CAIRO: British Respect MP George Galloway was deported from Egypt Friday upon his return from Gaza and declared persona non grata, according to the Foreign Ministry.
“George Galloway is considered persona non grata and will not be allowed to enter into Egypt again, a Foreign Ministry statement said. Galloway left for Britain Friday morning after being escorted from the Gaza border.
Galloway was leading the Lifeline 3 convoy of Viva Palestina, loaded with aid intended for the Gaza Strip, which has been under blockade for two and a half years.
A troublesome journey for the convoy culminated in clashes on Tuesday night with security forces. Egypt has ordered the arrest of seven of the convoy members upon their return from Gaza.
A spokeswoman for the convoy told the BBC that as soon as Galloway and a colleague returned to Egypt, they were immediately escorted into a van by force and driven to Cairo airport.
“As soon as they emerged on to Egyptian soil, both men were forcibly pushed into a van, refused exit and told that they were leaving the country. They were then driven off in a police convoy, she said.
A police officer told AP that the security escort was for Galloway’s own protection. “It was to protect him from the Egyptian people’s anger. He was told that he is a troublemaker and his behavior is undermining Egyptian security.
It was also reported in the Guardian that upon arriving at the British Airways lounge at Cairo Airport, Galloway and his companion Ron McKay were met by a representative of the British Foreign Office who told them “You are being deported.
Egypt had given the convoy members only 48 hours inside Gaza, after which they said the Rafah border crossing would be closed.
Additionally, the Public Prosecutor Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud has set up a task force to investigate the clashes surrounding the convoy, as well as the violence that occurred Wednesday when Gazans clashed with Egyptian border guards, leading to the death one guard, Ahmed Shaaban.
Britain condemned Thursday the fatal shooting of an Egyptian policeman at the border with the Gaza Strip and deplored the violence “from all quarters, AFP reported.
“The UK government condemns the shooting of an Egyptian border guard… and deplores the violence from all quarters, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The ministry added it had also expressed concern over reports that one or more British citizens may have been detained, according to AFP.
As such Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki sounded a warning regarding Wednesday’s events, saying in a statement, “For those who hurled insults at Egypt on the other side of the border with the Palestinian territories, time will come for them to be repaid by their own people.
Authorities’ refusal to release some 48 vehicles of the 150-strong Lifeline 3 convoy on Tuesday enraged members who had already been through a myriad of obstacles to reach Al-Arish behind schedule.
Convoy members descended on the compound that was holding the vehicles and tore open the gate. Security forces converged on the protestors and clashes eventually broke out. Some 20 protestors were detained for a number of hours as a result.
Calm was restored and on Wednesday the convoy began to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, 10 days after its original schedule. However, before the convoy entered, Gazans converged at the border to protest Egypt’s treatment of the convoy and its continued building of an underground barrier on the border to cut off the smuggling tunnels.
Protestors threw stones across the border, and Palestinian police shot in the air to control the crowd. Egyptian guards also returned fire. An exchange of fire ensued. One Egyptian guard was killed by what authorities described as a sniper rifle.
The Viva Palestina convoy consisted of 150 vehicles and around 550 members and was carrying over $1 million in aid to the impoverished Gaza strip.