September 30, 2012

Alber Saber – And all is well in Egypt

Imagine it is night. In the darkness outside a mob is congregating around your house. They scream, they hurl death threats, they say they will burn down the house and kill you. You and your mother are scared to death. Your mother calls the police by phone. They must come and protect you or something terrible will happen. Then the police come. They intrude into your apartment, but instead of calming the crowds and stopping their illegal doings – the police arrest you, drag you out of the house and through the cheering crowds that continue in their death threats while shouting Allahu akbar. Your mother is left behind without someone protecting her. And you cannot do anything, because the police have handcuffed you and drive you away. It is almost midnight and the horror has gone on for hours. You are scared stiff and don't know where the police is taking you and what will happen to your mother.

Imagine arriving at the police station at the middle of the night with no lawyer to help you, no one to turn to. Imagine the police officers, who came not to save you but to arrest you, hurl insults at you, push you, beat you, then throw you into a dark cell where there are other inmates already. Imagine one police officer shouting to the inmates that you have insulted the Prophet, that you have been blasphemous, that you don't believe in God – shouting it so loud that everyone is getting agitated and angry. Imagine the frustrated inmates, furious at the police for treating them like dirt, now turning their fury on you, because they need an outlet for their anger, need a scapegoat they can blame everything on. And imagine how they fall on you, shouting, pushing – and how then one inmate grabs you from behind, pulls back your head and slashes your neck with a razor blade until you bleed. While the mob around you want to kill you and the police officer grins his dirty grin.

Your adrenaline will pump in your head, you are so scared to die there and then in this shitty police hole of a cell, with the blood already running down your neck and into your shirt, you sweat yourself wet and your heart pounds so hard that it hurts and you know you are going to die any minute at the hands of this incited mob – and then the police officer finally shouts for them to stop and they let go of you and the police officers move away and you have to spend the rest of the night in a corner of the cell not knowing if they will come at you again, if they will take that razor blade again and slash you to death. And you feel the blood running down your body and into your trousers and you don't know if the mob on the street has killed your mother or not. It is so dark in that cell, so unbelievably dark. And you lose all grip on yourself because you don't know if you'll survive the night.

Imagine all that. And then wonder what you have done that could have caused this. Not in the Middle Ages. Not in the middle of nowhere. But in Cairo. In 2012. Under the regime – or is it a government – of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Then you hear that the mob has told the police officers that you had posted that anti-Islam movie about the Prophet from that disgusting American on your facebook site. But you know you didn't and you know they are lying. And you don't understand how you can almost die in front of the police who never investigated anything when they where called to save you from the mob, but instead threw you in jail. Without evidence, without any reason. In Cairo. In 2012. In September.

And later you learn that the investigations of the prosecutor indeed show that you have not posted that shitty film on your facebook page, and that therefore they should never have arrested you and thrown you to the furious inmates inciting them to injure you. And you learn too that the General Prosecutor, who has already done his evil work under Mubarak and never cared for the murders of almost 1000 innocent Egyptian protesters, is still allowed to be evil and still allowed under President Morsi to continue in his evil work. And you think about the promises of this new President, who said that all murders of the revolution will be solved and all martyrs will get justice. And you know this will never, ever happen with this General Prosecutor, who did not care about the young protesters getting killed and who does not care to do what the new President tells the world in his interviews, and who still does not get sacked but can continue to be a felool, while the President just allows it to happen.

And then you learn, while you got your head shaved and have to share a dirty cell with too many inmates and get hardly something decent to eat and have to shit in front of the others while the cockroaches run around your feet, that the prosecutor knows you are innocent, but that he still won't set you free. Because he found out that you thought about religion and God and that you don't know who to believe, and to him this is worse than insulting religion, this is so evil that he would like to kill you and is sorry he can't, because there is no law for that in Egypt. And you learn that all evidence is withheld from your lawyers that your mother and human rights groups have now engaged for you. That the prosecutor is not giving it to the lawyers although he must, but he does not care for the law. He is above the law, as he was above the law under Mubarak and is now above the law under Morsi, because this new President is not better than the old one and does not care. And you learn that the prosecutor hisses at your lawyer how he can defend you, when you don't believe in a God! And you wonder why he knows nothing or cares for nothing that is called judicial procedures and defence of an accused or the rights of someone who has not been proven guilty. And you know, if he could, he would order you to be lashed or again thrown to inmates that try to kill you. And he would laugh about the blood running down your body and would go home not thinking about it anymore. Because his life is fine. His life has not changed. No revolution has forced him to change his evil way. He does not have to care for the law or human rights or the big words from the President. Because the President allows this to happen. In Egypt. In 2012. And so the prosecutor can say to the press that he demands the full punishment for you – for what?, you think – and no mercy, no mercy!

