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Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi praises ‘Revolution of 2011’

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Summary of story from Women’s Media Centre, 7.2.11.

Legendary Egyptian author and feminist Nawal El Saadawi lived through the first Egyptian Revolution of 1952.

Now she has spoken out in admiration of today’s protests in an eloquent new piece.

Saadawi celebrates the diversity of a movement in which men, women, children, Muslims and Christians have come together as the Egyptian people, ‘under the banner of spontaneous popular revolution’.

She also notes that, despite the participation of many young women in the millions-strong uprising, there have been few reports of sexual harrassment. Other commentators have also remarked on this with surprise, in a country where any woman walking down the street expects to get groped (see article in Slate).

Saadawi, perhaps the most influential voice in Arab feminism of the 20th century, worked as a doctor and government minister before rising to fame following the publication of Al-mar’a wa-al-jins (Women and Sex) in 1972.

Since then she has been an outspoken critic of many aspects of Egyptian politics and Arab culture, especially female circumcision.

Saadawi has been actively involved in the protests and has used the opportunity to talk to many other participants. She spoke to one young man named Mohammed, who summed up the mood among the demonstrators:

“I feel proud for the first time in my life because I am an Egyptian. Some of us were killed, but we turned the defeat into victory, paying the price of freedom with the blood of our martyrs. There is no force that can bring us back to back.  Never.”

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