Faramawy Must Go Free
By Taher El Moataz Bellah
On the 28th of January 2011 Mohamed Faramawy was present in Tahrir square. Despite being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, his decision to join was motivated by the noble duty of toppling a corrupt regime and not by the orders of the pragmatic, out-aged and opportunistic guidance office. Faramawy, who was 31 years of age, did not throw a single rock during the severe clashes with the brutal central security forces. This was not out of fear of arrest or physical weakness, but rather out of deep conviction that the values that were being chanted were more powerful than all the sticks, gas canisters and bullets combined together. He chose to stick to his values, even though these values almost cost him his life. Whenever he fell due to the powerful gas, and his fear made him question what gains would the values he was chanting - Freedom, Equality and Social Justice - would bring to his life, he answered his conscience with another question: what would life be without values?
His voice in his head faded as he heard a high ranking officer calming the protesters and declaring that the fighting was over. He informed them that 15 soldiers were trapped inside a building afraid of getting out as they were out of ammo and asked for their help to get them out safely. At first, the officer’s proposal was fiercely opposed by some skeptic protesters who doubted the real motive behind this sudden turn of events, however, Faramay along with a group of his friends succeeded in convincing the angry mob that there was nothing revolutionary in attacking 15 unarmed soldiers. They formed a human chain to secure their passage back to their colleagues. Shortly afterwards, the protesters were shot with live ammo by the same soldiers. Faramawy collapsed on the ground. He suffered a devastating leg injury that required nine operations over the course of six months to repair, during which he was not able to move from bed.
Faramawy, who had devoted his life to education ever since he graduated from Al Azhar University, was not restrained by his injury. He founded Nawaya academy for young children that, according to its official page, aims to raise an ethical and innovative generation that utilizes similarities and overcome differences and values the country over oneself. Faramawy was never a member in the Freedom and Justice party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was responsible for developing extracurricular activities and arranging both educational and recreational trips for the children who constituted the cubs unit of the Muslim Brotherhood. Even though he didn’t believe in the ability of politics to change lives to the better and thus focused on education instead, it was not long before politics has once again impacted his life.
On the 18th of July 2013, Faramawy and a group of his friends were present at Rabaa square when the protesters claimed to have discovered a thief and starting beating him up viciously. Faramawy, who did not learn the costs of being a Good Samaritan from what happened to him two and half years ago, stepped in to protect the accused man from being killed and decided to volunteer and take him to the nearest hospital to aid the multiple injuries he had endured at the hands of the angry mob. On the way to the hospital they were stopped at a check point and the man they were trying to rescue informed the officers that Faramawy and his friends came from Rabaa and that they were responsible for his injuries. Once the officers heard the word Rabaa, they were detained and thoroughly searched. They found a picture of Faramawy shaking hands with Ismail Hania, and thus concluded that he was a member of the much feared Hamas militia. He was transferred with his friends to the highly guarded Scorpion prison and was deprived from his normal legal rights such as the right of receiving visits. It is worth mentioning that Faramawi met Hania in November 2012 when he accompanied his Father, Dr Abd El Hay Faramawy the Acknowledged Azhar scholar during a formal delegation to Gaza, when humanitarian convoys and delegations of solidarity to the besieged strip was still publicly considered as an honorable duty before it has lately become a source of speculations and suspicions.
Amid the current political turmoil and the state of confusion that has emerged, this incident signifies the catastrophic evolution Egypt is going through at the moment the most. The ministry of interior was perceived after the 30th of June as the guardian of the uprising as it didn’t clash with protesters, serving to restore its reputation that has suffered due to its alliance with Mubarak regime and its endless human rights abuses. However, as much as the police should not side with any specific regime, it shouldn’t also side with specific faction favoring them over the other. The Police should guard all citizens, regardless of their political affiliation and protect all public buildings and private property, regardless of the identity of their owners. The police instead of preventing bloodshed, restrained from intervening. This has discouraged members of the Muslim Brotherhood to resort to any national dialogue as incidents like the unjust and vengeful detainment of Faramawy and others like him reminded them of the dark era of state security night visits, and made them certain that the only alternative to Rabaa would either be the grave or the prison.
The solution to any problem was never and will never be ignoring it. The government should prove to the Muslim Brotherhood members (those who didn’t involve in or incite violence) by actions and not words that they will not be excluded or isolated from the public sphere upon their departure from Rabaa. Formal channels of communication should be established and a solution should be reached in the nearest possible time to avoid further escalation. The legend says: if you keep ignoring, the noise will keep increasing. The Ministry of Interior should be reminded that it belongs to all Egyptian indistinguishably while the army should refrain from its publicly supported excessive brutality that has resulted in the death of 51 protesters, leaving more mourning families than Mohamed Mahmoud. People might not sympathize with the Muslim Brotherhood, yet everyone sympathizes with blood. Enough blood already. The Guidance office should immediately resign. The lust of the old to their leather seats has only brought the youth closer to their coffins.
Stick to your values when there is nothing else left.
Taher is the former President of the Student Union for American University of Cairo. Follow Taher on Twitter @TaherMoataz.