As South Africans, our history has many examples of people with conscience imprisoned without a valid reason. This, however, is history and our democracy promises that this will not happen to any citizen in possession of a South African identity document.
So why when Sheikh Bassiouni, a South African citizen, lawyer, humanitarian, scholar and family man, languishes in the Egyptian Torah prison, does DIRCO and the South African Presidency not act in the manner expected from a country that prides itself as a democracy?
Sheikh Bassiouni, a 65-year-old man, with no political affiliations, traveled to Egypt, accompanied by his family for his daughters engagement. Upon arrival, he was interrogated and unfairly jailed without trial in the notorious Torah prison. Months later, there is still no sign of his release, and minimal help from our government.
As a country that champions itself in the fundamentals justice and democracy, it is an abomination that any innocent South African citizen be allowed to stay in a notorious prison for a day, let alone languish there for as long as Sheikh Bassiouni has.
While a South African man continues to languish behind bars, DIRCO still does not lend a helpful hand. This sends out a powerful, but terrorizing message, that us ordinary South African citizens are not safe travelling to Egypt. If a man as prominent as Sheikh Bassiouni has not received any active help, what hope do we have?
While a family pines for a father, while a wife cries for her husband, while the Al Tawheed Centre, a centre aimed at community development, awaits the return of its founder, and while many take to social networks such as twitter to raise their voices against this injustice, all our government continues to offer is a complete reluctance to act.
As I look at a photo of the Sheikh with former President Thabo Mbeki, I am forced to ask, what then is the purpose of being in possession of a South African passport or identity document if our country does not offer certain assurances to its citizens?
There is no merit in calling ourselves a Democracy, if we are not able to have an ongoing fight against injustice and tyranny of this nature and help one of our own.
As someone who has the colours of the South African flag running through her veins, for the first time in a long time, South Africa, I am truly ashamed.
Written by: Ayesha Moola
Ayesha is a medical student at a South African University. Her focus has been predominantly on Palestinian suffering induced by Israeli occupation, however her writing extends to many struggles for justice globally.
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