Dr Mustafa Al-Najjar, the dentist and former parliamentarian, was given a three years prison sentence having been found guilty of contempt of the judiciary. The sentence was then upheld by the court of appeal around three months ago.
Al-Najjar then disappeared. Neither his family nor his friends nor the National Council of Human Rights know his whereabouts. This has opened the door wide open to numerous speculations, the most recent of which is an unconfirmed report by Middle East Eye that Mustafa was shot while trying to cross the southern borders on his way to the Sudan. This would mean, God forbid, that he is already dead.
This report is absolutely unconfirmed and unauthenticated, but it is causing alarm. This is particularly so since I have communicated (nearly six times) since last month with Muhammad Fayiq, president of the National Council of Human Rights, and with Diyaa Rashwan, head of the Information Commission, who both stressed that the security agencies had not arrested Al-Najjar and that he continues to be in hiding to avoid imprisonment. They both stressed that Mustafa Al-Najjar had not been arrested. Rashwan also affirmed that he had not been shot during any attempt to flee the country.
What is truly sad about this affair is that a young man bearing all the qualifications of Mustafa Al-Najjar should end up in this situation where his fate remains unknown to us. He is neither a terrorist nor a provocateur calling for violence for us to conclude that he must have been assassinated or disappeared. He is one of the young men who took part in the January revolution and entered into dialogue with the state from day one because they knew that politics is about negotiations and compromises and not about outbidding and abuse. Al-Najjar remained a voice of moderation and dialogue with everyone, whether some people agreed with him or disagreed. He stood for parliamentary elections and defeated a Salafi candidate who enjoyed the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. He became the youngest member of parliament. We were colleagues for nearly one year. He was an honourable model of respect, patriotism (without slogans) and good manners, attributes that are no longer sought after.
Al-Najjar is a moderate reformist voice. His weapon continued to be a word expressed in his writings that lasted for years in Al-Masry Al-Yawm and in Al-Shuruq until he recently stopped writing and distanced himself completely from political activism becoming a successful dentist working for his children and family and achieving great success.
It is agonising how we ended up in this road where a renowned dentist, a talented writer and a former parliamentarian just disappears. How can this defect, which causes us not to known his fate, be corrected?
I have great confidence in the assertions made by Fayiq and Rashwan that Al-Najjar is not detained by the security agencies (which is what Al-Najjar’s lawyer Najad Al-Burai seems to favour). Yet, it remains true that it is the prime responsibility of the state to search for him, considering that he happens to be a disappeared citizen. In such a difficult situation, I continue to hope that Al-Najjar will return safe and sound to his wife and three children, to his mother and siblings, and to serving his prison sentence.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Masry Al-Youm on 25 December 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.