Tuesday, May 31, 2016

American researcher deported & banned from entering Egypt

Mada Masr
US citizen barred entry to Egypt due to 'national security' concerns

Friday, May 27, 2016

US citizen Ada Petiwala was refused entry to Egypt on Tuesday, after being detained and interrogated at Cairo International Airport, and was told she is banned from entering the country again as she is considered a problem for national security.

In a Facebook post published on Friday, Petiwala explained that she was detained and her passport was confiscated after it was initially stamped by the passport control office. Petiwala and her husband, who is an Egyptian national and was with her on a flight from France, were subsequently interrogated. Airport security asked Petiwala about her many previous visits to Egypt. She explained that she was the recipient of a Center for Arabic Study Abroad scholarship from 2013 to 2014 and later worked at Townhouse gallery.

When Petiwala stated that she is a New York University master’s student with a focus on media studies and Indian culture in Egypt, airport officials laughed at her in disbelief.

"I repeated again and again that the primary reason for my trip to Egypt was to spend time with my husband, whom I only can now see during my breaks from school. He does not have an American visa. I told these truths knowing full well that there is sensitivity and surveillance surrounding every single one of the institutions I have been affiliated with," she explained.

At 6:00 am, after several hours of interrogation, Petiwala said authorities decided to ban her from entering Egypt, citing national security concerns.

“Leave her here and go home and sleep because she’s not going to enter Egypt again," airport security told her husband, according to Petiwala.

Petiwala went on to describe the "humiliating treatment" she was subjected to by airport security officials. Despite having recently undergone a medical procedure that induces bleeding, of which she claims security officials were aware, she was mocked by security personnel, forced to carry her luggage to several detention centers throughout the airport and denied access to food, water and the bathroom as she waited to board a flight to Berlin.

When she was finally allowed to enter a bathroom before boarding her flight, she yelled at an officer who, in return, spat in her face.

"I have not found out, from any source of any kind, why I am not allowed in Egypt. I only recently read that the same day there were also foreign journalists detained and deported from Cairo. Today I filed a complaint ... at the Egyptian Consulate in Berlin to see if I can find another way in. It will make no difference. My own embassy said it is out of their hands. The police state will do its bidding. Violence in all forms is arbitrary," she concluded.

Petiwala and her husband were not available to comment on the incident.

A number of foreign researchers, academics and journalists have been recently banned from entering Egypt. On Monday, airport security detained French journalist Rémy Pigaglio for 30 hours upon arrival at Cairo International Airport, confiscating his passport and preventing him from contacting the French Embassy in Cairo, before deporting him to France.

Pigaglio is a correspondent for the French newspaper La Croix and was previously authorized to work in Egypt by the Egyptian State Information Services, which handles permits for international journalists in Egypt.

A study published by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) in February stated that the Egyptian state’s decision to ban foreign researchers from entering the country is largely based on their criticism of the government.

AFTE’s study, which is translated as Entry banned: On banning entry of foreign researchers and academics to Egypt, highlights a number of situations in which researchers have been prevented from entering the country due to their political views, including researchers Atef Botros and Michele Dunne, Tunisian writer Amel Grami and Human Right Watch officials Kenneth Roth and Sarah Leah Whitson.

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