Philip Rizk

Although I have received calls from different correspondents I, knowing nothing about him, have no good reason to call for “freeing Philip Rizk now“. He has been arrested by the Egyptian authorities, ostensibly for organising a protest on behalf of Gaza – but we don’t know because the Egyptian authorities have gone quiet on his friends and family.

The Egyptian authorities have not made charges, so we can’t say whether he was arrested for a legitimate reason. People the world over should be free to demonstrate in non-inciteful ways without being arrested for it. And if they are arrested for a crime that their defenders would like us to overlook, they should not be tortured, their families should be told of their whereabouts, they should receive a fair trial according to due, transparent process, with a good defence.

I understand though that sometimes – where there is fear of torture – it is imperative to cause as much fuss and noise as possible in order to give the authorities to understand that they are under scrutiny. So although I happen to find his politics obnoxious and kitsch, that’s no reason to ignore that he has been seized. But noting that he has been seized and detained in ominous secrecy without charge is where I draw the line, for now. There’s no way I’m making a cause of somebody I know nothing about – this kind of thing happens to people all over the world, all the time. It is normal and terrible. It is why organisations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch exist.

Support for individuals under arrest in despotic regimes shouldn’t be merely viral – it should be rational and based on broader principles. Else why should it deserve to be taken seriously? What would be helpful would be if at least somebody among the many campaigning on Philip Rizk’s behalf could outline Egyptian law with regards to habeas corpus, as well as the right to demonstrate. The supporters of the Saudi hunger strikers did a good job in this respect. This would broaden the options for his defenders – we could support calls for him to be charged or released in the first instance, and then if he were charged only with organising a demonstration we could support calls for his immediate release. If he were charged with a crime under Egyptian law, we could consider (insofar as we had the knowledge to do so) the merits of that law and call for his rights as a detainee on remand – not to be tortured, to be able to communicate and receive visits from his friends and family, to be given a fair trial.

Update: In the comments below Philip Rizk’s friend gives a precis of the relevant parts of the Egyptian Constitution, a translation of which can be found at the Electoral Knowledge Network. It looks as if article 71 – the right to communicate – has been breached – more than that it is difficult to say, but that in itself is ominous.

Update 2: Philip Rizk is free – see New York Times. My thanks to Jo Kordz in the comments for giving me and my – here, many! -readers a referenced backgrounder. I still feel I know little. See also BBC Radio 4 File on 4 about Egypt’s role in Gaza, on mp3. Philip Rizk is interviewed. It covers the tunnels, the state of emergency, Egypt’s role as negotiator, the Muslim Brotherhood, and investigates the allegations that Egypt tacitly approved Israel’s action in Gaza. See also his friend’s account of the arrest. Other bloggers languish in Egyptian jails. What is a country without free expression? And (less rhetorically) what needs to be in place to emerge from this state of emergency? On Gaza – it is good to campaign for Gazans – god knows their existence is limited and perilous – but any campaign which passes over the political failure Hamas has been for Gaza, and the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, is a flawed campaign and one I find personally threatening. But there are some things which are as or more important than that – rights of individuals under arrest is one.

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19 thoughts on “Philip Rizk

  1. I am a friend of Phil’s who is also campaigning for his release, your blog brought a good point that as we call for his release we need to know what is/is not legal. I did some quick research and the following is what I found:
    Egypt: Constitution – Part Three (2005)

