Mutasim Ali, a Sudanese asylum seeker and one of the leaders of the African refugee protest movement in Israel, was sent to the Holot detention center in the Negev, on Monday. Like other asylum seekers, Ali received a summons to Holot during a visit to renew his visa at the Interior Ministry in Tel Aviv several months ago. Ali appealed the decision, under the claim that the imprisonment of all asylum seekers is illegal. After the court rejected his appeal, Ali announced that he will go to Holot and continue his struggle against the Israeli government’s policies toward asylum seekers.
Over the past months, Ali has taken a central role in the joint committee of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel. Committee members were responsible for coordinating and organizing the major protests against Holot, and amplified the community’s demands to be recognized as refugees. On the weekend before he was sent to Holot, Ali’s friends organized a farewell party on the roof of his south Tel Aviv apartment building. On Saturday night, African and Israeli activists put together an event in support of their friend. On Monday morning, approximately 30 of Ali’s friends gathered at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena, from which the Interior Ministry generally buses African asylum seekers to Holot.