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Palestine: Gaza Mom Back in the US

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, North America, Egypt, Palestine, U.S.A., Human Rights, International Relations, Technology, Travel, War & Conflict

The saga [1] of Palestinian blogger and mother Laila El-Haddad and her two children has come to a complete circle – she is back in the US, where she started her long trek to Gaza, Palestine, three days earlier, after the Egyptian authorities denied her from reaching home.

The journalist, who blogs at Raising Yousuf and Noor: dairy of a Palestinian mother [2], flew into the Cairo International Airport, Egypt, where she was hoping to cross the Rafah Crossing, [3] on the Egyptian-Palestinian border, to meet up with her parents in Gaza. The crossing was closed and the Egyptian authorities turned her back – after making her wait and interrogating her for 36 hours.

Writing on her blog, at the beginning of her ordeal, she said:

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”.

Her dilemma was compounded in that her visa to the US had expired – and she had no where to turn to.

At the airport, the tech-savvy blogger, who was travelling with her two American-born children Yousuf and Noor (who is reportedly 15 months old) broadcast her ordeal to the world on Twitter, using an intermittent wi-fi service. Her tweets created an avalanche of queries, with bloggers and Internet surfers across the world retweeting her messages (forwarding her Twitter messages) and reacting to her ordeal on their own blogs and Facebook accounts.

Laila El-Haddad also documented her ordeal – until she was deported back to the US, using flip [4], a digital camcorder.

At Gazamom [5], her Twitter account, El Haddad's latest [6] tweets on her experience send chills on the spine.

She reports her return to the US, where US immigration officers were more sympathetic to her plight and couldn't figure out why the Egyptian authorities had prevented her from returning home:

Gaza Mom's tweets [7]

Now that she is back in the US, well-wishers [8] have been busy sending her messages on Twitter. Here's a snap shot of some of the messages:

gaza mom's well wishers [9]

Also on Global Voices Online:

Palestine: Twittering Gazan Mom Stranded at Cairo Airport Deprted after 36 Hours [10]
Egypt: Stranded Palestinian Mother Tweets Ordeal from Cairo Airport [11]