- Life Style
After spending 30 months in jail, Sinai activist Mosaad Abu Fajr has been released along with 68 other Bedouins who were released in the last 48 hours. The decision came as part of an effort to reduce growing tensions between Egyptian security and Sinai Bedouins, following a meeting between Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, Bedouin tribal leaders, and Sinai MPs.
"I'm very happy to be free. This is a step in the right direction," Abu Fajr told Al-Masry Al-Youm over the phone from his home in North Sinai. "However my brother is still in prison."
Abu Fajr is known for his work as a political activist who advocates for rights of Bedouin and an end to their marginalization. A descendant of the Remella Bedouin tribe, prior to his detention he was employed as a senior IT manager for the Suez Canal.
In 2007 Abu Fajr launched the Wedna N’eesh (We Want to Live) campaign and blog, which promoted Bedouin rights to own land in Sinai and hold government posts in the peninsula. Abu Fajr also published a novel, Taleet el-Badan (The Countenance of the Body), the first edition of which was released during his first month in detention and completely sold out.
Abu Fajr was accused of mobilizing protestors to demonstrate against demolitions of housing in the area of Salah Eddin, on Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, in 2007. In December 2007 he spent a year and a half in in Borg el-Arab prison in Alexandria. Later, Abu Fajr was transferred to Abu Zaabal, the prison from which he has now been released.
Over the past two and a half years courts ruled that Abu Fajr should be released, but he was not allowed to go free due to the Emergency Law in force since 1981.
Abu Fajr's brother, Ahmed Abu Fajr, a teacher who has no political involvement, was detained in June 2008 and remains in prison despite court decisions ordering his release.
The release of Abu Fajr, widely considered a prisoner of conscience, has been welcomed by human rights activists in Egypt and abroad. Some are now calling for Abu Fajr to be compensated for his unlawful detention.
Other members of the Wedna N’eesh campaign who were detained with Abu Fajr still remain in state custody.