News / Middle East

    Egyptian Woman Works to Overcome Political Divide

    Egyptian Woman Works to Overcome Political Dividei
    X
    October 04, 2013 2:59 PM
    Egypt is in the midst of profound polarization, with supporters and opponents of the government facing off on the national stage, as well as the personal one. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott reports on one woman trying to overcome the differences.
    Elizabeth Arrott
    Egypt is in the midst of profound polarization, with supporters and opponents of the government facing off on the national stage, as well as the personal one.  

    In a country divided over the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi, Sherien Fadel is on the losing side.

    Outside her apartment in the northeast of Cairo, a poster of Morsi has been defaced, a metaphor for the government's efforts to erase all traces of his Muslim Brotherhood from Egyptian public life.

    Fadel, who wears a niqab, is devout. But for her, the issue is not the loss of an Islamist leader, it's the subversion of the process that brought him to power.

    "I believe in democracy," Fadel said. "I was happy when we had elections, when we had a constitution. I was happy to see people standing in queues to vote. It was an amazing picture.”

    Sherien Fadel and friends display the rival hand signs of pro and anti government Egyptians. (Courtesy Sherien Fadel)Sherien Fadel and friends display the rival hand signs of pro and anti government Egyptians. (Courtesy Sherien Fadel)
    Fadel is one of Egypt's politically engaged, taking to Tahrir Square against the government in 2011, and again in August, dodging bullets in Rabaa Square against defacto leader Gen. Abdel Fatah el-Sissi.

    It's a national divided mirrored in Fadel's family.

    "My parents, my sisters, my brothers-in-law, no," she said. "They all, also my aunts, I have two aunts, and they're also Sissi supporters."

    None of her family members would join Fadel to talk about Egypt's polarization. Fadel says that even in victory, they find the atmosphere stifling, with the resumption of emergency law and old fears of the police state renewed.

    "The first thing they think about is, 'We shouldn't talk. We shouldn't talk about politics. We shouldn't talk about anything,'" she said.

    Not so Fadel, who keeps the memory of those killed in the crackdown on Morsi supporters alive via Facebook. Her homepage features a tribute to those who fell, standing next to her during the government crackdown on August 14.

    Fadel also runs civil disobedience campaigns, including a boycott of telecommunications companies that cut off service to the area during the protests, as well as urging people not to pay their government utility bills.

    "This campaign is [to] very hard punish our government, because they don't have any revenue," she said.

    It's enough to keep her father from even viewing her page, for fear the government monitors online activity.

    But for all the stand-taking, Fadel is a great believer in reconciliation, something in short supply as both the military and the Islamists harden their positions and a zero-sum political game seems the only one being played.

    She is still close with her family and maintains friendships across the political divide. She shows photos of her and her friends, smiling as they display the symbols of the rival pro and anti-government camps.

    "We have different opinions but, at the end, we are humans," she said. "We should be together. That's the point that most didn't recognize."

    Fadel says that if the other side can win in proper elections, not a coup, she will support them. Respect, she says, is a simple act of democracy, one she hopes more people here will some day show.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    October 04, 2013 12:32 PM
    As long as there are people like Fadel still campaigning for the Muslim Brotherhood, the stalemate will continue for a long time. The motto of life should be forward ever, why should people keep living in the past? To return Morsi to the state house is mission impossible, what does it take to knock that into the likes of Fadel's head? In the long run, the Egyptians will start complaining that El Sissi has stayed too long in the office. May be people like Fadel are paid to ensure this happens, but we know that no one goads the army to which Sissi belongs.

    If Egypt must move forward to achieve a political transition, the Muslim Brotherhood should drop whatever grouse it has against the country and agree to a political arrangement that will pave the way for political activities to restart. It will be suicidal for Sissi and the interim government to start political transition under the present circumstances created by the MB and the likes of Fadel. Their only contribution to Egypt is chaos. It must be rejected, but if the army rises to show its rejection of this, Fadel and her like will give it another name. So Fadel should step down and allow Egypt to move forward.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora