In a phone conversation with Josh Brollier (Voices for
Creative Nonviolence) and Michael Hearington (Veterans for Peace), we learned
that about 500 people, including several hundred Gaza Freedom Marchers and
scores of Egyptian citizens, are holding a rally outside the offices of an
Egyptian Union of Journalists. Josh said that Egyptian speakers are urging
support for the Gaza Freedom March.
�In contrast to the Egyptian government�s behavior,� Josh
wrote, yesterday, �the people of Egypt have been extremely welcoming
and very supportive of the Gaza Freedom March. This support has largely had to
remain underground, due to the government�s ruling that a gathering of 6 or
more people is illegal. Despite this fact, it has been rumored that some 200
Egyptian citizens attempted to join the Gaza Freedom March of their own accord
and were arrested on their way to El Arish. The authorities have refused to
comment or substantiate this. If it is true, the whereabouts of the Egyptian
citizens remained uncertain.�
Earlier today, US citizens and others were detained and
harassed while attempting to visit the American Embassy in Cairo. Josh�s update follows:
�At about 9:30 am today, a group of US citizens attempted to
visit their Embassy in Cairo and were forcefully detained by Egyptian police.
The group was seeking the US
ambassador�s support for the Gaza Freedom March to enter into Gaza
�Approximately fifty people were detained outside the U.S.
Embassy in small groups. Some were being dragged off the street for simply
approaching the U.S. Embassy. Authorities were not allowing cameras and were
forcefully dragging anyone in the area with a camera into the facility.
Franciscan priest, Rev. Louis Vitale, on hunger strike, is among those
�Rae Abileah, a Gaza Freedom March coordinator who was part
of the detained group, urged everyone to contact U.S. representatives at the
embassy about support for the Gaza Freedom March. She also emphasized that we
should focus on the plight of Palestinians enduring a state of siege in Gaza.
�Medea Benjamin and Ali Abunimah were among a group of Gaza
Freedom March representatives who met with U.S. Embassy officials. They were
unsuccessful in seeking Embassy support for the Gaza Freedom March to enter Gaza.�
Despite the determination of Egyptian authorities to break
the Gaza Freedom March�s momentum, Josh believes that the international
presence in Cairo is generating an important
conversation, worldwide, over Israel�s Operation Cast Lead assaults, last year,
and the ongoing siege imposed on Gaza.
�Global activists have embraced the cause,� notes fellow
activist Phil Weiss. �The privileged European and American left have accepted
the issue and are proud at last to be melding with Muslims and Arabs.�
Kathy Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.