Dr.Dawg

Tarek and John freed: relief, and a few observations [UPDATED]

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Loubani Greyson.jpg

It’s wonderful news that Tarek Loubani and John Greyson are free at last—a testament to the decency of ordinary Canadians as well as prominent ones, whose angry groundswell forced the Harper government to take an interest in their fate. Even Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto got into it.

Despite the soft lob that our government tossed the Egyptians’ way—just charge them with something and we’ll back right off—Egypt finally realized that charges and a trial would be more trouble that they’d be worth. A couple of Canadian professionals on their way out of Egypt who got caught up in a massacre of opposition protesters? Is this really worth a diplomatic row when Egypt’s government is trying to buy international legitimacy for its coup?

On balance, no. So our fellow-citizens, thank goodness, are returning. Stand by for self-gratulatory noises from Ottawa, and, in particular, praise for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird because he finally made the right noises.

Last evening, by some coincidence, I got into it on Twitter with the idiot-in-chief over at the Toronto SUN less than an hour before the news broke. His reckless, irresponsible “journalism” had seemed deliberately intended to get Tarek and John into a worse jam than they were already in. Much gas was expended upon two “drones” that they were carrying—in fact toy-sized helicopters for transporting medical samples. (The word was actually a brand name.) The scribbler’s suggestion, which actually originated from the Egyptian government, was that these “small devices that fly” had been used for “surveillance.” That, in other words, Tarek and John were spies.

Loubani was in fact travelling to Gaza to teach emergency medicine to his medical colleagues there, and Greyson was planning to make a short film about it. But with no evidence whatsoever, this disgrace to the profession went on to accuse the two of being “Hamas supporters”—while, remember, they were in the custody of the bloody-handed opponents of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and had already been tortured.

In any case, the welcome news followed shortly thereafter. A few of us on Twitter had some pithy things to say about the aforesaid irresponsible journo. We were shushed by some good folks who thought we were giving the creature oxygen, and they were probably right—he had suddenly become a minor irritant in a flood of very good news. But prior to that, he had literally risked John and Tarek’s lives with his inflammatory nonsense. If a mea culpa is warranted, readers will forgive me for making it a very faint one.

One other point. We are relieved, in part, because Tarek and John are our countrymen; we have felt the special bond of co-citizenship throughout their ordeal. But they are far from the only innocent foreign victims of the Egyptian military. Spare a thought—and maybe some of that letter-writing and phone-calling energy—for these two journalists who remain in Egyptian hands. For all we know, they might have shared the very next cell to our fellow-citizens.

[H/t John Clarke]

UPDATE: It looks as though we may have cheered too soon. Tarek and John were prevented from leaving for Frankfurt—they’re on an Egyptian “stop-list.” Reportedly they must remain in that country until charges against 600 other protesters are processed.

We cannot allow Egypt to toy with our two citizens’ lives this way. Time to start sending Egyptian diplomats home, one by one, until this travesty ends.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr.Dawg published on October 6, 2013 11:08 AM.

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