‘Arab Nelson Mandela’ Georges Abdallah demands freedom from France
Julian Assange may be Europe’s most famous political prisoner but Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese activist called the “Nelson Mandela of the Arab World”, is Europe’s oldest prisoner of conscience.
For over 37 years, Abdallah has been jailed in France in a flagrant politicization of the country’s own judicial system, which has authorized his release on three occasions.
In 1982 Abdallah’s resistance group accepted responsibility for the death of Israeli and American agents in Paris. They said they were the legitimate acts of resistance against a foreign occupation, as Israel had invaded Lebanon yet again.
Abdallah was back in court to demand France finally release him, because the expulsion of alleged terrorists from French soil has become systematic. The court’s decision is expected February 10.
Abdallah’s trial was noted for its lack of proof, and his own lawyer later confessed to betraying him. Many say he has been made a sacrificial lamb for two dead alleged spies, with major pressure coming from the United States and Israel.
Many believe Abdallah, a Maronite Christian, could help unify a fragmented and battered Lebanese nation.
Many believe the only way France will release him is in a prisoner exchange, but Abdallah’s arrival in Lebanon could destabilize an ever-precarious status quo where France remains the power broker, even post-colonization.
French visitors describe Abdallah’s mood as good, and that he remains politically active and committed to the causes of the oppressed peoples worldwide.
In turn, Abdallah is not just a hero to the Arab world - he has become a global icon for anti-imperialists, socialists and internationalists.