Gaza-bound Canadians Believed Arrested in Cairo

Facebook group pressuring government to locate, secure the release of Tarek Loubani, emergency room doctor, and John Greyson, professor and filmmaker.

Two Canadians, a doctor and a filmmaker, who were reportedly heading to Gaza are missing and believed to have been arrested and held by Egyptian authorities in Cairo. The two men, Tarek Loubani, an emergency room doctor, and John Greyson, a professor and filmmaker, were last heard from late Friday evening.

Though Canadian government spokespeople have not confirmed that the arrests took place, their disappearance is being widely reported in the Canadian media, and lobbying campaigns have been launched across social networks to pressure Canadian authorities to locate them and secure their release.

A friend of the two men, Justin Podur, an associate professor at the York University Faculty of Environmental Studies, wrote on his personal blog that Loubani called him late Friday evening and said that the pair were being arrested and that friends and family have heard nothing about their whereabouts since.

Podur posted that the men had been on their way to Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital and said that:

“Tarek Loubani is an emergency room medical doctor at the UWO (University of Western Ontario) and one of the architects of the Canada-Gaza academic collaboration, a project that has brought doctors from UWO to Gaza to train physicians in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS). John Greyson is a professor at the Department of Film at York University and an award-winning film-maker. He is in the initial stages of working on a film to be produced in the region. They arrived in Cairo on August 15 with the intention of traveling to Gaza immediately. Given the volatile situation in Egypt, travel to the border with Gaza was problematic and they delayed their travel plan. Not having heard from them, we do not know full details, but it is possible (though unconfirmed) that as an experienced field physician, Tarek tried to volunteer his skills as an emergency physician. It is also possible that John, as a prominent and socially conscious filmmaker, sought to accompany Tarek and observe these historic developments in Egypt.”

Without confirming their identities, Canadian government spokesperson Caitlin Workman told CBC News that she is "aware that two Canadians were arrested in Egypt," adding, "I can confirm that the Embassy of Canada in Cairo is in contact with local authorities and is providing consular assistance."

On Facebook, a group called the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto said that “activists, journalists and human rights workers” were putting pressure on the government to secure the men’s release and began an e-mail campaign to Canadian Minister John Baird, asking him to "locate and secure Greyson and Loubani’s immediate release."