‘I’m very worried’: Mother of jailed Egyptian activist on hunger strike wants action

© Amr Hafez, AP

Detained Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah’s decision to escalate a hunger strike in prison to a refusal to drink water has raised the stakes and shone a spotlight on human rights violations as Egypt hosts the COP27 climate summit. For his mother, the time has come for the world to act and not be hoodwinked by Egypt’s greenwashing of human rights.

On Monday morning, as world leaders were gathering for the COP27 climate summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Laila Soueif arrived at the Wadi el-Natrun prison north of Cairo to see her son, Alaa Abdel Fattah, one of Egypt’s most prominent human rights activists.

Her 40-year-old imprisoned son stopped drinking water on Sunday, escalating a hunger strike that has lasted seven months in a desperate campaign for his release.

Soueif – a mathematics professor who is also a leading human rights activist – arrived at the prison with books, letters, and a clean set of clothes for her son. But by noon local time, she sounded resigned about her prospects of meeting her son.

“I won’t see him today,” she told FRANCE 24 in a phone interview from the waiting area for family members outside the prison gates. “There is no visit scheduled. I’m waiting here, I’m hoping to get a letter.”

The last letter Soueif received from Fattah was on Monday, October 31, informing the family that if he was not released, he would stop drinking water on Sunday, November 6, the day the COP27 summit opened.

This latest act of protest has sparked a media storm amid calls for his release by top human rights defenders.

His other sister, Mona, is also a human rights activist.


Read more on FRANCE 24 English

Read also:
Egypt has days to save jailed activist Alaa Abdel Fattah's life, Amnesty chief warns
Crisis on the Nile: Global warming and overuse threaten Africa’s longest river
COP27 in Egypt: Reason for hope or doomed to disappoint?