Laura Dean's Cairo Diary
The Cairo Diary: Days of Cold Tea and Rotting Lemons
Moldy tea bags offer the only evidence that any time has passed, when Drew Brammer walks into the apartment one week after its occupants, Hossam Meneai and Jeremy Hodge, were taken from it in the middle of the night. There are cups on the table full of half-drunk tea, standing where members of the national security service had left them. Meneai's and Hodge's third roommate, Nizar Manek, who has now left the country, had brought it to them at their request, seeking to be accommodating, as they questioned him and Hodge for more than two hours. The lemons on the counter next to the cutting board are discolored and have begun to rot. There is a pan on the stove. The lights have been on for more than a week and the internet shut off, presumably because the detained occupants were unable to pay their bill. Brammer and another friend hastily gather Meneai's things---a few clothes, some books---and leave quickly, not knowing whether or not the apartment is still being watched. As far as I know, the tea cups and rotting lemons are still there.
It occurs to me that there must be many apartments across Egypt left like this, tableaus of what their inhabitants had been doing the moment they were seized.
Hodge, 25, who is American, was released without charge after being held for four days in an undisclosed location. His lawyer ended up filing a missing persons report. He has since returned to the US but he, alongside Manek, is following Meneai's case closely.
Meneai, 36, an Egyptian, has had his detention renewed for another 15 days, a period which will expire on February 8. So far, we are told that Meneai is being investigated for, "spreading false news to foreign countries and endangering Egypt’s security and public peace." Al-Youm al-Sabe', a local Arabic language paper, reported that this was in part because he referred to Mohamed Morsi's ouster as a “military coup.” The article also mentions that the prosecution said that videos and photographs from the dispersal of the Rabaa el Adaweya and el-Nahdha sit-ins were found on Meneai’s laptop, as were videos of the January 25 uprisings. According to Brammer, any footage from the sit-ins was likely from YouTube, since Meneai was not present at either sit-in dispersal. According to Hodge, the two were handcuffed to chairs and denied food for 36 hours during their detentions. Following his release, Hodge said that Meneai was repeatedly beaten while he, a foreigner, was made to watch. Meneai is being detained in a holding cell with people accused of criminal offenses, while Hodge was held with political prisoners.
Hossam Meneai is an artist and a filmmaker. When he was arrested, he was making a film about St. Mark, who is said to have brought Christianity to Egypt in the first century.
Hossam is also my friend. This is Hossam: