Sympathetic for Kareem’s case and longing to raise awareness about the injustice he’s been facing, individual human rights activists (accompanied by the Free Kareem Editor) rented a car from Toronto, and drove for four hours to have their voices heard in Canada’s capital city.
Our trip consisted of three primary visits: Parliament Hill, Amnesty Canada, and, of course, the Egyptian Embassy.
Some of our posters:
In the above photo, from left to right: Chris, Seyitbek, and Cam.
Despite the weather, there was a good number of visitors to the Hill. Fliers were handed out, and Kareem’s case was discussed with several interested members of the public, who expressed shock at what Kareem is going through. Some foreigners seemed to understand his situation because their home countries faced similar restrictions on the right to free expression.
One human rights activist told us she was working on a campaign to free Huseyin Celil, a Canadian human rights activist who was sentenced to life in prison by Chinese authorities. She was interested in our campaign and told us she will be checking the Web site.
Before visiting the Egyptian Embassy, the team passed by Amnesty Canada’s main office. We handed them a copy of our open letter to the Egyptian Ambassador, the Free Kareem petition, some of Kareem’s articles, and fliers. They assured us they will vigilantly work for his freedom.
Embassy officials seemed to expect us! We did not even need to knock on the door when someone opened it and asked us what we wanted. We told him we were here to express our support for Kareem Amer, and that we had a letter and petition for the Egyptian Ambassador. He accepted the package to the Ambassador, and following that, we got to business on the sidewalk.
By this time, several Embassy officials were coming in and out through the door, speaking in Arabic and expressing to each other distress over us protesting in front of the Embassy. They got particularly upset each time we took a picture!
Some of them tried reasoning with us. They were extremely respectful, and they asked us to leave because we did not have permits to protest and hand out fliers in front of their Embassy. However, we insisted we had a right to stand on the public sidewalk, and since there were only four of us it should not be a problem. We were simply peacefully and quietly protesting for Kareem’s imprisonment, we told them.
They tried speaking in Arabic most of the time because they wanted to focus on (intimidate?) the only Arab speaker in the team. They said that the RCMP and police will be coming within minutes and that, as fellow Arabs, they did not want to get an Arab into trouble. However, the authorities never came.
One official, calling himself a diplomat, told us that he knew all about Abdul Kareem’s case and about the situation of the blogosphere (implying we did not need to be here). We explained to him that we were not blaming any individual from the government. We assured them we were on their side, and that we are just raising awareness so President Mubarak can correct the mistake made by the Alexandria court.
Another official told us that we are free to protest, and that he is free to call the police to arrest us. I agreed with him wholeheartedly, and I expressed my sincere wish that Egyptians in their homeland live under the same freedoms he’s enjoying in Canada.
Despite their fierce opposition, they were courteous and we ended the rally on good terms, even shaking hands with them.
We were happy with the outcome and we hope we’ve made a difference last Friday. We dedicate our trip to Kareem and all prisoners of conscience. The truth shall make you all free!
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