Yesterday on her way to join a delegation of 100 women traveling to Gaza, Medea Benjamin was detained at the Cairo airport. She was given no reasons, but this 60-year-old American (co-founder of Global Exchange and CodePink) was treated no better, no worse than many Palestinians traveling through Cairo on their way home to Gaza.
I’ve met several Palestinians from Gaza who have had the “honor” of spending time in Egypt’s accommodations at the Cairo airport. They spend hours, sometimes days, in a holding cell with many other Palestinians waiting to learn whether they will board a bus for the trip across the Sinai to Gaza, or whether they will be deported back to the city/country from which they arrived.
They are treated as common criminals — professors, lawyers, doctors and other professionals — with no respect or common courtesy.
The difference between Medea’s treatment yesterday in the Cairo airport’s detention cell and the experience of Palestinians who share that same fate?
Medea is an American with a cell phone and was able to tweet about her experience, see here. The world was watching and listening. No one sees how Palestinians are treated when they step off the plane.
Hours later, with no explanation, Egyptian security officials brutally deported Medea to Turkey where she received medical treatment for a badly damaged or broken arm. She was on the phone right away giving interviews and talking with reporters. Listen to her account of the detention on Democracy Now here.
Medea was never told why she was detained or deported, but CodePink staff learned that her name was on a black list. Was the Egyptian military coup leader al-Sisi trying to send a message to activists abroad to warn them against traveling to Gaza? Egyptians have apparently opened the Rafah border with Gaza only 9 days since January 1st preventing 1000s of people from leaving or entering Gaza.
My message to al-Sisi: FU*K YOU! PLEASE PUT ME ON YOUR BLACK LIST! I’m more determined than ever to return to Gaza.