• MB News
  • October 27, 2005
  • 7 minutes read

Woman candidate for Egypt parliament holds men superior

Woman candidate for Egypt parliament holds men superior

Woman candidate for Egypt parliament holds men superior
Mona Salem
CAIRO —  Makarem Al Deiri is standing for election to the Egyptian parliament next month after a long academic career but she makes no bones about her view that a woman’s place is in the home.

The only woman candidate backed by Egypt’s influential Muslim Brotherhood, the 55-year-old mother-of-seven insists that there is no point arguing for sexual equality as such a demand "goes against nature".

"Women are men’s partners at all levels but their main role is to be good mothers who look after their children," Deiri said in Nasr City, the middle-class constituency in northeastern Cairo where she is standing for election.

"Would women be happy if men were to stay home to look after the children while they worked outside?" she asks rhetorically.

"We believe that domestic chores are not less [than other types of work] and we oppose battling against men’s superiority to women."

Widow of the late Muslim Brotherhood leader Ibrahim Sharaf, who was jailed from 1965 to 1974, Deiri is standing against a male candidate from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) – Mustafa Al Sallab, a millionaire businessman in the ceramic industry.

She is having to stand as an independent as the Brotherhood remains barred from fielding candidates of its own even though it is generally considered Egypt’s leading opposition force.

The Brotherhood currently has 17 supporters in parliament but is hoping to increase that tally to between 30 and 40 in November’s poll.

Analysts say that the movement’s decision to back a woman candidate is part of a continuing effort to broaden its appeal. The Brotherhood also backed a female candidate in the last legislative elections in 2000 and Jihan Al Halafawi’s supporters say that only vote rigging prevented her entering parliament.

Deiri, a mother of six daughters and just one son, lectures in Arabic literature at Cairo’s renowned Al Azhar University.

She holds a PhD from the same university on "Islamic references in the poetry of Hazef Ibrahim and Ahmed Shawki", two famous Egyptian writers.

But she is adamant that the drive for gender equality is behind many of the social problems of the West.

"Violence against women and children in Western societies stems from going against the idea that men are superior to women," she says.

"Almighty God entrusted man with being the family’s breadwinner and granted him the right to repudiate his wife.

"Women are impulsive, they ask for divorce and then they regret their decision."

She denies that her views prevent her being an effective advocate of women’s rights and vows to campaign against "men’s abuse of their superiority", if elected to parliament.

"The problem in our society is that Islam is misunderstood," she says.

"We must teach our children that the superiority of men also means the full respect of women’s civic rights and dignity."

Deiri acknowledges that she has a tough battle ahead if she is to defeat the ruling party’s candidate, but adds: "I only fear God.

"Being elected to parliament is not a goal in itself," she says.

"The goal is to serve people and reform corrupt laws. We want to govern according to our Islamic Sharia" law.