Nawal el Saadawi on Egypt’s Revolution

The current issue of Bidoun magazine features a very timely conversation with Egyptian feminist Nawal el Saadawi. Her view that “nothing has changed” in Egypt since January 25 of last year and her contempt for the co-optation of the revolution from all sides are views many other Egyptians share. Her singling out of Wael Ghonim is especially relevant. Ghonim recently appeared in Los Angeles as part of the ALOUD series of the Library Foundation of LA (which charged $20 per ticket, mind you), and somehow managed to simultaneously perform humbleness and assume the role of official Egyptian spokesperson with a straight face (a video of the event is included in the link above).

Is there any opposition you can believe in?

I am going mad. There is no opposition. The political parties like Wafd, Tagammu, and the Nasserites, they are all working together. It seems that I am the only one who is outside of all that mess. Do you feel that? Do you agree with me?

I am with the young people but the young people are divided. I read yesterday that Wael Ghonim is writing a book about the revolution and taking two million dollars as a fee! I am the one writing for forty years and translated into so many languages!

Here is another excerpt from the conversation (the rest of which is available here):

Tell me about anxiety. Are you anxious?

Today I am worried. I am not scared. I have immunity to fear. I am worried about the revolution. I feel that we are fighting big powers, America and Israel. And Saudi Arabia is paying billions of dollars to Salafists and fundamentalists so that we would say, “Oh, Mubarak, we need you.” It is all planned to bring the old regime back. Everyone is talking about the insecurity… Oh, the insecurity, the insecurity, we need security so that the business people will come and the foreign capital will come.

But we are not beggars to take US aid. We need to produce our own food. We need agricultural production, intellectual production. We have millions of young people ready to work, but no one wants them to work! We import ful medames from California. I eat ful from California! We import bread from California. And wheat. The textile factories — the best textile factories were closed for the benefit of what they call the free market. This is colonialism. We drink Israeli beer. They are replacing Egyptian production with American-Israeli production.

And the fruits! We once had the best fruits. Now the vegetables and fruits have no taste. None. I cannot eat a simple salad! I am worried. I have been fighting since King Farouk. And I am still censored by the media. Why does the media continue to try to make me quiet?

This is what makes people say I have afkar moayena. Like the doorman downstairs, or that stupid magazine.

I don’t care. I am eighty years old. I have been struggling since I was ten. Since I was a child I have dreamed of this revolution. I am disgusted. We don’t have good lawyers and judges who can be really fair. The judges will be against me in the end. Because they are religious and with the mainstream.


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