Tributes to Bassem Sabry, the writer who ‘believed in a better Egypt’

Cairo-based journalist, one of the voices of the 2011 revolution, died in an accident aged 31

Ben Flanagan

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Bassem Sabry, a renowned journalist and one of the voices of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, has died aged 31.

Tributes to Sabry, who wrote for several media outlets including Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor and the Huffington Post, poured in on Twitter and other sites.

Aside from his writing and commentary on regional politics, Sabry worked for a time as a strategist for the liberal Al-Dostour party, which was founded by Mohamed ElBaradei.

Some news outlets reported that Sabry died from a fall from a balcony in Cairo on April 29, although this could not be immediately confirmed.

Condolences came from far and wide, and from across Egypt’s complex political spectrum – something of a rarity, given the country’s deep divides.

That highlights both the universal appeal and the neutrality of Sabry’s writing, friends say.

“He never let his own politics come into his arguments. His pieces were very analytical, very balanced, and very nuanced. It’s something that we are missing from a lot of the analysis on Egypt today,” said Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, a UAE-based writer and commentator.

“The biggest proof of Bassem’s neutrality and his ability to touch everybody’s heart is the condolences having come from all sides.”

Qassemi said Sabry had a valuable skill of being able to speak, through his writing, to people at all levels – from scholars to casual followers of Egyptian politics.

“Bassem was a bridge between Egypt and the rest of the world, both in Arabic and English. He transcended the local and the regional and was an internationally recognized name,” he said. “Bassem had this ability to break down, loosen up and simplify the very complicated Egyptian political scene.”

Dr H.A. Hellyer, a Cairo-based analyst and commentator, said that Sabry “believed in a better Egypt for all Egyptians”.

He added: “I was honored to call Bassem Sabry a companion – a colleague – and most of all, a friend. At a time when Egypt sorely needed voices that rejected destructive polarisation and mutual hatred, Bassem was one of the few that insisted on standing for far loftier principles... Egypt has lost a great son – and I’ve lost a good friend.”

Hisham Melhem, bureau chief of Al Arabiya News Channel in Washington, DC, paid tribute on Twitter.

“RIP @Bassem_Sabry. The happy warrior who fought the good fight,” Melhem wrote. “He left when #Egypt needed him the most. #Respect”

Many have spoken of Sabry’s kindness and gentle nature. His friend Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi noted his ability to rally people together if someone needed help.

“His writing was absolutely brilliant… But his personality was just so rare and unique. And he was such a gentle soul.”

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