Egypt’s Nawal El Saadawi: ‘We Will Not Let Egypt Burn’

For more than five decades, the famed Egyptian physician, writer and feminist has been fighting the powers that be. The Root caught up with her just hours before President Mubarak stepped down.

The activist protesting in Barcelona in 2004 (Courtesy of AFP/Getty Images)

NS: I don’t expect the power or support or interference of anyone, of any government. We here in Egypt are fed up with U.S. colonialism. Obama is a pragmatic person and thinking of the interests of his country; I understand this. But now he is confused: One minute he supports Mubarak, one minute he doesn’t; one moment he is afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood, the next he is not. Now I believe in the people of Egypt only, I depend on the people of Egypt only.

TR: Your work has mainly revolved around women’s rights and equality. How are these issues playing out in the revolution? What is the role of women on the ground?

NS: Women and men are in the streets as equals now. We are in the revolution completely. Of course if you know the history of revolutions, you find that after the revolution, often men take over and women’s rights are ignored. In order to keep our rights after the revolution, women must be unified. We must have our women’s union again. We cannot fight individually.  

TR: How do you know that the people who will follow Mubarak will honor your hopes for change?

NS: This revolution changed everything. In history, the millions win, that is democracy. Now the people in the street say no to Mubarak and then will form a temporary government, protected by the army. Then we have to protect the revolution from being aborted; that is the most important fight.

I must go now. There are many people waiting here for me. It is time to go on and do the next things that must be done.

Rebecca Walker writes frequently for The Root.

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