Famous faces read extract about son of detained British-Egyptian writer

An extract of a book written by a jailed British-Egyptian pro-democracy activist about his then-newborn son has been read out by Hollywood stars to mark Father’s Day.

Alaa Abd El-Fattah, 40, who is on the 79th day of a hunger strike, has spent most of the past decade behind bars in Egypt and last December was sentenced to five years in prison after being accused of spreading false news.

Mark Ruffalo, Olivia Colman, Emily Watson and Carey Mulligan are among the famous faces to read out ‘Half An Hour With Khaled’, a passage written by Mr Abd El-Fattah about meeting his 10-year-old son for the first time.

His sister, Sanaa Seif, introduced the passage on YouTube by saying: “This was written when he first saw his baby boy, Khaled – my nephew.”

It begins by telling of a “pale and miserable” prison, before Mr Abd El-Fattah is sent a photograph of his son.

The extract goes on: “Khaled visited me for half an hour, I held him in my arms for 10 minutes.

“My God! How come he’s so beautiful? Love at first touch. In half an hour he gave me joy enough to fill the prison for a week.

“Now I understand why I’m in prison. They want to deprive me of joy. Now I understand why I will resist. Prison will not stop my love. My happiness is resistance.

“Holding Khaled is continuing the struggle.

“I was flooded with the joy of comrades, masses of telegrams, most from people I don’t know and may never have the honour of meeting, writing to express their joy at Khaled’s arrival, writing to say that Khaled has family in hundreds of homes everywhere.”

The video ended by urging viewers to help free Mr Abd el-Fattah to reunite him with his family and son.

Dame Judi Dench and Emma Thompson are among the other famous signatories of a letter directed at Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her US counterpart in aid of him.

Ms Seif has previously said: “My brother is slowly dying in his prison cell but he wants to live.

“He misses his life, he misses his job, he misses his son, and us.”