Dr. Abdul Hai Al Faramawi- born in July 1942 in the governorate Monoufia- is former dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies, Al-Azhar University, a former chairman of the Quran interpretation and sciences, a member of the permanent academic committee for the promotion of professors in the university, a member of the faculty board, a member of the academic researches committee in Umm Al-Qura University, the Secretary-General of the teaching staff members club of Al-Azhar University, a religious consultant for the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Egypt and a former member of parliament for East Cairo constituency. Faramawi supervised many MA theses and PhD dissertations. He also wrote more than 35 books in Quran interpretation and in Islamic and general issues.
Egyptian security forces stormed his house after midnight where he was taken to Nasr City Police Station and then to the state security prosecution that accused him of charges that came as a surprise for him: spying for foreign parties, funding Hamas movement, and buying toy planes to give to the resistance.
After his detention was prolonged several times, Cairo Criminal court released him on bond after dismissing all charges against him. The security services implemented the court ruling and released him last Tuesday.
We had a three-hour interview with him, an interview which was interrupted by phone calls and visits of relatives and acquaintances congratulating him on the safe release.
Ikhwanweb: What happened? Why have you been arrested?
Dr. Faramawi: I was stunned by security forces breaking into my house after midnight last April 22 and took me directly to my office. When the dawn prayers came I prayed as an imam with them in the office and the treatment was decent till this time. However, after I was sent to Nasr City police station, I was thrown on the floor in cell which is not appropriate for human use, a cell which was dirty and full of insects.
They could have shown respect through offering a chair, but they did not respect my old age, my illness or my position as a university professor. I was very exhausted and ill, and I was fasting the day before. After that, I was moved to the state security prosecution where the investigations continued for 4 days with every investigation session taking up to 6 hours. However, I must admit that the state security treated me as an Al-Azhar scholar. I spent the period of detention both in Al-Mahkoum prison and Torah farm prison which was better than Al-Mahkoum because it included prisoners of conscience. Prisoners of conscience and detained Muslim Brotherhood members and leaders were receiving a sort of respect.
Ikhwanweb: Did you expect such a detention and these charges? How have you reacted?.
Dr. Al-Faramawi: I have never expected it. I first knew of these charges from Al-Ahram daily which caused me a very strong shock, sudden fatigue, and I fell on the ground. This is because such charges are a disaster that I have never expected. These charges are spawned by an unjust and unjustified campaign. I am an Al-Azhar scholar, I have and preach a moderate thought, and there is no reason for throwing me behind bars.
Ikhwanweb: What do you think is the aim of such a fabricated case?
Dr. Al Faramawi: some think that the aims of this case may be one of three: Targeting Al-Azhar University, the Muslim Brotherhood group or the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas.
Ikhwanweb: How were investigations held with you?
Dr. Al faramawi: There was nothing that may convict me. The investigations were disconnected proving nothing but my innocence. The prosecutor was discussing with me my culture, how I grew up. He also held long discussion with me around the topic of my PhD dissertation prepared 40 years ago, about the Qur’an calligraphy and diacritics, all of them are miles away from the charges against me.
Spying for Hamas
Ikhwanweb: What first struck you when you heard the charge “Spying for a foreign party " and that this party is Hamas?
Dr. Al Faramawi: Hamas is a government or organization that works in Gaza for the sake of its country. Like other countries that suffered from occupation, it resists Israeli Occupation Forces. All the Muslim nation and me support it and hope that it can clear Palestine of the occupation. This is the only link between me, Hamas, and Palestine. I have no organizational or personal relations with it.
Ikhwanweb: Have you offered any money to the Palestinians before?
Dr. Al Faramawi: I have never offered any money to the Palestinians, but there are Egyptian legitimate authorities that raise money for the Palestinian cause and for the Palestinian children. I was telling anybody who wants to donate about these authorities, like Al-Gam"iya Al-Shar"iya, the General Syndicate of Doctors and the Arab Doctors" Union. I have all over my life distanced myself from such financial issues in the university, the teaching staff members club or others. I have never been assigned with raising money.
Ikhwanweb: What about your relation with the Hamas leader, Nizar Rayyan, the Sinai-based relief activist Bassam Adel and Dr. Mohamed Taha Wahdan, all of them were mentioned in the investigations?
Dr. Al Faramawi: I have never known, heard of or met any one of them. But I saw Bassam Adel during detention. I knew later Dr. Mohamed Taha Wahdan. He is professor in the Faculty of Agriculture in Suez Canal University, but I have never met him.
The Toy Plane Story
Ikhwanweb: What do you call the charge against you of making toy planes to be used in terrorist acts?
Dr. Al Faramawi: I see as a credulous charge that no one can believe. How can I- a Quran interpretation professor- be charged of making planes? However, I hope that the Arab world can one day produce a plane, but I do not expect that a professor of Quran interpretation for 40 years can succeed in what the Arabs failed in for many years.
Ikhwanweb: The smear campaign that tried to distort your image?
Dr. Al faramawi: It is an unjust media campaign. I will see with lawyers if we can sue those who tried to defame me.
Scholar in prison
Ikhwanweb: How has this case affected your children?
Dr. Al Faramawi: They have supported me and were writing letters and bringing them to me in time of visits so that I could read them after their departure. However, I was suffering for what they faced, especially that they have never been through such experiences. My wife was forced to go everyday to police stations or prisons.
One of my daughters could not visit me one time because of her children"s school. Instead, she wrote me a ten-page letter, and I read it aloud to cellmates who wept and demanded copies as a solace for every one of them, out of feeling that this letter is directed to all of them.
The most valuable prize I got from this experience was that I tested the nature of my family, their perseverance in tough times. I also knew how far my colleagues and students love me, not only from Egypt but from all over the world, from Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and my students in Umm Al-Qura University in Holy Mecca and Al Medina Al Monawara. Since I was released, my three phones have been ringing from love ones and acquaintances who want to congratulate me. My students contacted me from all places, wept and confirmed that they continued praying for me during my detention. One of them said he wished he had been in prison instead of me, making me cry for this love and as a sign of gratitude.
Ikhwanweb: Why have you been released while others haven"t been released?
Dr. Al Faramawi: I do not know, but I was confident that I will be cleared because all of them are false accusations. During all the period of detention, I had a good faith that I will be released.
Ikhwanweb: What happened in the court session in which you were acquitted?
Dr. Al Faramawi: Cairo Criminal court acquitted me after a fair judge listened to me attentively and listened to witnesses and the prosecutor who repeated the charges but the judge eventually issued a ruling out of his personal convictions. He even allowed me to sit down for my ill health. Therefore, I thank the fair Egyptian justice.
Ikhwanweb: Have you ever despaired in the midst of this?
Dr. Al Faramawi: Never. I was always confident and I will never retreat from any word of truth which I have mentioned in my books or in any event. Thanks God, all my household are Azhar graduates and all of them encourage me.
Ikhwanweb: Do you think that your website or books have caused any enmity between you and the security services?
Dr. Al Qaradawi: Neither my books nor my website, www.hadielislam.com, triggers any enmity. This website is Al-Azhar website that represents the moderate method of Islam; it attracted seven million web visitors from 157 countries. The security services seized my laptop and some of my books from my own library; all of them preach the moderate method of Islam and have no violations.