By Nehal El-Sherif, dpa =
Cairo (dpa) - Unlike Egypt's former first ladies, Naglaa Ali Mahmoud, wife of the country's first elected civilian president, refuses the title.
Mahmoud, a mother of five, has gone public with this refusal in the very few interviews she has given since her Islamist husband, Mohammed Morsi, began his bid for presidency some months ago.
She is the opposite of her two predecessors, Suzanne Mubarak and Jihan al-Sadat. They were born to British mothers. They held master's degrees and are famous for being fashionable.
In contrast, Mahmoud looks like millions of other Egyptian women living in working-class areas. She wears a long veil that covers her body down to the waist, with mostly plain colours, and no make-up.
|Naglaa Mahmoud (R) almost the opposite of Suzanne Mubarak.|
The change Mahmoud brings to the presidential palace is a reflection of the change the country has seen since Morsi was elected as Egypt's first freely elected civilian president.
Mahmoud, 50, has not been to university. She married her cousin, Morsi, in 1979 after she finished high school at the age of 17.
She travelled with him in the early 1980s to the United States where he studied for a doctorate degree in engineering. Two of their five children - four boys and a girl - were born in the United States and have US passports.
In the United States, she worked as an Arabic-English translator for Muslim Americans. It was then that she and her husband officially joined the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest and most organized Islamist group.
Mahmoud, who has three grandchildren, prefers to be called Um Ahmed, or the mother of Ahmed - her eldest son - as is the tradition among Egypt's middle and lower classes.
In a recent interview with the local magazine Nus al-Dunia, she described Morsi, 60, as a responsible man and an understanding husband who helps her with household chores, including cooking.
During campaigning, Morsi did not speak much about his wife, though he took some time to praise her for playing "the biggest role" in his life.
Her role was mostly to support her family's political activities in the Brotherhood. Her husband and two of their children - Ahmed and Usama - were detained several times under Hosny Mubarak's 30-year rule, when the Muslim Brotherhood was banned.
She recalled that when security agents raided their house to detain her son Ahmed, she told him to consider his jailing a "political detention, something that would make him proud."
Mahmoud, whose husband is seen as a conservative voice within the Brotherhood, has caused a big stir in Egypt. Some people praise her as a modest woman. Others criticize her as lacking the credentials to be an international representative of Egypt.
She says she would not get engaged in politics like former first ladies. Instead, she plans to continue community work, which she has been doing for years, like helping young girls in the Brotherhood.
Shortly after her husband was declared winner in Egypt's presidential elections last week, Mahmoud visited families of protesters killed in the popular revolt that ousted Mubarak last year.
"Islam has taught us that the ruler is the people's servant, which means that his wife is also the servant of the people. Any other title imposed on us must not be an entry in the dictionary of my political and social life," she said.