CAIRO (AP) — Bassem Sabry, one of Egypt's most respected bloggers and a democracy advocate who chronicled the country's turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, has died. He was 31.
Sabry, a political columnist for a number of Egyptian and international media, won praise for his balanced analysis even amid the deep polarization that has divided Egypt over the past three years, particularly after massive protests last summer led to the military's removal of Islamist Mohammed Morsi, the first elected president after Mubarak's fall.
At a time when many in Egyptian media were ferociously praising the military's move, Sabry — while deeply critical of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood — raised concerns over the possible return of a police state in Egypt amid a bloody crackdown on Morsi's Islamist supporters.
"It is now clear that January 25, as it once stood, is virtually beyond restoration," he wrote on the news website Al-Monitor following a deadly police assault on pro-Morsi protests last August, referring to the Jan. 25, 2011 start of the pro-democracy uprising against Mubarak. "Politics have utterly failed in Cairo in favor of confrontation."
Sabry died from an accidental fall from the balcony of a Cairo high-rise, according to security officials and media reports.
The cause of the fall was not immediately known, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with police regulations. The state-run Al-Ahram daily said he fell after suffering a diabetic coma while inspecting an apartment under construction. One of Sabry's friends, screenwriter Sherif Neguib, said Sabry had suffered from diabetes-related sickness lately but that the circumstances of his fall were still not clear.
Sabry's funeral, planned Wednesday, was postponed because of a delay in issuing the death certificate, Neguib told The Associated Press.
"The very best people are the ones who leave us early," said Nagib, who knew Sabry since the 2011 uprising.
Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent democracy campaigner who briefly served as Egypt's vice president after Morsi's ouster, said in a tweet that Sabry was a "noble person we lost at a time of dire need."
Writer Mohammed el-Dahshan, who knew Sabry for more than 13 years, described him in an online eulogy as "an extremely astute writer, a gifted analyst, an indefatigable storyteller, and even through the darkness, optimistic to a fault."
"His fundamentals never changed. ... He demanded rights for all a decade ago, as he did yesterday," el-Dahshan wrote. "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."
Sabry, who wrote in English and Arabic, contributed to Al-Monitor, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy and the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, as well as kept a blog, titled "An Arab Citizen."
"I want to live in a country with real freedom in thought, faith and expression," he wrote in an article on the online news portal "Yanair."
"I want the state to rise up for the sake of the individual's political, social, economic and humanitarian rights. I don't want anyone to face irreversible injustice. I want the rivers of blood to stop."