01 October, 2009

Unwelcome People

So I've been officially declared persona non grata and thrown out of Egypt. I'm too tired to write in detail about this bitter experience or speculate about the reasons behind it right now. But something has to be said about the other, less fortunate victims of the Egyptian security state that I encountered at the airport. 

For 48 hours I shared a small space - tucked in somewhere behind the tax free shop in terminal 1 - with around 15 Palestinians from Gaza. They had all been stopped on their way back to Gaza after visiting other Arab countries, and are being held without explanation - a few of them for as long as three months - with no or little contact with their families. Several has not been allowed back to Gaza since the summer of 2007. One had not seen his wife and 4 year-old son in two years. 

For me, as a westerner, being subject to arbitrary exercise of power in this way is an exception. For them, as a people under occupation, it is an ever-present aspect of life. Despite the sharp contrast between our expectations for the future - I knew I would be sent back to the freedom of my own country in a matter of days - they were the ones who kept cheering me up, making the complete isolation from the outer world bearable with their good spirits and generosity. This is something I will never forget.


  1. I am feel very sorry for both your own experience and those poor Palestinians experience!

  2. Most important thing is that you are free now, since you are "unwanted" by the Egyptian regime, then congratulations, you've received the Egyptian nationality.

  3. Ahmed said it best..

    I feel very sorry for both your own experience and those poor Palestinians.

  4. we are all very sorry for what happened with u per but i,m not surprised for that as u know we are still living under the ruling of the mubarak,s dictatorial regime

  5. Good to hear you from Per
    I agree with Nawara :)
    I am embarrassed from my government on how they treat the Palestinians and those Westerns who stand beside us like you , I am so embarrassed

  6. Man this news made me soooooooo freaking angry I was telling everyone about it in shock and awe!!!

  7. Per, this is sick indeed. Egyptian regime is a criminal regime. Someday this regime will be in the trash of history. Words cannot express how you are welcomed by all Egyptians and advocates of justice. The Egyptian regime is not WELCOMED in Egypt.


  8. The good thing is that you are OK now,
    you are gonna be missed by your friends in Egypt, that's for sure!

    Down with Mubarak
    Freedom To the 15 detained Palestinians in Cairo airport!
    Freedom to 1.5 million Palestinian locked up in Gaza without life supplies!

  9. When you were a teenager I was a free lance correspondent in Cairo like you. That was the beginning of the nineties. Unfortunately nothing much changed in the meantime. Egyptians are still nice and interesting people, the problems are still gigantic and the government .. well, we know.
    I must say that I admire what you did. It's a pity that I only learned about your existence when they kicked you out, but I read some of what you wrote and liked it very much. In my time I tried to do some of the things you did, but I admit that I was not as brave as you, for fear of what might happen.
    I hope you will be OK. I also hope that we may hear more from you. (And I put your story on my blog, as an illustration of the freedom of the press in Egypt. Some of my postings are in English, this one is in Dutch, however. Sorry).

  10. iam so happy to no u r good now and iam really sorry about happen with u but this egyption goverment my freind want stop any one aginet here i hope to see you agine in egypt my friend soon