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Love in turbulent times - Egyptian political activist Amr Hamzawy openly declares his love for cinema star Basma
In what some argue may have done substantial damage to his meteoric political career, upcoming liberal politician Amr Hamzawy has openly declared his love for actress Basma in his daily column
Ekram Ibrahim , Friday 19 Aug 2011
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Basma & Amr Hamzawy
Basma & Amr Hamzawy

 “Does a person who advocates the right to choice deserve respect when he does not stand up to pressure from his family and society and denies his feelings for the woman of his heart because of what she does for a living…, I don't think so,” writes political activist Amr Hamzawy in his daily column in Al-Shorouk newspaper Thursday.

In an act that many describe as “political suicide,” Hamzawy used his daily op-ed to write a personal declaration of love, rather than his usual analysis of the political scene. Have a love connection to an cinema star in Egypt is known to be one sure fire way to kill a  person's political future, but for the couple in question, Hamzawy and the young cinema star Basma, the issue is an even more complicated.

Hamzawy has been criticised several times before for declaring his public support for the introduction of civil marriage to the Egyptian civil code; he was accused of being a Jew and of pursuing foreign agendas. Now, the fact that Basma had a Jewish grandfather has given even more ground for reactionary and bigoted responses.

The fragrance of the love story that started more than six months ago was only noticed widely last week when the local media published news of Hamzawy and Basma having their car stopped early morning by highway robbers, who seized their car along with a number of personal effects. The news report, which was invariably put in sensationalist, innuendo-laden terms, drew a barrage of attacks from readers who expressed themselves enraged that the unmarried couple could be caught together in a car well past midnight.

“I used to respect him, and now he is losing his popularity. Is this the liberalism and the freedom he is trying to impose in Egypt?”commented one reader on the item published by the Arabic Al-Ahram’s web site.

But Hamzawy's Thursday column, “I doubt it”, has in turn drawn a massive positive response, with many praising him for his courage. “Dr Amr, this is my first time to comment on any article, no matter how much I wanted to. This time I just cannot stop myself from wishing the best life [to you] with the woman you love. You are a great [and] honest person. I am a huge fan of your broad mind and your liberal orientation. Egypt can really be great  with [a] few people like you. We are proud of you. Please keep it up no matter what the pressure. God be with you and give you more wisdom,” commented one reader of Al-Shorouk daily newspaper, which publishes Hamzawy's daily column.

Twitter was also full of comments on Hamzawy’s column, among which was that of Hend Sabry, a cinema star of Tunisian origin, who tweeted “#TahrirTale: A beautiful old-fashioned brave pure love story, we had forgotten love could bring such hope. Thank You @HamzawyAmr @bissobasma.”

Meanwhile some were somewhat more cynical over Hamzawy's declaration of love, arguing that it was a clever political career saving PR move. “This was Hamzawy’s only way to win the Egyptians’ hearts back; he is fighting for his political life now,” Noha Lotfy, 27, told Ahram Online.

The political future of Hamzawy after this love story is revealed is yet to be determined, but he has declared in his column that being true to himself and to others is more precious to him than anything. “I am not worried about a public or a political role that comes [at the expense of] being true to myself ... I won't feel sorry [losing such a] possible role, so long as the only way to keep it would be through betraying my humanity and giving up my feelings to a magnificent, honourable and beautiful human being,” writes Hamzawy in his column.

Hamzawy is a founding member of the Egyptian Freedom Party, (Masr Al-Huryyea). During former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik's government has was offered the post of minister of youth but declined. He previously worked as research director at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Beirut. During the revolution he was a member of the Committe of Wise Men, established to provide support to the revolutionary youth. He has been one of the most prominent spokespersons for the revolutionary demands and the democratisation of Egypt.

Basma is the granddaughter of Youssef Darwish, a prominent Jewish leftwing lawyer, who played a crucial role in building the Egyptian trade union movement in the forties of the last century. He was one of the founders of the Egyptian Communist Party. He was anti-Zionist and was detained several times. Over the past few years Basma's acting career took off earning her cinema star status . She is currently hosting a television talk show “Men Antom” (Who are you?) on Al-Qahera We el-Nas TV channel.

 





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hhenry
14-11-2011 11:44pm
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perfect partner
it says her dad played a crucial role in building the Egyptian trade union movement in the 40's, and was anti-Zionist. wouldnt that make her a perfect egyptian politicians wife ?
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Karim Hari
24-08-2011 10:36pm
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love
this is what Egypt needs right now. A country ruled by a Teenager. What arabs needs are chinese like patriots.
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Kriszta
20-08-2011 09:33am
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love in turbulent times
Praises to this brave man who is ready to follow his heart against all fears, all expactations, all beleif systems, tradition. I wish all politicians would be like this. Choosing the guidance of love instead of tactics. The day it happens we will have a beautiful New World indeed.
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Ceza Kassem
19-08-2011 02:49pm
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Adolescence in politics
This is a personal matter and should not go public. A politician who is mature should know how to defend his privacy. Beside this is not the time for amorous playing around...We have more serious things to worry about! Pitiful...
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Ekram
19-08-2011 12:47pm
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response to Rania
1-I have chosen to write about Basma's Jewish grandfather because Hamzawy has mentioned this in the op-ed mentioned in the story. 2- Mentioning Basma's Jewish grandfather does not contradict with her nationalistic views, neither means that am trying to point at her agenda for example. Am just stating what people are talking about. 3-Regarding Hamzway's accusation of being a Jew, it is a fact that people accuse him of that in Egypt, am not making it up. Also, according to my opinion this is the most destructive accusation he was subjected to. 4-The story is about people's reaction to the announcement of the love story, accordingly out of the journalism professional standards, i should make it balanced and inclusive, in spite of what seems to be logical to me and what is not.
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solveig
19-08-2011 07:17am
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Love in turbulent times
I am so happy to see that some young people has the courage to be thrue to their real self (soul). They are more blessed than most of us can understand. Go ahead, don't fear the ignorant ones.
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Karim Hari
19-08-2011 01:48am
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Liberals
“I am not worried about a public or a political role that comes [at the expense of] being true to myself " Well of course not. You know there is always a place for you in western universities or think tanks. This is the essence of the cliche liberal. You can get him very easily in your court with a Job opportunity that involves a Tweet Jacket.
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Rania
18-08-2011 08:30pm
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Hamzawy & Basma
Why does the writer invoke Basma's Jewish grandfather in this story? What's the point exactly? Basma's political views reflect a nationalistic soul (see The Night Baghdad Fell movie) and her grandfather Youssef Darwish was an icon of Egyptian nationalist communism. This story appears to have just gathered whatever information the writer has (or Googled) and just threw it all in a story. "Hamzawy was accused of being a Jew" writes your reporter. You choose to publish the wording 'accused' when you could have been more politically aware of what you're actually saying because he was 'accused' of a zillion things, just like any other political figure in Egypt. And last but not least, I'm not even a fan of Hamzawy.
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