Fathiya Assal, Egyptian writer and women's advocate, dies at 81

Ayat Al-Tawy, Sunday 15 Jun 2014

Writer with a wide variety of TV shows and plays to her name was also at the forefront of women's issues and organisations in Cairo

Fathiya Assal
Fathiya Assal

Egyptian writer Fathiya El-Assal, known for being a staunch advocate of women's rights, died Sunday at the age of 81.

Her death comes after suffering a health crisis for which she received treatment at a military hospital in the southern outskirts of Cairo, state news agency MENA said.

Assal, a prominent playwright who was famous for a myriad of television dramas and theatrical works, gained wide acclaim for addressing social issues and campaigning for women's rights and freedoms.

The award-winning scriptwriter was at the helm of several women-centric organisations, having chaired the Egyptian Female Writers Association and the Progressive Women's Federation of the leftist Tagamoa Party.

Assal was at the forefront of an all-out mass strike last year under the culture minister appointed by then-president Mohamed Morsi, following a spate of sackings within the ministry that sparked a chorus of accusations that the Muslim Brotherhood was attempting to saddle the country's culture life with its own religious agenda.

Assal's death comes shortly before her last television work, the soap opera Segn Al-Nesa ("Women's Prison"), is due to be screened during the Islamic month of Ramadan, which falls in late June this year.

Assal was also known for her outspoken political views and activism that saw her arrested three times under former presidents Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Anwar Sadat.

Her funeral will take place on Friday at Al-Farouk Mosque in the south Cairo district of Maadi. The date of a memorial is still to be determined, said Mosaad Fouda, head of the Cinematic Professions Syndicate, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.


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