I thought I’d start off my blog with a word or two on people I admire, people I look up to, and people I idolise. It’s quite hard for me to present these individuals to the world, especially due to the fact that many may not even know who these people are. I feel pressurised to find words that can portray their true significance to me and to many others. Each one has shaped who I am in different ways, inspired me in different ways. They have made me who I am and influenced the way I think and view life. I hope you manage to see what it is that makes them so extraordinary and that you appreciate them as much as I do.
I would like to begin with the one person on my list that I know best, my grandfather, Mohamed Fayek. I have always admired him throughout my childhood, however the older I get, the more my admiration grows. I have come to learn so much from him, and have had the pleasure of living in the same house as him for at least the past six years.
Mohammed Fayek is a long time human rights activist and intellectual. He is currently the Secretary General of the Arab Organisation for Human Rights, member of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights, vice-president of the Egyptian Committee for Afro-Asian Solidarity, and vice-president of the Arab Institute for Human Rights. He is the owner and director-general of Dar El-Mustaqbal El-Arabi publishing house. He has also served as Minister of Information, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister of National Guidance, adviser to the President of Egypt for African and Asian Affairs, member of the Egyptian Parliament, and as representative of Egypt to the Fourth Committee of the United Nations, General Assembly from 1962 to 1965. In addition, he was a close assistant to many of the African liberation movements in the struggle for independence of African states from 1953 to 1971.
Mohamed Fayek was a key political figure in the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the second president of Egypt since the revolt against the monarchy. He also participated in the revolution to overthrow King Farouk and free Egypt from foreign rule. During the period of Nasser, Mohamed Fayek occupied several key positions within the government such as Minister of Information and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was also Nasser’s consultant for African Affairs and was responsible for helping African countries gain independence from their foreign occupiers.
Mohamed Fayek and a number of other Ministers disagreed with a key decision that Al Sadat was about to take. Upon his refusal to take their advice, they resigned simply because they refused to be part of a system they do not agree with. Al Sadat felt threatened by their move and sent them all to prison. Mohamed Fayek spent 10 years of his life in political prison because of Al Sadat’s fear that he and the other ex-Ministers may plot against him. There came a point when Al Sadat approached Mohamed Fayek and offered to release him if he writes a public apology and claims to be wrong. However, Fayek refused to sell out his principles and simply said “ If I write this letter, I’ll be selling myself to you and I’ll be losing myself forever, but if I don’t, and I manage to survive my time here, I will find myself”.
He was released upon Al Sadat’s death and founded the Arab Organisation for Human Rights of which he is currently the Secretary General.
In September 2004, the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan chose a five-member panel to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur, Sudan. Mohamed Fayek was one of the chosen members of the panel. Their job was to determine whether acts of genocide have occurred, and to identify the perpetrators.
Mohamed Fayek inspires me to be strong in my daily struggles, to be true to myself and not to fear challenges or obstacles that I may face. He has taught me the importance of sticking to my principals, even if there are prices to be paid. He also motivates me to do more for my country and stand up for what I believe is right. Mohamed Fayek has taught me to love Egypt and to see its amazing potential.