After a Decade in an Egyptian Prison, Muslim Scientist Finds Refuge in Jewish State
Egyptian nuclear scientist Noha Hashad expressed interest in Israel and found herself under the scrutiny of Egyptian intelligence, who interrogated her under suspicion of spying for Israel • She was imprisoned for 11 years, tortured and left handicapped.
They say every generation one must see themselves as if they themselves made the exodus from Egypt. Egyptian nuclear physicist Noha Hashad not only escaped Egypt, but sought Jerusalem. The 51-year-old native Egyptian Muslim was an accomplished academic who lectured at many universities when she began identifying with Israel.
Noha was arrested by security forces belonging to Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Her crime? Looking for proof of the Jews’ rights to the land of Israel in the Quran. She was jailed for 12 years. Noha was interrogated and tortured under suspicion of spying for Israel. Her interrogations left her handicapped. She managed to escape Egypt during the Arab Spring protests and the fall of the Mubarak regime in 2011, fleeing to Jordan and then coming to Israel as a refugee.
This is the first time Noha Hashad’s story is coming to light.
“Israel is like a jewel, a diamond, I am very fortunate to be here,” she said, sitting near the beach in Haifa. Noha founded a center for peace in the Middle East, with respected scholars of Middle East studies, and is working on the English translation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ first book, “The Beginning and End of Zionism.”
The book is being translated to “expose his [Abbas’] true face — not Holocaust denial like in his known doctoral work,” Noha said. “But Israel denial.”
When Noha began expressing interest in Hebrew studies in Egypt, she found herself under the scrutiny of local intelligence officials, who interrogated and questioned her under suspicion of spying for Israel. The authorities suspicions continued and Noha’s day-to-day life became very difficult.
“They tortured a university lecturer so that she would break and say ‘I will no longer talk about Israel, I want nothing to do with Israel,'” Noha said. “They wanted to shut me up. But I left those interrogations and went to look for the biggest Star of David I could find.”
During one of her interrogations, Noha was thrown into a prison cell with dozens of other female prisoners. “The policeman told them one thing: ‘A Jewish woman has fallen into your hands, show me what you can do.’ He then closed the door and left, and they assaulted me. They ripped my hair out and beat me. ‘Jew’ is synonymous with the root of all evil. Another police officer came in with a wooden baton and beat me; I fainted.” Noha said that in another instance she was taken by police to a Jewish cemetery, was doused in oil, and then had a match placed by her ear.
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