Nasser continued by saying he told the Brotherhood leader that if they enforced the hijab, people would say Egypt had returned to the dark ages (to more laughter), adding that Egyptians should uphold such matters in the privacy of their own homes.
But the Muslim Brotherhood leader informed him that, as Egypt’s president, Nasser himself must enforce the hijab, to which Nasser replied:
Sir, I know you have a daughter in college—and she doesn’t wear a headscarf or anything! [laughter] Why don’t you make her wear the headscarf? [laughter] So you can’t make one girl, your own daughter, wear it, and yet you want me to go and make ten million women wear it?!” [burst of laughter and applause]
Half a century later and none of this is a laughing matter: the hijab, if not the full burqa, is commonplace in Egypt, even as the Muslim Brotherhood—who for decades were banned and imprisoned for trying to return Egypt to an Islamic dark age—are now poised to govern the nation, all under U.S. tutelage.
As Sheikh Osama al-Qusi recently said, the great “mistake” of Nasser’s successor, president Anwar Sadat, was
not that he released these groups [Muslim Brotherhood] from the prisons after Gamal Abdel Nasser had incarcerated them; but rather for giving them the green light to work in all fields of Egyptian society, thinking he would use them to get rid of his Socialist and Communist opponents. So he permitted them to work in trade unions, school unions—giving them every opportunity to hold official positions [Emphasis added].
In other words, Sadat’s great mistake—which cost him his life—is that he conferred a degree of legitimacy on the Muslim Brotherhood, thereby allowing them to worm their way into Egyptian society.
At any rate, such is the way of time: left unchecked, what was once ludicrous to suggest—for instance, the Brotherhood’s 1953 request “for every woman walking in the street to wear a headscarf”—slowly and gradually becomes part of the culture.
It is for this reason that Sharia poses a threat to the West—not because it will be imposed on Westerners, but rather because, little by little, decade after decade, aspects of it may gradually worm their way in.
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