Free Maikel Nabil Sanad Now!
The news hit me like a hammer: Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested in his home in the Ain Shams neighbourhood if Cairo at about 10pm on 28 March 2011 by military police.
Readers of "The Propagandist" may remember the interview I conducted with Maikel. Ever since then we kept in contact and discussed the Egyptian uprisings.
I was very skeptical of the Islamist character of the revolution. I'd read Barry Rubin and his warning about the strenght and the sharpness of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Maikel just responded "Let Muhammed Badi (The Muslim Brotherhood's leader) die. No one listens to him."
The revolution was his. He was politically active since 2004, aiming to change the status quo in a autocratic police state. His genuine optimism to obtain a liberal democracy and to take the Egyptian people with him sounded naive to me at first. But there was one part of the interview I thought a long time about. He said "revolutions change the beliefs of the people."
"What if he is right?" I thought.
Can the revolutionary moment counter Islamist, fundamentalist and anti-Semite attitudes among many Egyptians? Did we really have a false picture that pro-Western Mubarak was using the argument of an Islamist takeover as an excuse for his legitimacy?
I tried to look at it from this perspective, though I remained skeptical. Maikel meanwhile sent messages via his Israeli friends to address the Israeli government to support the Egyptian revolution.
I replied that the Israelis have reason to be skeptical. But from his perspective, mobilizing support for his revolution was logical.
When I heard that Sheikh Qaradawi, the most eminent Sunni scholar, sought total war, I asked Maikel again if maybe my skepticism was for a reason.
Maikel replied "Qaradawi isn't worth all this coverage. Egyptians here almost don't care about him. Even the Moslem Brotherhood doesn't want him in Egypt."
Maikel was right, the beliefs of the people changed. Support for the Muslim Brotherhood was decreasing and I stopped hearing about Qaradawi, though he was perhaps the most popular Sunni speaker. I thought about revolution. I thought about what Marx said. I thought about 1789, 1979 and 1989 and I kept talking with Maikel.
At the time Maikel was arrested, I was traveling in Israel and China for some time, relatively oblivious to current events in the news. When I came back, I got the news that my friend had been arrested.
On 7 March, Maikel Nabil Sanad published a detailed analysis of the role of the military during and after the revolution on his blog, highlighting that the military did support the police during the revolution, and did continue to arrest people even after the fall of Mubarak. He wrote: “In fact, the revolution has so far managed to get rid of the dictator but not of the dictatorship.”
And why was he arrested? For expressing himself with so much courage. He has the spirit of a man who is needed to change Egypt. And how right he was about the dictatorship!
The people of Egypt are still not free. They are fighting courageously, confronting the ruins of a doomed autocratic system trying to restore its capabilities by force.
For nowt, I just want to know how Maikel is at the moment and what he thinks. When will Maikel to be allowed to express himself freely and to be allowed to travel and visit his friends outside Egypt?
Free Maikel Nabil Sanad now!
Niklas Anzinger is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist