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The New Arab

Egyptian bride demands the release of her fiancé

Omnia Magdy demonstrates in front of the syndicate of journalism wearing her wedding dress [Facebook]

Date of publication: 3 March, 2016

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Dressed in her white wedding gown, Omnia Magdy held a protest outside Egypt's syndicate of journalism against the arbitrary arrest and continued detention of her fiancé two years ago.
Omnia Magdy's wedding dress sat in her closet for two years after her fiancé, photojournalist Omar Abdel Maksoud, was detained by Egyptian authorities 15 days before their wedding.

Magdy finally wore her white gown, but it was not to walk down the aisle with her soon-to-be-husband.

Instead, she carried a picture of Abdel Maksoud and took to the steps of Egypt's syndicate of journalism building, which has come to be a common place for protests in the last ten years.

Magdy stood among demonstrators, who had been staging a protest since Tuesday, calling for the release of detained journalists, an end to the arbitrary arrests and an end to torture in prisons.

Her fiancé was first arrested in February 2014, accused of working for al-Jazeera, which is banned in Egypt for allegedly reporting in the interest of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Abdel Maksoud, who worked for Masr al-Arabia news site, spent nearly one month in detention in Cairo's notorious Tora prison, before he was released on bail, only to be arrested again in April 2014.

This time, Egyptian authorities detained Abdel Maksoud along with his brothers, Anas and Ibrahim, on charges of setting fire to a car belonging to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's presidential campaign.

Abdel Maksoud denied all charges.

  
Omnia Magdy and Omar Abdel Maksoud were to be married days before his detention [Facebook]

During their pre-trial detention, a court in the city of Mansoura ordered their release on bail twice.

Their family paid the bail charge of 15,000 Egyptian pounds [$2,000] but Abdel Maksoud and his brothers remained in detention as the interior ministry appealed to keep them in custody.

While in detention and during interrogations, Abdel Maksoud was tortured.

"[He] suffered physical abuse, including police pulling out his fingernail in attempts to pressurise him into a confession," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported. 

While in detention and during interrogations, Abdel Maksoud was tortured

In January 2015, the Mansoura Criminal Court sentenced Abdel Maksoud and his two brothers to life in prison on charges of setting fire to cars and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, the young woman standing on the steps of Egypt's syndicate of journalism spoke to journalists whose attention she attracted by her peculiar choice of attire that day.

"Because of what is happening, we are close to breaking up," Magdy told journalists.

"But I am not ready to let go of Omar," she said, as her eyes filled with tears, "We have been in love for nine years. I just want Omar back. I want our life back."

Abdel Maksoud is currently held at Meit Selseil prison in Dakahliya governorate, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

He suffers from heart problems, for which he has received medical attention while in custody.

"For the past two years, every day my dreams become more distant," Magdy said, "Omar's health is deteriorating and I am in despair."

"I just want my lost dreams to return."

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