Issued: 25 March 2015
Has the “War on Terror” which many Muslims may not be faulted for believing to be a war on Islam, reached such deplorable levels that the arbitrary detention of a South African citizen in Egypt does not warrant a public outcry?
Now in his 16th week of detention at the notorious Torah prison, 65 year old Sheikh Abdul Salam Jad Bassiouni, was nabbed by Egypt’s national security at Cairo airport.
A South African citizen of Egyptian descent, Bassiouni, travelled to Cairo accompanied by his family at the beginning of December 2014.
Despite his SA passport and possessing a valid visa, the well respected Scholar (Alim), educationist and humanitarian, finds himself languishing without charge in the same prison complex where many high profile political figures, including the deposed President Mohamed Morsi is held.
From reports received via sources in Egypt, Sheik Bassouini is accused of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al Muslimeen).
The Ikhwan played a pivotal role during the height of the Arab Spring when along with multi-million masses of the population, Egypt revolted against the Mubarak dictatorship.
Subsequently, in the country’s first and only free election following decades of autocratic rule, Morsi, closely associated with Ikhwan, was chosen to lead Egypt.
The post revolutionary phase, despite heralding a government for the people by the people, was short lived when a violent military coup led by General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi brutally ended the democratic process.
Sisi, who now dons a suit and claims to be the country’s “legitimate” ruler, remains in charge of a repressive regime that has outlawed opposition groups, including Ikhwan as “terrorists”.
The persecution of people associated with Ikhwan has taken a form of savagery that is unprecedented even by Mubarak’s standards.
That Egypt remains locked in measures that relies on security clampdown on civil liberties including media freedom as is evident in the case of Al Jazeera’s journalists, is reflective of Sisi’s autocratic rule.
Sheik Bassiouni, a South African citizen, decides to travel to Egypt for family reasons and becomes a victim of Sisi’s paranoia.
In addition to the uncertainty of his fate given that he hasn’t been charged yet and consular access is being frustrated, concerns expressed by his family about his medical condition is equally real.
To date it appears that the Department of International Relations (DIRCO) has not commented on Egypt’s blatant violation of a South African citizen’s human rights.
Is it because they are unaware of this troubling matter? Or is it perhaps due to the Sisi regime’s manipulation of facts in order to distort information thus seeking to justify his continued detention under false pretense?
Whatever the reasons may be for DIRCO’s silence and inaction, it remains intolerable that South African citizens are subjected to harassment and unjust detentions by a regime whose legitimacy is questionable.
Indeed, following the coup, Egypt’s membership was suspended by the African Union (AU). That it has been reinstated following mock “elections” is a matter of concern for it raises questions about the possibility of external pressure on the AU to ignore its policies in respect of coups.
As South Africa, we certainly cannot countenance the political chicanery associated with Sheik Bassiouni’s arrest and indefinite detention without trial.
Executive: Media Review Network
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