Wife of Egyptian Sinai activist speaks out

Wife of Egyptian Sinai activist speaks out

The wife of detained Sinai activist Musaad Abu Fagr, Shaimaa, spoke out on Wednesday in a posting on Amnesty International’s website, saying that since her husband’s arrest in February, 2008, each day “feels like 10 years.” Her article comes as police and the government here in Egypt continue to postpone and ignore calls for Abu Fagr’s release.

In the nearly two years since he was arrested, activists have held a number of conferences in solidarity with him and other bloggers and activists who remain in prison.

“We are waiting and hoping that he will be released,” the wife told Bikya Masr last summer at a conference at Cairo’s Journalists Syndicate. She had hoped her husband would have been released and back home by now, but the government remains obstinate against pressure to release political prisoners.

She spoke of the impact the detention has had on their daughter, Ranad, who consistently asks about her father, whom she hasn’t seen in two years.

“Ranad was three years old when my husband was arrested. She used to sleep after he kissed her goodnight and wake up after a kiss from him. He used to drive her to school every day.

“Ranad is now five years old. Even though I try to play this role as her mother, Ranad misses her father’s presence in her life. What hurts me is that her father used to do a lot of things for her; he used to play with her and take her to the playground or the sports club,” she writes.

The Egyptian government continues to assert that Abu Fagr’s work disrupted the country’s national security and “he posed a threat to our security,” claims Shaimaa refutes. She believes her husband, a writer, is in prison because he worked honestly to achieve a better life for his family and all Egyptians.

“My husband did not break any law or the Constitution. On the contrary, he always tells me when I visit him in prison that he did what was dictated by his conscience. All he wanted was to make the voices of marginalized people who are treated as second-class citizens heard and their problems known. He called for their rights to be upheld through seminars and conferences, through his political activities and through his articles and work as a writer and a novelist,” she continues in her article.

“Countries honour writers and thinkers because they are sensitive to the people and are aware of their problems and always seek the progress of humanity. My husband’s place is not in prison. His place is outside prison defending the rights of those who have been marginalized,” she adds.

Musaad Abu Fagr, whose real name is Musaad Suliman Hassan Hussein, is a novelist and human rights defender in Egypt. He has been in administrative detention, by order of the minister of interior, since February 2008, despite obtaining several court orders for his release, most recently in September 2009, Amnesty reported.

Musaad Abu Fagr was initially arrested on December 26, 2007 following demonstrations in Sinai against plans by the authorities to demolish thousands of homes near the border with the Gaza Strip. The demonstrations were led by a movement founded by Musaad Abu Fagr and other political activists in Sinai, Wedna Na’ish (We Want to Live). He was accused of “inciting others to protest”, “resisting the authorities” and “assaulting public officers during the exercise of their duties”. During the July and December 2007 demonstrations, several thousand protesters clashed with the security forces.