Eye of the Beholder

July 23, 2009

“We Want to Live” Behind Bars!

Filed under: Reports — Tamer Mowafy @ 3:17 am
Tags: , , ,

A number of Sinai intellectuals issued a statement demanding the release of Mosaad Suleiman Hassan (better known as Mosaad Abu Fajr) on Tuesday July 22nd.

“Before being poets, novelists, intellectuals, or social or political activists living on the sands of Sinai, we are citizens of this country whose laws and constitution grant the freedom of expressing and exchanging social and political thoughts. We also rely on the support of celestial laws and human constitutions for our legitimate demand of the release of Mosaad  Abu Fajr.”

The statement goes on:

“The continuous detention of Abu Fajr contradicts human, social, and political values recognized not only in Egypt but in any other country in this world. Abu Fajr hasn’t committed a crime. He has just expressed his own opinion which might not be shared by some or even many of us, but by no means does this justify his detention or denying him the legitimate and humane right of freedom.”

A novelist, human-rights activist and blogger, Abu Fajr dedicated his work almost entirely to voicing the grievances of his people in Sinai. The continual state of tension with Egyptian authorities, led the people of Rafah the border city at the northern east gate of Egypt into rioting in December 2007. It was in connection to this incident that Abu Fajr was first arrested. Cleared by the general prosecutor of all charges, Abu Fajr’s name was moved to the list of accusations of another case, only to be cleared once again. The minister of interior kept Abu Fajr in custody till an order of detention was issued against him under the law of emergency, thus rendering him as the first victim of this law in its latest incarnation.

For 19 months, the minister of interior kept renewing the orders of detention against Abu Fajr, ignoring a host of court rulings and orders mandating his immediate release. The latest order of detention counted 13th in a row and came to the dismay of many human-rights activists, intellectuals, bloggers, and Abu Fajr’s own family.

Abu Fajr, 43 years, a husband and a father of 5 years old Renad, his little family is living its own crisis. He is an employee of the Suez Canal Authority. His salary was however suspended after his detention. After the last court order of his immediate release, Abu Fajr was moved to Sinai where for a brief time his family was able to visit him. They were not allowed however to provide him with his prescribed medication. With the new detention order, he was once again moved to Borj Al-Arab prison, where according to his wife he is denied books, newspapers, writing tools, and even some types of food.

The statement issued by Sinai intellectuals is only the latest amongst many efforts both local and international seeking the release of Abu Fajr. Hisham Mubarak Law Center took over the task of following the legal procedures and obtained tens of release orders from the state security emergency court for Abu Fajr. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information requested the release of Abu Fajr after the issuance of the 13th detention order against him, stating that:

“the new arrest order against Mosaad Abu Fajr, the Sinai activist and novelist is considered a continuation of oppressive policies of the ministry of interior and a violation to all local and international treaties especially after refusing to realize the many release court orders for Abu Fajr”

Amnesty International, has issued a public statement on July 22nd, calling on the Egyptian government to immediately release Musaad Abu Fajr as well as Kareem Amer. The public issue is addressed to president Mubarak requesting him to:

“order the immediate release of Musaad Abu Fagr, Karim Amer and all other prisoners of conscience in Egypt, and to curb the powers of the SSI and ensure that SSI officials who breach the law or are responsible for abusing prisoners are brought to justice.”

Global Voices Advocacy, and English Pen are among a number of international web based organization that take interest in the case of Abu Fajr. Many individual bloggers all over the world have expressed their concern over Abu Fajr’s prolonged detention. Magnus Holm a Norwegian journalist and blogger states the fact that the Egyptian constitution does indeed guarantee free expression in its 47th article. He however goes on arguing that:

“Freedom of expression is a phrase that sure looks good in a constitution. However, for the people of Egypt, it remains just that; words on a piece of paper. Freedom of speech means freedom for the speakers, and until Egyptian bloggers, journalists, editors and activists are allowed to express themselves freely, the Egyptian constitutional “guarantee” of freedom of speech is nothing but a rather offensive joke.”

Such efforts and manifestations of solidarity will continue but it is up to the ministry of interior only to obey the rulings of court, and honor the Egyptian constitution, or choose to render its guarantee of a basic human right as an “offensive joke”.

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