The ordeal of a Palestinian mother and her two children, who have been stranded at the Cairo International Airport for an entire day so far, has engaged Twitter users across the region today.
Journalist Laila El-Haddad, who is en route to Gaza from the US via Cairo, kept her followers, friends and the general public informed of her ordeal through a string of tweets at GazaMom, creating another cycle of retweets, Facebook entries and blog commentaries as hope dimmed and her stamina was put to test.
On her blog, Raising Yousuf and Noor: dairy of a Palestinian mother, El-Haddad explains:
We have been stuck in Cairo airport for nearly a day now. We are neither being allowed entry or exit by Egyptian authorities, who insist that as long as Rafah Crossing is closed, they are under strict orders not to allow Palestinians in.
This is despite a signed letter of consent I received personally from the Egyptian consul-general in Washington the day of my travel from the US.
To quote the Egyptian officials here in the airport “so sue him”.
Using reason, she writes:
I tried to plead that it was not my fault Egypt was in the way of my home- that if I could,I'd parachute in; that i simply wanted to go back home.
El-Haddad's dilemma is compounded in that her visa to the US has expired:
We cannot return to the US b/c my visa has expired and I was planning on renewing it in Beirut where I was to meet up with Yassine after my Gaza stay.
And we are not being allowed entry to Cairo because Rafah is closed.
And no one is giving her answers and yet the blogger is determined to use whatever means are available to her to let the world know her story:
No one seems to have an answer, other than whast was told to me this morning. No one knows where my file is or what is going to happen. I have an off again on again wifi signal, and tryig my best to keep updates on twitter @gazamom.
The only certainty is uncertainty.
Her tweets started four hours after arriving in Cairo, where she states her situation:
Later on, uncertainty sets in, as hope dims:
Using the technology, El-Hadded decides to record her ordeal:
She then turns her attention to her children, who are travelling with her, telling us:
Turning back to her situation and that many Palestinians find themselves in, El-Haddad writes:
She ends her tweets with the following messages:
Egyptian blogger Arabaway picks up the story and posts it on his blog:
Palestinian blogger Leila el-Haddad is held by the authorities at the Cairo International Airport and facing deportation… She’s keeping us updated via her twitter…
And writing for The Huffington Post, Global Voices Online Morocco author Jillian York observes:
Long gone are the days of no witnesses; whereas previously someone detained in an airport would be denied communication, save for perhaps a phone call, access to wi-fi means that any absence of updates from Leila will be noticed. And access to a pocket-sized video camera such as the Flip means that Leila is able to record hours of footage, exposing the conditions where she is being held for the world to see.
Meanwhile, El-Haddad's saga continues. Her crime: