Canadian filmmaker and doctor Tarek Loubani refuse food to protest their detention in a Cairo jail.

Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and emergency room physician Tarek Loubani have informed friends and supporters through their Egyptian lawyers that they will be refusing food beginning this week [Sept 16] to protest the “arbitrary nature” of their detention by Egyptian authorities.

Greyson and Loubani were travelling through Cairo on their way to Gaza - Greyson prepping a film project and Loubani working on a medical aid project - when they were detained in Cairo’s Tora prison.

They have been held there for more than 30 days, during which time Egyptian officials have not provided any reason for their ongoing detention.

Greyson and Loubani’s detention could be extended up to two years without formal charges being laid according to new emergency measures put in place in Egypt.

The filmmaker’s sister said in a statement: “We know that they did not take the decision to begin a hunger strike lightly, and we want them to know we will do everything we can to support them and get them home soon.”

A petition calling for their release has received more than 115,000 signatures to date.

In addition, more than 300 cultural and academic figures have signed a letter calling for their release including Alec Baldwin, Alex Gibney, Arundhati Roy, Atom Egoyan, Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Danny Glover, Sarah Polley, Naomi Klein and Michael Ondaatje

Supporters of Tarek and John will be gathering at the Egyptian Consulate in Montreal at 1pm on Tuesday, Sept 24.

Greyson is a Toronto-based filmmaker whose work frequently deals with gay themes. His films includes 1993 feature Zero Patience, about AIDS in North America; 1996 film Lilies, which depicts a play being performed in a prison by the inmates; and 2009 documentary Fig Trees, about the struggles of AIDS activists as they fight for access to treatment drugs. Fig Trees won the Teddy for Best Documentary at the 2009 Berlinale.