Law amendments to strip Egyptian nationality from terror convicts - Egypt Today
CAIRO – 17 October 2018: The Egyptian Official Gazette reported on Tuesday Oct. 16 that the Ministry of Interior allowed 21 citizens to naturalize other nationalities while retaining their Egyptian nationality.
Earlier in October, the ministry also decided to allow 42 citizens, including 14 women and two children, to naturalize 11 other nationalities without retaining the Egyptian nationality.
However, there has been a great deal of interest regarding the latest amendments to the Egyptian nationality law. Egypt Today explains the reasons for Egyptian nationality withdrawal, how to regain it and the legal amendments to the Egyptian nationality law.
On September 21, 2017, Parliament issued an amendment to the law regarding withdrawal of the Egyptian nationality: “The Egyptian citizenship will be withdrawn from individuals found guilty of participating in a terrorist act, communicating with terrorists or gathering information for terrorists.”
This means that the Egyptian citizenship will be withdrawn from any terrorist after a final verdict is issued by the court.
Supporters of the amendment stressed it protects the national security of the country.
On the other hand, opponents say that this amendment violates constitutional law as it is the citizens' right to keep their nationality, and no law can take that right away from them.
Reasons for withdrawal of the Egyptian nationality
According to Law No. 26 of 1975, the basic reasons for revoking the nationality include:
1. If the citizen takes another nationality without the permission of the Egyptian government.
2. If the Egyptian citizen enters the military service of a foreign country without being approved by the Ministry of Defense.
3. If a court ruling is issued against an individual who is involved in damaging public security.
4. If the Cabinet orders an individual working abroad to leave his job, the nationality shall be revoked after six months of his notification if he fails to oblige.
5. If an individual joins a foreign body whose purpose is to destroy the social or economic system of the state.
6. If an individual works for a foreign state or government at war with Egypt.
7. If an individual works with countries that cut off diplomatic relations with Egypt.
8. If an individual works with a Zionist governmental or non-governmental entity.
9. If an individual takes the Egyptian nationality by cheating and/or presenting false papers.
Ahmed Mahran, manager of the Cairo Center for Political and Legal Studies, said that withdrawing the nationality comes upon a decision of the Cabinet and must be published in the state’s official Gazette within thirty days from the date of issuance.
If the citizen wants to unilaterally revoke their nationality, one only needs to sign an application to be submitted to the Ministry of Interior, according to Esmat el-Merghani, President of the Afro-Asian Lawyers Federation.
Regaining the Egyptian nationality
If an individual’s nationality has been revoked, they have the ability to file a lawsuit requesting to regain their citizenship. If any individual is prosecuted of crimes committed during the period of their nationality revocation, the final decision will be issued by the Interior Minister. It is not possible for one to regain their citizenship if it has been withdrawn for over five years.
According to the Egyptian law, the acquisition of another nationality is acceptable, but a dual-nationality request must be submitted to officials. Egyptians who have acquired a foreign nationality may retain their Egyptian citizenship if the other country permits it.
Citizens with dual-nationality do not perform military service and cannot enroll in military and police academies or run for office in Parliament.
For his part, Ayman Salameh, an expert on international law, explained that the reissuance of citizenship is the right of every citizen; however, if one relinquishes it again, the individual will be subject to many legal obstacles. He pointed out that a person who relinquishes their nationality will have a very weak chance of obtaining it again.
In the same context, on April 19, the Egyptian citizenship of a Moroccan citizen was withdrawn because she obtained the Egyptian citizenship through fraud and false documents.
Also, citizenship received by Palestinians during the era of ousted President Mohammed Morsi was withdrawn; the most prominent of these Palestinians is Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar.
Sources told Egypt Today that the total number of Palestinians who obtained the Egyptian citizenship in the era of Morsi was around 8,000, mostly obtained fraudulently.
The House of Representatives approved in July 2018, a draft law introduced by the Cabinet amending the nationality law, giving adult foreigners the right to apply for the Egyptian citizenship if they have stayed in Egypt for five years and have LE 7 million ($391,400) in deposit.
In case the nationality is granted to the foreigner following the authorities’ approval, the value of the deposit goes to the Egyptian state treasury, according to the law.
Only 11 parliamentarians rejected the law, according to media reports. A number of parliamentarians voiced concerns that the new amendments can be exploited, calling on the Parliament to prioritize national security.
According to the law, foreigners residing in Egypt would be divided into foreigners with special accommodation, foreigners with normal accommodation, foreigners with temporary accommodation and foreigners with banking deposit.
Following the approval of the Cabinet, the Interior Ministry is authorized to determine those who can be granted accommodation licenses, the license duration, in addition to the deposit value and the currency used. The ministry also determines, according to the law, the banks the money can be deposited in.
MP and journalist Mostafa Bakri said that although he believes that the authorities will check the foreigners' files before they are granted the nationality, he rejects the idea of obtaining the nationality for “a 5-year bank deposit.”
Bakri expressed concerns about the law, claiming that 7,000 terrorists were granted the nationality during former Muslim Brotherhood affiliated President Morsi.
MP Haitham al-Hariri also expressed his rejection to the law, saying that foreign investors call for the facilitation of visa and accommodation procedures and not the nationality.
In a sharp tone, political analyst Mohamed al-Ezaby warned that the law will allow the agents of the hostile countries to obtain the nationality to be able to control the Egyptian economy.
Threatening the Parliament, Ezaby said that if the Parliament passes the law, a signature campaign will be launched and submitted to the Supreme Constitutional Court with the aim of declaring the current Parliament illegitimate.
The dispute around the issue started about two years ago. Moreover, in 2017, renowned Lawyer Samir Sabri commented on granting the nationality for a deposit, saying that it is wholly unconstitutional.
On the other hand, former Prime Minister Sherif Ismail defended the Cabinet’s draft law, saying that many countries grant their citizenships for foreigners with banking deposits, affirming that the deposit will not be enough for a foreigner to obtain the Egyptian nationality in case security conditions are not fulfilled.