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December 31, 2009

MWA Director Aishah Schwartz to Join Gaza Freedom March TODAY!

I apologize for the delayed update! YES! Al-hamdulillah, we have arrived and spent our first night in GAZA!!

I do not have time to elaborate, but those who wish to will march today in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their quest for freedom and justice will march hand-in-hand. Those who wish to 'observe' from the sidelines - will.

The way I feel about it? The point of being here was SOLIDARITY. We left Cairo divided. We went through our journey divided. And sadly the delegation remains divided to this very minute. I am saddened and deeply disappointed. I could not think for one minute to back peddle now and not participate; some may not - but I will march - knowing Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is our Protector.

Please remember us in our duas, insha'Allah.

FYI - we are only about 86 strong - emphasis on the word STRONG.
P.S. - To Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak; I am sure that word will reach you about a decision on the part of members on one of our two buses, to not accept the welcome gift of chocolates, roses and juice delivered to us by representatives of the Egyptian Red Crescent, to not accept the gesture of hospitality. (I was not on that particular bus.) It is my belief that this was due simply to a misunderstanding, for which I sincerely apologize.

P.S.S. - Also, contrary to what you may hear elsewhere, we have been treated with warmth and enthusiasm, we have been extended every hospitality, and we did not have any difficulty at immigration.

December 29, 2009

MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz Among 100 Chosen to Join Gaza Freedom Solidarity March Departing from Cairo Dec. 29

This is it everyone; the Egyptian government has granted permission for 100 delegates to proceed onward to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their March for Freedom.

And I am one of the 100, that is quickly dwindling down as protestors outside the bus chant, "All or none." "All or none."

All I can say is - nothing happens without the permission of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. I came here independently. Every step of my journey has been facilitated. Sitting beside me is a sister from Norway, Margrethe Salvesen - she is shouting even  ow from the doorway of the bus to the crowd on the sidewalk - "There are no voices in Gaza! This is not a war!"

I agree. I said to Margrethe, and I said to those on the bus, "If you are a believer, trust God. You are here for a reason. Don't get off this bus."

Outside roughly 300 chant, "We stand divided!" "We stand divided!"

To which we reply, "You don't live in Gaza! You don't live in Gaza!"

I will do my best over the next 48-hours to keep everyone updated.

Trip of a lifetime? I suspect so.

Please remember the delegation, and the Palestinian people in your prayers. Jazakallahu khairan.

P.S. I've just been handed a bag for delivery to the Katthan Center in Gaza; the woman pleading with me to take it. I will.


UPDATE (2:51 PM EG) – Marina has reported via telephone that the group members are being released one-by-one after passing through an office in the Embassy. She hasn't had her turn yet, details additional details are not available. The good news is that the incident is resolving itself and it was not reported that any of the group members had been harmed.
Contact Marina Barakau
Mobile: 0197412890

CAIRO, EGYPT (GFM) Dec. 29, 2009 – In downtown Cairo this afternoon Gaza Freedom March (GFM) advocates, including a group of roughly 30 U.S. citizens, are being detained in three separate quarantine areas within the U.S. Embassy's Garden City compound.

PHOTO RIGHT: A similar scene took place in front of the French Embassy in Cairo on Dec. 27, 2009. (Aishah Schwartz)

In a telephone interview with Muslimah Writers Alliance Director, Aishah Schwartz, GFM women's group organizer, Marina Barakau stated, "American citizens and 1,400 Gaza Freedom March advocates from 43 countries worldwide are demanding that the illegal siege of Gaza be lifted."

"We also ask how it is that an alleged democratic government could willingly participate in the detainment of its own citizen nationals at their own Embassy, and further demand that all due diligence be exercised in securing our immediate release," Barakau added.

Barakau stated she has also contacted the group's legal council coordinator, Sally Newman.

In the meantime, three members of the detained U.S. citizen group are meeting with U.S. officials in the Embassy's offices.

VIDEO (begin at 2:12 mark) 

Muslimah Writers Alliance Director, Aishah Schwartz and Gaza Freedom March Delegates Meet with Cairo's Alwafd Editor-in-Chief, Said Abd El Khalek

More at

A message of solidarity with THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH from Roger Waters of Pink Floyd

PHOTO ABOVE: Demonstrators in front of French Embassy - 1:30AM, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009 (Aishah Schwartz)

CAIRO, EGYPT (Dec. 27, 2009) – My name is Roger Waters. I am an English musician living in the USA. I am writing to express my great admiration for and solidarity with the 1360 men and women from 42 different countries around the World who are gathering in Egypt, preparing for The Gaza Freedom March.

We all watched, aghast, the vicious attack made a year ago on the people of Gaza by Israeli armed forces and the ongoing illegal siege. The suffering wrought on the population of Gaza by both the invasion and the siege is unimaginable to us outside the walls.
(PHOTO LEFT: The same scene from above just five minutes later. Demonstrators barricaded between the curb of the sidewalk and the iron gate surrounding the Embassy compound. Shockingly disturbing and currently the wallpaper on my mobile; marking the impact of watching the 'human shield' cross the street in unison to block the protestors from public view. - Aishah Schwartz)

The aim of The Freedom March is to focus world attention on the plight of the Palestinian people in Gaza in the hope that the scales will fall from the eyes of all, ordinary, decent people round the world, that they may see the enormity of the crimes that have been committed, and demand that their governments bring all possible pressure to bear on Israel to lift the siege.

