Germany deports 100 Egyptians for visa violations

A file photo showing Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Germany deports 100 Egyptians for visa violations

CAIRO: Germany deported 100 Egyptians and sent them to Cairo over violations of residency requirements, including those whose asylum requests were rejected, Egyptian airport officials said Thursday, the first action of this kind from Berlin.
The move signals intent to implement a sharper migration policy by Germany, which accepted over a million refugees between 2015 and 2016, mostly from war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, but later experienced a populist backlash that drove support of far-right politicians.
The deportees landed in Cairo on Wednesday on a flight from Frankfurt that included a robust security detail of 50 German officers, who returned after handing over the Egyptians to authorities at Cairo’s international airport.
Police then investigated the individuals and the circumstances surrounding their deportations, including whether any had warrants issued for their arrest. Most of them were released but over a dozen were still in custody on Thursday.
Human rights organizations often oppose deportations to Egypt over concerns those returning may face harsh treatment by authorities, who have a long history of abuses, including extensively documented cases of torture.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to reporters, said the flight full of deportees was a first for Germany, although they noted that Italy had also organized a similar deportation in the past.
Germany offered support during the migrant surge, but the number of attacks against migrants and sometimes against their supporters also rose sharply.
The issue was a key theme of last year’s election, which saw the rise of the nationalist AfD party, and was one of the biggest stumbling blocks in forming a coalition between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats.
Germany’s new government, which will be sworn in next week, has vowed to continue pushing for voluntary returns of migrants and enforce deportations of rejected asylum seekers, who until now have often remained in Germany in legal limbo.
Compared with many other European countries, Germany has generous asylum laws. They are enshrined in the German constitution in reaction to the Third Reich, when many people fleeing the Nazis survived only because they were able to get asylum in other countries.
The recent influx of mostly young, male migrants into Germany has led to an increase in violent crime in the country, a government-funded study has shown, adding to the ongoing debate in about how to tackle migrant crime, which has been fanned by a number of high-profile incidents.
Parties on the right, including Merkel’s Union bloc, want a tough response and more deportations, while those on the left say more needs to be done to integrate refugees into German society.


Erdogan, ruling AK Party take early lead in Turkish elections

Updated 37 min 27 sec ago
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Erdogan, ruling AK Party take early lead in Turkish elections

  • President Tayyip Erdogan has over 50 percent of the vote with 40 percent of the votes counted in Turkey's presidential election
  • If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent in Sunday’s vote, a second round run-off will be held on July 8

ANKARA: Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party took an early lead in presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, according to preliminary partial results, boosting the president’s hopes of extending his 15-year rule.
However, the first results had been expected to give Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted party a strong lead and it is expected to shorten as more votes are tallied across the nation of 81 million people.
With about 30 percent of votes counted in the presidential race, Erdogan had 58 percent, well ahead of his closest rival, Muharrem Ince, of the main opposition, secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), on 27.5 percent, broadcasters said.
If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent in Sunday’s vote, a second round run-off will be held on July 8.
In the parliamentary contest, the AK Party had 53.03 percent, based on 10.25 percent of votes counted, the broadcasters said. The CHP had 14.82 percent and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) 7.07 percent.
Turnout was high at around 87 percent for both contests, the state broadcaster said.
Sunday’s vote ushers in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.
Earlier on Sunday, a crowd of Erdogan’s supporters chanted his name as he emerged from a school after voting in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, shaking hands with people amid tight security.
“Turkey is staging a democratic revolution,” he told reporters in the polling station. “With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilizations.”
Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, argues the new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation’s economic problems — the lira has lost 20 percent against the dollar this year — and deal with Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
But he reckoned without Ince, a former physics teacher and veteran CHP lawmaker, whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey’s long-demoralized and divided opposition.
FRAUD FEARS
Voicing opposition concerns about possible electoral fraud, Ince told reporters outside the High Electoral Board (YSK) after polling stations had closed that citizens should protect ballot boxes. He also urged YSK members to “do your job the right way,” adding he believed the results would be “very good.”
Opposition parties and NGOs deployed up to half a million monitors at ballot boxes to ward against fraud. They have said election law changes and fraud allegations in the 2017 referendum raise fears about the vote’s fairness.
Erdogan said there had been no serious voting violations.
Turkey has been under emergency rule — which restricts some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees — for nearly two years since an attempted coup in 2016.
Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on his followers in Turkey, detaining some 160,000 people, according to the United Nations.
The president’s critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent.
Ince told a rally on Saturday he would lift the state of emergency within 48 hours of being elected president. He also vowed to reverse what opposition parties see as Turkey’s swing toward authoritarian rule under Erdogan.
“This is no longer a Turkey we want. Rights are violated, democracy is in terrible shape,” said health sector worker Sema, 50, after voting in Istanbul.
She and others in the city said they voted for the pro-Kurdish HDP, hoping it would exceed the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament. If it does so, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority.