Jehane Noujaim's idea caught my attention. She wanted to follow individuals who work at Al Jazeera and feature them in a documentary. I suggested a few people and indeed she turned up in Doha.
I found her to be a very artistic person. Her way of not dressing like everyone else. Very feminine, yet simple. Always looking fresh and positive. Definitely a very creative person. She had just won awards for her debut documentary Startup.com
We became friends and I enjoyed helping her out around Al Jazeera as she filmed her documentary. Somehow she managed to get a few comments from me too, here and there, as the war on Iraq started and I was one of 4 news producers running the continuous live coverage out of Al Jazeera's headquarters.
I was surprised when her documentary was released that she had actually given me a much bigger role in her Control Room than I ever thought. When I asked her later she said something like : well I couldn't help it, I wanted to include a female figure in there and you were just the girl ! :)
The documentary won many awards and spread the story of Al Jazeera like no other documentary.
Recently when I was in Cairo I missed her by a day or two. She was filming something too... which leads me to her arrest in Tahrir Square a few hours ago! She is reported to have been filming clashes on Mohammed Mahmoud Street near the Interior Ministry when she got arrested by the police and accused of being a spy !
Jehane is a US citizen, born in Washington DC. She is of Egyptian origin, speaks Arabic with a beautiful, mild accent.
I am told by one Egyptian rafeeq on Twitter that he had been to see her at Abdin Police Station in Cairo. He says she is in high spirits (I am not surprised, knowing her) and that she is to be released later today.
I really hope they have treated her well and hope she will make another fabulous documentary to tell the world what has been happening in Egypt. Her arrest comes at the same time as Mona el Tahawy's arrest, another American-Egyptian who was at Tahrir Square. I just wrote a blogpost about Mona ! too.
I hope not to write any more blogposts about friends arrested in Egypt! As the government claims "bad" people who want to destroy Egypt are the ones in Tahrir, I keep hearing of good people I know getting arrested there ! It feels like the 8 of April 2003 when we were too busy reporting on reporters killed and injured, we did not know how the US troops got into Baghdad the next day. It is ironically the story Jehane tells in her documentary.
One more thing, if I get to talk to Jehane I want to tell her am finally forgiving her for mis-spelling my name (as Deema Khatib) on the cover of Control Room :)
Watch Control Room
Check out AJE's Listening Post The Fall of Baghdad 8 Years Ago where Control Room is mentioned, including comments by me