    Article 42
    Any person arrested, detained or his freedom restricted shall be treated in the manner
    concomitant with the preservation of his dignity.
    No physical or moral harm is to be inflicted upon him.
    He may not be detained or imprisoned except in places defined by laws organizing prisons.
    If a confession is proved to have been made by a person under any of the aforementioned
    Forms of duress or coercion, it shall be considered invalid and futile.
    Article 44
    Homes shall have their sanctity and they may not be entered or inspected except by a causal judicial warrant prescribed by the law.
    Article 45
    The law shall protect the inviolability of the private life of citizens. Correspondence, wires, telephone calls an other means of communication shall have their own sanctity and secrecy and may not be confiscated or monitored expect by a causal judicial warrant and for a definite period according to the provisions of the law.
    Article 46
    The State shall guarantee the freedom of belief and the freedom of practice of religious rites.
    Article 47
    Freedom of opinion is guaranteed. Every individual has the right to express his opinion and to publicize it verbally or in writing or in writing or by photography or by other means within the limits of the law. Self-criticism and constructive criticism is the guarantee for the safety of the national structure.
    Article 48
    Freedom of the press, printing, publication and mass media shall be guaranteed. Censorship on newspapers is forbidden as well as notifying, suspending or cancelling them by administrative methods. In a state of emergency or in time of war a limited censorship may be imposed on the newspapers, publications a mass media in matters related to public safety or purposes of national security in accordance with the law.
    Article 54
    Citizens shall have the right to peaceable and unarmed private assembly, without the need for prior notice. Security men should not attend these private meetings. Public meetings, processions, and gatherings are allowed within the limits of the law.
    Article 57
    Any assault on individual freedom or on the inviolability of private life of citizens and any other public rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the law shall be considered a crime, whose criminal and civil lawsuit is not liable to prescription. The State shall grant a fair compensation to the victim of such an assault.
    Article 71
    Any person arrested or detained should be informed, forthwith with reasons for his arrest or detention. He has the right to communicate, inform, and ask the help of anyone as prescribed in the law. He must be face, as soon as possible, with the charges directed against him. Any person may lodge a complaint to the courts against any measure taken to restrict his individual freedom. The law regulates the right of complaint in a manner ensuring a ruling regarding it within a definite period, or else release is imperative.
    http://aceproject.org/ero-en/regions/mideast/EG/Egyptian%20Constitution%20-%20english.pdf/view

  2. To continue my research:
    “However, the practice of such freedoms is usually hindered by the Emergency laws that have been in effect for the past 2 decades.

    And in order to elevate pressures from its 2-decade long usage of such laws and with the government’s plans of stopping the use of the emergency laws, a new Anti-Terrorism amendment was added to allow the provisioning of new laws that would help fight terrorism, given that these laws would not effect the basic rights of citizens especially those in Articles (41), (44), (45).This amendment in particular has been feared to be abuse in the future by passing laws firmer than the emergency laws.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Egypt#Freedoms

    The following is an article written last year regarding the abusive use of “Emergency Laws” by the Egyptian Government:
    http://anhri.net/en/reports/2008/pr0309.shtml

    The following is about the “Emergency Laws” and what parts of the constitution they affect:
    http://www.fidh.org/spip.php?article1397

  3. To update my two earlier posts, I have found more detailed information about the legal system in Egypt. Most of my information has come from a UN – Economic and Social Council report written 4 March 2005. Though this article is a few years old there is plenty of current information that substantiates the findings described in the UN report.
    The Egyptian Consitution articles that apply to this situation are still valid, however since President Mubarak has kept Egypt in a “State of Emergency” since 1981, there are many parts of the constitution that are overridden. The current state of emergency was extended May 2007, for another two year period which would keep it in effect till May 2010. The continual state of emergency is one of the principal ways the Egyptian government maintains its control over opposition. More information about the extended ‘State of Emergency’ can be found at: http://www.humanrights-geneva.info/The-Last-Extension-of-Emergency,3241

    A few notable pieces of information from the UN Report are as follows:
    “…Under theEmergency Law individuals can be detained for thirty days (renewable once) before being charged and before they have the right to challenge their detention (article 3 bis).” (pg 3)

    “The numerous crimes punishable by death includes offences under the so-called “anti-terrorism” legislation, premeditated murder, rape and drug related offences. Over the past decade, death sentences have been pronounced for all these offences. Of major concern is that acts of terrorism, which carry the death penalty and may be tried in Emergency State Security or military courts, are broadly and vaguely defined under article 86 bis of the Penal Code. As a result individuals are judged for loosely defined crimes in tribunals which lack the basic guarantees of a fair trial on charges for which they may pay with their life.” (pg 3-4)

    “Freedom of expression
    Freedom of expression continues to be under attack in Egypt. The Penal Code describes numerous offences which attack the freedom of opinion and expression (articles 86 (amended), 98(b), 102, 187, 188, 191, 192, 193, 194, 302 and 306). 2003 witnessed a large number of negative punitive measures imposed on the freedom of publication through the trials of journalists in publishing cases. Religious bodies play an ever increasing role in the censorship of literary works according to vaguely worded internal guidelines.

