One day after a small protest was held by a group of his friends, Ahmed Al-Masry (who is also known as Ahmed Taha) got a call from a ministry official informing him that he can go back to school. He had been prevented from returning to school after spending nine months in prison.
A small gathering outside the Ministry of Education was organised by Al-Masry’s friends on Sunday while he was hoping to get a decision from the ministry reinstating him in school following his expulsion. “I was trying to complete some paperwork and I couldn’t get it done. I was very upset so I went to meet my friends in front of the ministry,” Al-Masry said.
“When I got there my friends said that the deputy minister wanted to see me, so I went in with two friends and a journalist,” he said. Inside the ministry he met with the Head of the Directorate of Education in Giza, Na’eema Abdel-Galil. “I’m not just saying this because she helped me, but she is a very good lady and she was very welcoming. She helped me more than anyone else,” said Al-Masry.
Following the meeting, on Monday morning he received a call from an official informing him that he can return to school. On Monday afternoon Al-Masry was waiting his turn to receive his books. “I can start attending school from tomorrow,” he said.
The gathering in front of the Ministry of Education wasn’t big but it “had a large impact,” Al-Masry said.
Al-Masry, 17, was arrested in October 2011 while he was passing by a small protest. During his detention he was tortured and raped, and his incarceration lasted almost a year. He was finally released in July, only to discover that at the start of the new school year he would not be allowed back to school. A letter of suspension was sent to the family while Al-Masry was behind bars but the family never predicted that it would actually be carried out.
Absenteeism was the official reason given for the decision not to allow him back, and the Ministry of Education was behind the decision not the school.
In order to resume his education, Al-Masry was asked to complete complicated paperwork and navigate bureaucratic labyrinths. When he attempted to do so, one government institution after another made his quest to return to school impossible. His sister said that he was devastated and had to seek psychological help, and his parents were also heartbroken over the hardships their son was facing.
The family made many sacrifices in order to help Al-Masry, and the news of his return to school may be an inspiration for other political detainees and their families. Detained student Mohanad Samir is set to start college this year, yet he has been behind bars since January. He was shot in the thigh during protests in December and was detained after going inside the Directorate of Security of Cairo.