Winds of Change?

38
Egyptian Feminist Dr. Nawal Al-Sa’dawi has announced her candidacy for the office of President of Egypt.
Question: “First of all, Dr. Nawal, there is no doubt that your candidacy [in the Egyptian presidential race] has a message to it. What is the message that you would like to get across?”
 
Al-Sa’dawi: “My candidacy for the office of president of Egypt is meant to get across an ideological and political message – that we need to start to change the Egyptian and the Arab way of thinking, to encourage critical thinking, and to base educational values on debate, dialogue, and critical thinking, and not on obedience and subjugation… In addition, we must change the philosophical [basis] of the regime, so that there will not be a centralized regime and so that the regime will not be based on a single person, but rather on collective leadership… I want to repeal the law of immunity, since the more authority one has the more one has to be answerable [for one’s actions], and not the opposite. I want to amend the law and to separate between religion and state in all of the laws, including the personal status law..”
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Question: “Do you foresee an increase in the popular demonstrations demanding a change before the elections in September 2005?”
 
Al-Sa’dawi: “It is likely that there will be popular demonstrations for change before the elections in September 2005, and we may hope that they will be even stronger, that the people will make their voice heard, and that the [various] organizations, parties, and institutes will express their opinion.”
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Question: “Do you expect the ruling regime in Egypt to make use of the religious movement, which is opposed to you?”
 
Al-Sa’dawi: “It would only be natural. They have already used this movement against me; they ran a smear campaign against me and put me on their hit list. I was forced to live in exile for two years, and I cannot teach at the University of Cairo. On the other hand, I do teach in Europe, America, Africa, and Asia, and therefore, my candidacy is based on a demand for social justice, progressive culture, and the encouragement of critical thinking, creativity, and reflection. Education needs to be founded on freedom of expression.”
 
Question: “If that is so, are you trying to fight against the culture of fear that has made its way into the Arab mind?”
 
Al-Sa’dawi: “Yes. We want a true democracy, and that power should be in the hands of the people in the sense that they will be able to express themselves, to express criticism, and to bring down the government and to disband the parliament…”
Talk of true democracy, debate, dialogue, critical thinking, freedom of expression, as well as collective leadership. She sounds like a breath of fresh air. Right?
Question: “Do you support Palestinian suicide operations?”
 
Al-Sa’dawi: “Israel and the West call resistance operations ‘terrorism.’ The Iraqi resistance has now turned into ‘terrorism’ and so has the Palestinian resistance. Are we to castigate those who fought with their own bare hands and died [doing so]? Are we to criticize a woman who loads herself up with explosives, blows herself up, and dies? Are we to castigate her for having blown herself up after having seen her father and her brothers killed? If I were in her place I would load myself up with dynamite and blow myself up… How can I castigate the victim? There are those who [ask] why [the martyrs] don’t blow themselves up in army bases [rather than targeting civilians]. [But] many of them did blow themselves up at checkpoints and made every possible effort to do something worthwhile. I do not criticize the victim; I criticize the true criminal…”
The fresh air suddenly became very stale. And familar.
 
Why is it that for all the promising talk of basic rights and freedoms, dialogue and debate, Dr Al-Sa’dawi cannot apply these principles to the Middle East conflict, regarding which she encourages the wholesale slaughter of innocent people, as well as the suicide of the people she supports? Something is very wrong. I guess the years of indoctrination at the hands of Egyptian state-run television have taken their toll on her after all.

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An Aussie immigrant to Israel, David Lange is founder and managing editor of Israellycool. He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and single malt whisky.