Rev. Majed El Shafie

Abu Zaabel is a prison that sits in Cairo and, in 1998, was a torture chamber and convenient hold for enemies of the regime. Torture in Abu Zaabel was careful work. Inflicting unconsciousness was avoided. Inmates heard everything but saw only contours, like their torturers in balaclavas. And each day, they felt the units of pain and humiliation rise.

Just after midnight on August 16, 1998, days before he was taken to Abu Zaabel, Majed El Shafie heard knocking at his door on El-Haram Street, a tree-lined downtown boulevard in Cairo. It was someone he didn’t recognize asking for someone he didn’t know, so he turned the man away. In minutes, he heard more knocking and this time, Majed faced seven soldiers. They searched his house and packed his computer, discs, sheets of paper, and books, and then they took Majed.