Arabisc: An Ode to a Jailed Egyptian Security Guard

As usual Egypt again keeps us busy this week, where a security guard has been sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to guard the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

Egyptian blogger Nora Younis, posts a poem by Majeed Al-Barghouthi dedicated to jailed Egyptian security guard Mohammed Khalaf Hassan Ibrahim. Ibrahim, as I have mentioned earlier, had refused to obey orders and guard the Israeli Embassy in his country.

عمّ محمد
شرطي أمين
واقف حارس .. حارس مين؟
مصر الحرة
مصر الثورة
مصر الناس المحترمين
لما الضابط أمره يرابط
علشان يحمي سفارة .. مين؟
قاللو سفارة اسرائيل
عند الجيزة
جنب النيل
عم محمد رفض الأمر
أصله حالف ألف يمين
إنه حارس حارس مين
مصر الحرة
مصر الثورة
مصر الناس المحترمين
Uncle Mohammed
Is a trusted cop
He is a guard..guarding whom?
Egypt the free
Egypt the revolution
Egypt the country of respected people
When his officer asked him to guard
to protect the Embassy of whom?
He was told the Embassy of Israel
Near Giza
Next to the Nile
Uncle Mohammed refused the order
For he has sworn
That he would only guard
Egypt the free
Egypt the revolution
Egypt the country of respectable people.

In another post, Nora also writes an update on Ibrahim's condition, saying that he has been sentenced to six months imprisonment and is on hunger strike.

منذ يوم 16 فبراير 2007 قرر أمين الشرطة محمد خلف الدخول في الإضراب عن الطعام احتجاجا على نقله، والظروف المعيشية السيئة، واعتراضه على مكان عمله في حراسة السفارة الإسرائيلية، ومازال الإضراب مستمر حتى كتابة هذه السطور، وقد تم إحالته إلي مستشفي أم المصريين وأودع قسم الطوارئ تحت الحراسة
وكما تم إحالته إلي التحقيق أمام النيابة العسكرية، التي أمرت بحبسه احتياطيا خمسة عشر يوما، وتم التحقيق معه على أساس امتناعه عن العمل، … حيث تم منع أي زيارة عنه والضغط عليه لإنهاء إضرابه عن الطعام
وبتاريخ 25 فبراير أصدرت المحكمة العسكرية بالجيزة حكمها بحبس أمين الشرطة محمد خلف ستة اشهر بعد أن استمرت الجلسة ثلاث ساعات
وبتاريخ اليوم 28 فبراير 2007 تم نقل أمين الشرطة إلي سجن القطا العسكري .. في وضع صحي متدهور نتيجة للإضراب.
“Policeman Mohammed Khalaf has been on hunger strike since February 16 in protest against the conditions of his detention, his difficult circumstances and being forced to stand guard at the Israeli Embassy. His hunger strike continues as I write this. He was also transferred to the Umm Al Masreen Hospital, where he was kept in the Emergency Department, under heavy security. He was then taken to the military prosecutor, who ordered his detention for 15 more days. He was interrogated for refusing to work. His family was also stopped from visiting him as a means of pressuring him into giving up his hunger strike. On February 25, the Military Court of Giza sentenced him to six months in prison after a three-hour trial. On February 28, he was transferred to Al Qata Military Prison, where his health continues to deteriorate,” she wrote.

In conclusion, Nora urges all those interested in the case to sign a petition, calling for the guard's immediate release.

وتناشد المؤسسات .. نقابة الأطباء لزيارته والوقوف على حقيقة حالته الصحية، كما تناشد كافة الهيئات والمؤسسات المعنية بالتضامن مع أمين الشرطة في موقفه، والمطالبة بالإفراج الفوري عنه. وحفظ القضية.
“The organisations.. urge the Doctor's Union to visit him and report on his medical condition and also urge other organisations to show their solidarity with the security guard's stance and call for his immediate release and shelving the case,” she writes.

This seems to be a particularly busy period for Egypt's bloggers and courts, following the sentencing of Egyptian blogger Kareem Nabeel Sulaiman to four years in prison last week.

These two court cases aren't the only ones which are keeping Egypt's bloggers up, for the Muslim Brotherhood, which also seems to want to a share the limelight with Kareem and the security guard, is entangled in another court case there.

According to Reuters report, a Cairo court on Wednesday upheld a freeze on the assets of 29 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition movement. The public prosecutor ordered the freeze on January 28 after accusing them of money laundering and other offences. The Islamist Brotherhood has dismissed the decision as a politically motivated attempt to disrupt the organisation's activities.

Blogger Abdulrahman Ayyash posts pictures of the crowds which gathered outside the court house here while his fellow blogger Abdulmonem Mahmood posts more pictures and a commentary on the trial.

لم استطع أن ادون منذ يوم السبت الماضي وبالتحديد منذ جلسة الطعن علي قرار التحفظ علي أموال الاخوان , فقد ارهقني بشدة ما رايت فمشهد عائشة ابنة حسن مالك وهي تصرخ وتنادي علي والدها من خلال السلك السميك للقفص الموضوع به المتهمين …عائشة كانت تصرخ بابا بابا شايفني يا بابا وصارت تبكي وتصرخ عندما شاهدت والدها وهي عاجزة ان تقبله أو يقبلها , دموعها كانت مؤلمة ..كانت تحاول ان تمرر يديها الصغيرة لمجرد ان تمس يدي والدها لكنها لم تستطيع , عائشة قالت لي بكل براءة : ” عارف يا عموا هم اخدو بابا ليه ..عشان هم معندهمش رحمه ”
“I haven't been able to blog since Saturday or more specifically since the appeal case in which the court froze the assets of the Muslim Brotherhood. I was very exhausted by what I saw especially from Aysha, the daughter of Hassan Malek. She was called her father through the think metal mesh of the cage in which the accused were kept. Aysha was shouting ‘Baba! Baba! Can you see me?’ and then started crying and screaming when she saw that she couldn't kiss or embrace her father. Her tears were painful. She was trying to pass her small hands through the holes to touch her father but she couldn't. Aysha told me in all innocence: ‘Uncle, do you know why they took away Baba? Because they have no mercy,'” he wrote.


  • The Ode to the jailed Mohammed Khalaf is written by Majeed Al-Barghouthi, A Palestinian poet and writer; it was quoted by Dr. Ibrahim Hammami. Thank you for correcting your blog accordingly.

  • *The Honest Guardian
    Mohammed Khalaf Hassan Ibrahim

    Uncle Mohammed is an honest guardian
    He’s standing guarding,
    Guarding whom?
    Egypt the free,
    Egypt the revolution,
    Egypt of respected people.
    When an officer ordered him to protect
    the embassy of whom?
    The embassy of Israel, he was told,
    Near Giza,
    Next to the Nile,
    Uncle Mohammed refused the order;
    For he has sworn a thousand times
    That he would only be guarding whom?
    Egypt the free,
    Egypt the revolution,
    Egypt of respected people.
    The officer, shouting, fuming,
    Jailed Mohammed!
    And when people have complaints
    They go to the police
    And Uncle Mohammed is a policeman
    To whom should he complain?
    Allah is all-seeing,
    And all-knowing,
    Uncle Mohammed is not afraid
    Next day morning,
    He was fasting,
    And praying with the prisoners.
    Get up like him!
    Fast like him, with the fasting!
    Uncle Mohammed,
    May Allah make you faith prevail;
    Say Amen,
    Say Amen.
    Majeed Al-Barghouthi
    Translated by the poet.
    Notes on the story:
    Mohammed Khalaf Hassan Ibrahim, an Egyptian security guard, refused to obey orders to guard the Israeli Embassy in Egypt. (16 February 2007).
    On Feb 21 (Reuters) said he faced a disciplinary committee over his action, according to security sources. The sources said the officer had gone on hunger strike over the matter and had been admitted to a Cairo hospital in protest against the conditions of his detention, where he remained in serious condition. On February 25, the Military Court of Giza sentenced him to six months in prison after a three-hour trial.

