Inside the Muslim Brotherhood: "living the other side of existence"

Afaf El Sayyad tells Jane Gabriel about living within a strict section of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, what drove her to leave, and how it felt to take off her veil after eleven years

Jane Gabriel
22 May 2008

Please note this interview is conducted in Arabic and English.

Download & Listen

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.

For more podcasts, articles and blogs on related issues, visit the 50.50 homepage here.

US election: what's at stake for the rest of us?

Our editor-in-chief, Mary Fitzgerald, is on the ground in key battleground states ahead of the US election.

There's never been more at stake. But the pandemic has kept many foreign journalists away. Hundreds of international observers who normally oversee US elections aren't there.

Hear Mary describe what she's seeing and hearing across the country, from regular citizens to social justice activists to right-wing militias arming themselves for election day.

Plus: hear from the journalists behind openDemocracy's latest big 'follow-the-money' investigation, which lifts the lid on how Trump-linked groups have exported their culture wars across the world.

Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 29 October, 5pm UK time/1pm EDT.

Get 50.50 emails Gender and social justice, in your inbox. Sign up to receive openDemocracy 50.50's monthly email newsletter.


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData