The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has published an article titled “The Rise of The Syrian Sisterhood” that takes a look at the increasingly role played by women in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. The article begins:
APRIL 25, 2013 The Syrian uprising has given the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a chance to emerge as an integral part of the opposition. Following years in exile, leadership crises, and numerous political challenges, the group is now a central political player in the country. Interestingly, though, women are becoming an important part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Commonly referred to as the ‘Syrian Sisterhood,’ these women are taking on an increasingly bigger role both within the organization and in its national role. Most recently, six women were elected to the group’s Majlis al-Shura, or consultative body, two of whom now form part of the organization’s leadership—a number set to rapidly grow according to a source close to the leaders.
The roots of Syrian women’s involvement into the Muslim Brotherhood go back to the early 1950s when the young activist Amina Sheikha met Mustapha al-Sibai, the Syrian group’s charismatic leader, and then decided to set up a Syrian Sisterhood tasked with recruiting female members. At the time, the Syrian Sisters reportedly held a leading role in terms of organization and influence at the top echelons of the Muslim Brotherhood’s decision-making circles, but the brutal state repression of the late seventies and early eighties put a temporary break on their activities.
‘Given the security situation, a few of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders did not believe in the usefulness of women’s participation in the leadership,’ remembers one leading member of the Syrian Sisterhood. Prominent female activists rapidly became the targets of the intelligence services for their political ideas or, more perniciously, for their family links to leaders of the organization. This is what happened to Banan al-Tantawi, the wife of former head of the Muslim Brotherhood Issam al-Attar, when she was assassinated at her home in her husband’s absence in March 1981. Hibah al-Dabbagh—another prominent female Islamist activist—documented the type of torture she underwent during the nine years she spent in prison for refusing to reveal the exact whereabouts of her brother who was active in Hama. ‘Until today, these women provide us with vivid examples of sacrifice for the sake of challenging the oppressor,’ said a current member of the Syrian Sisterhood .
Read the rest here.
Recent posts have reported that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is planning to open offices inside Syria for the first time since it was quashed by then Syrian President Hafez Assad in 1982 and that he Muslim Brotherhood dominated Syrian opposition will begin establishing what is described as a “moderate form of Islamic law” in all areas of the country under their control.