My uncle, the Brother

I have a new OpEd in the Egypt Independent about my uncle, Mohammed Abdel Qoddous. He has been longtime member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a leading dissident in Egypt.

My uncle standing at the new headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood. May 2011.

Having left Egypt when I was 18 years old, and spending most of my adult life in the United States, I would see my uncle briefly on trips home. I would always hear his stories of protesting and being arrested. He would frequently invite his son and nephews to come join him, though we never did. Since returning to Egypt at the beginning of the revolution and working as a journalist here, I have only really begun to understand who my uncle is and his lifelong dedication to speaking out against oppression.

My uncle being arrested by plainclothes policeman at a protest outside the Journalists Syndicate on January 26, 2011.

While our politics can differ widely at times - arguments unfailingly break out at our weekly Friday family lunches - I have a deep respect and love for him and he remains one of the most principled people I have ever known.

My uncle and I at the new headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood. May 2011.

An excerpt of the piece:

On 13 February 2011, two days after Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office, my uncle, Mohammed Abdel Qoddous, walked into the former headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in downtown Cairo for the first time in 16 years. The office had been raided and sealed shut by security forces in 1995 in one of the regime’s many crackdowns on the outlawed group.

Nothing had moved since. A teacup with a stubbed out cigarette lay on its side atop a newspaper dated from the day of the raid. Wisps of sunlight filtered in through the shuttered window slats. A blanket of dust, layered precariously high after years of painstaking accumulation, trembled and filled the air as he walked from room to room.

“I was born here,” he said with a smile.

My uncle has been a devoted member of the Muslim Brotherhood for the past 36 years. He joined the group in 1976 — the same year he got married — and has spent much of his adult life committed to the group’s view of the world and codes of conduct. His allegiance to the brotherhood forms a part of his religious identity. He was drawn to its legacy of resistance in Egypt and has stood by it through decades of political oppression and systematic persecution.

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Click here for a translated version of this article in Arabic