UPDATE: Egyptian authorities ultimately refused entry to 62 delegates. As of March 8, 16 delegates remained at the Cairo airport to celebrate International Women’s Day. Delegates remaining in the airport used Palestinian flags and signs of support to simulate a Gaza check-point.
On March 5 the Egyptian government denied Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire entry into the country as she attempted to join an international women’s delegation to Gaza for International Women’s Day. Egyptian authorities refused Maguire entry on their claims that she has been blacklisted.
“It is a sad day when Egypt refuses entry to peace people and is complicit with Israeli and US policies in continuing the blockade of Gaza,” said Maguire.
CODEPINK, a women’s grassroots peace movement, organized the delegation. The delegation had planned to shed light on the detrimental effects of the Gaza blockade on women’s access to education, economic security, mobility and most critically, their safety. Delegates also intended to provide much needed aid to the 1.7 million residents who have been facing increasing food, fuel and supply shortages since a tightening of the Rafah crossing into Gaza in the past year.
The delegation has been met with heavy resistance. Prior to Maguire’s deportation Egyptian border police detained and assaulted Medea Benjamin, delegation leader and co-founder of CODEPINK. Benjamin was withheld essential medical treatment in Egypt, deported without reason and later taken to a medical facility in Istanbul. Egyptian officials denied the abuse and claim she is a threat to national security. She has now been deported back to the US.
Maguire has been deported to London. This follows up on several occurrences where Mairead has been unreasonably arrested or detained for her involvement with the Free Gaza movement. Despite continued efforts to bar Maguire from travelling to the region, she remains actively involved in the Free Gaza Movement and believes that both Palestinian and Israel women have crucial roles to play in the peace process.
Read CODEPINK’s press release.
Egypt deports U.S. anti-war activist on way to Gaza, CNN, March 4, 2014.