The Egyptian regime is barring the Al-Qazzaz family from returning to their home in Canada, and has seized a significant amount of their assets, including the family business. The case has drawn lots of international criticism, and it's not hard to see why, given that it involves the violation of several United Nations instruments.
Cannabis has been a medicine for far longer than it has been a drug. There are many different theories of its history, and signs of it date back to the old testament and ancient europe, all over Asia, and spread down into Africa. Ancient history is a matter of interpretation and the details remain in debate, but cannabis use was a huge part of culture and medicine in distant parts of the world. As a medical user, I do still get high some times for fun. But that's not the whole picture.
In an odd twist of fate, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi decided to have a change of heart and "pardon" three Al Jazeera journalists including Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. Whether Sisi was feeling charitable on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid-Ul-Adha or wanted to improve his faltering global reputation before his visit to the United Nations is unknown.
While Egypt was considered a role model for civilization once upon a time, its inability to put a stop against barbaric acts of FGM is painful. The human rights violations where infants, toddlers, children, teenagers, and women, are having their vaginas sliced, because the notion of a woman experiencing sexual pleasure is distasteful, are not dwindling.
Over the past 19 months the brutality of the Egyptian Police reached new highs, not even seen or heard of during the Mubarak years. The European Parliament, the UN Secretary General, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have all condemned the Egyptian security forces for the use of force leading to the death of hundreds of protesters and serious injuries of many more.
Many International actors, including the U.S. government, support the Egyptian military, in the belief that Egypt's army can restore stability, and, in doing so, stem the flow of refugees out of Egypt. But it's the Egyptian military, through its stubbornness dealing with the conscientious objection issue, which generates refugees every day.
I was sitting on a bench inside the military court that day, accompanied by a military intelligence agent, waiting for my military judge to arrive in the courtroom. It was a spring day, in April 2011, just few months after the revolution started. It was the fifth time I was detained in Egypt because of my activism. It isn't that I can understand the situations of people facing injustice from afar, I can feel their pain, because it's my pain as well.
The detention of Dr. Tarek Loubani and John Greyson was at the forefront of all Canadians' concerns for the 50 days they spent behind bars at Cairo's Tora Prison. Dr. Tarek Loubani is an emergency room physician in my riding and John Greyson is an acclaimed film-maker and professor at York University. They are now home safe.