@Alaa Abd El-Fattah writes from prison

Monday 14 Nov 2011

Ahram Online presents a translation of Abd El-Fattah's latest blog post; he writes of his pain at being separated from his pregnant wife and calls on supporters to celebrate his birthday by protesting in Tahrir Square on Friday

For the last three years I’ve spent Eid living abroad and away from my family. It used to pass like any other day – going to work in the morning and returning home late at night. We wouldn’t have even noticed it if someone hadn’t called to congratulation us.

This year I was planning to spend Eid with my family, but the military denied me the right to rejoice. I spent Eid in a cell, my family in a visiting queue that lasted the whole day. Eventually, when only some of them were able to meet me for a few short minutes, they were escorted by twice as many policemen.

As I checked on my mother who had begun a hunger strike to call for my release, and tried to overcome the tension of having been denied correspondence with Manal, the minutes of the visit went by, and the first day of Eid ended.

The employees, policemen and investigators celebrated Eid, which meant the prison was working at half capacity. The cell was closed for four days without a break – no visits, no newspapers, no food from outside the facility, nothing at all. You want the criminals to celebrate Eid? God forbid!

If it wasn’t for your tweets that arrived like congratulatory telegrams, I wouldn’t have known it was Eid outside. Thanks to all those who cared, and to those who came up with the idea.

Eid is over and my birthday is approaching. For the last four years I’ve been celebrating my birthday away from my family, but this one was going to be special. It’s my 30th birthday, and the realisation and acknowledgment that I’ve entered the adult world with no way back. I intended to celebrate with my revolutionary comrades on 18 November in Tahrir Square, and with my family at night, just days before my son Khaled is to be born. But of course because that day is a Friday, nobody will be able to visit me in prison and no doors will be opened.

So try to celebrate for me at the square, because when I receive the news it will console me and make me happy, if only for a few moments. There have been protests outside the military court (which unfortunately I couldn’t hear because I was imprisoned on the other side of the building, but heard about from other prisoners). And demos against military trials are spreading across the country from Luxor to Alexandria, and also in Oakland and San Francisco, places to which I paid short visits to attend strikes and meetings and loved very much.

So Eid went by, and so will my birthday. I am used to spending those occasions away from my family, but what about my son Khaled’s birth? How will I miss the birth of my first child? How will I handle being away from Manal at such a time? How will I get a grip while waiting to know if they are okay or not? How will I not see his face, or his mother’s face when she sees his? And how will I face him when I get out of prison after promising him he would be born free? We named him Khaled to repay part of the huge debt we owe Khaled Saeed. But instead of imprisoning those who killed him, we go to jail.

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