Egyptian parliamentarian Amr Hamzawy and actress Basma smile during their wedding ceremony (Photo: Ahram)
One of the most controversial and public love stories to come out of the January 25 Revolution has resulted in marriage, the night after Valentine's Day. Amr Hamzawy, an activist and Member of Parliament (MP), tied the knot with Egypt's leading actress, Basma Hassan, in an intimate wedding ceremony, where only friends and family members were invited.
Even before the wedding was over, pictures of the happy couple showing Basma in a traditional white dress with an unusual black ribbon, spread quickly over the internet. Readers' comments varied from genuine messages of congratulations to making fun of the couple and in particular the groom.
After finishing the official marriage proceedings, the couple and their friends chanted "Down with military rule", a must-do for any revolutionary couple.
The Hamzawy-Basma romantic saga first hit the headlines in August when local media reported that the couple were accosted in the early hours of the morning by highway robbers, who seized their car along with a number of personal effects. The sensationalist and innuendo-ladened report of the unfortunate event attracted a barrage of criticism from readers who were outraged that an unmarried couple were caught out and about well past midnight.
Hamzawy's response to the news piece was a daringly passionate declaration of love in his daily column in Al-Shorouk newspaper entitled "I doubt!" The piece was described by many, at the time, as "political suicide."
“I am not worried about a public or a political role that comes [at the expense of] being true to myself," the undeterred Hamzawy wrote. "I won't feel sorry [losing such a] role as long as the only way to keep it is through betraying my humanity and giving up my feelings to a magnificent, honourable and beautiful human being.”
In spite of all the hype, Hamzawy ended up winning a seat in the newly elected Egyptian parliament in November 2011. He was one of the few liberals to win a seat: two thirds of the political body are from Islamist parties.
Hamzawy, a lightening rod of controversy, has previously been criticised for declaring his public support for the introduction of civil marriage into the Egyptian civil code. Members of the public called him a Jew and accused him of pursuing foreign agendas.
Hamzawy is a founding member of the liberal Egyptian Freedom Party. He previously worked as research director at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Beirut. During the revolution he was a member of the Committee of Wise Men, established to provide support to the revolutionary youth. Since then, he has become one of the most prominent advocates of the ongoing revolution, campaigning for the state to fulfil the demands of the revolutionaries and for the proper 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 1940s. The anti-Zionist activist was one of the founders of the Egyptian Communist Party and was detained so many times he once joked to Al-Ahram Weekly that whenever anybody tapped him on the shoulder he expected a state security agent had come to arrest him.
Over the past few years Basma's acting career has taken off earning her silver screen star status. The 2010 film "Messages From The Sea" made her the nation's firm favourite.