Soueif on Pro-Reform Protests

In the past, novelist Ahdaf Soueif has spoken forcefully against the repression of pro-democracy activists by Hosni Mubarak’s police. But now things have taken on a somewhat more personal note. In a letter to the New York Review of Books, she asks readers to support a petition demanding the immediate release of all those who have been put in prison over the last few weeks, including prominent Egyptian blogger Alaa (of Manal & Alaa fame) who is her nephew. Alaa has just been given another 15 days in jail, which prosecutors can renew indefinitely, and without charge.

Soueif is also interviewed (briefly) by Hugh Miles in the Telegraph about the protests and detentions.

“Despite her passion for reform in Egypt, Soueif maintains that writing is still her first priority. She said: “I don’t expect or want to be more involved with politics. I am too involved already. I spend half the day trying to be an advocate and half the day trying to write. It would be marvellous if things were sorted out and I would not be needed any more.”

I think of Soueif not just as a novelist but also as a public intellectual, and in a way I’m not sure if she’ll ever be in a position where she’s “not needed.” She is needed.