April 10, 2008
Political Activist Jailed In Egypt
--By CNN's Ben Wedeman
A friend is behind bars. Wednesday evening Egyptian security personnel arrested George Ishaq, a leading figure in the Egyptian democracy movement, at his home in Cairo. No formal charges have been filed, so it’s not clear at this point why and for how long he will be detained.
I met George four years ago while covering a demonstration by Kifaya—which in the Egyptian dialect of Arabic means Enough—outside the Journalists Syndicate in downtown Cairo. Kifaya is a small but vocal group bringing together activists from across the political spectrum, from old school Marxists to Islamists, joined by a common desire to see an end—thus their slogan—to the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, in power since October 1981.
I saw George again and again at similar events, where protesters were often outnumbered ten to one by riot police and plain-clothed policemen clutching rubber truncheons.
A demonstration by Kifaya supporters in Cairo in 2005. (Photo AP)
At first glance George doesn’t look like a political firebrand determined to bring down the regime. George is a bespectacled former school teacher in his sixties with a shock of white hair and an unwavering, mischievous smile. He possesses that unique Egyptian ability to combine biting humour aimed at the high and mighty with razor sharp political analysis, his observations on contemporary Egypt always on the mark, often funny but deeply saddening at the same time.
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