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Why this 27-year old will be writing Egypt’s constitution

April 3, 2012

I have no doubt she’s “very smart” and a “wonderful human being” and now “a lovely mom” as I was told by her classmates (class of 2006) – some of whom I tutored back in the day – But 27-year old Fatima Abou Zeid, let’s put it plainly, wasn’t chosen by the Muslim Brotherhood to be part of the 100-person Committee tasked with drafting Egypt’s new Constitution because she’s a wonderful human being:

It’s because her father, Mahmoud Abou Zeid, is a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Council.

I’m always amused when the Brotherhood displays such aspects of Mubarakism that are, in fact part and parcel of their inherently undemocratic structure. They support outlawing demonstrations when they’re in power. They forbid Parliamentarians sit in – only when they’re in the majority: when their own parliamentarians did that back when the NDP controlled it (including today’s speaker of the parliament El Katatny), sit-ins were the apex of civilized protesting. Cronyism, well, was just another feature waiting for the opportunity to emerge.

They originally listed her as a “young researcher, BA in political science” under ‘Young people and Students’ – alongside Dr. Ahmed Harara, and some dentistry student who’s an Ikhwan member of course and whom they somehow chose to represent students, sidestepping all elected university Student Unions. Then of course her lineage became known.

In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood even published a strict denial, and in an article titled “Fatima Mahmoud Abou Zeid, scholarly credentials and political experience” (nice title!) gave us a long bio (as long as you can for a 27 year old) to convince us of Ms. Abou Zeid’s magnificence. The bio gives her age but doesn’t mention her graduation class, and informs us that she:

– Majored in political science and minored in economics from the English section of Cairo University’s School of Economics and Political Science (my alma mater!); we don’t know what her graduation grade was, only that she was “among the majors of her class”.

– received her Master degree from the same school; her thesis was titled “power relations and interactions in the Egyptian political system, the example of the constitutional reforms, 2005-2007”.

– And she has a diploma in political translation, and attended various other courses and workshops.

And that’s for the education section.

(I can very much imagine the conversation that took place at the Guidance Council –

“A’aight, who else? Think, ya beoble, we need at least another woman… hey, didn’t Mahmoud’s kid study the constitution or sumthin’? Let’s call him and see if he wants her on the Committee”)

[yes, in my imagination Ikhwanis speak in slang and have a Arab-Southern drawl. Or sumthin’. Don’t ask.]

After that, it reads like those resumes that land on my desk sometimes, of young people tired of their first post-college job and now trying to embellish their CV by including every task they did, from note-taking to coffee-making? (you know those. You usually smile and try to see the ‘versatility’ they want you to see in them.)

With the official title of “head of the research committee of the foreign relations unit of the Freedom and justice Party”, we have her detailed job description, which involved various reporting and writing and research etc.

Most of the tasks seem that she was putting her degree and fluency in English to good use.

The rest is about what she wrote during her work, what foreign newspapers interviewed her, which foreign representatives she met during her work with the foreign relations committee

Google translate the rest if you want.


Bottom line is this. I’m sure she’s a brilliant young woman and I’m sure we could have a delightful conversation over coffee.

But I’m equally sure I do not entrust her to write the constitution that will govern my future and determine my fundamental rights and those of my children. ARE YOU PEOPLE OUT OF YOUR FRIGGIN’ MINDS???

For the past few years the girl has been playing intern, ‘building a database’ (codename for data entry) and taking notes in the meetings of the foreign relations team of the MB, because her father is who he is and because, well, she’s bright and bilingual.

The Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t looking for talent to nominate – they’re looking for okay people within themselves. Fatima is young, and a woman – both good arguments that would push her candidacy for a spot in a council where 94% are men, mostly very grey ones with that.

I won’t go into which women deserved a spot on this council, others have done that. The short answer would be – well, perhaps any of Fatima’s professors at Cairo University would be better (save for the feloul). It is sometimes ludicrous, and unjustifiable to pick the student over the master.

Even if her father is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Council.

And for Pete’s sake, stop having your goons refer to her as Dr. Fatima. Inflating her credentials isn’t doing her any favours, it just looks bad.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. YQXO permalink
    April 3, 2012 12:05 pm

    “… perhaps any of Fatima’s professors at Cairo University would be better ”

    Says it all. Or perhaps student union elected.

  2. Focis permalink
    April 22, 2012 10:43 pm

    Looks like you revolutionaries got royally suckered. Not all revolutionaries do well, look at Robespierre. Lick your wounds, learn your lesson, and figure out how to win elections and amend the constitution if you don’t like it.


  1. Attention all dictators: A Manual for Constitutional Disaster « mohamed el dahshan. economist, writer, speaker, compulsive traveller.

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