Marwa Fahmy is a feisty lady. She needs to be after the shock and tears of Saturday’s Egyptian court appearance in which her Al Jazeera journalist husband Mohamed was sent back to prison.
The Canadians have to do more for their Egyptian-Canadian citizen, she insists – but there is a note of desperation in her voice. “I saw the Canadian ambassador in Cairo, he’s trying to help – but of course he gets his instructions from Ottawa. [Canadian Prime Minister] Harper didn’t even call [Egyptian President] al-Sisi. The Canadians are trying to do more – but it’s not enough. Mohamed gave up his Egyptian citizenship. We’ve got to get him deported to Canada – that’s the only way out now.”
Ms Fahmy knows it’s election year in Canada – and a lot of Canadians are tired of Mr Harper’s uncritical pro-Israeli policies and “security” state mentality. “Harper has to speak out. The National Democratic Party and the Liberals have spoken out about Mohamed – they want Harper to do something for him,” she says.
But there are more immediate problems. “I’ve been trying to meet Mohamed since the court sentenced him, trying to get help from anyone – diplomats, officials – because my family can’t wait the 20 or 30 days before we’re officially allowed to see him. Mohamed has hepatitis C and he needs his medication. He has to drink bottled mineral water and he’s got none of that in prison. He needs help.
“His father got cancer while he was imprisoned the first time – and he can’t see him now. How can such a thing happen? No one – not me, not Mohamed, not Amal Clooney, none of us – dreamt that he would be sentenced. I never contemplated this. It’s crazy.”
According to Ms Fahmy, even Egyptians do not understand the Cairo court’s ruling on Saturday. “The judge began speaking and said ‘in the name of the people...’ – and people are asking what he’s doing in their name. The judge said, ‘We are very sure that these journalists have committed crimes – they are not members of the journalists’ syndicate.’ But only Egyptian journalists working for the Egyptian media can join the syndicate. Mohamed works for Al Jazeera, which is based in Qatar.”
Unsurprisingly, the family doesn’t see much hope of a pardon or seeking an appeal. “There’s no point in an appeal, then waiting for another year and a half. Getting him deported to Canada is the only way out now.”
The long-standing dispute between Egypt and Qatar is probably the real reason for Mohamed Fahmy’s re-imprisonment, but Ms Fahmy is beyond this now. Amal Clooney’s profile helped the case, she says. “She was on all the Egyptian television channels here. As for me, I have to be strong for Mohamed. There is no other option.”Reuse content