Prominent anti-apartheid film director held in Egypt

Tarek Loubani and John Greyson.

Jack Lewis

2 September 2013

It is now 20 days since Toronto filmmaker John Greyson and London, Ontario, doctor Tarek Loubani were arrested by Egyptian police while on their way to Gaza.

Anyone who has attended the Out In Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will know John Greyson as a committed friend to progressive causes in South Africa and internationally. He was the very first international guest of the Out In Africa Festival back in 1994, has run workshops for aspiring film makers, and of course shown his wonderful films in South Africa on many occasions.

Greyson was very active in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s and 1990s - making an agitprop piece, A Moffie Called Simon, which supported the release from prison of Simon Nkoli (founder of the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand GLOW) while he was detained as part of the infamous Delmas Treason Trial.

Greyson was also active in support of the Sandinista led revolution in Nicaragua.

He actively supported the right of people living with HIV to free universal treatment and produced many important works dealing with AIDS and the right to treatment (films such as Zero Patience, Fig Trees).

Recently Greyson has been active in the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to pressure Israel to end the occupation of the Palestinian lands. It was this commitment that led him and Dr Tarek Loubani to Egypt en route to Gaza. Loubani was to perform humanitarian medical work in Gaza and Greyson to document his work.

They were caught up in the recent Egyptian turmoil and arrested. Egyptian officials have given no clear reason for their arrest. A press release by Cairo’s Azbekiya district’s prosecutor on the 20th of August states that 9 foreigners, including Greyson and Loubani will be detained for 15 days, pending investigations.

Out In Africa are asking people to petition for the immediate release of John Greyson and Tarek Loubani. The petition can be signed here.