Bahrain activist protests barring from Egypt

AP News
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Posted: Aug 28, 2012 5:11 PM
Bahrain activist protests barring from Egypt

CAIRO (AP) — A Bahraini rights activist wrote to Egypt's president Tuesday, complaining that she and other pro-democracy campaigners from her country were denied entry, charging that the policy is a holdover from the deposed Egyptian regime.

Maryam Al-Khawaja, acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was refused entry into Egypt Sunday. Security officials cited unexplained "top security reasons."

In her letter to President Mohammed Morsi, she said she and another prominent activist now in prison in Bahrain had difficulties entering Egypt earlier this year.

She said intelligence services working for deposed President Hosni Mubarak used to harass Bahrain's activists on behalf of that Gulf regime.

Al-Khawaja said she was disappointed such harassment continued in post-Mubarak Egypt.

She wrote to Morsi, "How can such blatant disregard for the law and basic human dignities continue under your watch?"

Activists say while Mubarak has been removed, his security agencies and their policies remain unchanged. Morsi has also sought to calm nervous Gulf neighbors by saying his country won't seek to "export" its revolution.

Al-Khawaja said security officials tried to intimidate her after she and her lawyer demanded an explanation for the barring. The officials told her she would be deported to Bahrain, where there is an arrest warrant against her, she said.

She eventually traveled to her next destination, South Africa, without entering Egypt.

She was denied entry into Egypt initially in April, but was later allowed in after lawyers intervened. She said in her letter that security officials told her she was allowed in then because they were protests in Egypt at the time, and authorities apparently feared a backlash if she were turned away.

Soon after, Al-Khawaja's colleague Nabeel Rajab was denied entry into Egypt and deported back to Bahrain. He was arrested in Bahrain a month later and is in prison serving a three-year sentence for his role in allegedly encouraging protesters in Bahrain to clash with security forces.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th fleet, has faced more than 18 months of unrest between the Sunni-led monarchy and majority Shiites, who say they face systematic discrimination. More than 50 people have died and thousands have been injured in the violence.