Tamim Barghouti by Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd

Tamim Barghouti


THE WORLD HAS seen many wars and many peace movements, but perhaps this latest war, of the coalition Forces against Iraq, has surpassed all others in the degree to which it has provoked global dissent. Amnesty International noted, within days of the war starting, that there had been a 'backlash' against the dissenters in many countries. This 'backlash' was either aimed directly at anti-war demonstrators - Amnesty noted a pattern of widespread arrests on dubious grounds - or took the form of new legal powers being invoked that might inhibit the protesters' activities. In Chicago, hundreds were briefly arrested in the course of a peaceful attempt to block a major road. In Jordan, about fifteen anti-war activists found themselves in detention. But arguably the government that responded most severely to the dissent was Egypt's. Arrests there, as in America, were in their hundreds, and many found themselves in jail for prolonged periods, especially those who comprised the anti-war movement's intellectual leadership Tamim Barghouti was one such leader: a rising young poet, he was seized from his home without an arrest warrant, held and interrogated in an undisclosed location, and then put on a plane out of the country.

His deportation caused an outcry from Egyptian PEN and the Egyptian Human Rights Organisation. The writer and academic Ferial Ghazoul called it a 'blow for all', especially for the many 'promising writers and emerging intellectuals in the Arab World'. She found his deportation eerily reminiscent of the Sadat era: many

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