Thursday, March 08, 2007

Stephen Harper, Canadians everywhere, need to hear your plain spoken voice raised now.

I haven’t blogged about Mohamed Essam Ghoneim el-Attar, a former Egyptian national and now Canadian citizen, who had the misfortune of being arrested when he returned to visit his family in Egypt. Egyptian authorities have accused el-Attar of being a Christian-Zionist-Gay Mossad agent who was spying on the financial activities of Egyptian nationals while in Canada. But I should have. As a human being and a Canadian, I feel morally obliged to say something.

When I learned the first details of the case a few weeks ago I have to admit to being utterly stupefied by both the nature of the allegations and the alleged confession obtained under torture. What are the odds that the Mossad were able to recruit an Egyptian Christian-Zionist-Gay operative and place him in a position in Canada where he could spy on the financial dealings of Egyptian nationals in Canada? I mean really. If this isn’t the Protocol of the Elders of Zion time - what is?

It’s beyond farcical and it would be great laugh at the expense of Arab conspiracy theorists everywhere but there is a man’s life at stake. A Canadian man’s life. I voted for a change in government and I sincerely hope that Stephen Harper’s government is bringing all the pressure that can be brought to bear on the Egyptian authorities to arrange for this man’s release. The repercussions of this man’s arrest continue to ripple outward and it is not the sole the concern of this man’s family or his adopted land. Ynet News reports:
Some 2,000 Coptic and Greek Orthodox Christians in Egypt have been forbidden from making a pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in east Jerusalem this coming Easter. Egyptian travel agents have informed their Israeli counterparts that the authorities in Cairo have decided not to allow this year’s pilgrimage, Yedioth Ahronoth has learned.

The decision is apparently not related to the uproar in Egypt surrounding the Israeli documentary film "Shaked Spirit ", but rather to the arrest of Mohamed Essam Ghoneim el-Attar, who is currently standing trial for allegedly spying for Mossad.
Meanwhile, Ra'anan Gissin, a former advisor to prime minister Sharon, and now a strategic consultant at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, told Ynetnews on Thursday that he did not believe Egypt would cut ties with Israel. "They have made a lot of noise to appease the Islamist opposition. But not much beyond that," he added.

Gissin dismissed the importance of the film. "This story is not news," he said. "It just shows how important it is that Israel carries out more complex, aggressive, public diplomacy. The truth must be shown. Israeli television, all channels, must show some responsibility, and check these stories before they spread."

If Cairo really does cut ties with Israel, it would be Egypt, not Israel that would suffer the most, Gissin argued. "The situation in the Middle East after the second Lebanon war means that Egyptians must decide on what side they are on. Does Egypt fight the Islamic tsunami or does it stand on the side?" "Cutting ties with Israel is more harmful to Egypt than to Israel," he said, adding: "Egypt is very influenced by US aid and support. They receive two billion dollars a year."

Gissin stressed that it was Israel, rather than Egypt, that had cause for complaint on relations between the two countries. "There's no doubt that there is certain deterioration in relations," he said, citing arms smuggling from Egypt to Gaza as the main cause of that decline.

I find it an intensely interesting pretense that the Egyptian authorities use this bogus arrest as a pre-text to suggest Egypt has just cause to exhibit hostility towards Israel. As far as I am concerned, no Canadian citizen should ever be allowed to be used as a unwilling pawn to further a foreign government's political agenda.

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