Abu Omar, Sharqawy on torture at Cairo Conference

There's been some very interesting developments at the 5th Cairo Conference against Imperialism and Zionism. Hossam reports that it held an anti-torture forum featuring Abu Omar, the Alexandria imam kidnapped in Italy by the CIA in 2003:

Abu Omar–the Alexandrian cleric kidnapped 2003 by the CIA in Milan and rendered to Egypt where he was brutally tortured–showed up today at the Press Syndicate, defying the travel ban imposed on him by State Security as a condition for his release. Abu Omar took part in the Anti-Torture Forum, chaired by leftist activist Dr. Aida Seif el-Dawla, where he presented his testimony about his torture odyssey from Milan to Cairo, via Germany. “I was severely tortured by the Mukhabarrat and State Security,” Abu Omar said. “I was electrocuted for months, till my whole body turned black.”
Another speaker was Mohammed Sharqawi, the Cairo-based activist who was arrested, tortured and sodomized by police last year and whose ordeal was taped and ended up YouTube. Sharqawi has for the first time publicly named one of his tormentors. Hossam has the list of names of officers, as well as pictures, and the activists want to use the conference to launch a campaign to get them prosecuted.

Which goes to show to those commenters who derided the conference's far-left tone: these activists may be too politically radical for your taste, they may be flirting with Islamists with very different ideas than their own (Mahdi Akef, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brothers, was a guest and spoke about the US military-industrial complex, no less) but at least this they're doing something. One can't quite say the same thing for many centrist liberals (I count myself among the latter).
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.