Monday, 10 November 2008

Report from last Thursday's Free Kareem rally in London

Last Thursday afternoon, student representatives from Oxford, UCL and the LSE converged on the Egyptian Embassy in London to protest the continued imprisonment of Kareem Amer.

As officials scurried between their cars and the Embassy, they were greeted not only by the London drizzle but also by defiant chants of "Free Kareem!" We also caught the attention of the staff working on the upper floors of the Embassy, who didn't seem to appreciate the vocal aspect of our protest.

Unlike last year, no officials came out to speak to us, but a young man from the adjacent office came over to ask who Kareem was. He seemed nervous, as if afraid to be seen talking to us. After we explained to him what we were protesting about, he expressed sympathy for Kareem's plight, but was (quite understandably) reluctant to sign our petition. A sad reminder of the shadow of fear cast by the Egyptian government, even over its own employees.

A couple of passers-by stopped to ask about Kareem's case, and kindly added their names to the petition. At the end of the rally, we attempted to deliver our petition (with 51 names) to a member of Embassy staff, hoping to discuss Kareem's case. We tried at the entrance at 26 South Street, but the man who opened the door resisted our attempts to hand him the petition as if it were a live cobra. We got a very similar reaction at the entrance round the corner on South Audley Street, so in the end we had to settle for posting our petition through the letterbox.

Many thanks to everyone who attended this year's protest, and to those who contributed to the petition. I hope to see as many people as possible at the next rally.

A note for future London protests: South Audley Street seems to get a lot more foot traffic than South Street, so we might catch the attention of more members of the public by protesting opposite the Embassy's South Audley Street entrance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great job everyone! Thanks a lot for your support and commitment. It means a lot to everyone who supports Kareem or free speech in general.