CAIRO -- When the news broke on Twitter Tuesday of the death of one of Egypt's most respected bloggers, Bassem Sabry, many hoped it was a sick joke. But as friends and admirers of his work got confirmation that the 31-year-old had died in an apparent accident, the eulogies began pouring in.
Known as a voice of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, Sabry is being hailed as a unique soul who touched the lives of those around him through his powerful writing and steadfast optimism. His funeral is on Wednesday in Cairo.
For two years, I’ve kept on my desktop a folder titled “Sabry Guide” - it’s an organized collection of Bassem’s ideas for reform in Egypt.
— Issandr El Amrani (@boumilo) April 30, 2014
@Bassem_Sabry 's passing reminds of old Arabic poem: "Death is like a jeweler picking out the most precious of gems."
— Yasser El-Shimy (@Underreported) April 29, 2014
Egyptians here are also remembering his overwhelming kindness, evident in his last tweet posted in the early morning hours on the day of his death -- a plea to donate blood to an unnamed girl at a Cairo hospital.
A regular columnist for Al-Monitor, Sabry also contributed to The Huffington Post, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic and the Eygptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm, among others. He also briefly served as a political consultant to the Dostour Party, a political party founded by leading liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei after the 2011 revolution.
In a powerful eulogy by Mohammed el-Dahshan, his childhood friend and a fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, he is remembered as a man who never gave up hope on his country despite years of bloodshed and turmoil.
“His fundamentals never changed. He abhorred labels, and as such never advertised his political affiliations,” el-Dahshan wrote. “He demanded rights for all a decade ago, as he did yesterday. He stood for the oppressed, never condoned injustice, and never censored himself for an unpopular position. He was always able to reach out, even to those who seemed the most distant.”
El-Dahshan refers to one of Sabry’s tweets in early April, in which Sabry tells people to "do one act of kindness" and "send a random nice message to someone."
“Here’s my random message to you all,” el-Dahshan wrote. “And it’s a prayer: may you be as as kind, as smart, and as loved, as Bassem Sabry. There's nothing better.”
Many are circulating a piece of prose Sabry wrote in October 2012, around his 30th birthday, saying it reads like his own eulogy.
“I learned that mankind was one, that coexistence was possible, that we must ostracise the hate-mongers amongst us, that we can achieve with the pen and the word much more than what we can achieve with guns and loud angry rhetoric, and achieve that more rapidly as well,” he wrote. “And that we must rise above our leaders, groupings, parties and governments and their interests.”
Though Sabry's death has elicited a mountain of grief, people are still holding onto his dream of a better future for Egypt and a more just, loving world.
#Jan25 died last night. But because of him, and more so for him & his dream, we have to find some way to be half as good as he would've been
— Hafsa Halawa (@HafsaHalawa) April 30, 2014
Only the good die young. @Bassem_Sabry rest in peace my friend. What a great loss for those who still have hope for a better Egypt.
— Ragia Omran (@rago_legal) April 29, 2014
You want to see hope in the Arab world? Search for @Bassem_Sabry's network & friends. If Bassem loved someone then he's worth knowing.
— Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) April 29, 2014
It was @Bassem_Sabry's persona and writings that gave me hope for the revolution. He could always show you the bright side in dark times.
— Amro Ali (@_amroali) April 29, 2014