    Recommendations:
    The FIDH calls upon the Commission on Human Rights to express its deepest concern on the Human Rights situation in Egypt, and to adopt a resolution urging the Egyptian authorities :
    ●To repeal the Declaration of the State of Emergency and the legislation adopted pursuant to this declaration;
    ●To abolish the use of exceptional jurisdictions and ensure the existene of an independent judiciary;
    ●To act in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    The UN Document can be read at: http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:lTgyyVFCPw4J:www.acpd.ca/chr/docs/Item%25209/NGO-156%2520(en).pdf+egyptian+legal+code+%2B+emergency+state&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=10&gl=us

    I realize not all of this is positive news, but it is important to know exactly what the government is and is not allowed to do. With the help of the Embassies and the outpouring of support globally, we are putting necessary pressure on the Egyptian Government to answer for what they have done.

    As we fight for Phil’s release we also need to continue his work on bringing attention to the issues and injustices that he was working to help rectify.

    The Egyptian government does not like criticism, yet claims to be a democracy. Why is Egypt allowed to continue in a State of Emergency, yet not fulfill the requirements to claim one according to the United Nations? Egypt is a member of the United Nations and has been since 1945 and should be held to the same standard as every other country. What more can be done to rectify the flagrant Human Rights violations that continue to occur through the actions of the Egyptian goverment?

  4. To respond to this little chestnut about dignity and “some intelligence and critical thinking” that is in itself not very dignified, I’d like to push the point about what is and is not legal here. There is a deep knowledge about the law that many of Philip’s supporters have — I note that you didn’t do your own research on the law, either. Don’t give people the wrong impression that Philip’s supporters don’t know the law. It happens that political expediency trumps the rule of law very often in Egypt, and I have to assume that fleshisgrass can at least see this is a problem of civil and political rights even if they find Gaza actions to be “obnoxious and kitsch.”

    As to domestic statue and the Egyptian Constitution, let’s remember that the Egyptian government has been reigning in judicial independence for many years to try strong-arming the decisions it needs for political gain. In 2007, with a small minority of voters participating in the referendum, the national Constitution was revised in many dozens of clauses all at once, and it has given the government and the President in particular several new powers to detain people it says it **suspects** of terrorism, or people who would “insult” the President (just ask the four newspaper editors detained for reporting that the President was sick last year), and thus opens up some lacunae that otherwise would not exist.

    Thus it is a combination of totally extralegal means (torture, murder, forced disappearance) that are nowhere proscribed, and also the nominally legal means (insofar as what the Constitution allows) that the current government operates. Its only shadows of democracy or consent or participation that we’re talking about here if we want to talk about a process of legislation because of this extralegal / nominally legal arrangement. Look at any of the social and political movements, quite regardless of political persuasion or particular cause (labor, gender, religion, speech, etc.) and you will see they are beset with legal and extralegal challenges whose aims are to ensure political control, not the rule of law.

    When you look at international law — an exceedingly complicated and admittedly uneven body of law — Egypt has ratified and acceded to many human rights instruments, including the ICCPR. This is crucial because the state has acknowledged that certain norms are worth measuring its own law against. Therefeore they must not be surprised when human rights organizations and others (German Embassy, newspapers, heck, even the occasional Gaza protester) catch them out. Some of these norms are prohibitions on torture, forced disappearance, incommunicado detention.

    The government will invoke a state of emergency to wriggle free of its obligations on treaty obligations like that and specifically when there is no emergency. From 1981 to these Constitutional reforms in 2007, Egypt was under Emergency Law, which is patently ridiculous. These exceptional approaches — like abducting a person not by police but by national security agents so that it can be done without charge — are regularized and calculated to have particular political effects.

