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Egypt kicks out Swedish journalist

AFP/The Local · 2 Oct 2009, 07:44

Published: 02 Oct 2009 07:44 GMT+02:00

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Per Björklund, a freelance reporter who worked as a contributor for the Swedish

publication Fria Tidningen, was stopped at Cairo airport when he returned from holiday and was deported early on Thursday, the official said.

Björklund and several other foreigners were present at a peaceful march in January protesting against Israel's war in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

The protesters were stopped by police on a road near Cairo, and one, German-Egyptian dual national Philip Rizk, was arrested and held for several days.

Another participant in the march, US citizen Travis Randall, was also denied re-entry to Egypt last month. Both Randall and Björklund lived in Cairo.

"They took part in a protest, and were coming back to plan and participate in another protest," said the official who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Björklund, who extensively covered labour disputes during his three years in Egypt, told AFP on Thursday he had been reporting on the march and that he did not intend to plan any demonstration.

"I think it's very unclear. If I broke some law the logical response would have been to arrest me," he said over the phone from Stockholm.

Randall, who wrote lifestyle stories for local publications, said he was told by the US embassy in Cairo that he was barred from Egypt and added that he had not planned to take part in further protests.

"I was planning nothing, I was just planning on coming home," he said by phone from London.

The State Department advises US citizens to avoid protests in Egypt, where demonstrators are regularly arrested and detained, sometimes for months.

Hundreds of Egyptian protesters were arrested across the country during Israel's devastating war with the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza in December and January.

Story continues below…

Protesters called on Egypt, which blamed both Hamas and Israel for the war, to permanently open its Rafah border crossing with the impoverished Palestinian enclave, which has been blockaded since Hamas seized power there in 2007.

The larger protests were organised by the banned opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Palestinian branch gave rise to Hamas in the 1980s.

Egypt responded fiercely to critics of its Palestinian policies, arresting pro-Palestinian blogger Dia el-Din Gad in February.

Gad, who denounced the Egypt government on his blog and called President Hosni Mubarak "Ehud Mubarak," in a reference to then Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, was released in March.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:01 October 2, 2009 by Lea
Oh, cmon...

"...Hundreds of Egyptian protesters were arrested across the country during Israel's devastating war with the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza in December and January."

Please check your facts. It was not war, it was a counter-terrorist retaliation attack.

And "Hamans Rulers" reads as if the Hamas is so democratic and free? State me at least one human right that there is no problem with in Gaza strip.

Also, before 1967 it belonged to Egypt, so why are they not taking it back?... That could explain why Egyptians are putting so many screws on the "free press" to hush the issue.
12:30 October 2, 2009 by Lea

Your comment should read: those Hamas sure killed a lot of kids.

If they choose to hide behind kids' backs - it is their responsibility. Denying nation\s right to defend itsellf is hypocricy. Saying that lives of Israeli kids are not equal to those of Gaza Arabs is pure racism. According to Hague Convention, using human shelter is a crime. Hurting human shelter in action is not a crime.

Before the "war" has started, there were 8 years of systematic rocket sheltering of southern Israeli cities. During this time not a single one person outside Israel was crying for the fate of those Israelis. There was no worldwide campaign for gathering the money for recovery of destroyed buildings, or courts in Hague for Hamas leaders. They traveled freely to Russia, Syria, Iran... many other contries, without ever risking to be put to tribunal for what they did. Now, when Israel *finally* decided to act, since nobody else was acting, all the world started to be judical to Israel, including you. So it is funny, that you now bring those kids to the discussion...
13:01 October 2, 2009 by Captcha
Good for Egypt. A reporter's job is to report the new, not make it. Egypt is trying to be neutral.
13:43 October 2, 2009 by Rick Methven
So it was Hamas that has the tanks and phosfor bombs is it. the IDF where just out for a stroll?.

Come off it The fact are there the UN has comdemnd Israel for genocide.

All the Israeli action in Gaza has acheived is to create another generation of Jihadists.
14:40 October 2, 2009 by Lea
UN did many things. It is a corrupt and lobby-driven mechanism which has nothing to do with the truth. However, this is not the topic of this report. It is about what is going on in Gaza. You seem to be stuck with Israel for some reason, did they do something bad to you? In most of your posts you seem to be strongly against it. Even though I bet you would not want to be in its shoes, since you have nothing else to suggest (and to survive your proposal afterwards..)