  • I cannot go into your blog frontpage to correct one typo, and I am not supposed to do so.
    So please amend the 3rd line before the last in the ode to read as follows:

    May Allah make your faith prevail;
    Best regards..

  • Dear Mr Al Barghouthi,
    Thanks for pointing out the mistake, which was as a result of wrong information supplied in the blog we merely translated. The ‘error’ has now been fixed. Hope you have a good day!

  • Helge

    While the punishment might be harsh, does Mr. Barghouthi or the blogger advocate a system of law where the individual police officer is free to choose which tasks to undertake, based on his or her political preferences?
    If so, can the officer decide this oon the spot, possibly leaving institutions or individuals unguarded, or must he report his preferences in advance, making it possible for his superiors to assign others?
    Where might such an conscience-based system of law and public security have been successfully implemented?
    Helge Ogrim, Oslo

  • In response to Helge or the blogger, the British Police excused a Muslim police officer from guarding the Israeli embassy in London on moral grounds. Pc Alexander Omar Basha, part of the Metropolitan Police’s Diplomatic Protection Group, asked for special dispensation not to work at the embassy because of his ethical objection to Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, according to the Sun newspaper.
    This is one solution, why make the issue out of proportion? the other solution is to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the US occupation of Iraq. Do you believe that Arabs are free under such occupations?

  • Also, Ms Helge, I quote The Daily Telegraph of 06/10/2006
    Muslim police officer excused Israel guard duty
    By John Steele, Crime Correspondent
    Last Updated: 1:29am BST 06/10/2006

    Scotland Yard said today that a decision to excuse a Muslim police protection officer from duties guarding the Israeli embassy during the Lebanon conflict in August was not taken for “politically correct” reasons but because the armed constable expressed concerns about the safety of his relatives in Lebanon.
    If Britiain, the creator of Israel in Palestine, could solve the problem of LAW, then why Egypt – An Arab country affected by the Israeli acts in the area, could not? We are humans too.

  • Helge

    Majeed point out possible avenues for solving this issue. And he is right; there are interesting parallels. In Norway, health workers can be excused from partaking in abortions on moral grounds. Does Israel excuse some soldiers from serving in occupied territories?
    So my first (gut) reaction might have been based on a parody of any policeman being able to pick and choose. This may be unlikely to happen, as it would harm the career prospects of the individual.
    But I personally oppose this rather new-found right of police officers. Alexander Omar Basha in my opinion had no honorable reasons for refusing to protect a foreign embassy in London. Would Majeed support another officer’s right to excuse himself from protecting the Iranian embassy?
    (BTW; Helge is a man’s name in Norwegian.)

  • Mr Helge: You asked: Does Israel excuse some soldiers from serving in occupied territories? Let me ask: Would you support the occupation of any Norwegian territory? I am sure you wouldn’t. Do you support any people who oppress and occupy another people? It is a matter of principle. That is the larger perspective of the issue, the root cause of major tragedies and minor problems in our part of the world. Focussing on an individual’s case was my means to point at the whole picture.
    You said that the pick and choose behaviour would harm the career prospects of the individual, but what about the career prospects of nations in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan? Whole nations suffer daily under Israeli and US occupations. Branches and leaves of evil are many, (according to Henry David Thoreau) but the root of evil is one: Oppressive occupation by a military force of another nation or nations. Is that a matter to be seen into? and that individual,s behaviour is a crime to be punished on the spot?
    Finally you said: I personally oppose this rather new-found right of police officers. Do you oppose this new-found right of Israel to occupy and torture Arab Palestinians daily and the US new-found right to destroy Iraq and Afghanistan and kill Iraqis and Afghanis? For what? Is it just for oil supplies and the protection of the Israeli unjust occupation of Palestine? These are the questions.

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