BDS coordinator arrested in Egypt

Rami Shaath, general coordinator of BDS Egypt, was arrested in Cairo in July, it was revealed Wednesday. (via Facebook)

BDS Egypt is calling for the immediate release of its general coordinator Rami Shaath.

Shaath’s family revealed Wednesday that Egyptian security forces seized the campaigner in a dawn raid on his Cairo home on 5 July.

He is accused of having ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. There is no indication his arrest is related to his role in BDS Egypt.

BDS Egypt said that authorities have presented “no legal reasons or evidence to justify his detention until now.”

In calling for Shaath’s release, BDS Egypt warns against the circulation of false rumors and smears against him.

According to BDS Egypt, Shaath, 48, was arrested by state security as part of the so-called “Hope” case, in which many journalists and politicians have been detained supposedly for assisting a “terrorist” organization.

The “Hope” arrests, beginning in late June, targeted alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of President Muhammad Morsi.

Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Morsi died in detention in June, six years after being ousted in a military coup.

“The latest wave of arrests targeting critics, opposition leaders, activists and journalists under the guise of counterterrorism is part of the Egyptian authorities’ systematic persecution and brutal crackdown on anyone who dares to criticize them,” Magdalena Mughrabi of Amnesty International said following the first wave of “Hope” detentions.

According to BDS Egypt, which supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign for Palestinian rights, Shaath’s family chose not to immediately publicize his detention, hoping to find legal and diplomatic routes to his release.

Rami Shaath is the son of Nabil Shaath, a Palestine Liberation Organization official long involved in the Oslo peace process with Israel and an adviser to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Rami is a cofounder of BDS Egypt, which mounts campaigns against Egyptian normalization with Israel and in support of the Palestinian boycott call.

In 2015, BDS Egypt called for a boycott of Orange, after The Electronic Intifada revealed how the France-based mobile telecoms giant directly supported Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza.

With millions of customers in Egypt, Orange quickly announced its intention to withdraw from Israel.

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The US, Israel, and el-Sisi: birds of a feather. Fascist dictatorships always attack journalists, politicians, and even Amnesty International, now. I support BDS Movement: ending the Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. While Rami Shaath is prison, we are incumbent to follow our conscience and support BDS: the Canadian Supreme Court and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is with us.

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When has the Canadian Supreme Court ruled on anything related to BDS?

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Under the Military Dictatorship of el-Sisi the proud, nation of Egypt has morphed into a 'Vassal' servant of the Zionist Apartheid Theocracy of the Terror State of Israel and the Colonial Imperial Power of the US. Sad state of affairs, for the Middle East and the whole World! Peace! Salam!

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The tactic is always the same: deprive the movement of its leadership. One of the problems the Chinese Communist Party has with the Hong Kong protests is they are leaderless. The goons in suits will always find a way of twisting the judicial process to get what they want. Even in supposedly high-minded democratic regimes ways are found. Within the thoroughly democratic UK people are being expelled or suspended from the thoroughly democratic Labour Party for no more than mildly suggesting the Palestinians might have a case. The rules supposed to defend democracy are employed to defy it.
Headless movements give tyrants and phoney-democrats a headache. As far as we can, we need to take the fingerprints off our actions. When they come looking for the incriminating DNA, they should find it belongs to millions. There are millions of us who support BDS and who want a democratic, non-apartheid Palestine. They can arrest, intimidate and silence a few leaders, but they can't do that to all of us without becoming out-and-out totalitarians, and that would blow their cover.
There are good reasons for having high-profile leaders who can attract world attention, but very bad ones too. With the means to summon people to action quickly, for protests to assemble and dissolve rapidly and for the masses to become the voice of the movement rather than a handful of super-articulate spokespeople we should ask whether Rami might not be free had he not been identified as "general co-ordinator". What's in a name? And why should we imitate their foolish, outworn, unnecessary hierarchies? We are democrats and egalitarians. We speak to one another not down to one another. We believe in heroic movements not the putative "great men and women of history". We know that unsung heroes and heroines have changed the world for the better, that change that matters always comes from the grassroots. Let's make ourselves a mass they can't arrest. Let's set Rami free.

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.