August 4, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5394

Egyptian Columnist Accuses Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkul Karman Of Renouncing The Will Of The Egyptian People

August 4, 2013
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 5394

In his August 5 column in the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', Sa'id Al-Shakhat attacked Yemeni human rights activist and Nobel Prize laureate Tawakkul Karman[1] for supporting the demands of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and opposing the removal of president Muhammad Mursi. Al-Shakhat argues that Karman herself belongs to the MB party in Yemen, although she denies this. He claims that Karman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for her role as a leader of Yemen's revolution against the regime of 'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh and for her call for respecting the "people's will," is committing a crime by abandoning this slogan and favoring the MB's will over the will of the Egyptian people.

Tawakkul Karman did condemn the Egyptian army's ouster of Muhammad Mursi. Writing on her Facebook and Twitter pages, she called this a military coup and expressed her support for the MB. On July 27, 2013 she claimed on Twitter that she was on her way to Raba'a Al-'Adawiyya square, where MB supporters were protesting in demand of Mursi's reinstatement.[2] However, on August 4, the media reported that the Egyptian authorities had apprehended her at Cairo Airport and had prevented her from entering Egypt.

Karman's July 27, 2013 tweet

The following are translated excerpts from Sa'id Al-Shakhat's column:

"When the Yemeni Tawakkul Karman took part in her country's revolution in 2011 against the regime of 'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh, she kept reiterating the same words: 'the people's will.' She set them in a longer sentence: "The regime must respect its people's will." The Egyptian revolution of January 25 inspired the region, and in its wake the revolution in Yemen erupted. Tawakkul Karman led the demonstrations in the capital of Sanaa and stood together with the masses in Yemen who opposed 'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh's regime.

"However, at that moment other crowds came out to express support for ['Ali 'Abdallah] Saleh. According to the images [broadcast] on the satellite channels, the Yemeni street was divided between [Saleh's opponents, who cried out] 'the people are against Saleh,' and [his supporters, who cried out] 'the people are for Saleh.' This is what we saw on the television channels, but the Yemeni people continued to write its history on the path to freedom, despite all the sacrifices that it made. The game [played by the satellite channels], which depicted the Yemeni people as divided, was diligently directed [by elements] outside Yemen, while the Yemeni struggle continued without hesitation or concessions.

"The situation in Yemen is very complex because of [the involvement of] regional elements – especially Saudi Arabia, which, as usual, did not leave things alone but intervened in order to bring about a settlement. As a result, the Yemeni revolution was stopped at midpoint. The old regime was not eliminated completely, and the revolution did not manage to consolidate its [new] regime, as happens naturally after a revolution.

"There seems to be some similarity between Yemen and Egypt. Thanks to the Yemeni revolution, Tawakkul Karman received a Nobel Prize. Thanks to the January 25 revolution [in Egypt], the Muslim Brotherhood [also] reaped many political profits, the most prominent of which was its ascent to power with its candidate, Muhammad Mursi, [as president]. [The MB achieved this] even though it was not [one of the] forces that launched [the revolution] on January 25, [2011]. Rather, it waited a few days before joining the demonstrators in Al-Tahrir Square. After one year of Mursi's rule, the Egyptian people discovered that its elected president was not the president of all the Egyptians, but [solely] the president of his group, his people and his tribe. That is why millions took [to the streets] on June 30 to restore the revolution, and the army supported the people. Had [the army] not ousted Muhammad Mursi, Egypt would have now been in the throes of a civil war.

"Tawakkul Karman, who is a member of the Yemeni Al-Islah party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood [in Yemen], [apparently] does not understand these facts, because she attacked the events of June 30 [i.e. the anti-Mursi demonstrations that brought about his ouster], and [because she] thinks that the youth of the January 25 revolution were replaced on that day [June 30] with some youths who served as extras in a shameful charade. She denies being from the Muslim Brotherhood and even that she belongs to the [Muslim Brotherhood] party. [Even] assuming that is true, we are still witnessing a case of Ikhwanization [i.e. adopting the behavior or thinking of the MB], which is worse. Whether she is a [Muslim] Brotherhood member or is [merely] adopting their ways, we have caught her red-handed committing a crime against all [the slogans] that she repeated in Yemen's squares during the revolution, and for which she won the Nobel Prize. Instead of the words 'the people's will,' she has begun talking of 'the will of Raba'a Al-'Adawiyya' [the Cairo square where the pro-Mursi demonstrations are taking place]. Instead of learning a lesson from the satellite images that tried to present the Yemeni people as divided in its revolution [against Saleh] – and she knows that the this is happening [now] in Egypt [too] with the Al-Jazeera channel that is biased in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood – instead of realizing this, she is taking a path that favors the Muslim Brotherhood over the will of the Egyptian people. That is [what prompted] her strange and peculiar decision to leave Yemen for Egypt and join the demonstrators in Raba'a Al-'Adawiyya square, and [the Egyptian authorities] took the right decision in banning her from entering Egypt and in returning her to her country."

Tawakkul Karman (image:, August 4, 2013)


[1] On Tawakkul Karman, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 752, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkul Karman – A Profile

October 24, 2011.

[2], July 27, 2013.

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