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Egyptian opposition poet out of hospital

Negm is dubbed ‘folk hero’

One of Egypt’s most famed poet-cum-politicians has left hospital after being admitted over suspicions of a blood clot to his brains. Ahmed Fouad Negm, 78, insisted on checking out to recover at home when his physicians found out he was suffering from hypertension.

Dubbed the "poet of the people" and considered by many as a "folk hero," Negm is known for his harsh criticism of the regime and his fiery poems that got him to spend a total of 18 years behind bars.

Negm was a fierce critic of former President Anwar Sadat and was exiled as a result of his fiery poems against Sadat and his foreign policy.

He was born in May 22, 1929 in one of the poor villages of Upper Egypt. His father died when he was only six and young Negm had to toil to support himself and the family.

A worker at the Railway Authority and later employed as a postman, Negm spent his life among Egypt’s middle and lower classes. After settling down in Cairo, he met singer and composer Sheikh Imam Eissa, who later became his life companion. Negm also took part in operations against the British during the occupation of Egypt.

Imam and Negm made the most famous artistic-political duo in Egypt’s modern history and their lyrics were always present in any anti-regime gathering. They were sent to prison together after launching what is considered the most sarcastic campaign against an Egyptian head of state, Sadat at that time.

Imam's death did not stop Negm from speaking out against the successive governments in Egypt. Negm still participates in demonstrations against power inheritance in Egypt, and he wrote a special poem for the president's son Gamal in which he referred to him as "The Nation's Groom."

Among his most controversial poems that got him into trouble and accounted for part of his jail time are "Father Nixon," written in 1974 during Nixon's visit to Egypt and in which he refers to the Watergate scandal, and "Beans and Meat" about poverty and the soaring process of food.

Negm's biography was written by Egyptian author Salah Eissa under the title The Poet who Destabilizes the Public Security. In this book, Eissa calls Negm "the inciting poet" who insisted on exposing the drawbacks of the regime and instigating the people to rebel against the injustices inflicted upon them.

Negm lives in a small flat in Moqattam district in Cairo since 1992 when an earthquake destroyed the apartment building he was staying at in another poor area in downtown Cairo.