Canadians held in Egypt go on hunger strike to protest detention

on 10 Comments

Two Canadian citizens who were imprisoned by Egyptian security forces last month have now launched a hunger strike to protest their detention.

The detention of John Greyson, a filmmaker and prominent supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, and Palestinian-Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani has been repeatedly extended for 15-day periods in the weeks since they were thrown in jail. They have been imprisoned for 33 days. No formal charges have been lodged against the two, though the Egyptian government says they are suspected of participating in a plot to attack a police station along with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Now supporters of the two have announced they are refusing to eat:

Canadian filmmaker, John Greyson, and emergency room physician, Tarek Loubani, have informed friends and supporters through their Egyptian lawyers that they will be refusing food beginning September the 16th to protest the arbitrary nature of their detention by Egyptian authorities…

Greyson and Loubani’s detention could be extended up to 2 years without formal charges being laid according to new emergency measures put in place in Egypt.

“We can only imagine the anguish that John and Tarek feel after realizing that their detention could be extended for so long in what can only be described as an arbitrary process that lacks any credibility,” said Cecilia Greyson. “We know that they did not take the decision to begin a hunger strike lightly, and we want them to know we will do everything we can to support them and get them home soon,” she added.

Greyson and Loubani were in Egypt trying to make their way to Gaza, though turmoil in the country delayed those plans. They were jailed by security forces as the country experienced intense clashes between supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi and those in favor of the army.

Canada’s government has voiced concern at the highest levels about the two. But as the Electronic Intifada‘s Ali Abunimah points out, there are other avenues to pressure the Egyptian government over their detention. One Canadian group is urging the government to cut off arms exports to Egypt. And the Toronto Star published an editorial urging Canada to do more to free the two:

Enough. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making discouragingly little headway with muted expressions of diplomatic “concern” about the fate of two Canadians — a physician and a filmmaker — who have been languishing for weeks in an Egyptian jail without explanation or charge. It’s time to channel some outrage.

The military coup that has plunged Egypt into this contempt for due process and the law is a betrayal of its 2011 democratic revolution. It is roiling relations with friendly countries such as Canada and the United States. It is scaring off aid, investment and tourism. And it is condemning Egyptians to yet more violence and instability. That’s the message Harper should be sending, forcefully and publicly, to Cairo’s generals and their political cronies.


About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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10 Responses

  1. Justpassingby
    September 18, 2013, 4:53 pm

    Where is Zionist-Harper now?

  2. just
    September 18, 2013, 5:16 pm

    I continue to hope for their safety and release– soon.

    (Harper is another “piece of work”)

    What a great video…..

    Were they jailed because they were on their way to Gaza?????

  3. Obsidian
    September 19, 2013, 3:16 am
    • seafoid
      September 19, 2013, 11:34 am

      What does that mean, Obsidian? The Arabs are all savages? Or it’s okay to kill kids in Gaza because the Egyptians do it too?

      Please help me out here.

      • Woody Tanaka
        September 19, 2013, 11:45 am

        That’s exactly what he meant. Especially given the slur that “Mondoweiss clams up.”

    • eljay
      September 19, 2013, 11:44 am

      >> Egypt murders Palestinian war refugees fleeing country.

      I condemn the unjust and immoral actions of Egyptian security forces.

      Their actions, however, do not absolve the supremacist “Jewish State” of anything.

  4. Walid
    September 19, 2013, 10:30 am

    Looks like many here have lost interest in Egypt. A bit of backstage drama; with Morsi and the Brothers falling out of grace and Saudia rushing in to help Egypt, Qatar asked to have the money it loaned to Egypt back. With Saudia backing it all the way, Egypt didn’t have any problems paying it back. From Ahram today:

    Egypt returns $2 bn to Qatar after talks to securitise it fail

    Money returned after talks on converting $2 billion into three-year bonds break down

    Reuters, Thursday 19 Sep 2013

    Egypt has returned to Qatar $2 billion that the Gulf state had deposited with Egypt’s central bank, after negotiations to convert the funds into three-year bonds broke down, central bank Governor Hisham Ramez said by telephone on Thursday.

