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Gaza-bound activists protest entry ban at Cairo airport, demand refund of tickets

Egyptian authorities prevent female activists en route to Gaza from leaving Cairo airport, days after Medea Benjamin had shoulder fractured while being deported

Ahram Online , Thursday 6 Mar 2014
Gaza-bound female activists protest at Cairo airport
Gaza-bound female activists protest at Cairo airport (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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A group of foreign activists who were detained at Cairo airport on their way to Gaza have demanded that the cost of their tickets and visas be refunded before they leave the airport, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

A delegation of 58 activists, mostly French, had arrived in Cairo on Thursday morning from Paris and planned to travel to the blockaded Palestinian enclave through the Egyptian Rafah border crossing.

The Egyptian authorities barred them from entering the country, and the women begun a sit-in.

A security official and a representative from the French embassy subsequently went to the airport to convince the Gaza-bound female activists to leave the country and end their protest.

Airport officials said they will discuss the matter of refunding the activists’ costs.

"Only fifteen of the 58 women have been barred from leaving the airport. Six have left and the others refused to enter the country in solidarity with their banned colleagues," an airport security official told the state news agency MENA earlier on Thursday.

At least eleven women later left on flights to Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt after the French consul asked the French nationals to leave, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

Egyptian authorities have previously stopped activists from entering Gaza. The Rafah border crossing has been closed since last month while troops destroy smuggling tunnels and wage an offensive against Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula.

Some officials say the activists could have been used to embarrass the interim Egyptian government.

Egyptian authorities are in dispute with the Hamas movement which rules Gaza. They accuse the Islamist group of inciting violence in Egypt.

Egypt has deported 13 international activists this week, including Northern Irish Nobel Laureate and peace activist Mairead Maguire, and held up others who had been planning to visit Gaza.

The co-founder of US-based anti-war group Code Pink, Medea Benjamin, said on Tuesday that Egyptian police violently assaulted her while deporting her from Cairo airport, leaving her with a dislocated shoulder.

Egyptian officials deny Benjamin was assaulted, saying she refused to leave despite being told the Rafah border was closed because of military operations in the area.

The delegation of pro-Palestinian activists was supposed to be led by Djamila Bouhired, an icon of the Algerian war of independence from France, but it is unclear if she arrived in Egypt.

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Amoon, Suez
06-03-2014 11:49pm
5-
17+
Drug/Aarms smugglers
The failed leaders have turned Gaza into heaven for illegal activities. We have ZERO tolerance to those criminals.
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1



Samantha Criscione
06-03-2014 05:17pm
15-
181+
If code pink is anti-war activists, I'm a polar bear
These people were fully aware that they would not be allowed to go to Gaza. They came to Egypt -- a country trying to combat a wave of terror, in which Hamas has been involved -- in order to make a scene, thereby producing negative publicity for the Egyptian government, hoping thereby to help Hamas. To call Code Pink 'anti-war activists' is ludicrous since clerical fascist Hamas exists to make war. 'Clerical fascist activists' would be more accurate. -- Samantha Criscione
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Aziz
07-03-2014 04:37pm
7-
12+
Gaza?
The West Bank is a powder box that could ignite soon, much worse than the Gaza problem. What is Egypt doing about that?
Keith
07-03-2014 04:29pm
3-
12+
Pink's focus is on Gaza's population, not who rules Gaza
The problem with your characterization of Code Pink is that they have been involved in Gaza well before Morsi, before Mubarak fell even. They cannot wait forever hoping somehow that Egypt will stop being a dictatorship or that Israel will actually provide them a route in. It is obvious that they would have travelled to Gaza no matter who ruled the territory. According to your logic, Egypt's intervention in the Arab-Israeli conflict means that Egypt supports Likud, Shas, the National Union, and other religious factions. What you claim is some sort of favoritism toward Hamas is actually support of the Gazans. Since Hamas rules Gaza, they have no choice but to make contact with them if they wish to go to Gaza. You take a very optimistic view about why the Egyptian government opposes Hamas. The problem between the two stems from their rivalry over whose political model should dominate the region. Both Egypt and the Palestinian territories have slipped back into authoritarianism, in E
Samantha Criscione
07-03-2014 02:57pm
11-
39+
In response to Keith, still more on this issue
A) By trying in a very public way to go to Gaza, they were challenging Egypt's closing of the border with Gaza, meaning they were trying to aid Hamas, meaning they were indeed taking sides. B) Regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, part of one's attitude towards that conflict, taken in the broadest sense, is one's view of Hamas. The Egyptian government is fighting against Hamas' terror, whereas Code Fascist is trying to help Hamas. So they do NOT have the same attitude as the Egyptian government. C) For all I care, Code Hamas may be enamored of the late (president) Rutherford B. Hayes. -- Samantha Criscione
Khaled
07-03-2014 06:31am
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11+
Anti Palestine, Anti-humanitarian views
Samantha, This is the argument, being used by Isreal for decades to supress and deprive the palestin from all basic and human rights.Your views are not Egyptian veiws these are isreals veiws.There's no doubt the current regime is working on isreal agenda same mubarak and sadad did...
Keith
06-03-2014 07:53pm
8-
17+
More to this issue
It is doubtful that their goal was to take sides in Egypt's political conflicts. If you knew about U.S. organizations, you would know this. This particular organization shares Egypt's view of the Israel-Arab conflict. As for its ideology, which president do you believe it likes better, George Bush or Barak Obama?
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