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Family Life According to Egypt Moslem Brotherhood: Bees, flowers, erratic emotionally…

Osama Abou Salama, professor of botany at Cairo University, told young men and women in premarital counseling classes: “Women are erratic, emotional, and they make good wives and mothers but never a leader or ruler”. Osama is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, The women did not object.

MONA EL-NAGGAR published on September 4, 2012

“Since the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power, much of the uncertainty over its social agenda is stirred by its undefined attitude toward women. Will the Brotherhood’s leaders try:
1. to impose a conservative dress code?
2. Will they bar women from certain fields of work?
3. Will they promote segregation at schools?

In a country where the vast majority of women already cover their hair, disregard any collective call for action and voluntarily separate from men in coed environments, that may seem academic.

Mr. Abou Salama asks anyway. “Can you, as a woman, take a decision and handle the consequences of your decision?

A number of women shook their head.

Osama to resume: “No. But men can. And God created us this way because a ship cannot have more than one captain.”

None of the 30 or so young men and women in the class winced.

More than any other political group in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is most fluent in the dialect of the masses. By upholding patriarchal and traditional values around a woman’s place in society, it garners popular support, builds political capital and reinforces a socially conservative paradigm.

Hania Sholkamy, anthropologist and associate professor at the Social Research Center of the American University in Cairo says: “The woman is the symbol of a moral platform through which easy gains can be made. Those who deprive women of their rights, limit their freedom or place them in a subordinate position believe that the political cost of doing so is very low.”

The lectures of Mr. Abou Salama, who has raised three daughters, are part of a four-week workshop dubbed Bride and Groom Against Satan and sponsored by Family House, a Muslim Brotherhood-funded charity.

Among its many activities, Family House offers financial support to struggling households, provides a matchmaking service and sponsors mass weddings for low-income couples.

Walaa Abdel Halim, the Family House coordinator who organizes the youth counseling workshop, says: “This is part of the reformist methodology of the Muslim Brotherhood. Shaping a righteous individual leads to shaping a righteous family and by shaping a righteous family, you get a righteous society that can choose a righteous leader.”

For Ms. Abdel Halim, 22, her efforts bore fruit when Mohamed Morsi was elected president in June.

At the time, Mr. Morsi gave assurances to protect the rights of women and include them in decision-making. Less than three months into his presidency, Mr. Morsi has already broken a campaign promise to appoint a woman as vice president. Instead, he named a team of 21 senior aides and advisers last week that includes three women.

Of those three, Omaima Kamel is a medical professor at Cairo University and member of the Muslim Brotherhood since 1981. One of her main areas of work and interest, she says, is women.

Omaima Kamel says: “Let’s face it, if your work took you away from your fundamental duties at home and if your success came at the cost of your family life and the stability of your children, then you are the one who stands to lose. A woman can work as much as she wants, but within the framework of our religious restrictions.”

Many analysts and critics of the Muslim Brotherhood see such vagueness as conducive to capricious laws and social constraints on women.

Ibrahim el-Houdaiby, a researcher of Islamic movements and former member of the Brotherhood, says: “There is an absence of a well-defined vision so they use words like “religious restrictions”.  O.K., sure, so what exactly are those restrictions so we can know them and figure out how to deal with them? As long as we don’t define what those limits are, then we can expand them to the point where women, practically speaking, cannot work.”

Outlining some parameters, Ms. Kamel listed “respect,” “modest dress” and “limited or no mixing between the sexes.”

In Mr. Morsi’s political program, called “the renaissance,” there is overt emphasis on a woman’s “authentic role as wife, mother and purveyor of generations.” The program then makes recommendations to safeguard family life; foremost among them are premarital classes for youth.

Free from the Mubarak regime, the Muslim Brotherhood’s social outreach programs have mushroomed. In less than a year, Family House expanded from a single office to 18 branches around Egypt.

Back at the mother branch, in the densely populated Cairo neighborhood of Nasr City, Mr. Abou Salama walks into a spacious room where front rows are for men, back seats for women. He lectures on qualities to seek in a partner, getting acquainted under parental supervision, dealing with in-laws and successfully consummating marriage. In his social paradigm, understanding that the woman was created to be an obedient wife and mother and the man to fend for his family holds the secret to a happy marriage.

“I want you to be the flower that attracts a bee to make honey, not the trash that attracts flies and dirt. A woman takes pleasure in being a follower and finds ease in obeying a husband who loves her.”” Mr. Abou Salama said, encouraging the women not to flaunt their bodies. All the women in the room were veiled; most of them wore long loose dresses, and four had full-face covers.

Note: So many “professors”, left and right, not feeling ashamed to display their stupidities…




June 2023

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