…[N]ext month, beginning on 6 November, the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt will play host to this year’s United Nations climate summit, Cop27. Tens of thousands of delegates – world leaders, ministers, envoys, appointed bureaucrats, as well as climate activists, NGO observers and journalists – will descend on the city, their chests bedecked in lanyards and colour-coded badges.
Which is why that lost letter is significant. There is something unbearably moving about the thought of Abd El-Fattah – despite the decade of indignities he and his family have suffered – sitting in his cell thinking about our warming world. There he is, slowly starving, yet still worrying about floods in Pakistan and extremism in India and crashing currency in the UK and Lula’s presidential candidacy in Brazil, all of which get a mention in his recent letters, shared with me by his family.
There is also, frankly, something shaming about it. Because while Abd El-Fattah thinks about the world, it’s not at all clear that the world heading to Egypt for the climate summit is thinking much about him. Or about the estimated 60,000 other political prisoners behind bars in Egypt, where barbaric forms of torture reportedly take place on an “assembly line”. Or about the Egyptian human rights and environmental activists, as well as critical journalists and academics, who have been harassed, spied on and barred from travel as part of what Human Rights Watch calls Egypt’s “general atmosphere of fear” and “relentless crackdown on civil society”.
Read the full article in The Guardian