Egyptian Leila Soueif’s battle for the sake of political prisoners

The French newspaper Le Monde said that Leila Soueif, the mother of two imprisoned activists, who also called her “the mother of political activists,” refuses to remain silent in the face of repression, and speaks loudly at a time when opponents to the authority of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, out of wisdom, prefer either to be silent Silence.

The newspaper explained In a report to its special envoy in Cairo Laure Stefan, that Laila Soueif was the first to arrive at a meeting place in a large hotel in Cairo, and that she smoked and spoke dangerous words, because the case, as she says, “is a liability issue. I am known. I have tremendous support from my extended family. I know that I can count on a lot of close lawyers.” Who is Saif, and that puts me in a very special position. If I don’t speak out loud, who will? ”She means by the sword of her husband, Ahmed Saif al-Islam, a lawyer and pioneer in the struggle for human rights in Egypt, who died in 2014.

Laila Soueif (64 years) pauses in her words from one sentence to another, confirming with a sad smile, “What am I afraid of? I have two children in prison,” the eldest of whom is Alaa Abdel Fattah (39 years), who is a software developer, blogger and one of the faces of the 2011 revolution. Tora prison is highly guarded, and he was arrested after 5 years in prison in the fall of 2019 in a widespread crackdown on leftist and liberal opponents, which followed unexpected demonstrations against the authority.

And the second – according to Soueif – is Sanaa Seif (27 years), the youngest film editor, and she was sentenced to 18 months in prison last March for publishing “false information” related to Covid-19, after she was arrested in the summer of 2020 after demonstrating with her mother. And her sister outside Tora prison.

Make prisoners’ lives miserable

With the outbreak of the epidemic, Soueif and her daughters were concerned about Alaa’s health, and they demanded the release of political detainees. As for Mona, 35, a cancer researcher who has participated over the past decade in a campaign against the trial of civilians before military courts, she left Egypt on Wednesday, April 14th. / April that is going temporarily, as she said on Facebook, to reconnect in a rhythm that has not been controlled on the visiting schedules of the prison and the courts, “I want to spoil my mother.”

Laila Soueif says that she faces the matter as she always did, because this mathematician, who obtained a PhD in France and teaches at Cairo University, had a bitter experience with prisons, where her two sons, Alaa and Sana, were imprisoned several times, and before them in the eighties during the rule of President Hosni Mubarak, Her leftist husband, who is involved in politics, was detained for 5 years.

At that time when Saif was in prison, Soueif said, “The prisoners had what they could do after they bypassed the beatings, torture and sentencing. Saif graduated in law during his imprisonment and taught the illiterate to read. Today, in the overcrowded prisons, the prison authorities deliberately focus on Making prisoners’ lives miserable. ”

Soueif added that after a big battle, she obtained the right to receive a letter every week from her son, considering that this is the only way to check on his health, noting that he feels “very angry and bored and cannot play sports or read, even read a government newspaper,” Because what is meant is to break his will, “says his mother.

They prefer silence

Since the Covid-19 epidemic, prison visits have been reduced to 20 minutes per month and for one family member, according to Laila Soueif, noting that her daughter Sana is in the women’s prison north of Cairo, but she was “left in a transitional building due to the limited space and not to mix with political prisoners.” She is more likely to be infected with the Coronavirus due to the large number of transients, but her psychological state is better than Alaa, as she reads and takes care of plants and sees newcomers.

Le Monde’s special delegate indicated that Leila Soueif comes from progressive milieus, as her sister Ahdaf Soueif is a famous writer who opposes the Muslim Brotherhood and is against the army’s rule and fights for social justice.

Soueif, whose whole family participated in the January 25, 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, says that she realizes that “society has become much more polarized than it was before 2011. People avoid me, but some express their sympathy to Alaa.”

After a decade of lead

Today, 10 years after the revolution, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seeks to restore “stability” in Egypt in exchange for a decade of bullets and the closure of the public sphere.

“In order to silence any dissent, even the voices of those who want to do their work are silent even if they do not take a stand against the system,” said Soueif, citing the absence of discussion at the university, even if it is about distance education or Covid-19 in the Faculty of Medicine, for fear From any criticism of the management of the epidemic.

In the end, Leila Soueif expects only a few Western embassies that “move only to their interests or fear of the influx of immigrants towards Europe.” She appreciates the “complexity” of the geopolitical situation in Egypt, but she does not give up and continues on her Facebook page to talk about the plight of political prisoners. .
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