    If Philip broke a law by protesting without a permit, they could have charged him. But they didn’t. And that is the ever-shifting rationalization of power in Egypt. Sometimes they will come after people with a warrant and prosecute them in a (nominally legal) court of law, and other times they haul them off in an unmarked white minibus under the rubric of national security. Philip was released but many others remain in detention.

  5. “Don’t give people the wrong impression that Philip’s supporters don’t know the law. It happens that political expediency trumps the rule of law very often in Egypt, and I have to assume that fleshisgrass can at least see this is a problem of civil and political rights even if they find Gaza actions to be “obnoxious and kitsch.””

    Yes, you are right and that’s why I posted on him. But anybody who uses Ilan Pappe as an authority probably subscribes to an ideologically-shaped version of history I don’t share. This makes no difference to whether we should support Rizk or not – but if our support is limited to a viral call on the Web, then it is important to offer as much information as possible.

    “To respond to this little chestnut about dignity and “some intelligence and critical thinking” that is in itself not very dignified … Don’t give people the wrong impression that Philip’s supporters don’t know the law.”

    It’s true though, taking my broad definition of supporters, they mostly don’t know the law, and they know little about Egypt.

    Philip Rizk is not an isolated case – these kinds of shady snatches and detainments go on all over the world, and the individual calls for solidarity from friends usually depend on people simply trusting. My feeling is that it is very unserious and possibly counterproductive for ignorant people to make demands of the Egyptian authorities from their armchairs in Britain. So, being limited, ignorant, and far away, I’m cautious with my support. I hope you understand this. I throw money at Amnesty because I have more faith in the professionals. I think you probably have your own priorities to do with your own country – your own backyard, and this is completely understandable.

    In attempting to broaden the support, Jo Cordz helped and you have also helped, and I very much appreciate the time you have spent to patiently explain (with references in Jo’s case) the situation. What also helped was a recent BBC Radio 4 File on 4 about Egypt’s role in Gaza, on mp3. Philip Rizk is interviewed. It covers the tunnels, the state of emergency, Egypt’s role as negotiator, the Muslim Brotherhood, and investigates the allegations that Egypt tacitly approved Israel’s action in Gaza. I’ll add this to the post above.

  6. Something is going awfully wrong in your argumentation, and that troubles me to the point that I do after all take up the digital pen to respond. Although your remarks in your initial blog I found so irritating to say the least that I first thought it useless to react. But both Jo and Anonymous have found remarkable composure in answering to your remarks that are in some points both insulting and condescending beyond belief. To let Joe – after his remarkable writings – know that you find Philip‘s friends to have at least „small intelligence and critical thinking“, is quite something one has to devour. Just how condescending can one get I wonder. I find that remark especially out of place and inexcusable. You were after all not talking – as you do now – of any sympathetic supporters somewhere far away from the place of the crime – but about people in Egypt who know rather well what they are talking about, seeing they are not in the position as you are to cuddle up in an armchair so far away. They have to live through the ordeal every day of not being able to take the freedom of speech for granted – as you and I in Europe can and do everyday – being spoilt perhaps to such an extent that we lack empathy for those who do not enjoy this basic human right.

    When word came out about the seizure of Philip, who I do not know personally, I read as much of his tabula gaza blog as I could in my limited time. When you cite Ilan Pappe you may have a point of saying that you do not go along with that line. When I read him pondering on Marx this might go a similar way (though I understand very clearly why in the situation that he described Marx seemed to him not to be so much out of place. It is nothing one would insult him for). But both – as you now admit – has and had nothing to do with what has happened to him. And even if you (or I) do not follow his line of thinking on some threads, calling his efforts to portrait a far too unknown side of a very troubling coin “obnoxious and kitsch“ is something that made me gasp. Kitsch at least seems to be the most inappropriate term used to characterize Philip‘s reports on a deeply troubling human crisis.

