Zahra Mahmoud Hussein: 100 Days without my father

Zahra, daughter of detained Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein, writes about her father’s legacy.

Al Jazeera Mahmoud Hussein
My father taught us to face challenges and keep going, but we cannot understand why he is still detained after 100 days, writes Zahra [Al Jazeera]

Do other people feel the days passing by as we do? Oh, Dad! We are counting every hour, minute and second. One hundred days have passed since you were taken away from us, handcuffed and exhausted. No matter how hard you had worked and how little you had slept, you called us every single day to check on us. We no longer receive those calls. 

Millions of Egyptians live abroad to earn their living and secure a decent life for their families. One of them is my father, Mahmoud Hussein. He never got used to staying away from his country and family for a long time. Still, he put up with living abroad and was satisfied with his frequent visits to check on the big family he takes care of.

READ MORE: Egypt arrests Al Jazeera news producer during vacation

However, his last visit to Egypt was different. This time, he was welcomed with handcuffs on his hands instead of his family’s embrace, and he stayed in dark detention cells instead of his warm bed among his caring family. He has always been described as the “soul” of the family, as he brings life to it when everyone, old and young, gathers around him. 

Hussein was arrested after arriving at Cairo's international airport for a holiday [Al Jazeera]
Hussein was arrested after arriving at Cairo’s international airport for a holiday [Al Jazeera]

Mahmoud Hussein is an Egyptian journalist who has been working in the field of media and journalism for more than 29 years. During those years, he conveyed the voices of Egyptians, their happy and sad moments, their needs and creative projects. And when the crowds revolted, he rushed to convey the voice of his homeland to the entire world.

Hussein started his career working with the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper, then at the radio station, and later in the Egyptian TV news sector. He later joined a number of Arab TV channels until he eventually joined Al Jazeera.

Everybody knows he works there, and his work proves how professional his performance is. If the people who detained him tried to Google his name, they would find what an honourable and professional man he is. They would realise that my father has never said a single word that harms the interests of his homeland.

If they go through the history of his life, they would find nothing but good deeds and virtues. “Your message is your manners and principles, and the evidence to that is your work” – a sentence that my father was always repeating to us to strengthen the foundation of our thinking. 

He took us to visit old cafes to get to know the ancient and eternal roots of the Egyptian spirit.


Mahmoud Hussein is a good father and friend. He encouraged us to study the holy Quran, and at the same time took us to the theatre and made us listen to music to nourish our souls with art and melodies.

He explained to us the different kinds of art and music until we developed excellent skills to distinguish the exquisite genres of art.

He introduced us to all kinds of books, poetry, literature, philosophy, history and languages to enable us to absorb as much information as possible.

He took us to visit old cafes to get to know the ancient and eternal roots of the Egyptian spirit. He also got us deeply involved in all the developments under way in our country so we would never fall behind.

My father has taught us how to face challenges and keep going. We are still inspired by him to keep going. But what we cannot understand is why my father has been in detention for 100 days on false charges. There is no case or reason for this that I can explain to my little siblings.

Why do we have to spend our days off standing in long queues in extremely cold weather or under the burning sun waiting to visit him in jail? Why do we need permits to meet him or wait to just hear his voice while being transported in a tiny vehicle? That is what he never prepared us for!

Zahra is the daughter of detained Al Jazeera journalist, Mahmoud Hussein. She studies mass communication and journalism.