They can’t kill an idea: an activist’s letter from jail in Egypt
Activist and surgeon Ahmed Said was jailed in November after being accused of taking part in a protest to commemorate people who died during Egypt’s 2011 uprising. From prison, he wrote this letter to the outside world.
All the consoling messages that reach me from the outside end with: "Don't worry, you'll get out soon, this is just a slap on the hand. They want to intimidate you a bit and then you'll be released."
These messages reach me in a place where I'm surrounded by the kinds of people who embody the madness of this system, the stupidity of its individual members and the corruption of its institutions.
They believe that by eradicating the people who believe in an idea, they can kill the idea itself.
The only thing my friends and family care about is that I get out of here and that I deny every connection to the January Revolution. They believe this is the only way I can be found innocent and be protected inside from the violence of the Ministry of the Interior and its mad "dogs”.
But so long as I am surrounded by such people, I cannot think that way. I cannot change my way of thinking one bit in this place. On the contrary: the walls and the air of my cell, the prisoners and their conversations give me all the proof I need that I have not taken the wrong path, and my certainty only grows in time.
Madness and mockery
People across Egypt and the wider world are ignoring what we are experiencing under this despotic fascist regime. But they will not be able to avoid becoming a victim of its madness. Their silence amounts to an impossible strategy of sticking their heads in the sand in the belief that everyone can escape from the danger that we are surrounded by on every side.
There are many examples of the madness that we are experiencing, but in here they are clearer. The evidence that this putrification must be stopped – a putrification that is now floating on the surface of our country, after having eaten away everything that once held it together – is clear.
And that is their catastrophe and ours – that they really don't understand. They don't understand that these young people are truly fighting for a cause. This is obvious in their mockery: "So you're the ones from the Revolution who will liberate Egypt."
Ignorant and blind
They are an armed herd of the ignorant and the blind. There is no way to heal them of their ignorance so long as they possess weapons, power and force which give them the illusion of possessing everything, even reason.
I know that it may be cruel to my family and friends, especially in the state of fear and concern that has overcome them. But I have to make clear to them and to others like them that denying my connection to the Revolution is not a solution so long as people remain in prison as a punishment for having dreamed of freedom.
I did what I did in order to feel free and to take back my freedom before it became nothing but a memory.
I would remain a prisoner, even if I were outside, and we will all remain prisoners in their massive jail. But I did what I did in order to feel free and to take back my freedom before it became nothing but a memory – and in order to preserve the last ray of light cast by the Revolution and by the dream of the time when I felt that someone must do this.
The views expressed in this letter are of the author and are not necessarily shared by Amnesty International.
Ahmed Said has an appeal hearing on his two-year sentence on 13 January 2016. Please tweet copying in the Interior Ministry of Egypt @moiegy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs @MfaEgypt, and the National Council for Human Rights @nchregypt today, and call for the immediate release of Ahmed Said and four activists jailed alongside him.
Please act now. Ahmed’s family says he was beaten, burned and electrocuted on the day of his arrest. There are 16 people in his overcrowded cell, and they sleep on a cold marble floor. They are not allowed winter clothing.
* Ahmed is now being held in Cairo's Tora Scorpion Prison.