Egypt Independent

The tragedy of Ibrahim Nafie



The paradox in the story of Ibrahim Nafie between his biography and his achievements in journalism and management on the one hand, and the circumstances of his death outside the country on the other, create a tragic situation where the tragedy is not an individual, but also of society and state.

Here, the impact of suffering, pain, nervous pressure, sorrow and grief transcends one person not only to those around him such as his immediate family, but also to several circles, including his work and his nation.

The matter has some of natural disasters that no one knows how it came, and not to wonder whether it can be remedied, nor how to deal with its consequences.

Whoever witnessed the funeral of the deceased, from Al-Ahram building to the mosque of Omar Makram, will feel the pain of this paradox between what everyone was saying about the merits of the deceased and what everyone knew of the period of suffering he experienced in Dubai, and the great pain he experienced during his last days, and his sincere desire through his last words that the rest of his life be in his precious homeland.

And because the tragedy has some of the destiny, his last breaths were in Dubai, and were not in his home in the embrace of the pyramids, and were not among his colleagues working in Al-Ahram, where he spent his youth and his great career as a journalist, editor, editor-in-chief, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Chief of the Journalists Syndicate.

The approach presented by several newspapers in his last days have cruelly raised important questions about the Egyptian procession over the last seven years, and whether justice is possible when gossip and rumors are broadcast, and Facebook becomes the source of information.

Is it possible to apply the legal rule in the countries of the law which states that a person can’t be tried twice over the same subject even if the times, circumstances and even laws varied between them, and he was fully cleared at the first time?

I came to Al-Ahram as a researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in mid-1975.

I did not come to know Ibrahim Nafie until 1984 when he became chairman of the board of directors, but the relationship became strong only after I became director of the center ten years later.

As if we were on a date with destiny, a year later came the crisis of Law 93 of 1995, which broke out one morning at the end of May, on the day of the meeting of journalists and media personnel with the President.

It was a tense meeting when the colleagues raised the issue of the law, and other colleagues stood up to defend it, and the group was divided, and the President was not a source of wisdom at that time.

In the evening his faint voice came over the telephone and I asked him: Where are you now? He said at Cairo airport, and asked what happened today in the meeting with the President?

I told him what happened, and the question came: What will you do? And my answer was a question: What will you do? His answer was conclusive and decisive: Over my dead body.

We discussed some issues and agreed to form a working group to manage the crisis until the abolition of the law, and I suggested for him some names, including Mr. al-Sayed Yassin, Dr. Mohamed al-Sayed Saeed, may God have mercy on them, and Dr. Wahid Abdel Majeed.

The Committee had met the following day at its office at 9am and was also attended by Mister Lotfy al-Khouly, may God have mercy on him. The outcome of this meeting was to develop a crisis management strategy based on three principles: abolishing the law, maintaining the unity of journalists, and no rivaling and clashing with the state.

It was not an easy matter. The state would not accept “pressure” on it. Not all journalists had consensus, but that was how things ended up a year later when the law was canceled.

This is an exciting story to be told at another time. If this was just what Ibrahim Nafie did in his life then it’s enough, but it was not the only act.

There were other achievements that did not occur since the time of Mohamed Hassanein Heikal: the assets of Al-Ahram rose, and the name of Al-Ahram rose as a trademark, as well as a commercial and economic brand.

And in short the newspaper’s brand, its logo, its distribution, its advertisements, its centers, and its publications have become institutions that Egypt is known by abroad.

How does all of this goes in vain and end while its owner is denied from returning home?

If there was some remedy, then it was in the sight of Al-Ahram and Al-Ahrameen (who work in Al-Ahram) in their sad march between the lofty building and the mosque and the place where no one returns. May God have mercy on him, and sincere condolences to the family of Al-Ahram and his wife and family.