Friday, September 11, 2009

Report: British, Norwegian citizens held in Egypt over Gaza ties

Published Thursday 10/09/2009 (updated) 10/09/2009 21:46

Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - A British woman and her two sons were held overnight in Egyptian custody after being stopped by Egyptian border control officers following a two-week family holiday, the Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Since their detention Egypt's Daily News and local British paper the Coventry Telegraph both ran the stories, and a Coventry councilor began rallying citizens to "to contact the Egyptian embassy to demand the release of a mum and her two teenage sons," the local paper said. The family was told they could not leave the country via any airport, media sources said.

Papers say the Norwegian national, naturalized resident of Britain and restaurant owner Manal Timraz was held in Egyptian custody as a “matter of national security,” and according to the Telegraph, her case is “the third in a series of similar incidents involving individuals stopped at Cairo Airport who have participated in pro-Gaza activity.” The paper noted Ms Timraz was born in Cairo and has family in Palestine.

Coventry city councillor Dave Nellist vouched for the restaurateur, the Coventry Telegraph quoted the official as saying, “I worked with Manal earlier this year when she put in hundreds of hours of fundraising for basic humanitarian aid.

“When she took the donated lorry-loads to Gaza they wouldn’t let her through, claiming the candles she was taking could be used as munitions. But that was Israel. For Egypt to detain her at the end of a family holiday is appalling.

“The more people who call the Egyptian embassy or send them an email demanding to know the reasons why she and her boys have been detained, the better the chance the embassy in London will phone the powers-that-be in Egypt.”

According to the Telegraph, Norwegian ambassador in Cairo, Thomas Hauf has asked Egyptian authorities for an explanation over the incident.