Inji Aflatoun was born on April 16th 1924, and passed away on April 17th 1989 (only one day after her 65th birthday). Today, Aflatoun was honoured by Google Doodle; Google Doodle sought to celebrate what would have been her 95th birthday. The Google Doodle showcases Aflatoun, who appears in front of her canvas and cubist paintings. So who is Aflatoun, and why is Google Doodle celebrating her?
Well, she was an Egyptian painter and a feminist/political activist. In the year 1942, Aflatoun joined Iskra, a Communist political party. Three years later, in 1945 to be specific, Aflatoun went on to found the League of University and Institutes’ Young Women.
Aflatoun wrote two political pamphlets: Eighty Million Women With Us (1948), and We Egyptian Women (1949). Both writings attacked class and gender based oppression, and the role that British colonialism played when it came to propagating such forms of oppression.
Due to her activism, Aflatoun was arrested and imprisoned by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime. This, however, did not stop Aflatoun from writing or drawing/painting. Indeed, in her memoirs she said the following of her experience as a political prisoner:
“When I first entered the prison I had a strong urge to draw and not to give in to reality.” Aflatoun said this because in the beginning of her sentence, she was not allowed to paint/draw, until an anonymous officer bravely told the Head of Prison, “You have Inji Aflatoun here. Let her draw whatever she wants.” Accordingly, Aflatoun was allowed to paint/draw; however, all of her work remained the official property of the prison.
After her release in 1963, she devoted her time to painting. You can find her paintings at Amir Taz Palace which is located 27 Al- Syoufiya Street, Al-Khalifa district. While Aflatoun is credited by some to be a pioneer of modern Egyptian art, she is so much more:
“Many talk about Inji Aflatoun as an artist first and foremost, but this is not true. Her political activism was the more important aspect,” said the artist Ezzedine Naguib, who had known her personally. “She was a very humble and genuine person,” he continued.
Given her role in enhancing Egypt’s feminist movement, and her contributions to literature and art, it’s safe to say that Aflatoun deserves much more than a Google Doodle. This woman has shown courage and heroism, making her an idol and role model to all Egyptian women (past and present).
It is important to mention here that Google Doodle has honoured so many iconic Egyptian women: Gamila El Alaily, Hind Rostom, and Mary Mounib, who have all led incredible lives and left behind amazing legacies, and are some of the Egyptian women that Google Doodle has honoured over the past months.