Before you read:
This paper does not aim to be prejudiced against foreigners nor does it adopt any stance in favor of reducing their rights. The paper does not aim to convict foreigners nor claim to violate human rights values neither of foreigners nor Egyptians.
A foreigner is defined in UN treaties as “an individual who exists in a state in which he is not one of its citizens”. It is a fundamental value in all countries – including Egypt – that the national citizens enjoy more rights and have more duties than foreigners. Nevertheless, they are both equal in basic human rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of individuals who are not nationals of the country in which they live issued in 1985.
The reality in Egypt:
The Constitution and the law organized rights and duties of foreigners, concerning entry, residence, work, ownership of property, or obtaining the Egyptian nationality. However, the state has a wide arbitrary authority, allowing it to deprive a foreigner of knowing the reason behind rejecting his/her visa or depriving him/her of the residence. Even the judiciary cannot interfere to evaluate such reasons.
The Egyptian constitution states: Sovereignty is for the People, it practices it and protects it. People are the source of authorities, preserving its national unity which is based on equality, justice and equal opportunities between citizens.
As stated in article 53 of the Egyptian Constitution, “Citizens are equal before the law and are equal in rights, freedoms and public duties, not to be discriminated against on the basis of religion, creed, sex, origin, race, color, language, social class or geographic distribution or any other reason. Discrimination and incitement to hatred are punishable by law. The State is obliged to take the necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination and the law shall establish an independent commission for this purpose. ”
As for the actual reality, and at the level of media discourse and practice on the ground, the Egyptian ruling system is practicing a nationalist speech with a high tone, which in some media discourse reaches the chauvinistic and even the demagogic level. This regime pretends that it protects Egypt, its dignity, its immortality, its history, citizens and their dignity.
However, we are trying to compare the texts of the Egyptian pension, which we found, after the research, that it differs significantly from what is stated in the constitutional texts and laws, and even this media discourse.
Why this paper?
The purpose of this paper is to highlight many cases in which the Egyptian authorities have discriminated against Egyptian citizens in favor of foreigners, especially those belonging to European, American or Gulf nationalities, through actual practices on the ground, or legislation providing for such discrimination which is unconstitutional and illegal.
The Egyptian public opinion has a growing feeling that the Egyptian nationality does not protect those who hold it in their own country, and this feeling escalates when comparing between the treatment an Egyptian receives inside and outside Egypt as opposed to the treatment of foreigners within the country. Therefore, research and scrutiny should be conducted to find out whether this feeling is the result of malicious rumors, information racketeering and a complaint that has no basis or are there manifestations and evidence that reinforce this feeling among Egyptian citizens with the humiliation resulting from holding the Egyptian nationality.
Does Egypt really implement equality?
When we started looking for an answer to this question, we found that this issue has many branches that need a series of research underclass, gender, and legal subtitles. Therefore, we have to address one subtitle in this paper, namely, comparing the treatment of Egyptians and the treatment of foreigners inside Egypt before the law, so that we can cover this point the coverage it deserves.
- Discrimination against Egyptians
It is assumed that a foreigner inside Egypt is treated in accordance with the Egyptian constitution and law. However, we found many cases involving violations of the law and the constitution in favor of foreigners at the expense of Egyptians.
Since the paper will not expand in all cases, we can include some examples that have received the attention of Egyptian public opinion and may be one of the reasons that contributed to the feeling of many Egyptian citizens as a “second degree” and invites them to feel alienation and injustice.
a- Saudi defendants in Egypt
In 2008, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to exchange prisoners. However, in the same year, the Saudi authorities arrested Egyptian blogger Yousef al-Ashmawi and confined him in al-Ha’ir prison without charge or cause. As a result of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry refraining doing its duties, in order to find out the reasons for his arrest or to seek his release, ANHRI filed a case to isolate Ahmed Aboul Gheit and organize a protest in front of the Saudi embassy to demand his release . However, the Mubarak regime did not act and did not seek his release.
The January revolution led to the liberation of prisoners, whether Egyptian prisoners in Egypt or Saudis in Egypt, but the military council that ruled Egypt after the revolution did not act to save Egyptian prisoners in Saudi Arabia, including Yusuf al-Ashmawi!
Egyptian authorities released Saudi prisoners and deported them to their country until the Egyptian prisons went mostly vacant from any Saudi while the imprisonment of Yusuf al-Ashmawi continued. He was only released in mid-2012, after popular protests in front of the Saudi Embassy in Cairo, led to the departure of the Saudi ambassador and the travel of an Egyptian delegation for reconciliation in May 2012 months later, Yusuf al-Ashmawi was released. He said: I was not prosecuted, nor investigated.
