Egypt has lost one of its best bloggers, and democracy activists, Bassem Sabry. He was mourned by many across the globe.
- Al-Monitor mourns Bassem Sabry
- Egyptian blogger Bassem Sabry dies.
- Egyptian blogger Bassem Sabry: Ahram Online highlights
- Tributes to Bassem Sabry, the writer who “believed in a better Egypt”
- Bassem Sabry, a voice of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, dies in accident
- TIMEP announces new fellowship program in memory of Bassem Sabry
Few thoughts about my friend Bassem
I still feel numb. I have struggled to write since the tragic passing of Bassem Sabry. I kept reading one tribute after another; all were poignant, accurately describing the wonderful human being Bassem was ___ all made me more tearful and more numb.
Tragic, sudden death is no stranger to me. As a child, my father passed away suddenly, and I had to endure my mother wearing mourning garments for seven successive years. It made me hate the color black with a venom; however, life has taught me that black is just a part of our lot in life; if it is not seen, it will be felt at some stage of our journey on this earth.
What made Bassem different is not just how he died at a very young age, but what he stood for in his life as a writer __ balance and reasonableness. As H. A. Hellyer wrote: “Over the course of the Egyptian revolution, he marked out a space as one of Egypt’s most balanced and composed writers.” Bassem’s balance is what appealed to me since I first joined Twitter. We soon became friends – it was as if we had known each other for years. Interaction with Bassem became an integral part of my Twitter routine. I was lucky to meet him in Cairo in 2012. It was a really good opportunity to get to know him better and exchange views about life, Egypt, and democracy. He took me down a side street near the café where we met to show me a nice view of the Nile. I still remember his words: “Just remember, Egypt still has plenty of beauty spots.”
Bassem was a great example of the bright side of social media; he had an ability to build bridges with many, regardless of their personalities and political views. Like a wealth builder, Bassem gained followers without compromising his views. I still remember how he wrote a piece disputing Tawwakal Kerman’s description of Morsi as the Arab Mandela, but with a kind tweet clarifying how much he respected Tawwakol. I never saw Bassem losing his composure, swearing or attacking any one. His serenity and wisdom were simply striking.
Bassem excelled at winning the respect of Egyptians and foreigners alike – a quality very few possess in the Arab world. He has always reminded me of the late King Hussein of Jordan, not in terms of power or position, but rather with his communication skills that instinctively empowered him to tune in to various personalities from diverse cultures and backgrounds. That is why I used to agree strongly with those who predicted a bright future for him in Egyptian politics.
Destiny works in mysterious ways; Bassem’s abilities as a skilled analyst and activist were unquestionable, and he brought urgency and pertinence to the question of what lies ahead for Egyptian politics. Sarah Carr wrote: “The end of his life coincides with the final death throes of that [Egyptian] uprising.” Certainly, her words reflect how many feel right now – a collective sense of despair over various setbacks in the course of our revolution. Commenting on Bassem’s death, one friend said that at least he did not have to endure the ugliness of our politics anymore. It has been heartbreaking to witness how many outsiders, including top diplomats, have mourned Bassem’s death, while few inside Egypt’s political establishment have even bothered to mention his passing.
Nonetheless, amidst the despair, life always gives us some reasons for hope. The deep sense of grief following Bassem’s passing has reinvigorated the sense of unity and cause among many inside and outside Egypt. There is a strong desire to maintain his work and keep his legacy alive for the Egypt we love dearly, the country in which we aspire to build a better future for the younger generation.
Finally, one polite notice to those who still insist on discussing the circumstances of his death: We were all shocked about Bassem’s death, and many thoughts have crossed our minds, but to suggest certain scenarios in public is, in my opinion, disrespectful to him and his family. I read a few comments on Facebook that deeply saddened me. Let us please express our love to Bassem in a more graceful way. Conspiracy theories and wild suggestions about his death will benefit no one; more importantly, they will never bring him back.
I could not visit my dad’s crypt; I may not visit Bassem’s crypt; I rather maintain his memory inside my soul, remember his smile, his jokes, his words, and more importantly his dreams.
Rest in peace my friend.
Many elegantly have written about the death of Bassem Sabry. Here are some poignant examples:
- H. A. Hellyer
- Dima Khatib (Arabic)
- Sarah Carr
- Koert Debeuf
- Mohamed El-Dahshan
- Sarah Labib
- Lina El-Wardani
- Mohamed Aboul Ghar ( Arabic)
Also here is one of Bassem’s best articles, republished here by Arabist
Photo from vigil for Bassem Sabry held in New York.