And the President says nothing. Only big words on television. And grins. Like the General Prosecutors grins. And you wonder why in God's name – yes, in his – you and your mother so often have risked your lives back then in Tahrir, when you fought for the revolution – that now eats you up like the regime before wanted to eat you up. And you ask yourself why so many died in Tahrir and around Egypt when what you got is only what you had. And you think that if you had wanted to be thrown in jail for nothing, you might as well have achieved this under Mubarak and that you would not have needed a revolution for this. Because what you get today is the treatment you could have gotten before. So why the fight and the many deaths? It has all been futile.

You are 27 years and of Coptic origin. You are not dumb. You have been taught to think and use your brains to question. And you have questioned. You have looked at the three big religions with their contradictory statements and their unequivocal belief only they are right, only their God is the one and only right God, and you looked at all that and were confused. Yes. You were a young man and you were confused. Now they hold that against you. Your crime, they say, is that you asked questions, that you tried for your life to find answers you could live with. Your crime, they say, is that you dared to use your own brains, that you not simply behaved like a sheep and said "blah, blah" when all demanded you to say "blah, blah" and not think, and not question, and obey blindly under the sword of religion that to you is not solace but confusion. Your crime, they tell you, is that you did what hundred thousands of people and philosophers have done before you in thousands of years that this world exists, trying to find answers to riddles that are so difficult to solve, trying to see light in dark tunnels, trying to find a personal way to understand life.

That was your crime. In Cairo. In 2012. In the 21st century after a revolution and under a President who says that now all are equal in Egypt. And he tells it to the world in staged interviews, grinning and smiling as if everything is in order. But he does not tell to that world that he is lying, that the Muslim Ahmed Mohamed Abdallah (known as Sheikh Abu Islam), who burned a Bible at the U.S. embassy protests and who was filmed doing that and who said that next time he will "urinate on it" and who too is charged with blasphemy, is free and not in jail and not beaten and not slashed with a razor across the neck and does not have to sit in a cage like an animal for all to watch and scorn at and has no mother who had to flee the angry mob threatening to kill her and burn the house down and who cannot return to her home because the Egyptian police is only protecting the mob but not the innocent woman. And who is not sitting in a dark, infested, dirty cell at night with unruly fellow inmates and is scared stiff that he will be sentenced to years in prison and never see his mother in freedom again and will not be able to protect her from the mob that still wants to kill her. In Egypt.

In the Egypt, where the President Morsi says, all now are equal. And where lying is still the name of the game in the presidency, in the judiciary, in the society. And nothing has changed from Mubarak times. Nothing has changed, just nothing. And they drag you from the cage after a futile court date, where your lawyers not even got the evidence against you into their hands, where the prosecutor molests your mother and treats her like dirt so that she weeps and weeps, and where you are insulted and degraded and can't help her from out of that cage. And they lead you down the stairs to the truck waiting to bring you back to your cell, and they need five men, five grown men to shove you down one single staircase, though your are handcuffed and thin and skinny from the shit treatment you had to endure already for weeks, and you can't look at your mother one last time because they won't let you, and you know that Abdallah is free and that the mob is free and that the General Prosecutor is free. And all are grinning and smiling and free. Because the President says in an interview that now all is good in Egypt and all are equal before the law. And you know you will spend your nights and days until the next court date in weeks in that infested, dirty cell, degraded, humiliated, treated like dirt. Because you too are an Egyptian. And equal. And you wonder what Morsi means, when he says "equal", and whether he knows that he is lying, and you don't know how you will survive.

Just imagine all this would happen to you. Your name would then be Alber Saber. And you would not understand why the world, why Egypt, why your fellow Egyptians, why the President Morsi is allowing all this to happen. But as this did not happen to you, you are not Alber Saber. That is wonderful. You will sleep well. Because Egypt is well. And all are equal now. And all is good now. And the President will not lie anymore and means what he says. Because he is not Mubarak. No. Mubarak is gone. There was a revolution, remember? Now all is well. And Egypt has nothing to fear anymore. Never again.


Alber Saber was arrested on September 13, 2012 on false charges in Cairo, Egypt. He has not regained his freedom.

Report on the trial – The Washington Post

Report on the case – Daily News Egypt

The arrest video – "Alluha akbar"


  1. This piece of writing is stunning, outstanding and makes me hurt and sick throughout my body to read. I am following the story of Alber Saber through Facebook. I am British but live in Mexico. My deep concerns about what has happened and is happening in Egypt (which I have visited once, as a freelance photographer) are totally confirmed by this essay/article. I hope that in the end we hear good news. Meanwhile, this story is sickening. May other Egyptians learn from it. Get it translated into Arabic, if possible, please.

    1. Thanks for your words. Yes, I hope I can get it translated and spread in Arabic. It would be vital for people to understand what a story they read means in real life to a human being subjected to it.

  2. Good job mate, very good indeed...

  3. Brilliant article. I hope you don't mind I've reposted to my blog.

    1. Thank you. And no - not at all. We must raise awareness for him as much as we can.