by Loren King
Filmmaker John Greyson, who directed the acclaimed gay-themed drama Lilies (1996) and several episodes of Queen as Folk in 2001 and 2002, remains imprisoned without cause in Cairo, Egypt along with Dr. Tarek Loubani. Greyson and Loubani through their Egyptian lawyers said that they will be refusing food beginning September 16 to protest the arbitrary nature of their detention by Egyptian authorities.
During the recent Toronto International Film Festival, more than 300 high-profile stars including filmmakers Ben Affleck, Sarah Polley, Atom Egoyan, Alex Gibney, actors Charlize Theron, Alec Baldwin and Danny Glover, and author Michael Ondaatje called for the release of Greyson and Dr. Loubani. Both men were arrested Aug. 16 after entering a police station to ask for directions. At the time of their arrest, Toronto-native Greyson, a filmmaker and professor at York University, and Loubani, a doctor from London, Ontario, were heading to the Gaza Strip. Loubani teaches emergency room medicine at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Greyson was planning to make a documentary. They have been held behind bars ever since and have not be charged with any crime. Egyptian authorities have given no reason for the extension or ongoing detention.
At a press conference during the TIFF, members of the filmmaking community joined Cecilia Greyson, sister of John Greyson, in demanding the immediate release of Greyson and Dr. Loubani. A website has been set up (tarekandjohn.com) with information and a petition calling for their release that has so far been signed by more than 100,000 people.
“We can only imagine the anguish that John and Tarek feel after realizing that their detention could be extended for so long in what can only be described as an arbitrary process that lacks any credibility,” said Cecilia Greyson. “We know that they did not take the decision to begin a hunger strike lightly, and we want them to know we will do everything we can to support them and get them home soon.”
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