“In ‘53, we really wanted to compromise with the Muslim Brotherhood, if they were willing to be reasonable.
I met the head of the Muslim Brotherhood and he sat with me and made his requests. What did he request? The first thing he asked for was to make wearing a hijab mandatory in Egypt, and demand that every woman walking in the street wear a tarha (scarf). Every woman walking [someone in audience yells ‘Let him wear it!’, crowd erupts].
And I told him that if I make that a law, they will say that we have returned to the days of Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, who forbade women from walking during the day and only allowed walking at night, and my opinion is that every person in his own house decides for himself the rules.
And he replied, ‘No, as the leader, you are responsible.’ I told him, ‘Sir, you have a daughter in the Cairo school of medicine, and she’s not wearing a tarha. Why didn’t you make her wear a tarha?’
I continued, ‘If you… [crowd’s cheering interrupts] if you are unable to make one girl, who is your daughter, wear the tarha, how can you tell me to put a tarha on 10 million women myself?'”
Gamal Abdel Nasser, saying the now nearly unsayable in a 1966 speech in Cairo.
As Menachem Begin once observed, “Civilization is intermittent.”
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