Mona Seif was at the heart of the protests at Tahrir Square in Cairo. Mona's father is renowned human rights lawyer, Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamad. Ahmed Seif was arrested again - for a few days - during the protests, along with Amnesty International delegates.
In 1999, Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamad founded with other human rights defenders the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre (HMLC). They named it after Hisham Mubarak, an Egyptian human rights lawyer who in 1994 decided to focus on providing legal assistance to victims of human rights violations.
The HMLC provides advice and other support to victims and survivors of torture and other human rights violations, seeks to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and works with other civil society organizations to achieve the abolition of laws which undermine human rights and contradict the human rights principles enshrined in Egypt’s Constitution.
I was created with Love!
Article reproduced here with the kind permission of author, Mona Seif
When I was young, I had a theory about love. My theory was that the more pleasure and love a man and woman share during sex, the more beautiful the kids they will conceive.
My theory was based on solid evidence. People commented on how me, my brother, and my little sister were beautiful kids, and I knew for sure that my parents invested a great deal of love and pleasure while creating each one of us.
I love stories. I love attaching stories to small moments that may seem insignificant to others. So, I'll share with you my favorite one. The story of how I was conceived:
I was created with love.
I was born while my dad was in prison.
He was sentenced to spend 5 years in prison because he was part of a communist group opposing Mobarak and his regime.
When the verdict came, my mother was not in Egypt. Their friends managed to hide him away and bring them together before he goes to prison.
Mama knew Baba will be away for years. They both wanted a baby girl and she thought that having a baby would soften the coming years with out him. So they hid away, took their time in creating me and in bidding each other farewell.
When they were certain my mother was pregnant in me, my dad went and turned himself in.
I had images of visits to my dad in prison. Blurred images stored in my head. It was strange because I was too young to remember. But when I sat with mama and described the images and she confirmed them. Then she started telling me how it was.
Alot of her friends shielded their children from this. They thought that exposing their kids to seeing their dads in prison is a harsh experience that they should try to avoid as much as possible.
Mama thought differently. She thought this should be a day to celebrate. She turned it into Eid day. She would dress me up in a nice dress, arrange my hair in my favorite updo (i used to call it the palm-tree style :) , and we go visit Baba in our most colorful bubble.
I remember that one of the guys working there used to prepare a box full of sweets and biscuits for me to take every time i visit. I also remember a small black board and me drawing cats with chalk. Back then I didn't know how to draw anything but cats.
When Baba got out of prison, he came back with a treasure of stories. My dad could do magic with simple words. He could change the bleakest moments to colorful wondrous stories.
My favorite bed time and travel stories where of his time in prison.
It took me years to realize that this place which was the source of an amazing fountain of childhood stories, was a place where my dad was severely tortured.
It was silly because I was old and I knew many stories of activiist friends who were tortured, but the childish part in me refused to allow it to sink in till my first year in university when there was no way I could escape the truth coz I had it right in my hands, ink on paper.
Those are the people who raised me up.
This is the kind of love I grew up around.
This is the kind of love I've been seeking ever since I could remember.
When I was seven, I walked into my parents room unannounced. I saw him kissing her stomach tenderly. I squeaked an apology, ran to my bed and hid under my covers. Mama followed me, and with a smile asked me what I wanted. I told her I just wanted to make sure she remembers i have an exam tomorrow. ( hehe I was such a nerd!)
Years later this image returned and assumed a new meaning for me. Suddenly this memory wasn't about a moment of embarrassment but rather of discovery. I knew then that there was more to love than what I am grasping. I also knew that for always this image will be my definition of love.
Now every time my soul gets bruised and I lose bits of my wings I remind myself that love - like what mama and baba share - is waiting for me around some corner in my future.
What keeps me going despite the pain and disappointment is the belief that at some point in my life I will meet someone and in my mind see him kissing my stomach tenderly for the rest of my life.