Within less than 24 hours of each other, two of my former bosses were forcibly detained by Egyptian
security forces. Both of their whereabouts are still unknown.
Hesham Gaafar was working in his office in the city of 6th of October in the suburbs of Cairo when armed Egyptian security forces entered the building. He was detained and questioned, money and documents were removed from the NGO’s safe, and all company computers were confiscated. Although the female employees were allowed to leave, the men were detained in the building for ten hours. They were then released and the offices of Mada Foundation were sealed.
Mada Foundation, founded in 2010, is a civil society nongovernmental organization dedicated to developmental journalism. The organization focuses on developing capacity building projects for the media. It also develops projects to empower women and Egyptian families. Hesham Gaafar is the head of its board of directors.
Hossam El-Sayed was at home when armed Egyptian security forces showed up at dawn, frightening his
young children and wife. Hossam has a serious heart condition that necessitates regular medication. He was not allowed to take his medication with him. Hossam is the managing director of Kenaya Media Partners, a production company that also provides consultation to media organizations.
I have known both of these men for 15 years from when we worked together at IslamOnline.net. It was at IslamOnline.net, where I worked mainly as its health and science editor, that I learned, through people like Hesham and Hossam, lessons in tolerance, acceptance, inclusion, journalism professionalism, and critical thinking.
Both Hesham and Hossam have dedicated their careers to building an egalitarian society through processes of constructive dialogue.
We have reached a critical phase in Egypt if men such as these are imprisoned with no clear charges made against them and no lawyers given access to them.
I owe so much to these men and to other former colleagues at IslamOnline. I owe my free mind to them. Egyptian authorities are imprisoning the builders of society while criminals, terrorists and corrupt officials run loose.
There is something seriously wrong about this.