like women across the country, was an enthusiastic participant in the January 25 Revolution.

“Women are always at the front of revolutions,” she says. “But then men want to take all the results.”

But, she insists, “I’m not just women’s candidate. I am a candidate for all of Egypt.” She is running for “the peasants, the workers, the women, the handicapped, the Copts, the Nubians, the Bedouin”—all of whom are marginalized, all of whom have been denied their rights. To change women’s status requires changing all of Egyptian society, she says, learning to “accept others and accept criticism.”

In the piece, I discuss Kamel's recent appearance on State TV, which led to accusations of "insulting the army." I mistakenly say the show was pulled off the air. Actually, it ordered off the air but the presenter continued to the end, when he told the audience he'd been receiving calls from the director of Radio and TV to shut down, and wasn't sure he would be on the air again(!)--watch the end of this clip. As to what got Kamel in trouble, it appears to be her ballsy comments in the beginning of the program, in which she condemns the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for their dealing with the sectarian clashes in Imbaba, for torturing demonstrators and for carrying out military trials of civilians while Mubarak regime figures have yet to be prosecuted. 

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.