I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the arrival of Spring across many nations and send good wishes from here in the Middle East to all the people who are celebrating this festive season of Nawroz, or the Spring Equinox. I also would like to say that tomorrow I will have been on my peace walk for five months. Hopefully this year is going to be a year of peaceful solutions to the world’s many problems, here in the Middle East and across the rest of the world.
Today I went out with my good contact Mr Shokar Abdolaziz, who I met by chance a few days ago near to the Al Arish bus terminal (when he offered to let me go to his place for a shower and refreshments). Now I am staying with him again and we went together to see the governor of the city of Al Arish.
We walked for about 15 minutes, with Shokar showing me different places in the city, then arrived at the office of the governor and spoke to some people in the office, talking about why I am here and how the governor might be able to help me to cross from Rafah to Gaza.
After a short wait I managed to see the secretary general of the governor’s office and he was quite happy to see me. I showed my British passport (I prefer not, but have learned that sometimes there will be no progress if I refuse) as well as my Arabic translated message and the letter of support from Occupy London. Copies were made of these things and the copies were passed around different people to see what they can make of my journey, and my message. Someone named Faried spoke to me in English, telling me “This is a bit odd,” and “We haven’t seen anything like this before” and “Your message is great, the security forces here might be able to help,” then he told me wait until I speak to the governor himself and see what we can do.
While I was waiting, I spoke to a journalist to say why I am here and he took some photos and another person who said he was from Aljazeera (English and Arabic section) filmed me with a camcorder as well, and I told my story in English outside the governor’s office.
After about 20 minutes Faried and another guy from the office of the governor came out and there was a car waiting outside for us. Me and Shokar were taken to the internal security forces office, and after more questions and making copies of my passport and my translated message in Arabic and the Occupy London letter, the person who was in charge in the office told the people from the governor’s office (Faried and the other guy) to go, and it was just me and Shokar. Then there was some more questioning about the places I stayed in Rafah and people who I talked to and so on. Meanwhile Shokar told the security officer that I have a device on which I write about what I see and the was a bit worried about what I am writing (on my Samsung Galaxy note 2, a kind donation), and I told him “All I do is write what I see, I write it for my blog so people can follow what I do and know where I am and they can stay in touch with me, nothing else”.
After this the officer asked us to leave the office to and stay in the reception area while they had a look at my passport, my notebook, the letter from Occupy London and the card of the kind person who paid for my visa at the port of Damietta.
After about 20 minutes my notebook was returned and a little afterwards Shokar was called back. He came back after about five minutes and said we can go back to his place, leaving my passport and the Occupy letter and the kind port person’s card with the security office.
So we headed back to his place and on the way we visited an office which gives licences to charities and NGOs and I spoke to people there, and then we headed back to Shokar’s place.