My dear friend Philip Rizk was kidnapped on Friday night by Egyptian secret police. The events of that day, and updates since, are available in other places (such as here and the Facebook group) but I just wanted to note the strength of the campaign for his release. The family only learned of his abduction late Friday night -- things didn't even start to get going until Saturday. Since then (less than three days), the Facebook group has gained over 3,000 members at the time of writing. A petition started a few hours ago has gathered around 150 signatures.
Egyptian activists, well experienced in resisting the Mubarak regime, have sent vital updates via microblogging sites like delicious and Jaiku. Support across the blogosphere has been impressive, with too many links to count now -- journalists, professors, activists -- from all around the world. The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Mairead Maguire (who signed the JustPeace60 declaration Philip and I organized last May), sent a message of solidarity.
Of course, we are working for as swift a release as possible for Philip. But I know he would want this to be -- and become -- much more than about him. In Egypt, a state whose repressive government is given billions in aid and military supplies a year by the U.S. and Western governments, there are thousands suffering from Mubarak's regime of fear. Detention without trial, torture, beatings -- bloggers and journalists included. Philip was arrested after a Palestine solidarity march, intended to draw attention to the plight of the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip -- fenced-in, devastated, aid-dependent.
Let this be a campaign and a movement that will celebrate Philip's release -- and then join him and so many others in working for a just peace in Palestine/Israel, and fighting for basic freedom and human rights in the Middle East -- including those regimes that our tax money subsidizes.
Ben White is a journalist and writer based in London, United Kingdom. He blogs at www.benwhite.org.uk