Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stuck on the 8th Floor -- December 31, 2009

A march was scheduled for the morning of December 31st here in Cairo for the Freedom Marchers who were left behind. It was planned to coincide with the march scheduled to take place at the same time inside Gaza. Since we have been here all communication, meetings, plans, etc. have been open and easy to access. Obviously security forces and police would know of the scheduled event. Late in the evening of the 30th we received an update from GFM organizers that there might be attempts to block marchers from leaving their hotels in time for the march.

Shortly after we awoke on Dec. 31st we received an urgent text message to get out of the hotel immediately because police were setting up guards and barricades. We ran to the window of our 8th floor hotel room to look down at the street. Sure enough, there they were: three police vehicles and a small contingent of officers. It was too late. We stood at the window watching as plain clothes took up posts on the surrounding street corners. Men in uniform stood guard on the sidewalk at the front entrance. When a waiter brought them cups of tea, we knew they would be there for the long haul and that we better just go ahead and get comfy.

Fortunately, two MPTers had left the hotel just before the police arrived. Doroth Ritter and Liz Walters were on their way to purchase bus tickets for the entire team to travel to the border of Egypt and Gaza.

Upon arrival of security at the hotel, we immediately tried to phone our two friends to be sure they were safe. The phones appeared to be blocked also because the calls would not go through. We made a call to the emergency phone to see if a U.S. phone might be able to make the necessary calls to check on our friends. That didn't work either. The time of no communication was worrisome, but thankfully short. Eventually, one of our friends phoned us to assure us they were safe and well.

Our time of confinement lasted about two to three hours. Around 10:30 a.m. we were all able to leave the hotel without interference.

We are currently at the Internet cafe gathering information to help us determine our next steps as a team. We will keep you updated. Look for another post concerning yesterday's events and photos soon.


  1. Thanks for the great updates guys!

  2. With you in spirit as much as I can be. Be safe and well. What you are doing is so important and you are getting attention for the people of Gaza.