Jihad is a product of mass propaganda done by Radical Islamists. Israel did nothing to create it. It exists merely thanks to UN\s attention to this region and everyone else's uninformed oppinion on this topic.

As I said, try to live in the border regions for some time, then I am sure you will have something else to say to all of the humanity.
16:52 October 2, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
Dear Lea, "Please check YOUR facts". You are correct, "it was not war", it was more correctly an illegal collective punishment, against a largely trapped people in one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It can therefore more accurately be called a 'massacre', one which according to the jewish judge and Israeli sympathiser Mr. Goldstone has been found to have involved war crimes and crimes against humanity.
16:53 October 2, 2009 by magirus
I think a good reading of the Geneva convention is proper now.

It is a crime to fire on civilians, as well as it is a crime to use civilians as shields. As usual the right doesn't stay completely on one side
17:41 October 2, 2009 by Captcha
Not to interrupt, but the story was about reporters and Egypt. Of course some people hate the jews for breathing the air, with or without the Palestinian area.
17:54 October 2, 2009 by mkvgtired
Lea, you are wasting your time on this forum. These guys have all made up their minds. Israel is a 100% evil nation who's only profit engine is selling organs from murdered Palestinian children. It is a sick nation with dollar signs in each one of their eyes, that could care less what happens to anyone else. Every Israeli has a black heart and views the deaths of others as a productive profit machine. Oh, and they also planned 9/11 and control the US "puppet" government. Am I forgetting any other firmly held beliefs that have been expressed here or did I hit the nail on the head?
18:40 October 2, 2009 by Lea

I am not trying to "covnert" anyone to believe Israel is so innocent. I am only trying to bring the unpopular opinion to attention of the readers and to point to obvious bias of the article's author.

I am sure there are enough sane people among the readers, who can realize that you cannot get the picture from a biased article. And I am certain things down there would go smoother if everyone and the dog would stop chasing Israel to make some imaginary "peace process" with their prospective killers.
22:11 October 2, 2009 by mkvgtired
Lea, very true. But unfortunately every European news outlet is EXTREMELY biased. Ask any European what they think of Israel, or read any European newspaper. They are practically transcripts of Al-Jazeera in the native language. The EC nations got some energy supply guarantees back in the 70's for snuggling up to the Arab League nations. This was lead by France. They ignore the fact that Israel is the only nation listed as "Free" in the Middle East by the Freedom House index, yet they talk about the Israelis abuse of rights. Imagine how many rights abuses there are in nations that are "not free". The problems in other Middle Eastern countries are seldom mentioned.
08:21 October 3, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
"Björklund, ... told AFP on Thursday he had been reporting on the march and that he did not intend to plan any demonstration." So... A journalist doing his job. But for Egypt's dictatorial Western supported leadership, it was a job that exposed the dissatisfaction among ordinary Egyptians regarding their govts. position on the treatment of Palestinians and cooperation with Israel.

This is the story Israeli defenders seem to have missed.

Then there is the suggestion that Israel is innocent but Eurpeoan anti-semitical/Israel feelings blind us to this.

You people who believe so need to explain how an expert on Int. Law, who is Jewish and an avowed supporter of Israel can be given the job of conducting an investigation and then judge that Israel has been guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There has been no explanation for his commision's findings other than to attack the messenger as some how 'biased' (?) and thus his judgement flawed.

We unbiased people in Europe have little difficulty in seeing who is in reality 'biased' so much so that they refuse to concede any criticism by any person or group ebevn by a Jewish expert judge..

Anyone wanting a fair appraisal could read this interview between Judge Goldstone and a Rabbi:

21:07 October 3, 2009 by I Love it when ...
oh boo hoo 1 swede journalist is kicked out of Egypt and you all are bitching about it. kinda funny though ....
16:19 October 4, 2009 by Moshe

Dear Lea, "Please check YOUR facts"."

The facts are: "If Hamas doesn't like getting their booties kicked, they shouldn't fire thousands of Kassam rockets into civilian populations."

What do you blokes know? You are the Nazis who support the terrorism. You are a bunch of racists, Nazis! You blokes (Sweden and the press) are crimminals and terrorists and should be tried in the World Court as such. You use "freedom of speech" as an excuse to preach "racial hate". You (Sweden and it's government controlled press) are the terrorists.
21:50 October 4, 2009 by crunchy2k
Nice flounce!!! As the Germans put it.
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