Palestine: Twittering Gazan Mom Stranded at Cairo Airport Deported after 36 Hours

Her tweets have gone silent and her last message spoke of a deportation to somewhere other than home.

Home is Gaza in Palestine, which journalist and blogger Laila El-Haddad and her two American-born children Yousuf and Noor (who is reportedly 15 months old) can't travel to, to be reunited with their grandparents except through the Rafah Crossing on the Egyptian-Palestinian border – which is closed.

Egypt won't let them through; and El-Haddad's visa to the US, where she has flown from to the Cairo Airport where she was stranded for 36 hours, had expired.

In the meanwhile, her saga which she broadcast to the world on Twitter and an intermittent wi-fi service at the airport, is making waves on blogs and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, drawing attention to the ordeal of this travelling mother, and that of scores of Palestinians harrassed, interrogated and banned from travelling, even across Arab countries, just because they are .. erm .. Palestinian.

El-Haddad's last blog post on Raising Yousuf and Noor: dairy of a Palestinian mother said:

quick post to let everyone know after 36 hours I am being deported- away from my home. more later

On Twitter, she wrote:

laila's tweet

American-Palestinian KABOBfest reports on El-Haddad's ordeal. In a comment Hami explains how he too has been through a similar experience in Egypt:

It sucks to be where she is. Allah Yikoon Ma3aha [May God be with her]. I have been held at that exact room! It's messy and crappy and full of Gazans. two to three armed Egyptian officers guard you and if you want to get food, an Egyptian runner goes to buy you food–off course you pay through the nose. The guards hold your passport till they deport you on a bus (they charge you an arm and a leg for the ride) and you do not see your
passport until you get to Rafah. Off course the bus driver will hustle you for a tip. It's not cool, but frankly what can the good people of Egypt do? the regime sucks equally for both of us.

Back on Twitter, Mauritanian activist Naser Weddadi makes the following call:

tweet weddady

He also adds:

weddadi tweet

Echoing similar sentiments, Helena Cobban on Just World News added:

So today is Passover. Tomorrow is the commemoration of 61 years since the Deir Yassin massacre. Tomorrow is also the commemoration of the start of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
… And Laila is stuck with her kids in Cairo airport, facing deportation. Apparently they don't where to deport her to since her US visa has run out.
Just let her go home!!!!

The question on many bloggers/followers mind now is where is El-Haddad and her two children and what has happened to them? Stay tuned for more updates.


  • Goodness, how completely scary. I pray that she is well. Thanks for the update, Amira.

    Deported? Just let her through the gate.

    ~ Maya
    (GVO, Israel)

  • Thanks Maya,
    I guess we should just wait until we hear back from her.
    I personally don’t know Laila or have any contact with her – so like everyone else on the blogosphere, I hope she and her little ones get ‘home’ — wherever that may be.

    Being stuck in an airport sucks – even when you are just delayed because of the weather. And being stranded with children, not knowing where you will be heading to, is even more traumatic.

    • I can only imagine– and hope to keep it that way.

      Her last tweet is marked “15 hours ago.” I am hoping that everything is resolved and that she just needs a charger. If only it were that simple.

      ~ Maya

  • […] Amira Al Hussaini wrote about Laila on Global Voices on the day of her post about deportation. You can read it here. […]

  • […] Palestine: Twittering Gazan Mom Stranded at Cairo Airport Deprted after 36 Hours Egypt: Stranded Palestinian Mother Tweets Ordeal from Cairo Airport Posted by Amira Al Hussaini  Print version Share This […]

  • Is there any more news yet?
    I hope She and her children are well and have been allowed home. I am praying for them here in Ireland.

  • […] mother, was carefully covered by Global Voices last week. However, as El-Haddad moved into her 36th hour at the airport and her tweeting and blogging ceased, fans, friends, and readers became concerned. When we left […]

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