Please note this interview is conducted in Arabic and English.
Novelist and short story writer Afaf El Sayyed was recruited to join a strict Muslim group while she was at university in Egypt. She spoke to Jane Gabriel about the eleven years she spent inside the movement "living the other side of existence" before finding a way to leave.
Afaf El Sayyed says that it was studying philosophy that liberated her mind and through Sufism she liberated her soul, and that over years of reading and thinking she gathered the strength to leave the group. The day she took off her veil she says was "like jumping into an unknown dark void".
Today Afaf runs the Heya Foundation in Cairo which works to end all religious discrimination against women. She is also a successful writer having published seven books including three collections of short stories. "A Gate of Love", " Door of Loss" and "Conditions of Love" and a novel called "Thin Legs for Lying".
She is a member of the Karama movement working to end violence against women across the Arab region.
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