The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal. For the month of November, read the entire 25th anniversary issue, fall 2008, for free!
By Mona Eltahawy
It’s October 2033 and Shahinaz Abdel- Salam, 55, has just been appointed Egypt’s first female interior minister.
She’s about to address the nation by live holofeed to explain why she’s accepted a post that as a young woman she’d always dreamed would be abolished because, in the Egypt where she grew up, interior minister was synonymous with “chief torturer.”
Her office is in New Cairo, an area which was once desert but over the past few years has buzzed with university campuses and businesses freed from the suffocation of downtown Cairo. But her address to the public will be made from what used to be the downtown headquarters of the Interior Ministry called Lazoghli. For years, the building’s underground dungeons had held hundreds of thousands of political prisoners—at its peak estimated to be around 20,000—mostly Islamists. Continue reading…