Remembering Emad Effat

Dina Ezzat , Sunday 16 Dec 2012

The spouse of Emad Effat, the beloved Muslim cleric of Egyptian revolutionaries, reflects on legacy of a man whose memory defies death and with whom she remains in love

Emad Effat
Emad Effat (Photo: Ahram Online archive)

It was exactly a year ago that Nashwa Abdel-Tawab, in a beige veil, red jacket and black long dress, was on the screens of every news channel across the country and the Arab world, the spouse of Emad Effat, a Muslim cleric who broke the walls of the all-but-state-controlled oldest Muslim university, Al-Azhar, to reach out to the people and whose faith, uncompromising as it was, inspired a passion for the pursuit of fairness, justice, egalitarianism and above all compassion.

Today, Nashwa, a colleague journalist and friend at Al-Ahram Weekly’s Sports page, is holding on exactly as she was when she told the world that her husband was assassinated during a demonstration held before the offices of the prime minister to demand justice for the martyrs of the January 25 Revolution and the fulfillment of its key demands: bread, liberty and dignity.

Nashwa is still hurting as deeply as she was when this beloved Muslim cleric of the Egyptian revolutionaries — Muslims well as Copts, and rich like poor — was buried at the end of a long funeral that started with prayers at the heart of Al-Azhar Mosque, winding down into Old Cairo with thousands of Egyptians chanting slogans reiterating popular commitment to keep the call of the revolution alive until the people’s demands are met.

“It has been a year, but those who killed Emad Effat have not been brought to justice — in fact they have never been identified,” laments Nashwa. Hurt but determined to pursue the truth, “as part of the pursuit of justice,” Nashwa is as exacting as Emad used to be in expressing his views: “Emad Effat was killed when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was in office … The investigations over the assassination are “deliberately” mediocre … The state is not keen to uncover the truth, but rather to hide it … and President Mohamed Morsi is not free from the guilt, given that he made no effort to prompt adequate and overdue investigations,“ while offering a safe exit for the heads of SCAF.

Nashwa is no longer holding out hope that investigations would be properly conducted or that the killers “not just of Emad Effat but of all the other martyrs who have died for — before, during and after — the revolution” would be brought to justice.

“The truth will be revealed one day, sooner or later. One day, God will make us all see what exactly happened and we will know those who killed Emad Effat; those who instigated the killing and those who stand behind them,” said Nashwa with faith.

This woman in her early forties, who lost a husband in his early fifties after years of love-driven marriage, and who has a son who was less than one year old when his father died, is not short on resolve to keep the cause of her deceased husband living. The cause of Emad Effat, she insists, is not the narrow revelation of "who or even what killed Emad Effat” but rather “the call of truth and justice for which he lived and died.”

For Emad Effat, as Nashwa would always say, seconded by all those who knew him, the call of truth and justice was about small and big things alike. It was, she said, as much about compassionately looking after a bed-ridden sister as passionately calling on demonstrators in Tahrir Square to keep their faith in the hardest of moments.

The call of truth and justice for Emad Effat, a cleric who went to the demonstrations in jeans and a t-shirt, was about looking inside and not on the surface. “He used to look with enormous admiration at the young men and women who took to Tahrir Square (during the January 25 Revolution and beyond) to defend fairness and egalitarianism — he looked at their hearts and not at their clothes, and he admired their faith and dedication,” she said.

Softly-spoken, almost shy, and kind as he was, Emad Effat never hesitated from taking a firm and uncompromising stance if he saw unfairness being done. “And it did not matter who was being unfair to who — he would always speak up against unfairness,” she said.

Indeed, Nashwa added, Emad would have been equally and firmly critical of Islamist groups in power crossing the line of fairness and justice.

Nashwa is very much in love with a husband that she abruptly lost and is still much inspired by the man whose faith prompted him to learn about religion and to share what he learned. She talks about Emad as if he was still here. In many ways, he is.

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