CAIRO: The faculty of the Arabic Language Institute (ALI) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) staged a sit-in Monday, in support of Ihab Atta, one of the department’s professors who has been detained for two years without charges.
Atta is currently being held in Wadi Al-Natroun Prison, Said Al-Wakil, an ALI professor, told Daily News Egypt.
Al-Wakil said that he visited Atta several times in prison, and that he was also paid several visits by his family.
According to the Caravan, the student-run weekly newspaper of AUC, Atta disappeared in spring 2007. He had reportedly been under State Security surveillance after attending a party in spring 2007 whose host had attempted to join a jihadi movement in Iraq.
“Last May we discovered that Atta lost his teaching fellowship here at AUC and that he has also lost his teaching job in the Faculty of Ain Shams, Al-Wakil was quoted in the Caravan as saying.
A source at AUC revealed to Daily News Egypt that the university’s administration is currently in negotiations with security forces to release Atta.
The source added that the university wants to be discreet about its efforts, limiting media coverage of the arrest.
Atta’s mother had reportedly been discreet about her son’s arrest fearing for his reputation.
“The security forces came to my home at 2 am in the morning and took Atta, she said, adding that the security forces told her that Atta will only be taken for questioning and will return in an hour.
According to the Caravan, Atta wrote a letter from prison in which he said that although he has been detained for over a year and a half, he still does not know what his charges are.