Therefore, releasing Ashmawi, or freeing him, came thanks to demonstration and civil society’s efforts.
During the governance of the isolated Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, things were not much different, as the Egyptian prisoners were vacant from any Saudi after releasing 25 Saudi detainees in March 2013 despite the detention of 1000 Egyptians in Saudi Arabia while the Egyptian government was calling for their release.
b- Case 173: release, military aircraft and the departure of foreign defendants
The Egyptian regime accuses all those who criticize it with accusations of treachery and being foreign agents and claims monopoly over patriotism and allegiance. The regime fabricated the case of civil society organizations known to the media as case 173. The Egyptian regime placed the defendants in the ranks of foreign agents. A series of press conferences were held by the Minister of Justice at the time, Adel Abdul Hamid, and the remnants of the Mubarak regime, which were used by the military council such as “Fayza Abul Naga,” who accused civil society and the detained foreigners of espionage, but the course of the case has changed completely, where some judges said that they were put under pressure and foreigners were allowed to travel in a “private” US plane, which goes beyond the powers of the Minister of Civil Aviation and requires the approval of the military council itself, and the cry of the famous Prime Minister, “Kamal Ganzouri: (Egypt will not kneel) !! went in vain
The case continued until the defendants were acquitted, but the acquittal excluded the Egyptian defendants. The innocence was only for the foreign defendants. Because they are foreigners ?!
C – Foreign compensation equals 140,000 US dollars and the Egyptian equivalent of 2000 Egyptian pounds, and sometimes nothing at all
1 – One of the events that caused a huge uproar in the Egyptian public opinion and increased the feeling of bitterness and alienation within their country, the incident of bombing Mexican tourists “by mistake” and with them from the Egyptian escorts.
Where the Egyptian army forces bombed a bus carrying tourists from Mexico and with them Egyptian escorts in Western Sahara, by mistake, killing 8 Mexicans and 4 Egyptians. The incident angered the government of Mexico, which demanded the Egyptian government to pay the necessary compensation. Indeed, the Egyptian government has paid compensation of $ 140,000 for every Mexican killed, while only 2,000 Egyptian pounds were paid for every Egyptian killed, equivalent to less than $ 150.
- On August 19, 2013, following the imposition of a curfew in Egypt, the army’s mistake was repeated, this time on the car of the journalist Tamer Abdul Raouf in an ambush of the army in Damanhour city.
The network searched for any news that the family of the martyred journalist, whether fair compensation or even simple compensation. No result was found.
- The military apologizes for the death of the deceased child – Omar Salah – by mistake and undertakes to take all legal action against the culprit. The armed forces, officers and non-commissioned officers and soldiers offer sincere condolences to the family of the deceased, calling on God to inspire them patience and solace.
This paragraph, which was published by Al-Masry Al-Youm, represented an apology by the armed forces for the killing of the child Omar Salah, known as the potato seller. His family received no compensation for his death,
According to the website of the Sada al Balad, a website close to the regime.
D – The law of deporting foreign suspects, circumventing the constitution and interfering in judicial affairs.
Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper published a report explaining some of the consequences of the enactment of this law, which has already benefited three journalists accused of Australian, Canadian and American citizenship who have already traveled abroad, While the Egyptians held the same cases inside the prison.
The law, “Law 140 of 2014” issued by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appeared to emerge from the enormous pressure exerted by some of the countries of some of the defendants in the case of Al-Jazeera
1 – “Peter Gresty” from Australia
2- Mohamed Fahmy Al-Kindi Al-Masri “, known as the” Marriott Cell ”
3 – Mohammed Sultan Al Masri, the US case “Rabaa operations room”
Also to avoid a new scandal after the scandal of foreign defendants traveling in the case of 173, before the verdict.
This law comes in order to destroy the principle of separation of powers. The president’s powers are limited to the right to pardon defendants who are sentenced to a final verdict, not during the period of investigation or trial. The accused are under the authority of the public prosecution and the judiciary. The law gives the President of the Republic has the right to extradite the accused at the trial stage to their countries, which discriminates against Egyptian defendants in the same or other cases, as it includes a preference for the foreigner defendants and giving them an advantage based on their nationalities, while depriving the Egyptians – which actually happens – to benefit from this law because they are Egyptians.
Ironically, the journalist Mohammed Fahmi, who was a Canadian and Egyptian citizen, gave up Egyptian nationality to benefit from this flawed law and traveled to Canada. After his arrival in Canada, he sought to recover Egyptian nationality while in Canada, In the middle of 2016.