    If you have never been in the situation ob being deprived of all basic human rights, if you never encountered people battered to pieces by brutal interrogative forces, if you have never tried to feel yourself into other people suffering terribly from hunger, terror and fear, than of course kitsch might be something that comes to your mind in London, where all of this thank heaven must not be endured.

    But this being irritating already, when you „throw“ your money at Amnesty thinking that is enough, then something in your argumentation goes really wrong. Because Amnesty is an organization that has always asked for the support of the armchair dwellers in cozy homes to speak up for those in prisons that are deprived of their basic rights to speak for themselves. I should know, for I have worked for Amnesty for many years. And it has always troubled me to see that people well off and secure found it somewhat troublesome and tedious to worry too much about the fate of others – who did nothing other than express their views. Something the non-understanding thought their fundamental right in England (or else), yet thought nothing of it, when in other parts of the world people went to jail or were submitted to torture for making use of precisely the same fundamental right. I have never been able to understand this illogical reaction. You say this sort of thing goes on all over the world. But you don‘t seem to be touched by it. It does not reach you really but on a factual basis. You should only once meet a person who was subjected to torture, it might shatter you beyond imagination. What we are talking about is not an intellectual thesis with abstract sides to it that we might heartily discuss from our armchairs near the fireplace. It is hurtful reality to many people unfortunate around the world. And it leaves scars on them for life.

    To put it bluntly: Do you demand for yourself the right to speak up on an issue? Yes, or you would not blog the way you do. – Would you think it right to be picked up on the street of London for that and vanish for days into some cellar where you are subjected to terror and fear? No, of course not. – Would you want people all over the world to call for your release so you can be free and return unharmed to your family? Why yes, of course. – So what are you trying to tell us with regard to Philip?

    You do not need to be familiar with every detailed paragraph of Egyptian law to know that fundamental human rights had been violated and the calls for Philip‘s release were urgent and justified. Besides, as Anonymous pointed out correctly, you could have done these basic researches yourself. The internet gives you all the possibilities to find out. The incarceration of someone who demonstrated peacefully is reason enough to make that effort. That is why Amnesty exists.

    And where – to pick up from the beginning – your argumentation goes awfully wrong is by thinking, if only I throw money at Amnesty, they will fix it – „if“ it needs fixing. How should I know, after all I am just „limited, ignorant, and far away“.

    You must be missing a lot about yourself. – Your are not limited. The calls for Philip‘s release all over the world in such short time and the pressure this exerted on the Egyptian authorities to set him free shattered all ideas of ‚limited‘ we had. And that is a ray of hope for thousands who have been unlawfully put in prisons all over the world.

    The ignorance you cite is proven only by the fact that you apparently want to live it. For ignorant – see above – no one needs to be. Not only because of the internet, but if you throw your money at Amnesty you should be aware of the annual reports they publish. No one able to read the reports of Amnesty or Human Rights Watch on the situation in Egyptian jails and interrogation cells can say of himself to be ignorant. Far more: I say no civilized person having the luxury of living in peace and security has the right to such ignorance with the detailed and professional information readily available for anyone at any time.

    With regard to being „far away“ I once more wonder what your blog is all about. Do you mean to say you are only read in London? You’re blog is read all over the world, anyone in any country can access it with a click – and respond. Be it in Egypt, Europe, America – wherever. And all the newspapers and information of the world are likewise at your fingertips. So what are you trying to tell us with „far away“ I wonder? – If not the distance of heart that seems indeed to be far away from the plight of individual human beings suffering somewhere under emergency ‚law‘.

