It isn’t the first time Tarek Loubani of London, Ontario, Canada, has found himself in a foreign prison. Loubani, an emergency room physician, was arrested in Egypt on Friday while on his way to Gaza as part of a collaboration between the University of Western Ontario in Canada and Al-Shifa Hospital, his friend Justin Podur told the Toronto Star.
With him was also filmmaker and film professor at Toronto’s York University, John Greyson. Podur got a phone call from the two as they were arrested. Podur said it was a short conversation—he only knows they were arrested, but not why. Canadian diplomats have contacted Egyptian authorities on behalf of the two men, but could not provide the Star with any further details as of Sunday morning.
Loubani was arrested in 2003 in the West Bank as he was protesting the building of a perimeter wall. In an Israeli prison at that time, he wrote a note describing the hardships, and the hunger strike he and his fellow prisoners held. The note, published by the Palestinian group International Solidarity Movement, reads: “As I was up against the wall, with one man stomping on my leg, another bending my arm and another two or three pulling and hitting elsewhere, I caught a glimpse of the faces and entered that other world.
“I can’t do anything now. The guards who were involved all smile when they pass our cell. And all of this over the only act of resistance we can do: going hungry. One thing hasn’t changed though: none of us will be broken.”
Loubani was a voice against federal healthcare cuts last year. He spoke about his experiences working at a refugee clinic; he is quoted in an Occupy article on Facebook as saying: “We are now asked to request preauthorization for patients before providing care. … The idea that the care I provide should be in any way contingent on what an insurance bureaucrat approves is abhorrent.”
Dr. Bill McCauley, a colleague of Loubani’s, told the Toronto Sun: “We don’t know why or where he has been taken.”
Podur told the Star: “We’ve got no idea of their condition or where they are right now.”