A close friend once told me, “in life, you sometimes meet people whom you only know for a short while, but then have an impact on you that not even many of those you’ve known your whole life can ever match.”
Alaa Abdel Fattah, Razan Ghazzawi and Ali Abdulemam are such people, the special kind who are so principled and passionate about freedom and dignity, they’re willing to risk their well-being for what they believe.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them and getting to know them during the 2nd Arab Bloggers Meeting in 2009 back in Beirut. I especially remember a long heated argument I had with Razan on an issue that we, at the time, strongly disagreed about.
At first, I was annoyed by what I saw as her diatribes, but eventually, after I explored her blog and spent more time with her, I came to respect and like her for her blunt honesty and staunch stance on gender rights and free speech.
Then earlier today I came across the heart-wrenching news that she had been detained in her native Syria, where she blogged against the monstrous Assad regime openly under her real name. I really hope she’s safe.
On top of that, I also found out that Alaa’s detention under the military regime in Egypt got extended, which means he’ll very probably miss the birth of his first child. Another heart-wrenching piece of news.
Both Alaa and Razan were present at the recent 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting held in Tunisia.
Unfortunately, our friend Ali Abdulemam, the well-known Bahraini online free speech advocate wasn’t with us. He went into hiding after the Bahraini regime unleashed a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters who took to the streets earlier this year.
I don’t know where he is now, but every once in a while I think about him, and how much he must be missing his young children.
Tonight, they’re in my thoughts. Tonight, I go to bed with a heavy heart.
Tonight, I remind myself that their sacrifices will one day, tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade… one day, their sacrifices will bear their humble fruits.
Pessimism is a choice, and we must do our best to never succumb to it and to never remain in a defeated state.
Take 17 minutes to watch this short powerful documentary,
The “No” Choice, about Alaa and his activist family.
#FreeAlaa, #FreeRazan, and #RememberAli
When they were free: @RedRazan, @alaa and @abdulemam
in Budapest, 2008. Today they’re in jail or in hiding.
Picture courtesy of @chanadbh.