Wednesday, June 14, 2023

George Ishak : A legacy not to be forgotten

Famous Egyptian politician George Ishak (1938-2023) passed away a couple of days ago after a struggle with illness for a couple of weeks. His death is a huge loss for Egypt.

Ishak played a fundamental role in the formation of the Kefaya opposition movement and the National Association of Change against former President Hosni Mubarak and the 25 January Revolution. 

Seeing what happened in those days seems to be like remembering an old memory that is turning into a legend in its own way.  

Ishak was also a co-founding member of the Constitution Party and a member of the quasi-official National Council for Human Rights. He was among the most outspoken voices in the council speaking for the detainees and prisoners regardless of their political affiliation. 

In the past days, I saw liberals, Islamists and leftists mourning him alike. I found out that the man was working in silence as much as he can. Now people share it loudly. It is his legacy. 

I won't speak about the silly voices that continue to spread lies about the man because they do not deserve attention. 

George Ishak
The last photo taken for George Ishak at a public event
during the inauguration of the National Dialogue 
last month by Ahmed Abdel Fattah 

I read something on Twitter that made me think a lot about what made George Ishak special.

The man from Port Said was like the first Egyptian Christian to have a loud secular voice outside the boundaries set by the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church or the Catholic Church and their officials.

He was not shy to discuss politics and the future of the country publicly. He was not the kind of Christian activist that you would ask as a journalist about the concerns and demands of the Egyptian Christian community as a minority only.

He was not an activist with close ties to the Church. On the contrary, you would call him and ask him about his views on the Constitution and the situation of human rights. As a journalist, this is how I dealt with him.

He truly believed in a secular Egypt. He believed that priests and sheikhs should not get involved in politics. "If the priest speaks in politics, what should I do? Should I open a cabaret?" he once told Al-Jazeera in 2011.

George Ishak was a liberal leftist, but I believe his role in Kefaya and his outspoken personality encouraged other Egyptian Christians from younger generations to speak out.

I think he also believed that the situation of Egyptian Christians would improve when the situation and human rights in this country improve in general when we have a truly secular state.

I don't think Egypt has had a truly outspoken Egyptian Christian in the opposition since the time of Makram Ebeid in the 1940s. Even Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour and Mona Makram have not reached his level I believe when it comes to opposition and activism as well as reaching out to the wider audience. 

Maybe it has to do with the fact that Ishak wasn't an Upper-class man like them. 

Ishak is going to leave a void in his own way. 

By the way, most Egyptians think that George Ishak was a Coptic Orthodox Christian, but this was untrue. He was a Coptic Catholic Christian.

May Allah bless his soul and bring patience to his family and friends.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry for off-topic posting, Zeinobia, but I wanted to point out this story. In a nutshell, Jackson Hinckle, a Russian-supporting American of note, tells of a Russian with his wife and child who was killed by a tiger shark while on vacation in Egypt. I don't know whether the attack made the news in Egypt. Anyway, Hinckle is outraged that establishment Leftist and quasi-Nazi Paul Massaro is urging Kiev to officially honor the shark.


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