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Both Hussein Aboubakr and Cynthia Farahat grew up in Egypt under very different circumstances, but both have arrived to similar places in their personal journeys. They each discuss their personal experiences with the Muslim Brotherhood as well as their ongoing work. They will be able to answer questions as to the extent of the Muslim brotherhood’s influence throughout the world, the stability of President Abdul Fattah el Sisi’s regime, and the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, today.
Hussein Aboubakr grew up in Cairo in a conservative Sunni Muslim family. As a young child he dreamed of becoming a Jihadist. His brother is a fundamentalist Imam. However, Hussein’s piercing intellect led him to investigate who these people, the Jews and this state, Israel, which his parents, teachers, imams, friends and media used to blame all of Egypt’s problems on. This investigation led him to read the works of Elie Wiesel and Martin Buber, among others, and to learn about the Holocaust for the very first time. It also drove him to the realization that everything that his society had taught him about the Israel and Jewish people was one hundred percent false. Unfortunately, it also led to his being followed and interrogated by the mukhbaret, the secret police, and to his imprisonment and torture. After obtaining asylum in the United States, Hussein ‘s first job was as a Hebrew teacher at a Los Angeles yeshiva, (religious school). He now works with StandWithUs, a pro-Israel organization on college campuses. He is the author of a fascinating and gripping autobiography, that is about to come out entitled, “Minority of One.”
Cynthia Farahat grew up in Egypt, as a Coptic Christian. She is a fellow at the Middle East Forum, a founder of the Egyptian Liberal party, which was the first secular classical liberal political party in the history of modern Egypt. She has co-authored Desecration of a Heavenly Religion, which analyzed and criticized Egypt’s blasphemy law. The book was officially banned in Egypt by al-Azhar University in Cairo in 2008. Cynthia’s work on countering Islamic terrorism has led intelligence officials to officially bar her from entering Lebanon. She also received hundreds of death threats from Islamists and was an al-Qaeda affiliated hit list. Recently she has briefed over 120 Congressional offices on the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood by discussing her personal story as well as her research, from a cache of thousands of previously undisclosed documents, into the nature of the Brotherhood. In 2011, the abduction of her brother, the assassination of her friend, and numerous threats to her life, prompted her to flee to the United States of America where she was granted political asylum. She is currently writing a book on the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in transnational terrorism.