    I love Egypt dearly for I have lived and worked there for many years. But the situation in its jails trouble me deeply and the human rights record is abhorrent. I grew up in South Africa and Namibia, lived in the US, often visited London and reside in Germany. Now you were telling us to show a certain restrain on support for someone abducted at night from the street by security officers under emergency law because where it happened is so „far away“. And you hope that we understand this. I for my part have to say no. I do not understand that at all. I am glad Philip is free, though I do not know him and I do not share all his views. And I continue to be troubled about those that have not been set free. Wherever they might be subjected to human rights violations. The world is small, extremely small, that is what I have learned in my life. The times are over when any of this was ‚far away‘. The crimes of today are happening around the corner. There is no excuse to look away. And throwing money at organizations is fine but simply not enough. Or why do you think Amnesty invented the Urgent Action campaigns (in which everyone can participate) that saved so many people who were illegally detained and no one knew where? Empathy is asked from everyone. Because those who shy away from the responsibility of speaking up for those who can‘t only aid the torturers, the agents of dark services, the dictators and their brutal regimes. There are still too many people suffering under their brutality everyday around the world. Just citing that fact without empathy is not enough. It is indecent.

    My compliments to Jo and Anonymous for reacting the way they did. Should you know Philip please let him know how happy all are that he came free basically unharmed though undoubtedly troubled. The human rights situation remains disturbing. We shall not forget. And we shall not look away.

  7. Jens, firstly, I am sorry if I touched a raw nerve. I think if I had my time again I would leave out the words “kitsch” and “obnoxious” from that post. They might have been appropriate if Philip’s friends had not had so much cause for alarm at the time, but since he was in danger it was fairly brutal to use them.

    Secondly, please understand – to most of us on the web receiving these calls, Philip is one of thousands of people – good, dedicated people trying to make their corner of the world a better place – abducted by their respective authorities. If you have the time to go through each and every case and work out a position, then – well, basically you don’t.

    Thirdly, I am Jo Public. I am “man in street”. Either you can engage me, or you can piss me off. I don’t like being lectured by you.

    Nor do you – I reckon – have much time to dedicate yourself to the waste crisis, climate change, nuclear disarmament, and the energy crisis. These are all absolutely crucial, globally. And yet they are ignored. My point is that YES, you can have your selected concern, which is to speak out against torturers. We can all have our selective concerns and this is how much good is accomplished in the world. You have my admiration and my general support. But please, if activists want specific support (and this happens all the time) stop ordering the rest of us about without dignifying us with full explanations. Organise better. Take the opportunity to educate. Jo has done this assiduously. Anon too. This is great.

    But remember, I posted in support of Phil Rizk in the first place. I added my voice to the calls for his rights. And I was right to ask for more information. You are wasting your time here, Jens.

  8. In your – but for the last irritating sentence – respectful response you have left out any thoughts on why throwing money somewhere is good, but truly engaging in what they do is not. Contrary to what you write, empathy and the concern for human rights are not a „selected concern“ as you put it. They are the fundamentals of our living together peacefully in societies and in a small world. One need not be an activist (which, wrong, I am not) to understand the importance of this. You treat it as a subject for a blogger, just like any other. And miss that as a human the human rights issue can never be compared to any other political topic of interest – that, true, you might find time for or not. If you do not find time for the basic fundamental human rights questions you would truly give up on your own rights that you take for granted so easily while you blog away. They are nothing guaranteed. They are a gift, others have fought for. That is my point. And it is never a waste of time to make it.

    You asked for someone to help „outline Egypt’s law“…“with the right to demonstrate“. Meaning – if their is a law forbidding a peaceful demonstration that would be reason for restrain in support for someone having been abducted secretly in the middle of the night? These form of laws do exist, e.g. in Burma. So anyone who does demonstrate there must know – and accept – to go to jail for that for 25 years – if that is what has been stipulated in the law? Along this line anything is possible. Did you know that there existed multiple laws in the Third Reich making it perfectly legal for jews to be thrown into concentration camps? Did the laws alter anything with regard to the human rights abuse that went with them? Should we not have supported the freedom of incarcerated jews because the nazis had laws to that effect and the jews should have know what could happen to them? Hardly. This line of logic simply fails. Yet you used it perhaps without being aware of it

    Every dictatorship forms its own laws to be able to persecute and harass. That is why your calling for information on Egypt’s laws before being willing to ask for Philip‘s freedom came as an irritation that called for a response. Because what would the emergency laws prove? That abduction has to be accepted? How did Europe ever become full of democracies had others before us thought along this line?