    Qatar had sent Egypt $3 billion in May, of which it converted $1 billion into three-year bonds.

    Cairo’s relations with Qatar deteriorated after the Egyptian army deposed President Mohamed Morsi on July 3 following massive uprisings flocked to the streets nationwide demanded the Islamist President to leave.

    Qatar had been a firm backer of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and lent or gave Egypt $7.5 billion during the year he was in power.–bn-to-Qatar-after-talks-to-securiti.aspx

  5. yrn
    September 19, 2013, 10:47 am

    Looks like many here have lost interest in Egypt.
    same for Syria
    The killings continue, Arab Muslims continue the killing….. no word about it.
    More interesting are the articles of Mr. Weiss asking dozen Israelis and making a headline.

    • K Renner
      September 20, 2013, 4:27 am

      >> Looks like many here have lost interest in Egypt.
      same for Syria

      Wrong. Dead wrong, as per usual, actually.

      >> The killings continue, Arab Muslims continue the killing….. no word about it.

      Classy– the ever-present suggestion that “the fighting in Syria only happened because they’re all dirty inferior ARABS AND MUSLIMS.”

      Anyone who actually cares, actually pays attention to Syria– unlike you, where you just want to accuse people of “being mean to Israel because anti-Semitism”– realizes that the causes of this war in Syria, the development of the war, are rooted in a wide variety of different issues concerning the nation.

      I suppose it is self-gratifying (albeit dishonest, idiotic, and contemptible) for Israelis and their ever-faithful supporters to try and paint the Syrian war as “ignorant stupid Arabs killing each other for stupid reasons”, despite the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t buy into that excuse for a narrative.

  6. Walid
    September 20, 2013, 3:42 am

    Combining Tunisian and Syrian news, there was a debate in the Tunisian parliament yesterday about the 6,000 Tunisian fighters blocked from going to Syria as well as the problem of young ladies that went to Syria to fulfil the jihad al-nikah; some have started returning pregnant. The story is also being carried on various ME TV news including al-Arabia..

    A number of Tunisian girls who had travelled to Syria to perform “Jihad al-Nikah” or “sexual Jihad” there have returned back home pregnant, Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi Bin Jeddo says. The Tunisian girls “are (sexually) swapped between 20, 30, and 100 rebels and they come back bearing the fruit of sexual contacts in the name of sexual Jihad and we are silent doing nothing and standing idle,” the non-partisan minister said during an address to the National Constituent Assembly on Thursday.

    Bin Jeddo said the Interior Ministry has banned 6,000 Tunisians from travelling to Syria since March 2013 and arrested 86 individuals suspected of forming “networks” that send Tunisian youth for “Jihad” to Syria.

    The minister hit back at human rights groups criticizing the government’s decision to ban suspected “Jihadists” from travel. Most of those slapped with travel bans were less than 35 years old, he said.

    “Our youths are positioned in the frontlines and are taught how to steal and raid (Syrian) villages,” Bin Jeddo said.

    Former Mufti of Tunisia Sheikh Othman Battikh said in April that 13 Tunisian girls “were fooled” into travelling to Syria to offer their sexual services to militants fighting to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

    The mufti, who was dismissed from his post days afterwards, described the so-called “sexual Jihad” as a form of “prostitution.”

    “For Jihad in Syria, they are now pushing girls to go there. 13 young girls have been sent for sexual Jihad. What is this? This is called prostitution. It is moral educational corruption,” the mufti told reporters.

    In August, general director of the public security service Mostafa Bin Omar said a “sexual Jihad cell” was broken up in an area west of the country where al-Qaead militants holed up.

    Bin Omar told reporters that al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar Shariah was using minor girls, dressed in the full face cover to offer sexual services for male terrorists.

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