E – Aya Higazi, 3 years of pretrial detention because she is an Egyptian, released because she is American.
- At the beginning of April 2017, President Sissi returned from the United States after a visit to meet US President Trump.
- In mid-April 2017, the Cairo Criminal Court acquitted Aya Higazi, her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, and others in the case of the Biladi Society, after three years’ imprisonment in violation of the law.
- On April 20, 2017, Aya Higazi arrived in the United States on board of a US private plane sent by President Trump to Cairo to bring Aya Hegazi.
It may be a coincidence, but a strange one.
But we have “legitimate” doubts about discrimination against Egyptian defendants when they do not have another nationality.
- Aya Hijazi has American citizenship as well as Egyptian nationality.
- After her acquittal and travel to the United States, the American president announced his efforts to release A Hijazi . Let us ignore websites the Egyptian government may question, and only refer to news from Reuters, Al Hurra, and CNN. These are media outlets that are neither Egyptian nor opposition and most importantly, the Egyptian government did not respond to them or Trump’s statements, by intervening to release A Hijazi.
The case of A Hijazi means much to human rights and the rule of law:
– She was arrested without evidence and based on non-serious investigations by national security officers.
-She has been defamed and accused of being an agent who receives funds and many of the evil accusations during her imprisonment along with other defendants.
– She was held for three years in violation of the maximum limit of pre-trial detention.
– Has been acquitted “and she deserves it” but with huge doubts that the acquittal was not based on the law, but for the intervention of the American president, to free the American Aya Hijazi.
– The Egyptian government remained silent despite Trump’s comments to intervene for her release, and news published by a huge number of international media.
What if Aya Hijazi did not have a US citizenship ?!
F- Foreigners accused of murder
On August 10, 2017, an argument broke out between the Italian tourist “de Leonardes Ivan de Pascal” and the Egyptian engineer “Tariq al-Hanawi” in charge of Marina in Marsa Alam, during which the Italian tourist assaulted the Egyptian engineer beating him, leading to his death!
The public prosecution in Hurghada, which is followed by the city of “Marsa Alam” ruled to imprison the Italian tourist pending investigation.
So here it is, just an ordinary crime.
But its developments are not normal
One month later, in September 2017, the Italian accused was released on financial bail pending investigation, and a few days later he traveled to Italy !!
He traveled during the investigations, although a lawyer stated that he had submitted to the Attorney General a request to prevent the accused from traveling .
But he traveled, which is not available to the Egyptian defendants, whether accused of murder like him or accused of demonstrating or other charges, whether it is real or fabricated.
The Arab Network believes that the suspect’s travel and before the investigations were completed was an attempt to appease the Italian government, which seeks to uncover the circumstances of the murder of the Italian researcher Giulio Reggini, using the same law of “140 year 2014 Legal Status of Foreign Offenders “ which allows the deportation of foreign suspects Legal Status of Foreign Offenders.
In October 2018, the Italian Red Cross Criminal Court sentenced Italian tourist Leonard Evan to three years in prison. The Egyptian engineer’s family continues to seek justice and punish the murderer.
Do you remember a case involving foreigners or Egyptians who hold other nationalities as defendants, especially if the defendant is from the Gulf or a white person who was imprisoned?
Please remind us.
We have other examples that we have not mentioned.
We at ANHRI believe that there is favoritism to foreigners at the expense of the law for political purposes which is used with these countries (American support or Italian pacification, etc.), and that such favoritism, which was codified in the Act of 2014 to extradite the accused destroys the foundations of the law itself. The dual nationals give up the Egyptian nationality to enjoy better legal protection with their foreign nationality, especially if it is a western citizenship.
As we see, the Egyptian state is practicing this favoritism, it discriminates against Egyptians, in favor of non-Egyptians. It has a general policy that takes the side of the foreigners and has legalized it, even forced some Egyptians of dual nationality to abandon their Egyptian nationality to escape from prison and fabricated charges.
The media discourse, which boils down to national bidding, is merely a discourse for local consumption, in contravention of the facts that discriminate against Egyptian citizens, especially opponents or critics.
As for what is stated in the constitutions, covenants and international covenants that Egypt was one of the first countries to sign, it was about to be a dead letter. Accusing the regime’s opponents of being foreign agents is a matter of bidding and misleading. When the Egyptian state is put to the test, it favors whoever is white or belongs to the Gulf area at the expense of Egyptians’ rights.