The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

al-Hodaiby answers Tahawy

Muslim Brother Ibrahim al-Houdaiby has responded to Mona al-Tahawy's critical column in the Forward on the group. In this pieces he distances himself from Supreme Guide Mahdi Akef's remark that she appeared "naked" because she was unveiled -- not the first time I hear Ibrahim condemn al-Houdaiby in favor of the person many see as the MB's real strongman, Khairat al-Shater. He also makes the argument that while the MB has not been successful at convincing the world (more importantly, I wold add many Egyptians) of its commitment to democracy, it is serious about establishing a dialogue with other political currents.

The Muslim Brotherhood Will Stand Up for All Egyptians:

Reading Mona Eltahawy’s September 21 opinion article, I felt more than ever that all Egyptians — regardless of their ideological orientation, gender or age — have a lot in common (“I Will Stand Up for the Muslim Brotherhood”). Eltahawy and I differ on much, yet we share a common objective and we struggle for the same cause of bringing real democracy, justice and freedom to Egypt.

Eltahawy is critical of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political orientation and stances on a number of issues, yet she stands with us in solidarity against the Egyptian government’s crackdowns. It is important that Egyptians of different political views defend each others’ political rights, as Eltahawy has done — and as several Muslim Brotherhood members, myself included, have previously done on behalf of opposition leaders Ayman Nour and Talaat El Sadaat and bloggers Kareem Amer and Sandmonkey.

Nor is that the only point on which we agree.

In her opinion article, Eltahawy criticizes the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, for calling her “naked” because she was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt and pants. I could not agree more with her.

Not wearing the hijab, or headscarf, makes a woman unveiled, not naked. I realize how offensive it is to call someone “naked” for not wearing a headscarf, and I find Akef’s comment unjustifiable.


I agree with Eltahawy when she writes that the Muslim Brotherhood is “the last man standing in Egypt.” I sincerely believe this puts an additional responsibility on the group, as it must shoulder the burden of helping others to stand.

As declared several times by leaders including Deputy Chairman Khayrat El Shatir (who is currently being tried by a military tribunal), the Muslim Brotherhood realizes that no single party or group will be able to solve Egypt’s economic, political and social problems. It is for this specific reason that Muslim Brotherhood members need to hear constructive criticism and advice from their political rivals, so we can all help each other move forward in pushing for genuine reform in Egypt.
Frankly, I find that neither Tahawy nor al-Hudaiby make a particular convincing case, and I find it odd that they are having this argument in America's premier Yiddish community magazine.