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
0

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.


Iran govt faces angry online backlash over activists’ abuse claims

Since protests began in December, Iranians have had their internet access disrupted and have lost access to the messaging app Telegram. (Reuters)
Updated 18 February 2019
0

Iran govt faces angry online backlash over activists’ abuse claims

  • The Arab minority in southwest Iran has long claimed that it faces discrimination from the central government

GENEVA, LONDON: In early January, labor activist Esmail Bakhshi posted a letter on Instagram saying he had been tortured in jail, attracting support from tens of thousands of Iranians online.
Bakhshi, who said he was still in pain, also challenged the intelligence minister to a public debate about the religious justification for torture. Late last month, Bakhshi was rearrested.
Sepideh Qoliyan, a journalist covering labor issues in the Ahvaz region, was also rearrested on the same day after saying on social media that she had been abused in jail.
Bakhshi’s allegations of torture and the social media furor that followed led Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to call for an investigation, and the intelligence minister subsequently met with a parliamentary committee to discuss the case, a rare example of top officials being prompted to act by a public backlash online.
“Each sentence and description of torture from the mouths of #Sepideh_Qoliyan and #Esmail_Bakhshi should be remembered and not forgotten because they are now alone with the torturers and under pressure and defenseless. Let us not forget,” a user named Atish posted on Twitter in Farsi on Feb. 11.
“When thousands of people share it on social media, the pressure for accountability goes up,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director at the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran. “Sham investigations won’t put it to rest. Social media is definitely becoming a major, major public square in Iran.”
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said last month, without naming Bakhshi, that allegations of torture online constitute a crime.
His comments follow growing pressure from officials to close Instagram, which has about 24 million users in Iran. Iran last year shut down the Telegram messaging app, which had about 40 million users in the country, citing security concerns.
“Today you see in cyberspace that with the posting of a film or lie or rumor the situation in the country can fall apart,” Dolatabadi said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency. “You saw in recent days that they spread a rumor and announced the rape of an individual or claimed suicide and recently you even saw claims of torture and all the powers in the country get drawn in. Today cyberspace has been transformed into a very broad platform for committing crimes.”
The arrests of Bakhshi and Qoliyan are part of a crackdown in Ahvaz, center of Iran’s Arab population. Hundreds of activists there pushing for workers’ and minority rights, two of the most contentious issues in Iran, have been detained in recent weeks.
The Arab minority in southwest Iran has long claimed that it faces discrimination from the central government.