Egypt: Lebanese Blogger and Activist Denied Entry and Deported

Imad Bazzi, the Lebanese award-winning blogger, and the director of CyberACT, an NGO that advocates for change and reform in the Middle East and North Africa region using social media tools, was denied entry to Egypt on Monday, September 5, 2011.

Imad who is known on Twitter as @TrellaLB, called some of his friends, and tweeted from the police office in the Egyptian airport, to spread the message that he has been told that his name “was on a list of people banned from entering at the request of a security apparatus,” and that he will be put on a plane back to Lebanon after a short while.

Soon after this, users on Twitter started to wonder how such a thing can happen in what is supposed to be post-revolution and post-Mubarak Egypt.

@Dima_Khatib: Lebanese blogger @TrellaLB was detained, deported by authorities at Cairo Airport as he arrived.. He was “black-listed” !!! Where is #jan25?

@JustAmira: Lebanese blogger (@TrellaLB) being deported from Egypt. Is Mubarak back in power?

Human rights organizations such as The Arab Network for Human Rights Information [ar] and Samir Kassir Eyes were worried to hear the news.

After he returned to Lebanon, Imad wrote about the detention experience in Cairo airport [ar]. He wrote how he never imagined that his periodic visits to Cairo would turn out to become such adventure, especially with his previous decision to stay and work in Cairo. He also added how he didn't imagine that Egypt after the revolution would look much like it was before the revolution. He then summarized the discussions he had with the interrogators in the airport.

الى ان حضر شخص بمرافقة من الشرطة فيما كان هو باللباس المدني وكان في غاية الإحترام وسأل سؤالين وانصرف
الظابط : ما سبب إصابتك في الظهر
الجواب: ديسك
هل انت من “ولاد” الفايسبوك؟
الجواب: لم افهم السؤال
حسناً يا استاذ، عشر دقائق واعود…

Until someone in civil clothes arrived along with the police, and he was so respectful and asked me a couple of questions then left.
The Officer: What's the reason for your back injury?
Answer: Disc.
The Officer: Are you one of those “Facebook Youth”?
Answer: I don't understand your question
Well, I'll leave you for 10 minutes and will return.

Then came another officer with Imad's passport with him and started asking more questions.

الظابط: من هو وائل عباس ؟
الجواب : صديق
الضابط: و…. (لم يتمكن من قراءة الإسم فإستعان بشرطي) ومينا ذكري؟
الجواب: صديق الكتروني
الظابط: اي ده الفورين بوليسي مين دول؟
الجواب: مجلة عالمية
الظابط: ولم تمنحك جائزة؟
الجواب: ليست جائزة، انما تقدير
الظابط : على ماذا ؟
الجواب: نشاطي الإلكتروني
الظابط: هو انت من اللي بيدعموا الثورة؟
الجواب: هزة بالرأس بمعنى لم افهم ما يقصد

The Officer: Who is Wael Abbas?
Answer: A friend.
The Officer: (He couldn't read the name, so asked for a policeman's help) And Mina Zekri?
Answer: An online friend.
The Officer: What's that Foreign Policy? Who are they?
Answer: An international magazine.
The Officer: Why did they give you an award?
Answer: Not award, but recognition.
The Officer: On what?
Answer: My cyber-activity.
The Officer: Are you one of those who support the revolution?
Answer: I shook my head indicating that I didn't get his question.

A third interrogator came to ask Imad two more question, and they one about his relation with Maikel Nabil, the first blogger to be jailed since Mubarak stepped down, and whom Imad had visited earlier in prison, since he is a pacifist and Imad himself is interested in studying pacifism.

This question made it a bit clear why Imad is banned from entering Egypt. The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar also tried to find out the reason [ar] for Imad's ban from entering Egypt.

يكشف بزّي عن السبب الحقيقي لترحيله من مصر: «لا شكّ في أن نشاطي على الإنترنت أثار شكوكهم، لكن الأهم هو زيارتي للمدوّن مايكل نبيل في سجن المرج العمومي في شهر حزيران/ يونيو

Imad reveals the real reason behind deporting him from Egypt: “It's obvious that my cyber-activism is provocative to them, but the most important is my visit to Maikel Nabil in Al-Marg prison last June.”

Finally, Imad wrote on Twitter how he is not sad, as long as the Egyptians will be able the restore their country and their rights soon.

@TrellaLB: Its ok that i was deported from Egypt. i'll get the chance to sit and watch the rebels tomorrow taking back the country, good luck #Egypt


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