Protest Calls for Egypt to Release Captive Canadians
Doctor and Filmmaker Jailed Over Five Weeks Ago
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Egyptian Consulate in Montreal on Tuesday to call for diplomatic action over two Canadians jailed in Egypt.
Tarek Loubani and John Greyson were arrested in Cairo 40 days ago as of Wednesday for reasons that are still unclear. The two have also been on a hunger strike for over a week.
Justin Podur, spokesperson for their families, called for business as usual between Canada and Egypt to be halted until the two are freed from prison.
“Any Egyptian representative of the government conducting private business here in Canada should have one item on the agenda, and that is, why are Tarek and John not free?” said Podur. “We know that this is a matter of pressure of finding a way to convince the Egyptian authorities that they have to let Tarek and John go.”
At the corner of Mansfield St. and de la Gauchetiere St., several speakers lauded Greyson and Loubani as upstanding citizens.
“How can a country imprison such model citizens?” Manon Massé from Quebec Solidaire announced to the crowd through a megaphone. After several chants of “Liberez John et Tarek,” she addressed the two captives and said, “We are with you and we will not give up.”
Loubani, 32, an emergency room doctor and professor in London, Ontario, spent two years working in residence at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital and the CLSC Côte-des-Neiges. John Greyson, 53, is a documentary filmmaker and professor at York University.
The two were in Cairo en route to Gaza, where Loubani was going to help establish a medical collaboration between its largest hospital and Western University. Greyson was invited to document the process.
Holding a red and black “Free Tarek and John!” placard, Dr. Jean Zigby from the Jewish General Hospital shared his personal experience with Loubani and denounced his arrest.
“Even as a budding physician, it was very clear that he had very strong morals,” said Dr. Zigby. “He commits at least half to three-quarters of his time in a non-profit sense, working with homeless individuals with mental health problems and individuals in other countries where their medical systems are failing.”
Another rally organized by friends and colleagues drew hundreds in London today.
A change.org petition calling for the Canadian government to intervene in their release has nearly 143,000 signatures as of Tuesday.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will meet with the Egyptian foreign minister this week at the United Nations to discuss their release.