A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, January 13, 2012

For a Three-Day Weekend: Nasser on the Brotherhood and, for Comparison, Tantawi

For the three-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend, I thought I'd share these clips from a speech by Gamal Abdel Nasser in which he tells of meeting the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1953 (the speech is sometime later), and making fun of the idea of women wearing the hijab or not being allowed to work. I'm sorry that neither of these has English subtitles' if anyone knows of a subtitled version let me know.

Even those who don't know Arabic might find it worth listening a few minutes anyway to Nasser's style. Yes, he was a dictator who installed a brutal national security state that still lingers. But if you have ever wondered why he was so popular in Egypt snd all over the Arab world, watch him work the crowd. He uses sarcastic humor, jokes with the audience, and sounds like he's really speaking extemporaneously. It skewers the Brotherhood much more effectively than the fearmongering of the Mubarak era.

Those who can understand it, watch the Nasser clips. Then watch as much as you can (I dare you to hold on for long) of Field Marshal Tantawi's nstionally televised "The Mummy Speaks" address in November. Do you detect a difference in effectiveness in speechmaking?

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