In Support of Omar Hazek

via Arab Literature (in English):

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PEN International, which has investigated Hazek’s case,also came out last week with an action appeal on Hazek’s behalf.

In a statement, the organization said:

PEN International protests the two-year prison sentence handed down to Egyptian poet Omar Hazek, who has been held in custody since his arrest in early December 2013 for taking part in a protest. Omar Hazek was held in Hadra prison in Alexandria until 21 February 2014 when he was moved to Burj Al-Arab prison also in Alexandria, where he remains held. PEN International believes that the poet Omar Hazek is imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly, and therefore calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

Hazek has won several poetry awards and has also, as a former employee of the Biblioteca Alexandrina and as a private citizen, stood against corruption. He was on “Prince of Poets” show, reciting his poem “I Close My Eyes,” and there won the title of “Poet of Romance.”

Hazek also took first prize at the “Love, Justice, and Peace in the World” festival and won the Abdullah Bashrahil Award for Youth Creativity in 2005.

Supporter Zahraa Abd Al Aziz translated one of Hazek’s poems, “As If I Love You”:

As If I Love You

I so much love talking
For silently in it I remain,
Leaving my heart to speak…
I listen from afar to my language, bleeding on the sidewalk
Over it step the passengers on the road,
Cautious…lest this sentence of mine leave them in a coma
Or choke them with smoke.

I listen from afar, and my night drools down on me…
As if I love you
But back then when I was a child, I stood to sing
Trusting that my heart was as translucent as the sadness of a butterfly
But my voice faltered, like “brakes” when they bite the road
Girls long laughed at me,
I walked, the letters of my words barking behind me
Pardon me my friend… my silence is dance and song.

As if I love you
But I am arid like the cussword among thieves
Alone, alone like an abandoned canopy,
When from beneath it two lovers walk away.

Pardon me my friend; do not pick the rose,
And buy me a new pair of shoes when the holiday feast comes along
Perhaps then, I would fall in love with my footsteps slowly, slowly,
Perhaps I shall walk and hear the gentle singing of the earth beneath me
I walk and bask in joy. . . I have colored feet.

I so much love talking
And I forgive the words that sneakily escape my mouth whenever I’ve thought that I love you

I thought: What would I do had you been one of my harem
I wonder, would I have washed your dress if it was wet by our child?
Would I have held your palm if it were attacked by wrinkles?
Here is the “East” running within me like a despicable coward mouse,
And I thought, will I feel your heart miserably escape far away from me
Because your flowers were touched by blood this morning
How will I have mercy on this hurt insulted beauty?

I so love talking,
I love you,
But it is the East that like an oil spot spreads on the sea in my dream
And the gulls fall from me, fluttering in the sand
I want your arm to sleep on
And get out of myself for a while, leaving, for some shelter of safety.

August 2010

Photos from a meeting of authors to support Omar Hazek

A letter from prison 

Italian petition

Free OMAR HAZEK – Libertà per Omar Hazek. European page.

German PEN action request

Note that although these appeals sometimes seem frustrating (especially as Mohammed Fahmy has lost partial use of his arm while tens of thousands protest his imprisonment), they can have an effect. As novelist Ahdaf Soueif reports about her nephew Alaa Abdel Fattah (via Mona Seif), “noise” at least got Alaa out of solitary, although it’s a heartbreakingly small victory. (UPDATE: Alaa Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Abdel Rahman have been released on bail.)

PEN suggests sending appeals to:

Interim president Adly Mansour
Supreme Constitutional Court
Kournish El-Nile El-Maddi
Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202-795-8048

Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Egypt
Colonel General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
23 July Street.,
AlKobba Bridge,
Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: + 20-22916227

If possible please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Egypt in your country. You could also translate his poetry, write about him on social media, read his book — well, I’m sure you have better ideas.

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