Brotherhood leaders hinder role of sisters, says former senior member

Ahram Online, Thursday 15 Nov 2012

Kamal El-Helbawy, the Brotherhood’s former spokesperson in Europe, criticises Islamist group for preventing women from taking on leadership roles; some Muslim Sisters deny they are looking for higher representation within group

Kamal El-Helbawi
Kamal El-Helbawi (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Muslim Brotherhood leaders are hindering an increased role for women within the group, Kamal El-Helbawy, a former senior member, said Wednesday.

A new charter to reflect the demands of the Muslim Sisters, the group’s female wing, is currently being considered by the Brotherhood, El-Helbawy added. The new charter is designed to reflect the demands of women who aspire to hold leading positions within the Brotherhood.

"There will be discussions regarding the possibility of [Muslim Sisters] participating in administrative meetings, and for a female representative to sit on the Guidance Bureau and the Shura Council," said El-Helbawy, who noted that the role of women was also limited in most liberal and secular parties in Egypt.

"The problem with the Muslim Brotherhood is that its leadership hinders the growth of women’s roles within the group," El-Helbawy, former spokesperson for the Brotherhood in Europe, said on Saturday.

El-Heblawy resigned from the group during a live TV broadcast after the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie announced the group would nominate his deputy, Khairat El-Shater, to stand for president of Egypt.

Meanwhile, several female members of the Muslim Sisters have denied looking for higher representation within the group.

Sabah El-Saqari, a member of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, told the Al-Ahram Arabic website on Tuesday that she rejected demands to give Muslim Sisters higher position within the Muslim Brotherhood. 

"The Brotherhood was subject to frequent security crackdowns in the past, especially during the Mubarak era ... It was not acceptable for the group to see its female members subjected to arrest or torture," she said.

Echoing the views of El-Saqari was Muslim Brotherhood Constituent Assembly member Azza El-Garf.

El-Garf told Al-Ahram on Tuesday that there was no need to increase the role played by women within the group, as they were already "being listened to."

She further stressed that the Brotherhood had "strict regulations" governing working relations between women and men, which "cannot be ignored."

The Muslim Sisters were only recently granted the right to vote in the Islamist organisation's internal elections.

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