Egypt Extends Detention of Gay Filmmaker John Greyson and ER Doctor Tarek Loubani for Another 45 Days

“We are on the 12th day of our hunger strike at Tora, Cairo’s main prison, located on the banks of the Nile. We’ve been held here since August 16 in ridiculous conditions: no phone calls, little to no exercise, sharing a 3m x 10m cell with 36 other political prisoners, sleeping like sardines on concrete with the cockroaches; sharing a single tap of earthy Nile water.

“We never planned to stay in Egypt longer than overnight. We arrived in Cairo on the 15th with transit visas and all the necessary paperwork to proceed to our destination: Gaza. Tarek volunteers at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, and brings people with him each time. John intended to shoot a short film about Tarek’s work.

“Because of the coup, the official Rafah border was opening and closing randomly, and we were stuck in Cairo for the day. We were carrying portable camera gear (one light, one microphone, John’s HD Canon, two Go-Pros) and gear for the hospital (routers for a much-needed wifi network and two disassembled toy-sized helicopters for testing the transportation of medical samples).

“Because of the protests in Ramses Square and around the country on the 16th, our car couldn’t proceed to Gaza. We decided to check out the Square, five blocks from our hotel, carrying our passports and John’s HD camera. The protest was just starting – peaceful chanting, the faint odour of tear gas, a helicopter lazily circling overhead – when suddenly calls of “doctor”. A young man carried by others from God-knows-where, bleeding from a bullet wound. Tarek snapped into doctor mode…and started to work doing emergency response, trying to save lives, while John did video documentation, shooting a record of the carnage that was unfolding. The wounded and dying never stopped coming. Between us, we saw over fifty Egyptians die: students, workers, professionals, professors, all shapes, all ages, unarmed. We later learned the body count for the day was 102.

“We left in the evening when it was safe, trying to get back to our hotel on the Nile. We stopped for ice cream. We couldn’t find a way through the police cordon though, and finally asked for help at a check point.

“That’s when we were: arrested, searched, caged, questioned, interrogated, videotaped with a ‘Syrian terrorist’, slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot-boxed, refused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, accused of being foreign mercenaries. Was it our Canadian passports, or the footage of Tarek performing CPR, or our ice cream wrappers that set them off? They screamed ‘Canadian’ as they kicked and hit us. John had a precisely etched bootprint bruise on his back for a week.

“We were two of 602 arrested that night, all 602 potentially facing the same grab-bag of ludicrous charges: arson, conspiracy, terrorism, possession of weapons, firearms, explosives, attacking a police station. The arrest stories of our Egyptian cellmates are remarkably similar to ours: Egyptians who were picked up on dark streets after the protest, by thugs or cops, blocks or miles from the police station that is the alleged site of our alleged crimes.

“We’ve been here in Tora prison for six weeks, and are now in a new cell (3.5m x 5.5m) that we share with ‘only’ six others. We’re still sleeping on concrete with the cockroaches, and still share a single tap of Nile water, but now we get (almost) daily exercise and showers. Still no phone calls. The prosecutor won’t say if there’s some outstanding issue that’s holding things up. The routers, the film equipment, or the footage of Tarek treating bullet wounds through that long bloody afternoon? Indeed, we would welcome our day in a real court with the real evidence, because then this footage would provide us with our alibi and serve as a witness to the massacre.

“We deserve due process, not cockroaches on concrete. We demand to be released.

“Peace, John & Tarek”


  1. simon says

    Why our government is concerned about Syria and not Egypt. They are bastards but at least they are “our bastards”. Too bad Canada don’t have cruise missiles.

  2. Derrick from Philly says

    I hope the best for the filmmaker and doctor being detained in Egypt.

    But this news story reminded of early Saturday morning when I saw film that many of you are probably already familiar with. It was titled “The Kite Rummer”. I cried from the beginning of that movie until the end (and during commericial breaks).

    It was about two Afghani boys. ONe was from the priviledged class, the other was poor (a Hazarah, I think they’re called). It was heart-breaking–from the Russian invaders to the blood-thristy Taliban). But it made me want our nation’s mission in Afghanistan to succeed as much a possible.

    But you can’t build a nation, can you? No, it’s time for American troops to leave Afghanistan…but the pain those people have gone through.

  3. Lee says

    Derrick if he fav is we could build these nations but we dont have the stones to do what needs to be done which is either give them dictatorships which is the only type of government that can stabilize them or exterminate the Islamic culture which keeps them from embracing democracy and modernization. You cannot have a country that is both Islamic and democratic it’s phyically impossible.

  4. Derrick from Philly says

    @ Lee,

    the point that I was/am trying to make is that there are Muslim people who hate violence, and Muslims who hate persecuting other people. There are Muslims who hate seeing teenage boys hung because they are Gay. There are Muslims who hate seeing women stoned to death becaused they’ve been accused of adultery. There are Muslims who hate that slavery of Africans still thrives in Muslim lands.

    There are Muslims who hate cruelty and hatred.

  5. Randy says

    While it may not be helping his cause in Egypt, perhaps it can help it in the US or other countries. Canada has zero influence in Egypt. Another country needs to raise this issue, if anything good is going to happen.

  6. James says

    Derrick from Philly, I’m sure what you say is true, but why do these peace-loving Muslims never protest or speak out about such atrocities? Why do Muslims only raise their voices about cartoons of the prophet and such nonsense? Can you really blame the world for thinking of Muslims as anything other than Bronze Age cretins when the moderates of your faith stay silent?

  7. robroy says

    Who stops for ice cream during a riot??? And assumes police/roadblocks will be at all friendly in a country swinging form Muslim extremists to military strongmen and back again. Did they think this turmoil was the equivalent of a heated discussion at the Starbucks???

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