• December 29, 2006
  • 8 minutes read

Visit to MB Detainee’s House, Family Ordeal During Holidays

Visit to MB Detainee’s House, Family Ordeal During Holidays

Ahmed Ashraf, is a 50 year old engineer who is well known for his calmness and nobility. He is that kind of person that makes you feel at ease when you look at him with his beautifull smile. However, this smiling man has been thrown behind bars since he was picked up by security forces along with hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members in the latest crackdown.

Ahmed Ashraf is the manager of the Islamic Publishing house; he spent most of his career working in the Islamic publishing industry, starting from Al-Da’wah magazine to Safeer company and finally in the Islamic Publishing house in which he has been working for several years.

He has seven children including 5 girls and 2 boys: Hebatullah (BA from Faculty of Theology, doing her post graduate studies), Ismail (university student), Yahya (university student), Mariam (secondary school student) Rawda (prep school student), and finally the twin Iman and Walaa (both primary school students).

On my way to his family, I wondered how to conduct my interview specially that the unjustified detentions took place just few days before the Islamic feast of Eid-ul Adha (Great Feast),however, when I met his family I discovered other meanings Eid which benefited me. Contrary to my expectations, I found patience and steadfastness among the whole family, the wife and the children, during their ordeal caused by the absence of their caregiver.

I asked his wife to describe what happened; she told me this was not the first time her husband has been arrested “he was arrested last year for three months after the referendum during related demonstrations although he didn’t participate in them”. I asked his eldest son, Ismail, about what happened, he described with grief how his father was arrested:“a neighbour living across the street of one of the branches of the Islamic Publishing house called us at 2:00 AM and told us that a number of persons stormed into the branch and were trying to break the door, and when he asked them about their identities and they said they were members of the State Security Investigators (SSI)”. Isamil added that his father decided to go immediately to the baranch, but before wearing his clothes; similar phone calls came from several other branches indicating that it was synchronized crackdown on all branches.

Ismail adds “at about 3:00 AM, the security forces reached the Sayeda Zeinab-based main office; father even thought he would better go there and give them the keys in person so that they don’t break or destroy anything”

The wife of Eng. Ashraf interrupted and said: What he mostly cared for was reducing, as much as possible, the damages caused by the invasion of the branches to preserve his workplace; he was so sad when he was informed that the branches were sealed off, because he was concerned with the future of the workers, specially that the salaries and the feast incentives were put in the safe of the main office only the day before; he went there with his bag, expecting that he won’t return home.

Hebatullah interrupts:” The company’s salaries which were confiscated were more than 160 thousand pounds; my father phoned the employees who have keys of the safe so that the forces don’t break the safe; also, they confiscated nine computers and a huge number of books, things which are normally found in any publishing house!.

The wife continues:” My husband returned home at about 11:00 AM accompanied by policemen and a big central security vehicle” showing her astonishment at such an attitude as he went to them by himself and if they summoned him he would turn himself in,

She went on saying “they continued ransacking the house and were seemingly searching for money but they found only books which are published and sold in all book stores, and children CDs; they took them and took him to learn later that he was arrested.

Responding to my question whether they expected Mr. Ashraf’s arrest following the latest crackdown against Muslim Brotherhood leaders; the family confirmed that the arrest was not expected and unjustified, pointing out that “even the detentions that included some MB members during the last period were due to Al-Azhar University incidents to which Mr. Ashraf had no relation”; the wife commented that:” patience during ordeals is a characteristic of the faithful and believers; my husband is distinguished by his quietness, patience, tolerance in addition to respecting all people; he was always supporting people and addressing their needs; he is decent and is so affectionate towards his children and other people.

Regarding the reactions of the neighbours and relatives, the wife says with full confidence: “All neighbours understand what is caused this detention and they sympathize with us strongly; even people with whom we have few relations, visited us and offered help in any thing we need, and even our Coptic neighbours were so much upset for what happened and they praised him and said that he was treating them with good manners during the past twenty years.
Ismail adds that the sadness over the detention of his father will not be confined to only his family and his relatives, but all his colleagues at work and neighbours and every one knows him will be sad about this because he was rushing to help them at times of need; Ismail said that one of the neighbours, an imam of a mosque, phoned that and informed them that he always pray for his father during the prayers of the dawn every day, and that he noticed that people were raising their voices enthusiastically when the name of his father is mentioned in the prayer.
Eng. Ashraf’s wife said “ the twin girls were, fortunately, at school when the policemen were in the house, and they did not watch this horrible scene which would have been impossible to be obliterated from their memory, adding that Rawda was, at this time, in the house, and she was severely panicked and cried during that time.

The wife faces a problem this year as nearly all her children are in general certificates: Ismail is a fourth university grader (last BA year), Mariam is in a GCE, and Iman and Wala’ are third graders in the primary stage.

She confirms that these incidents may distract the children while studying, in addition to their concern over when the father would come back, specially the twin youngsters whom we were forced to tell that he is abroad, although they will know the truth when they go to visit him.

Every one feels responsibility

Heba reassured her mother saying her father taught them to be responsible and to be perform their duties, that these exceptional circumstances will not affect their academic performance, that he advised her to keep everyday life as is, that the youngsters will go on a picnic during the feast as they are accustomed to do, although she didn’t deny her heart is and will be full of sadness for missing their father at home with them; they said they are keen to prepare cheerful news to inform him of when they visit him.

The issue of visiting him still poses a big problem due to its effect on the youngsters, and due to the lawyer’s reports that the father is currently detained with criminals, not in Torah farm, like political prisoners, something that adds to the sadness and grief of the family members when they visit him.