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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Bassem Sabry: The brilliant writer that left us too early

Friend and former co-worker remembers Bassem Sabry

Lina El Wardani, Saturday 3 May 2014
Bassem Sabry
Egyptian prominent Blogger and writer Bassem Sabry (Photo Courtney of Bassem Sabry Facebook account)
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Just as I thought it could not get any worse when my good friend Nadine Shams passed away last month at the young age of 31, I was slapped with the horrific news of Bassem Sabry's death last Tuesday. The news came to me a couple of hours after I had paid my condolences to my friend and activist Khaled El-Sayed whose mother has suddenly passed away. 

Why has death chosen my very close circle of friends? We are so few.

Bassem's loss is just unbelievable, as he out of all people is so needed by so many. Egypt needs him, his film company needs him. His family relied on him, his friends, and his party needs him. He was an inspiration for so many people.

Bassem was a successful film producer and his family had one of the oldest film production companies in the country; he was also one of the founders of the constitution party that was born out of the January 25 revolution; he was part of Hamdeen Sabahi's presidential campaign and he was such a great writer. His articles were published here at Ahram Online and I take pride in the fact that I worked with him; he also contributed to numerous other local and international publications. 

His writings on Egypt were very unique. He was among the few that covered Egypt by reflecting the reality of the situation with its complex details while also making things clear and and comprehensible to a foreign reader without coming across as arrogant, westernised or orientalist.

I loved his analyses and the way he thoroughly researched his subjects, always supporting his arguments with examples, statistics, history and comparisons. I always wished he had written more frequently. After 30 June, hysteria was in the air, and nationalism, chauvinism and polarisation swept the political sphere. Voices of reason were silenced either because they could not find an outlet or they lost hope and became depressed. But Bassem did not lose hope. I do not know where he got the strength, the faith and the passion to always find the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Bassem's friends all stood in disbelief waiting for him to arrive at Mostafa Mahmoud mosque in Mohandeseen on Wednesday, the very mosque we used to meet at to take to protest on Fridays throughout the past three years. 

I recall one such Friday in particular was the second anniversary of January 25 revolution, we had met for coffee at Bassem's favourite shop next to that same mosque. I had been crazy enough to bring along my one year old daughter Hana, and Bassem volunteered to carry her throughout almost the entirety of the protest. Photographers gathered to take her photo and of course everyone congratulated him on his unborn daughter. Towards the end of the day, Bassem told me he really would like to have a daughter like Hana and that he had a name in mind for her, which I believe was Sophie. Your endless patience and kindness would have made you a great father, Bassem. What can we say, death chooses the best among us and brutally takes them very young, needed and loved. 

I could not help crying when I saw all those people who gathered in the night in the desert to say a final goodbye to you: writers, politicians, producers, directors, actors, activists, from both genders and from all ages. You are so loved and although your body has left us, your beautiful soul continues to surround us, inspire us and watch over us. We need your optimism, your passion and your courage in this ruthless journey that is called life. 

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