Enough. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making discouragingly little headway with muted expressions of diplomatic “concern” about the fate of two Canadians — a physician and a filmmaker — who have been languishing for weeks in an Egyptian jail without explanation or charge. It’s time to channel some outrage.
The military coup that has plunged Egypt into this contempt for due process and the law is a betrayal of its 2011 democratic revolution. It is roiling relations with friendly countries such as Canada and the United States. It is scaring off aid, investment and tourism. And it is condemning Egyptians to yet more violence and instability. That’s the message Harper should be sending, forcefully and publicly, to Cairo’s generals and their political cronies.
Dr. Tarek Loubani and John Greyson were arrested on Aug. 16 after they went into a Cairo police station to ask directions in the midst of political upheaval there. The police now allege that they and a few other foreigners took part in riots involving Muslim Brotherhood supporters near a police station and mosque. They’ve been held for a month, and on the weekend a prosecutor ordered them held for 15 days more. They fear being jailed indefinitely, and have now launched a hunger strike to protest.
While their families credit Harper and our diplomats for “advocating for John and Tarek’s release at the highest levels,” the pair’s detention is an outrage. Our diplomats are in touch, have managed to improve their jail conditions, and have met briefly with Egyptian prosecutors. But that still leaves the two in limbo. …
Canadians can’t be expected to turn a blind eye to this. More than 115,000 have signed a petition demanding that Greyson and Loubani be freed. And at the Toronto International Film Festival high-profile stars including Atom Egoyan, Sarah Polley and Alex Gibney took up their cause.
Egypt must provide a credible case, or release these men as it should release many others. …
The Canadian government has vouched for them. They have cooperated with Egyptian officials, answered questions and produced evidence that they were on their way to Gaza. Their lengthy detention without charge is yet more appalling proof of just how much Egypt has suffered in this coup.