Two Canadians, doctor Tarek Loubani and filmmaker John Greyson, were arrested by Egyptian police yesterday in Cairo. They were en route to the Gaza Strip, where they are working on an academic and medical collaboration between the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and the main hospital in the Gaza Strip, the al-Shifa hospital.
Tarek Loubani is an emergency room medical doctor at the UWO and one of the architects of the Canada-Gaza academic collaboration, a project that has brought doctors from UWO to Gaza to train physicians in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS). John Greyson is a professor at the Department of Film at York University and an award-winning film-maker. He is in the initial stages of working on a film to be produced in the region.
They arrived in Cairo on August 15 with the intention of traveling to Gaza immediately. Given the volatile situation in Egypt, travel to the border with Gaza was problematic and they delayed their travel plan. Not having heard from them, we do not know full details, but it is possible (though unconfirmed) that as an experienced field physician, Tarek tried to volunteer his skills as an emergency physician. It is also possible that John, as a prominent and socially conscious film-maker, sought to accompany Tarek and observe these historic developments in Egypt. We know that on Friday at 4pm Toronto time (10pm Cairo time), Tarek called his primary contact in Canada with the very short message: “we are being arrested by Egyptian police”. Since then, we have had no contact with either Tarek or John.
We have been in touch with Canadian consular officials, but they have so far been unable to confirm their whereabouts and condition. We know there are many people eagerly awaiting news and their release, and we will distribute information as we know more.
Update: It has been confirmed that Tarek Loubani and John Greyson are being held in prison in Egypt, and that they are receiving consular services.
Update, Monday August 19: A website has been created to track their status: http://tarekandjohn.com/about/
For the latest updates on this case, please visit Justin Podur’s blog here.