Nawal El Saadawi
Egyptian feminist writer (1931-2021)
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- Many people think that female circumcision only started with the advent of Islam. But as a matter of fact it is well known and widespread in some areas of the world before the Islamic era, including the Arabian peninsula. Mohammad the Prophet tried to oppose this custom since he considered it harmful to the sexual health of the woman.
- The Hidden Face of Eve (1980)
- The hijab has nothing to do with moral values. A woman's moral values are reflected in her eyes, in the way she talks, and in the way she walks. They put on a hijab and go dancing, wearing high heels and lipstick. They wear tight jeans that show their bellies.
- Statement on Al-Arabiya TV (3 March 2007), as quoted in "The Hijab: Is it Religiously mandated?" by Farzana Hassan and Tarek Fatah at Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
- I’m surrounded by young people, day and night. Thousands of them. The government is afraid of the young, and they won’t touch me because they know I have the power of the young people behind me.
- On how writers like her are protected by the younger generation since the 2011 revolution in Egypt in “Nawal El Saadawi: ‘Do you feel you are liberated? I feel I am not’” in The Guardian (2015 Oct 11)
- …This is everyone’s struggle—whether against men in the family, or against capitalism. It’s power. I don’t think that people in power can be convinced by words or articles. They will never give it up by choice. Even a husband in the house, no—power has to be taken with power…
- On struggles against oppression in “An Interview With Nawal El Saadawi” in The Nation (2011 Mar 21)
- …Nobody can help anybody. Nobody can help us in Egypt—we did our revolution alone, we liberated ourselves alone. I don’t believe in charity or “helping.” I believe in the equal exchange of ideas, and networking.
- On how Egyptians cannot rely on Western allies in “An Interview With Nawal El Saadawi” in The Nation (2011 Mar 21)
- We're not living in three worlds, we're living in one.
- On her overview of life despite being involved in various causes in “An Interview with Nawal el Saadawi, Egypt's Most Fiery Feminist” in Vice (2015 Nov 12)
Quotes about El SaadawiEdit
- The words of 75-year old Nawal Al-Sa'dawi, Egypt's leading feminist on Al-Arabiya TV on March 3, 2007, reflected her bitterness at how the covering of a women's head has been misrepresented as an act of piety and the most defining symbol of Islam.
All Canadian women have at some time in their lives, chosen to wear a head cover. In blinding snow storms or in freezing rain, the covering of the head, irrespective of what religion one practices, is crucial to one's survival in a harsh winter. Halfway across the world, in the deserts of Arabia, whether one was a Muslim or a pagan, the covering of one's head and face was at times an absolute necessity, not just when facing a blistering sandstorm, but anytime one stepped out of the home in the searing sun.
What was essentially attire necessary for a particular climate and weather, has today been turned into a symbol of defiance and at best a show of piety by Islamists and orthodox Muslims.
There is not a single reference in the Quran that obliges Muslim women to cover their hair or their face. In fact the only verse that comes close to such a dress code is (33: 59) which asks women to "cover their bosoms".
- The Arab Spring did a great deal for women because the person who spread the word in the first place was a woman. Women participated in it; they were fully out there in the street. Nawal El Saadawi is a founding figure of Egyptian and Middle Eastern feminism who wrote a book opposing female genital mutilation (of which she is a victim). She’s been banned. She’s been in prison. She’s now in her eighties and during the Arab Spring she was like the wise woman of Liberation Square, sitting in the middle of it as young women and young men came to her for instruction, for blessings, and so on.
But it’s very often the case with revolutionary moments that women are present but then they’re drummed out of it afterwards.