90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Egyptian Human Rights Activist Asks What’s Next For Her Country

Egyptian girls chant slogans in Tahrir Square during a rally to mark the one year anniversary of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)

Huge crowds are once again converging on Tahrir Square in Cairo on the one year anniversary of the uprising that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak from power.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne says the demonstration has the feeling of a street party and there are more people in the square than last year because more groups are convening– from liberals, to once-banned Islamists who won a majority of parliamentary seats in recent elections, to the country’s current military rulers want to claim ownership of the revolution.

Earlier this week members of Egypt’s new parliament took their seats for the first time, and only a handful of women were elected.

Dalia Ziada in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt. (Courtesy Dalia Ziada)

29-year-old Dalia Ziada ran for Parliament but didn’t win. She is a human rights activist from Egypt and a passionate advocate for women’s rights.

And as director of the American Islamic Congress’s Egypt Bureau, she translated a 1950s American comic book about Martin Luther King Jr. into Arabic, coining the Arabic word for “non-violence” that has now come into common usage in Egypt.


  • Dalia Ziada, Egyptian human rights activist

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Mitchell Hartman

    Powerful interview, thanks. I am a reporter for Marketplace Radio and was in Cairo one year ago covering the Egyptian revolution. Here’s a story on Egyptian women’s expectations then, with comments from Egyptian feminist, Dr. Nawal Al-Saadawi:

    And Nicholas Kristof’s wonderful interview with Dr. Al-Saadawi in Tahrir Square on Feb. 3, 2011:

    http://video.nytimes.com/video/2011/02/03/opinion/1248069611811/undaunted-in-tahrir-square.html?ref=opinion&ref=global-europe&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=globaleuab1Mitchell Hartman, Senior Reporter, Marketplace Radio

    • MM

      Dr. Nawal Al-Saadawi, in the Arab world they interview her only
      for entertainment, but western media loves those women’s expectations,
      since they support their propaganda machine very well, and this woman is not even
      appreciated by women more than men.

  • MM

    I listened to your interview with Dalia Ziada today, and I
    am shocked when I heard her claim that she coined a new term in Arabic for the
    word “nonviolent” because as she claimed there is no equivalent word in Arabic
    that can be translated to, and this is not true and laughable, if you want to
    check for yourself just type the word ”nonviolent” in Google language tools and
    translate the word to Arabic and see if you will get results, I do not have to
    do this myself since my native language is Arabic,  what is more laughable is the claim that she
    mentioned this term to some others and they did not know what it means, this is
    complete nonsense, the whole interview should be embarrassing if you only know
    how much nonsense this lady speak, weather about the term or about her struggle
    for women’s rights in Egypt.

    But I enjoy your program; since it allows me to build more
    balanced view about what Islam, Middle East, Arabs is all about and what news
    propaganda machine wants Americans to believe, and no I am not accusing you of
    running the propaganda, but it has to start somewhere, and news agencies will
    repeat the nonsense over and over, and only the voices of people with agenda (whether
    it is for fame or any other reasons), or people with very limited knowledge
    will make it to news and talk programs and shows.

    Please, if you have any respect for your audience, make sure
    to interview intelligent people with something that will benefit listeners.

  • Anonymous

    Of course she didn’t win.  Elections without a secular society that values individual liberties will just bring religious extremists to power. 

    • MM

      Please do not ever associate concepts
      such as secularism, libertarianism with women’s rights in the
      middle east especially in Egypt if 20% of egyption women find their rights and
      freedom in secularism, 80% find the same in religion, this is can be
      proved simply by looking at the last free perlamint election, unless you think
      women were not allowed to vote

      • Anonymous

        I didn’t say they couldn’t vote, I said that they aren’t going to have meaningful freedom.  Without enlightenment values as a foundation, elections are not going to guarantee liberties. 

  • MM

    “coining the Arabic word for “non-violence” that has now come into common usage in Egypt”

    Nice try Robin, Arabic language does not have  a word like “nonviolent”, after all why Arabs need such a word in their vocabulary, they only need the “violent” part.

    Again nice try, but try again

  • Eb3design

    It is sad, that men in are so afraid that Women can do a
    better job than they can…  They are completely
    right!  Women like Dalia Ziada from Egypt
    and all women from Africa, Middle East and Asia (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Israeli,
    Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Yamane , etc)  aired on this and other NPRs program, are
    some of the most exceptional Activists, Leaders and Humans I have ever had the opportunity
    to know.


    Keep being true to who you are and some day the world will
    come to their senses.  

