I've got a short essay up at The Revealer about the current violence in Egypt. Writing this involved digging back through some of the anthropological studies I pored over while writing my thesis on sound in Cairo in 2010.
“The first thing he asked me was to make wearing the headscarf mandatory in Egypt,” said Gamel Abdel Nasser, addressing a crowd from behind a bank of microphones. The first Egyptian president was describing a meeting with the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1953. At this point their relationship was still cordial, although his government would later arrest and torture members of the movement.
The crowd, however, was not cordial. “Let him wear it,” someone shouted. Others laughed. Nasser grinned. Egyptian women, especially in cities, seldom covered their hair.
“If you cannot make one girl — who is your own daughter — wear the headscarf,” he said, “how do you expect me to make 10 million women wear the headscarf, all by myself?”