    With my comparison to you in London, which yielded no response, I was trying to show that you yourself could have been Philip. From that point on the idea of dealing with a ‚selected concern‘ and just a topic like any other (energy crisis, waste crisis etc.) seems wrong. You did post, yes. But the buts where bigger then the fors. Although it could have been you. Ever thought that way?

    I am not aware that you ‚on the web‘ are „ordered about“ by activists. If someone has – what I assume – asked you to post something, that cannot possibly have been an order. But my misunderstanding resulted from believing that you posted on your own accord on this topic because the abduction of this young man did in some way seemed to you to be noteworthy. Under that angle however your reaction was irritating and sounded hurtful. If you found now that some of your words under the circumstances were fairly brutal to use and you would not phrase it like that again, I no doubt on my side cannot possibly have wasted my time here, trust me.

    P.S.: People trying to make „their corner of the world” a better place are trying to make our world a better place. For it is round and has no corners anymore. You profit from it just as I do. „Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones that do“. Let‘s be grateful for their courage, then the support comes natural.

  9. “Thirdly, I am Jo Public. I am “man in street”. Either you can engage me, or you can piss me off. I don’t like being lectured by you.”

    This part you must have inserted later. It was not there when I wrote my response. I would have phrased the part re. respectful response a littly differently.

  10. “empathy and the concern for human rights are not a „selected concern“ as you put it. They are the fundamentals of our living together peacefully in societies and in a small world.”

    “You yourself could have been Philip”.

    You can substitute a lot of concerns for “empathy and the concern for human rights” and that sentence is equally convincing. You can substitute a lot of names for Philip’s and that sentence is equally convincing. I think your arguments, while heartfelt, are unhelpful. There’s a lot wrong with the world Jens. And we are all different in how we prioritise – that is why we get so much done.

    It’s this type of activism which isn’t working for me. “Demand this now”. “Sign this”. etc. And as for you – whatever I were to do – giving Amnesty money, calling for the rights of Philip Rizk, I get the impression it wouldn’t be enough for you. But I’m damned if I’m going to spend my time arguing with you. And don’t you have lives to save?

    But I have to confess – and people have been very patient with me – that this post and my subsequent comments have suffered from my displaced frustrations – about campaigns I have experienced elsewhere, and with which this one (in tone, at first, and in practice) struck a cord – leaking out. Not fair, and not wise. You live and learn. You can some credit for this, Jens. Now bugger off and leave me alone – I have stuff to deal with here. My own back yard – understand?

  11. It is not cash that changes the world for the better but us. That is where you miss how Amnesty works. And if you would see all of this not as a ‘campaign’ but as the bitter reality many have to face – lucky you not you – it would to your surprise be absolutely enough for me.

    Now go off to your back yard where you have so much stuff to deal with. And let us hope I never have to save your life there.

    Not that I wouldn’t. I would. You know me by now.

    P.S.: There’s a lot wrong with the world – because we are all different in how we prioritise. That is how the sentence must read.

  12. A good though topic wise limited link to broaden one’s perspective and an easy question to answer. I am grateful for your update #2 as it gives valuable links that could not be found easily on the net otherwise. And I wholeheartedly agree with you on your views regarding Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Though I think what Hamas does is more than just a “political failure”. It goes much deeper and is far more disturbing as individual lifes are under constant threat. And they feel they – just as those they criticise for such beliefs in campaigns – have the absolute right over other people’s lifes at all time. That is a criminal misapprehension. No one has. Never. – But I too absolutely agree with your last sentence in update #2. A vital point as you know already.

  13. First hand information is always the best source to tap. Philip gave a press conference yesterday at his home in (beautiful) Maadi, Cairo. Here you can read the complete transcript:

    http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2009/02/philip_rizk_des.html#more

    Whatever views one has on the siege of Gaza, his composed report on his abduction should make everyone think.

    Thanks for this post fleshisgrass. With taking off on a bumpy start it was (and is) worth existing.

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