Egypt Bars Gaza-bound Northern Irish Nobel Laureate

Mairead Maguire detained and deported just days after U.S. activist says Egypt police broke her arm.

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Egypt on Wednesday detained and deported a Northern Irish Nobel laureate who had planned to travel to neighboring Gaza, French news agency AFP reported.

Mairead Maguire intended to join a delegation of women activists en route to the coastal territory, but was held at Cairo airport for eight hours Tuesday before being deported to Britain.

Her expulsion comes the same week that U.S. activist Medea Benjamin was also detained and deported by Egyptian authorities. Benjamin tweeted on Tuesday that she had her arm broken by Egyptian police while in custody.

Dozens of Gaza-bound female activists have protested at Cairo airport after they were barred from entering the country.

Fifty-eight mostly French activists arrived in Cairo on Thursday and planned to travel to the Palestinian enclave through the Rafah border crossing, state-run Egyptian news agency MENA reported, according to Al Ahram.

"Only 15 of the 58 women have been barred from leaving the airport," an airport official was quoted as telling MENA. "Six have left and the others refused to enter the country in solidarity with their banned colleagues."

Maguire told AFP that she was treated well before being banished from Egypt, while a Cairo airport official told AFP she had been blacklisted.

"We were taken to the detention center and questioned and held for eight hours, and were told we would not be allowed entry into Cairo and would be put on a plane," Maguire told AFP by telephone after being deported to Britain.

Maguire won the Nobel Peace Prize with Betty Williams in 1976 for founding a group to peacefully resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland.

In recent years, Maguire has become a vocal critic of Israel's policy toward the Palestinians. She tried to enter Gaza by boat in 2010, as part of a flotilla that failed to breach Israel's naval blockade of the enclave.

Mairead Maguire, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, shown in an October 21, 2013, file photo.Credit: AFP

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