"Save my brothers … the Egyptian authorities are preparing to deport a new group now," said a student in East Turkestan, warning of the fate of the latest group of Uyghurs who have been arrested in Egypt and will be deported to China imminently.
An Egyptian security source confirmed that in the past few hours 80 students, including four arrested in the city of Samanoud in Dakahlia governorate, were arrested for alleged irregularities in their residency papers.
The source, who asked not to be identified, told HuffPost Arabi that "the last group was transferred to the prosecution services".
Another security source confirmed that Egyptian authorities deported 12 students from the Uyghur minority – most of whom live in China's northwest province Xinjiang – on Thursday 6 July 2017 at the request of Chinese authorities.
Detainees were distributed between more than 10 police stations inside Cairo. They have been neither investigated nor referred to trial.
Many Uyghurs have sought asylum abroad after being accused of terrorism by China's central government. On these allegations Uyghurs are forcibly disappeared, tortured and executed.
"Farewell, my friend. This may be the last time I meet you, or the last time I am alive," said one of the students who has been detained to his friend Fakhruddin Razi, a fourth-year student at Al-Azhar University.
Razi told HuffPost Arabi that his arrested classmate called him to tell him he was on his way to the Mogamma, Cairo's administrative governmental building, accompanied by a security forces, to complete his deportation papers.
When Razi visited his friend he found him handcuffed and guarded by several police officers. During the meeting, which did not last for more than five minutes, he gave him clothes and money to buy food from the police station. As they said goodbye to each other his friend was distraught for fear that he would be executed if he was sent home.
Ezzat Ghoneim, director of the Egyptian Coordination for Human Rights who sent a team of lawyers to defend the students, said on Monday that they have been told they will be released after proving they have the appropriate residency papers to live in Egypt.
According to Ghoneim Egyptian authorities are attempting to show that the Uyghurs are being arrested for violating residency laws rather than because they want to deport them to China.
Ghoneim told HuffPost Arabi that "every arrested student is photographed and his personal details are sent to the officers of the Chinese embassy in Cairo in order to reveal his security situation with the authorities in Beijing."
In an attempt to prevent the deportation of others to China, a group of Turkestani students appealed to the Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, Sheikh of Al-Azhar, asking him to enquire about the arrested Turkestani students of Al-Azhar. They asked him to work on their release, their return to studies, and failing this that they be allowed to leave Egypt and choose where to go.
"Honourable Imam, we do not want this incident to be a disgrace in the history of Al-Azhar and your history as the Sheikh of Al-Azhar. Most importantly, we want you to be clean on judgement day, when every person comes individually to God," the students said in a statement HuffPost Arabi obtained a copy of.
"Honourable Imam, we believe that a person like you in your place will not bow to any pressure and will not be silent facing the attempts to hand us over to a non-believing government which wants to sentence us to imprisonment or execution. Our only sin is that we want to learn and study religion, and this government wants to dry religion and religiosity at its source so that the people of East Turkistan become infidels after being Muslims, just like them."
The students concluded: "We came to Al-Azhar Al-Sharif to learn our true religion, which rejected all forms of injustice and inequality, because we, the Uyghur Muslims, know Al-Azhar Al-Sharif is a clean source [from which] to learn the true religion. We know Egypt, where Al-Azhar is built, is a safe haven for those who are eager to learn."
who are eager to learn."