Bassem Sabry was one of Egypt's most respected bloggers and a democracy advocate who had chronicled the country's turmoil since the 2011 uprising that brought about the end of Hosni Mubarak's rule. The columnist for a number of Egyptian and international outlets, won praise for his balanced analysis amid the deep polarisation that has divided Egypt over the past three years, particularly after massive protests last summer led to the military's removal of Islamist Mohammed Morsi, the first elected president after Mubarak's fall.
At a time when many in the Egyptian media were ferociously praising the military's move, Sabry – while critical of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood – raised concerns over the possible return of a police state amid the bloody crackdown on Morsi's Islamist supporters.
"It is now clear that January 25, as it once stood, is virtually beyond restoration," he wrote on the news website Al-Monitor following a deadly police assault on pro-Morsi protests last August, referring to the start of the pro-democracy uprising against Mubarak on 25 January 2011. "Politics have utterly failed in Cairo in favour of confrontation."
Sabry died from an accidental fall from the balcony of a Cairo high-rise block, according to security officials. The cause of the fall was not immediately known. The state-run Al-Ahram daily said he fell after suffering a diabetic coma while inspecting an apartment under construction. One of Sabry's friends, the screenwriter Sherif Neguib, said Sabry had suffered from diabetes-related illness recently but that the circumstances of his fall were still not clear.
"The very best people are the ones who leave us early," said Nagib, who had known Sabry since the 2011 uprising. Writer Mohammed el-Dahshan, who knew Sabry for more than 13 years, described him as "an extremely astute writer, a gifted analyst, an indefatigable storyteller, and even through the darkness, optimistic to a fault. His fundamentals never changed. ... He demanded rights for all a decade ago, as he did yesterday. He stood for the oppressed, never condoned injustice, and never censored himself for an unpopular position. He was always able to reach out, even to those who seemed the most distant."
Sabry, who wrote in English and Arabic, contributed to Al-Monitor, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy and the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, as well as his blog, "An Arab Citizen." He wrote in an article on the online news portal Yanair: "I want to live in a country with real freedom in thought, faith and expression. I want the state to rise up for the sake of the individual's political, social, economic and humanitarian rights. I don't want anyone to face irreversible injustice. I want the rivers of blood to stop."
Bassem Sabry, writer and activist: born 25 October 1982; died Cairo 29 April 2014.Reuse content