In 1933, Turkiya Hassan, an orphaned Egyptian, Muslim girl, was beaten by a matron at a Swedish missionary school. School authorities later contended that the “rude and aggressive” 15-year-old was ordered “into a room for private chastisement” at which time the girl “showed fight and seized the cane” from the matron who soon “regained mastery of the situation and … considerably roused, hit the girl with the stick where she could.” The girl, however, claimed that she was beaten for refusing to convert to Christianity—a story sensationalized by a nascent Muslim Brotherhood in order to foment anger and distrust for missionaries in Egypt while aggrandizing itself as a substitute.
Baron of City College of New York takes this minor incident and magnifies it in such a way as to portray the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood as a complete byproduct of aggressive missionary schools in Egypt. The problem is that the evidence she marshals for this claim is flimsy at best.
The book suffers from three main flaws. The first is myopia: If the incident is such a cause célèbre for the rise of the Ikhwan, why do modern Islamists, who habitually claim historic grievances against the West, never mention it? (Though they likely will now with the publication of this book.) One searches the Arabic-language Internet in vain for “Turkiya Hassan.”
Second, Baron is guilty of indulging in anachronistic moralizing. Emotive language proliferates about the whipping of the “rude and aggressive” teenage girl—in a nation and in an era where such disciplining was the norm—as a traumatizing event for Egypt…. Keep reading