An edited translation of an original article by: Abdul-Rahman Ayyash
What Khaled Hamza, human rights activist as well as founder and chief editor of the Muslim Brotherhood's official website in English (Ikhwanweb) urged me to do most was to consider history, with a critical eye, and learn from others. Khaled's work within the Muslim Brotherhood indicates he appreciated the importance of history. His work outside the organization proves he appreciated the importance of others, and his conviction that there is no absolute right or absolute wrong.
My friend called me, saying: "My father has been arrested". Since the military coup in Egypt, security forces, the ministry of interior and the Egyptian army have arrested tens of thousands of Egyptians (rights organizations say at least 25 thousand, not including thousands who were arrested then released). But for me, this time it was different. The detainee was Khaled Hamza.
Around seven years ago, I met my friend – now detained – Mohammed Adel (later to become the spokesman for the April 6th movement) during a political conference at the Journalists' Syndicate in Cairo. He told me of a person who wished to meet with me. He said he was the founder of the Brotherhood's English language website, Ikhwanweb. I did not know who the chief editor of Ikhwanweb was, although I was happy with the new website.
I did not know the man (or so I thought), but when I went to meet him, I saw a person I used to know years ago, a family friend, a young engineer. Before our meeting – which was less than half an hour – ended, I had decided to drop my engineering training and turn completely to the area about which Khaled Hamza spoke to me. And I decided to work with him immediately.
I first worked with Khaled Hamza at Ikhwanweb on a project that not only concerned the Brotherhood, but all Egyptians. The campaign against military trials of civilians had been initiated, and Khaled Hamza was one of its engineers. He was arrested because of that in February, 2008. But he had succeeded in making his name known as a main proponent of moderation within the Brotherhood through his contact with all parties and currents within Egypt and abroad.
Over the next few years I came to know Khaled Hamza as a thinker, his main concern being to communicate with others. While Brothers in my small city were telling me to stop contacting western researchers and foreign thinkers, Khaled Hamza was urging me to read their writings, to write to them and to discuss their ideas with them. When I think of this now, I realized that one of the best things that happened in my life was my knowing Khaled.
Before the Revolution, Khaled told me a revolution was approaching. He would say in five or ten years. When the people rose in revolt, he said to me: "I told you so". I knew well that Khaled knew.
Khaled would always interact with rebels, and from the school of Ikhwanweb, there graduated some of the best Egyptian youth who were at the forefront of the Revolution.
Khaled Hamza adopted stances different from the main current prevalent within the Brotherhood, of whom he decided to remain a member, continuing to support the ideas he believed were the group's original ideology. He opposed the fielding a presidential candidate, trusting the military, overwhelming opponents in the elections, tying Islamic activities to politics, and straying from the revolutionaries' lines. And before Morsi was brought down by the coup, I knew Khaled knew he would be toppled.
After the military coup, the military junta rounded up all the "known" Brothers, detaining them mostly on trumped up charges, beginning with vandalism, to espionage, taking control of the borders, prison breaks, to defaming the state, and even killing protestors. Khaled Hamza has his share – three court cases fabricated by the military junta.
As Khaled could no longer work from within Egypt, under the repressive junta, he tried to leave Egypt. The army arrested him while attempting to leave Egypt at the Sudanese border. Several ridiculous accusations were made by the junta against him, the most laughable was the possession of 7000 bullets (as he was leaving Egypt), a mere excuse to continue violating the rights of detainees, including Khaled.
Khaled suffers several health problems, including Cardiac Hypertrophy (an enlarged heart), and frequent heart episodes. His family is extremely worried about him, knowing that the army has confiscated all his possessions, including the medicines he needs daily. Khaled is in real danger, as his kind daughter says, and following his situation closely.
Khaled Hamza has not committed a single crime. His colleagues from the Revolution outside the Brotherhood know that. The regime knows that. But the issue has gone beyond justice – since the coup, months ago.
They say reaching a conclusion about an issue is part of how you see it. Personally, I see what happened as a military coup. And everything that follows will only be a natural consequence. Khaled is not a criminal because the military regime says so. To the contrary, I say that the proof he is not a criminal is that the military regime in Egypt accuses him of being a criminal.
Editor's note: Khaled Hamza is a former chief editor of Ikhwanweb, and was serving as its adviser on human rights issues and democracy prior to his arrest.