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
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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.


Trump: Turkey making ‘terrible mistake’

Turkish government officials did not comment on Trump’s remarks when they spoke after prayers to mark the start of the festival. (AFP)
Updated 25 min 25 sec ago
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Trump: Turkey making ‘terrible mistake’

  • Turkey has demanded that the US hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in the US and who Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup attempt
  • A Turkish court last week rejected Brunson’s appeal for release, drawing a stiff rebuke from Trump

ISTANBUL: The lira weakened against the dollar on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump said he would give Turkey no concessions in return for the release of a detained American pastor, the latest salvo in a worsening rift between the NATO allies.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump criticized Ankara over the detention of the evangelical Christian pastor, Andrew Brunson, and said he was not concerned that his tough stance against Turkey could end up hurting European and emerging market economies.
Brunson, who is originally from North Carolina and has lived in Turkey for two decades, has been detained for 21 months on terrorism charges, which he denies. The pastor has become an unwitting flashpoint for the diplomatic tension, which has accelerated the crisis in the lira.
Trump said that, after he helped persuade Israel to free a detained Turkish citizen, he thought Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would then release Brunson.
“I think they’re making a terrible mistake. There will be no concessions,” Trump said.
The lira weakened to 6.0925 against the US currency by 1111 GMT, from a close of 6.0865 on Monday, when Turkish markets began a holiday to mark the Muslim Eid Al-Adha festival that continues for the rest of this week.
Trade was thinner than usual and probably mainly offshore, with local markets closed for the holiday. The currency has lost 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year. However, selling on Tuesday was limited due to a broadly weaker dollar.
Turkish government officials did not comment on Trump’s remarks when they spoke after prayers to mark the start of the festival.
Devlet Bahceli, leader of a nationalist party allied with Erdogan’s AK Party, told reporters: “We have no business with those who love Brunson more than us.”

Prayers and gifts
Erdogan, who had been expected to speak to reporters after morning prayers, made no public statement.
He has repeatedly cast the currency crisis as an attack on Turkey but has stopped short of singling out any one country.
He prayed on Tuesday morning at a mosque near the tourist resort of Marmaris on the south coast and then handed out gifts to local children, the Milliyet newspaper reported.
He also spoke by phone to soldiers stationed near the border with Iraq, sending them greetings for Eid Al-Adha.
“I believe that as long as you stand tall our flag will not fall, our call to prayer will not fall silent and this homeland of ours will not be divided,” the Hurriyet newspaper reported him as saying.
On Monday, he appealed to Turks’ religious and patriotic feelings ahead of the holiday, promising they would not be brought “to their knees” by the economic crisis.
Turkey has demanded that the US hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in the US and who Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup attempt, but Washington has balked at this.
A Turkish court last week rejected Brunson’s appeal for release, drawing a stiff rebuke from Trump. The US president — who counts evangelical Christians among his core supporters — has said he would double previously announced tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports.
On Monday Turkey initiated a dispute complaint with the World Trade Organization over the tariffs.
Separately, ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday that tight liquidity amplified risks for Turkish companies.
Another ratings agency, DBRS, said European banks with Turkey exposure face a manageable capital impact.
Underlining the increased diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the US, the US Embassy in Ankara came under gunfire on Monday. Nobody was injured and Turkish authorities later detained two men over the incident.