I use the word ‘crimes’ advisedly, as both the siege and the invasion have been declared unlawful by United Nations bodies and leading human rights organizations. If we do not all observe international law, if some governments think themselves above it, it is but a few short, dark, steps to barbarism and anarchy.

The Gaza Freedom March is a beacon to all those of us who believe that under the skin, we are all brothers and sisters, who must stand shoulder to shoulder, if we are to make a future where all have recourse to law and universal human rights.

Where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not just the preserve of the few. All the oil in The Middle East is not worth one child’s life. So to those of you who march, I tip my hat. It is a brave and noble thing you do, and when you reach your goal please tell our Palestinian brothers and sisters, that out here, beyond the Walls of their Prison, stand hundreds of thousands of us in solidarity with them.

Today, hundreds of thousands, tomorrow, millions, soon, hundreds of millions.

We Shall Overcome.

Roger Waters

GAZA FREEDOM MARCH thought for the day...

"Sometime our efforts are deemed as small or even 'insignificant', but what those with closed minds cannot or refuse to see is that, in the grand scheme of things, those collective efforts manifest inspiration in others that creates a wave of effort that ultimately, insha'Allah, cannot be ignored." - Aishah Schwartz
Photo: CodePink Gaza Freedom March advocate, Cairo, Egypt.

Photo: CodePink Gaza Freedom March Demonstrator. Cairo, Egypt

December 27, 2009

GAZA FREEDOM MARCH UPDATE: Activities in Cairo, Dec. 27, 2009

GAZA FREEDOM MARCH UPDATE: Egyptian Security Forces Detain Gaza Freedom Marchers in el-Arish and Shut Down Gaza Memorial in Cairo

Medea Benjamin | | Egypt (18) 956-1919
Ann Wright | Egypt (19) 508-1493
Ziyaad Lunat | Roaming +351938349206

CAIRO, EGYPT (GFM) Dec. 27, 2009 - At noon on December 27, Egyptian security forces detained a group of 30 activists in their hotel in el-Arish as they prepared to leave for Gaza, placing them under house arrest. The delegates, all part of the Gaza Freedom March of 1,300 people, were Spanish, French, British, American, and Japanese. The Egyptian security forces eventually yielded, letting most of the marchers leave the hotel, but did not permit them to leave the town. When two younger delegates, a French and Japanese woman, attempted to leave el-Arish, the Egyptian authorities stopped their taxi and unloaded their luggage.

Another group of eight people, including citizens from American, British, Spanish, Japanese and Greece, were detained at the bus station of Al Arish in the afternoon of December 27. As of 3:30 PM, they were still being held.

Simultaneously, Egyptian security police broke up a commemoration of the Israeli invasion of Gaza organized by the Gaza Freedom March at Kasr al Nil Bridge, one of the main bridges connecting Zamalek Island, in the middle of the Nile, to Cairo. As a nonviolent way of commemorating the more than 1300 Palestinians killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza that began a year ago on December 27, 2008, Gaza Freedom Marchers tied hundreds of strings with notes, poems, art and the names of those killed to the bridge.

"We're saddened that the Egyptian authorities have blocked our participants' freedom of movement and interfered with a peaceful commemoration of the dead," said Ann Wright, one of the March's organizers.

Wright added that the Gaza Freedom March participants are continuing to urge the Egyptian government to allow them to proceed to Gaza. They visited the Arab League asking for support, various foreign embassies and the Presidential Palace to give in an appeal to President Mubarak.


Gaza Freedom March Update from Cairo Egypt and Delegate, Aishah Schwartz

Preparing to head out for an interview at the offices of the Cairo's Alwafd newspaper, together with Jane Manai, a Muslimah Activist from France, and Gaza Freedom March a representative for CodePink, in support of the ongoing efforts in appealing to the Egyptian government to allow Gaza Freedom March delegates to enter Gaza. To commemorate the Israeli invasion and massacre in Gaza that resulted in the tragic loss of more than 1,400 lives and injuries to over 5,400, including 300 children over a 23-day period that began on Dec. 27, 2008, delegatess will stage a candle-light vigil and silent protest later this evening in front of the Lawyers Syndicate in downtown Cairo.

December 23, 2009

Support the Gaza Freedom March - Send YOUR Letter Today, Insha'Allah!

From: Aishah Schwartz []
Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 5:05 PM
To: ''; ''
Subject: URGENT Message Regarding Gaza Freedom March
Importance: High


TO: Embassy of Egypt, Washington, D.C. and the Palestine Division in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cairo

Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatuallahi wa Barakatuhu,

I am writing today to express my full support for the December 31, 2009 Gaza Freedom March and I urge the Egyptian government to allow the 1,300+ international delegates arriving from 42 countries, to enter the Gaza Strip through Egypt.

The aim of the march is to call on Israel to lift the siege on Gaza. The delegates will also take in badly needed medical aid, as well as school supplies and winter jackets for the children of Gaza.

I beseech you; please, for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, to let this historic March and its participants proceed unhindered. Insha'Allah I will be among them.

Jazakallahu khairan.


Aishah Schwartz
Communications Director
Writer & Publications Consultant
MAS Freedom
1325 G Street NW, Suite 500
Washington DC 20005

"A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." - Nelson Mandela



The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "One who helps a fellow Muslim in removing his (or her) difficulty in this world, Allah will remove the formers distress on the Day of Judgment. He who helps to remove the hardship of another, will have his difficulties removed by Allah in this world and in the Hereafter. One who covers the shortcomings of another Muslim, will have his faults covered up in this world and the next by Allah. Allah continues to help a servant so long as he goes on helping his own brother (or sister)." (Muslim)