The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Released detainee fired from his job

I received a message from Kefaya activist Ahmad el-Droubi—who was detained by State Security police on April 24, then taken to Tora Prison for 33 days—saying he was fired from his job, as an ecologist with WorleyParsons Komex. The decision, according to Droubi, was taken by the Egyptian manager of the multinational's office in Cairo.
Here are excerpts from Droubi's letter sent to the firm’s senior management in London, dated June 8, 2006:

I have been an employee of WorleyParsons Komex since January of this year. I have served as a field ecologist with the Cairo office. On April 24, I was detained by the Egyptian State Security police, and held for 33 days without appearing before a judge, and obviously without being convicted of any crime. I was arrested during a peaceful solidarity sit- in with Egyptian Judges outside the Judge's Club in downtown Cairo, calling for the independence of the judicial branch of the state. This sit-in was organized by an Egyptian civil rights movement, known as Kefaya (Arabic for Enough). Kefaya is a movement that campaigns for democracy in Egypt, focusing on issues ranging from corruption, freedom of expression, torture, and free elections.

During the period of my detention I received two statements from the WorlyParsons Komex Cairo office: the first of these was delivered through my lawyer stating that if I was released before the end of May my job would be waiting for me.

The second statement came to me as a surprise; this statement was made by Mr. Mohamed Abdel Gawad, manager of the Cairo office on two separate occasions: to my lawyer and to my parents. They were told that the company requested my resignation–rather than dismissing me, as that would be more favorable on my record (and as it turns out according to my lawyer, it was to remove all liability from the company). …a resignation (was) awaiting my signature.

Two days after my release I returned to the office on May 29. I was told that my political activities were not looked upon highly by the office, and that the fact that I had not attended a month of work–despite the fact that official government documents explaining my detention were delivered to the office on two separate occasions by my lawyer. My refusal to submit my resignation was perceived as hostile and I was asked to leave the office.

Two days later I received an envelope containing four warnings concerning my absence in addition to a document containing a preliminary termination of employment. I returned to the office at the request of Mr. Abdel Gawad; at this point I requested my salary and the per diems for days traveled, for the month of April. Mr. Abdel Gawad refused to give me my money and asked the office staff to supervise me while collecting my personal items.

I have been considering and have been advised to pursue legal action against the company. It is a matter of principle. My consideration to pursue legal action; is due to my belief that the termination of my employment, was not based on professional reasons, but was rather a violation against my right to express myself, and participate actively in my society's affairs.

An Arabic translation of Droubi's letter could be found here.