On 9 March Manar Abu Naga was forcibly disappeared from her home in Alexandria along with her husband Omar and their one-year-old son Braa.
“One of the neighbours told us that their house was raided and that they were kidnapped by men in civilian clothes,” says her brother Mustafa Abdulhamid. “Until now we don’t know where they are.”
Manar studied Maths at the University of Tanta and graduated top of her class with honours. Despite being told that she had no future in academia because she wore the niqab, she was given a job as a teacher within the same department.
Her brother describes her as confident and diligent. “Her life was stable,” he adds. “She had no problems.” Her family nicknamed her “the lawyer” because she always stood with the weak and oppressed.
The family has been appealing for more than two months now for information on where and why the family is being held. A social media campaign under the Arabic hashtag “the indicted infant” has generated some awareness of the family’s plight but details surrounding the case are hazy, says Abdulhamid, because “people are afraid to speak.”
Like hundreds of other forcibly disappeared Egyptians, the government is refusing to reveal their whereabouts. “I do not see any cooperation from any governmental body. Where is the Attorney General’s response after more than two months of appeals?”
A number of women, including rights activists, face trial in Egypt and the International Organisation for the Protection of Human Rights have issued a report detailing eight cases in which entire families have been killed or arrested.
But Manar’s case is rare because her son was taken with her. Usually during such arrests the child is handed over to the grandmother.
Her brother is extremely concerned for his wellbeing. “We hope he is still alive. We are worried about his life.”
And for his parents. Before her arrest Manar’s father was being treated with chemotherapy for cancer. When he heard about his daughter’s forcible disappearance his health deteriorated and his body stopped accepting the chemotherapy. He was not able to spend his last days with Manar, or his grandson.
“My father wished to see her before his death, but he couldn’t. He died.”