    • MM

      Right, link Benazir Bhutto who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan in two non-consecutive terms, and like Ms. Attar vice president of Syria for more that 8 years and other so many ministers all over the Middle East and Africa.

      By the way when was the last time an American women voted for Prime Minister or vice president. 

      And yes Dalia Ziada keep inventing more words that exists for thousand of years

      • Anonymous

        Americans can’t vote for prime minister and a vice president isn’t elected independently. 

        • MM

          Thank you for telling me this smart one. Typical answer, as if I don’t know this and as if this is going to change or falsify the fact stated in my post

          • Anonymous

            You didn’t state facts.  If you knew it, why did your writing not reflect that? 

        • MM

          Next, try to find grammar of spelling mistakes, maybe this is going to help you more to ignore facts

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1222114820 Rick Pua Pila

    After an inspirational show of people power in Egypt, what next for this great country? And what kind of reforms are needed to satisfy the dreams and demands of its people?
    Amnesty’s partners in the Egyptian human rights community are clear. The machinery of repression underpinning Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt must be dismantled. This means, to start with, lifting the dead hand of the state of emergency and repealing article 179 of the (now suspended) constitution – which gives sweeping powers of arrest to the security forces, allowing Egypt’s leader to totally bypass ordinary civilian courts and instead send people suspected of terrorist offences to military and special courts. Similarly, emergency powers allowing administrative detention of government critics must be scrapped.

    URL : http://www.addvalue.com.au

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1222114820 Rick Pua Pila

    Other major reforms must include guaranteeing the rights of women and girls, ending legal discrimination against all religious groups, including Coptic Christians and Baha’is, and putting a stop to the persecution of gay people (including the practice of charging gay men with the “habitual practice of debauchery”). The death penalty should be abolished.
    Meanwhile, we mustn’t forget the blood spilt and crimes committed during Egypt’s historic 18 days of protest. Reports indicate that at least 300 people were killed and many more injured, while an as yet unknown number were “disappeared” into detention and, in at least some cases, tortured. When, on February 3, two of Amnesty’s staff were detained by the military in Camp 75 in the Cairo suburb of Manshiyet el-Bakri, along with 33 other human rights defenders, they could clearly hear thescreams of detainees being beaten. For too long torture has been a dark stain on Egypt. We need to see credible investigations of the part played by the police, the Mukhabarat (secret police) and the army.

    • Anonymous

      That isn’t going to happen.  Look who got elected.  Until a majority secular society evolves, religious extremists will dominate and individual rights will not be respected. 

      • MM

        Secular society, that is what Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria where
        trying to be for the past 30, 40, 50 years, people in those countries tortured in
        the name of secular society, people in Syria were killed (for doing something
        as simple as going to mosque to pray) in the name of secular society, Muslim
        women in France were denied education if they wear headscarf in the name of secular

        Those are
        dictatorships and authoritarian, but they used secularism as an excuse to do every
        heinous act, torture, illegal detention, so, how individual rights will be
        respected when you try to force your “secularism” against the well of the
        people (religious people). The idea that individual rights can only be respected
        in a “secular society” is nonsense, it will only respect the rights of those
        that are secular exactly the same way individual rights will be respected in a religious
        society when all people are religious, so the issue is not religious or
        secular, the issue is that you cannot find a country where all people are religious
        or secular. Secularism in France did not protect Muslim women’s rights; Secularism
        in the US did not protect gay marriage rights.

        • Anonymous

          I said it needs to evolve not that it should be forced on people by dictators.  The more secular states in the US have gay marriage rights.  How do the gays fare under Islamic states?  The right to be oppressed for ones gender by wearing a veil isn’t really a freedom.

      • MM

        That isn’t going to happen if ignorance is
        still alive, not in Egypt but in the US.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 15 26 Comments

A Call To Reject Corporal Punishment As Part Of Black Culture

An incident of child abuse by an NFL player has raised questions about the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the African-American community.

September 15 26 Comments

Would You Pay To Get Your Kid Into A Top College?

A San Francisco company charges parents for a consulting package based on the odds their student will get into a certain university, with prices up to a million dollars.

September 12 9 Comments

Senator: Arab Countries ‘Need To Step To The Plate’ In Fight Against ISIS

Mark Begich (D-AK) is one of the few members of Congress speaking out against a key part of President Obama's plan for fighting the Islamic State.

September 12 Comment

Ecuadorian Drilling Damage Inspires Documentary

An American and an Ecuadorian are inspired to help Ecuador heal from decades of drilling and oil spills.