Anger in Egypt over $400,000 citizenship

Supporters say the the law would encourage investment and bring hard currency into the country. (Reuters)
Updated 19 July 2018

Anger in Egypt over $400,000 citizenship

  • Parliament approves new rules to grant citizenship after five years to those depositing 7 million Egyptian pounds
  • Critics say move is desperate attempt to support economy

CAIRO: The approval by Egypt’s parliament of rules to allow foreign nationals to gain citizenship after five years if they pay nearly $400,000 has sparked an angry response.

Monday’s passing of an amendment to existing legislation creates a category of residence for investors in the country.

Supporters said the move would benefit the Egyptian economy. Critics complained that Egypt already has a large and growing population and high unemployment.

“The Egyptian nationality is being sold not for investment, but for other unknown means,” said Haitham Al-Hariri, MP.

Until now there have been three types of Egyptian residence: Normal, special and temporary. 

The amendment will allow investors who wish to live in Egypt to deposit the required sum into one of their banks after they have been in Egypt for five years. They would then be allowed to apply for Egyptian citizenship.

After being granted citizenship the investor would not be able to exercise their political rights for another five years. As it stands, residents can apply for citizenship after 10 years, without having to make a deposit.

This means the investor would not be able to run for election until 10 years after they arrived in the country. The condition was a compromise included to gain the approval of parliament’s National Defense and Security Committee.

Only a handful of MPs opposed the law. Supporters said that the law would encourage and stimulate investment and bring hard currency into the country.

Marwan Omar, minister of legal and parliamentary affairs, said it had always been part of the law to give citizenship to investors.

Opponents of the bill said the law smacks of desperation as the government scrambles to find ways to increase foreign exchange resources.

Dr. Ali Abdel-Aal, Speaker of the House of Representatives, criticized media coverage of the debate over the new law. 

“Egyptian nationality is not for sale,” he said, in response to some of the headlines about the new citizenship status.

Abdel-Aal said all applications would still go through the relevant authorities, and that the state had the right to reject people at any time.

He added that many countries offered nationality, provided they come with a set of conditions, and that the granting of citizenship would not be detrimental to Egypt.

“There are people who have been here 30 or 40 years and there are second and third generations, all of whom live in Egypt and support us by paying for things like gasoline and diesel, so why not benefit from them through the deposit?” he said.

Some predictions said the government’s profits in the first days of the implementation of the draft law could be up to $10 billion. There are already between four and five million foreign nationals living in Egypt.

Pastor talks of breakdown in Turkey, but also of forgiveness

Trump was insistent on Brunson’s release without conditions. (AP)
Updated 49 min 23 sec ago

Pastor talks of breakdown in Turkey, but also of forgiveness

  • Brunson was accused of links to Kurdish militants and a US-based Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016

VIRGINIA BEACH: The American pastor recently released after two years of confinement in Turkey said on Friday that he suffered a breakdown during his time in prison and was put on anti-anxiety medication.
Andrew Brunson said he was deprived of books — even a Bible — for long stretches of time. For eight months, he spent 24 hours a day with more than 20 men in a cell designed for eight.
But the worst of it, he said, was the uncertainty. The pastor who had led a small congregation faced the possibility of life in a Turkish prison if convicted on charges of terrorism and related counts, accusations he still calls “ridiculous.”
“I didn’t do very well,” Brunson said of living in the crowded prison cell. “It was very high stress, and I was sleeping three to four hours maximum a day. And I was really struggling a great deal. I didn’t know how long this would continue. I didn’t know why I was in prison.”
He added: “I really had a breakdown emotionally. And I received medication for anxiety because I was just a basket case.”
Sitting next to his wife, Norine, Brunson spoke inside the Virginia Beach headquarters of the Christian Broadcasting Network after an interview on “The 700 Club,” among other CBN shows. The network closely followed his ordeal, which became a cause celebre for evangelical Christians as well as President Donald Trump.
Earlier this month, Brunson was convicted in Turkey and sentenced to more than three years in prison. But he was freed and allowed to leave for the two years he had already spent in custody. For the past few months, he had been on house arrest.
Brunson was accused of links to Kurdish militants and a US-based Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016.
Upon his return, Brunson, 50, visited the White House and placed his hand on Trump’s shoulder in prayer before asking God to provide the president “supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him.”
Trump was insistent on Brunson’s release without conditions. And the president maintained there was no deal for Brunson’s freedom.
Brunson said on Friday that he was unaware of any deals. And he pointed out that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously suggested trading Brunson for Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Turkey of engineering a failed coup in 2016. The swap was never made.
The Brunsons, who spent 25 years in Turkey, said they still love the country but cannot return any time soon. They said they do not know what is next, but they view their ordeal as part of God’s plan.
“We haven’t done anything great,” Brunson said. “But for so many people in so many countries to be praying for us, this is something that God did. It was not just to bless me. He’s using that to bless Turkey.”
In the meantime, the couple is still recovering from the past two years, which included Norine Brunson’s arrest with her husband and the two weeks she spent with him in prison.
She was released and allowed to stay in the country while he was shipped around to various prisons. Their children, then ages 15, 18 and 21, were in the US and have remained there.
The Brunsons said they still do not know why the Turkish government made its accusations. Their missionary work was legal and out in the open for more than two decades.
But they said they were American Christians, who are viewed with suspicion in Turkey. And they were there after the failed coup.
Brunson said Turkish authorities never offered any proof to support the charges — no emails, no social media postings or recordings.
But people the Brunsons had known testified against him. It is something the pastor is still processing.
“It’s not an option not to forgive; we are required to as Christians,” Brunson said. “Is it easy? No. But God forgave me. As I get emotions that come back, I say, ‘I forgive.’”