A date with Mohamed Fahmy

This month, Chatelaine cozies up to the recently liberated journalist, political activist and self-professed maple syrup junkie.

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A date with... Mohamed Fahmy
Photo, Corbis.

I hope this isn’t too forward, but you are very dashing.
Ha ha. Thank you.

I’ve never been out with a man who spent over 400 days behind bars on bogus terrorism charges. [Fahmy was jailed by the Egyptian government in late 2013 and released last September.]
A huge part of the reason that I’m sitting here today is because of two very powerful women: my lawyer, Amal Clooney, and my wife, Marwa Omara. Wait, if this is a date, I shouldn’t talk about my wife!

Okay, let’s talk about Amal then. Is she really as perfect as she seems?
Amal is so good at switching from this intense, firm lawyer to an elegant, compassionate woman. I am so bothered seeing her cast as George Clooney’s wife, especially when she came to Egypt. There were [reporters at my trial] from Entertainment Tonight.

Maybe now is a good time to present you with this gift. I read that you’re a fan of both maple syrup and whisky, so I brought you whisky-infused syrup.
Thank you! I haven’t had maple syrup and pancakes yet. In prison, the team from the Canadian embassy brought me maple syrup, but I sipped it or dipped plain bread in it.

Age, height, hometown
41, 6′, Vancouver
My friends describe me as
Kindly stubborn
On a typical Friday night I am
Not in jail
Essential date grooming product
One Million cologne by Paco Rabanne
First celebrity crush
Julia Roberts
Song that gets me in the mood
Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet”

You turned 40 behind bars. What was that day like?
Marwa and my mom and cousin came to visit. They brought cake. They were eager to sing and bring balloons, and I told them, “You can’t do this, this is prison — you can’t embarrass me here.” Some of the [inmates] were extremists, Muslim Brotherhood, members of Al Qaeda.

Is it true Marwa would smuggle in documents underneath food trays?
Yes, or she would hide them in her bra or her crotch because that’s the only place they wouldn’t search. She would slip them to me and I would have to hide them you-know-where.

I’m not sure that’s a region we should be talking about on a first date! You’ve said that when you met, Marwa was apolitical. Do opposites attract?
I think so. I’m the kind of guy who likes a challenge. I like spice, action; I get bored very easily. Being with someone very similar to me would probably have a tragic ending.

What are your go-to romantic gestures? Do you send flowers? Buy jewellery? Perform stripteases?
If I’m on a date with you, we would fly somewhere. I would spoil you, take you to a lavish hotel, go to a nice restaurant, an elegant nightclub.

You started teaching at the University of British Columbia. What made you decide to do that?
When I was in prison, UBC took a real stance on my behalf. They released a statement in support of me and that gave me more legitimacy.

What question do you get most from your students?
They want to know how I survived — sleeping on the floor with insects, no light, no air, a broken shoulder. I say it’s about tragic optimism and realizing you’re fighting for something bigger.

You had to renounce your Egyptian citizenship during your trial, but you plan to fight to get it back. Why, when the country treated you so horribly?
I’m not only going to get my citizenship, I’m going to return. I will report on Egypt and I will live my life freely. If you put the politics aside, Egypt will mesmerize you. There is a romantic side. I can take you to the desert, on a boat ride on the Nile, see the magic of the pyramids.

Sounds like quite a second date.
You might not want to come home.

Related:
A date with Michael Bublé