A personalized revolt
BY FARAH SAAFAN
With the preliminary results of the first post-Mubarak presidential election indicating that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Morsi may become our next president, Egypt’s future first lady quickly became the subject of heated debate on social networking sites.
Just as Egyptians began to wonder about Morsi’s wife, Naglaa Aly, a photo of her began circulating on the internet creating a web frenzy over her “look” as a conservative Muslim who dons the Islamic Khimar, a type of veil that covers the hair and falls loosely below the chest.
Aly, who in a rare interview said that she prefers to be called “Om Ahmed” (The mother of Ahmed) a reference to her eldest son, was born in 1962. She married Morsi at 17 and moved with him to the US where she studied translation and worked as a translator.
But the Twittersphere was not concerned with all that.
The sarcasm spanned the gamut between derogatory comments poking fun at the way she dresses to the image she conveys about Egypt.
Someone who goes by the name “XAtaturk” on Twitter wrote: “She looks unpresentable with this cape or drapes uniform,” while political activist, Mahmoud Salem, also known as Sandmonkey tweeted: “Diplomatic representation as first lady has nothing to do with classism but with the symbol of the country.”
And even though Aly hasn’t given any public statements regarding any vital public issues, Omar Shoeb tweeted, “It’s great to have a 1st lady who hasn’t the faintest idea about progressive women’s rights. She’s not the progressive woman figure our country deserves.”
But all that was just the beginning.
Cairo Scene’s lifestyle and entertainment website “The Scenario” wrote a post titled: Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Morsi? and posted a photo of Aly with a question to readers: “Is this the woman you want to represent Egypt?”
The post was removed later that day when the website and its owners were bombarded with outraged comments by the online community.
The fact is that anyone who’s ever stepped outside Cairo’s posh neighborhoods will realize that Om Ahmed does represent the majority of Egyptian women.
The preponderant portion of women in Egypt wear the same type of long loose veil and dress that she wears. The majority of women in Egypt are not familiar with couture and A line designers. The majority of Egyptian women share Aly’s social and cultural background which ultimately renders her the most accurate reflection of the majority.
Surprisingly many of her harshest critics were the very same activists calling for freedom, equality and human rights, but equally surprisingly demanding a ‘secular’ Egypt for all.
The frenzy over Aly’s appearance exposes how many so-called rights activists were merely seeking a personalized revolution that fits into their own views of how Egypt and Egyptians should and should not be.
Since none of Aly’s opinions and views are known to the public, it is unfair, in fact, unscrupulous, to be so judgmental.
If we were to judge how capable she is of being a first lady then our foundation must be based on her opinions on the issues that matter, such as women’s rights, human rights, poverty alleviation, health care and FGM.
What she decides to put on or take off is entirely a matter of personal choice and has little to do with who she is.