Attack on Egyptian expat in Kuwait sparks diplomatic row

Kuwaiti MP Safa Al-Hashem has come under fire for her response to the incident. (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Attack on Egyptian expat in Kuwait sparks diplomatic row

  • Egyptian lawyer calls for the arrest of Kuwaiti MP who condemned comments from minister over attack
  • Fatma Aziz says she was injured after she was attacked by a group of Kuwaiti women

CAIRO: An attack on an Egyptian woman living in Kuwait has spiralled into a war of words between politicians from the two countries.

Fatma Aziz, an Egyptian expatriate, said she was verbally and physically attacked by a Kuwaiti woman and four others after she complained that they had hit her child with their bikes. 

In a video posted last week, Aziz described how the woman shoved her to the ground and stepped on her face leaving her with a broken finger, torn hair and bruises.

Nabila Makram, Egypt’s Minister of Immigration and Foreign Affairs, responded to the attack, saying: “The dignity of Egyptian citizens and Egyptian women in specific is a red line. However, we respect Kuwaiti authorities and judiciary.”

But her comments drew the ire of Kuwaiti MP Safa Al-Hashem, who sent a barbed tweet on Makram’s direction.

“Dear Minister of Immigration or Minister of Dignity, as long as you respect the Kuwaiti authority and the Kuwaiti judiciary, it is better for you not to address the issue of dignity nor play on people’s emotions,” she said.

“There is no need to gain political and media attention by inciting fear. We treat people with more dignity than their own country.”

The Kuwaiti MPs response sparked anger in Egypt, where the attack is now being investigated by the authorities.

The Egyptian Hama party said the way Al-Hashem has spoken about Egyptian expats was unacceptable.

“She does not represent the people of Kuwait," the statement said, adding that the Kuwaiti people "respect the Egyptian state.”

The attack and ensuing row has been closely followed by the more than half a million Egyptian expats working in Kuwait.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Monday it was investigating the attack. 

Khaled Yusri Rizk, Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs and Egyptians abroad, said the Egyptian consulate in Kuwait contacted Aziz.

Egyptian lawyer Amr Abdel Salam submitted a report on the attack to the Attorney General, Nabil Sadiq. The lawyer said Al-Hashem had “insulted an Egyptian public servant” and insulted the Egyptian authorities. 

He urged the Attorney General to take the necessary measures with Kuwait, Interpol and Egyptian ports and airports to arrest Al-Hashem.

“Al-Hashem has provoked the anger of the Egyptian masses through social networking sites, which led to the escalation of public disharmony and damage to the public interest of the Egyptian state,” Salam said.

He said these were criminal offences punishable by imprisonment.

The Kuwaiti MP’s attack on Egypt was also condemned in Kuwait.  

Media personality Aisha Al-Rashed said the Egyptian ambassador to Egypt did not say anything that hurts the people of Kuwait, insisting that Al-Hashem does not represent Kuwaitis.


Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

Updated 20 February 2019
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Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

  • Jordan PM says most refugees not returning yet
  • Amman says funding crucial to keep economy afloat

AMMAN: Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz appealed on Wednesday to major donors to continue multi-billion dollar funding for Syrian refugees in the kingdom, saying most of those who had fled the eight-year conflict had no intention of returning any time soon.
Razzaz told representatives of major Western donors, UN agencies and NGOs that relatively few refugees had gone back since Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s army last summer regained control of southern Syria, where most had fled from.
“The number of refugees that so far returned voluntarily is low and most have no intention of going back any time soon,” Razzaz told a meeting to launch a UN-funded government plan that earmarks $2.4 billion in funding needs for 2019.
Officials say only around 10,000 refugees out of a total estimated at 1.3 million had left since the two countries opened the vital Nassib-Jaber border crossing last October.
Razzaz echoed the UN view that unstable conditions inside Syria, where large-scale destruction, fear of retribution and military conscription has made many reluctant to return.
“We are now entering a new phase of the Syrian crisis, however the impact is still ongoing. The conditions for their return are not present,” Razzaz added.
The prime minister warned against donor fatigue in a protracted crisis where the needs of refugees and vulnerable Jordanians were largely unchanged.
Maintaining funding that covers education, health and crucial services for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and local communities was crucial to ease rising pressures on the debt-burdened economy, he added.
“Aid helped Jordan in staying resilient in a difficult regional setting,” Razzaz said, adding the refugee burden had strained meagre resources such as water and electricity, with a donor shortfall covered from state finances.
Jordan is struggling to rein in record public debt of $40 billion, equivalent to 95 percent of gross domestic product, under a tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity plan.
Major donors say more than $6 billion had been extended to Jordan since 2015, which economists credit for rejuvenating once sleepy northern border towns, while refugee entrepreneurship brought a pool of cheap labor and new skills, triggering a property boom and higher productivity.
The kingdom received around $1.6 billion last year alone.
“The level of funding to Jordan that still remains is exceptional in global comparison,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Anders Pedersen, adding needs had evolved from the humanitarian aid required early in the conflict to development projects that benefit the economy.