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Egypt stops issuing licences for Syrian shops

A Syrian refugee prepares coffee at the back of an improvised food truck in the Egyptian capital Cairo on 23 October 2018. [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images]
A Syrian refugee prepares coffee at the back of an improvised food truck in the Egyptian capital Cairo on 23 October 2018. [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images]

Egyptian authorities have demanded that no more licences for shops owned by Syrians be issued following direct orders from General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reports seeing an internal circular sent to governors and deputies by Local Development Minister Mahmoud Sharawi, stipulating they must have direct approval from the Interior Ministry to issue commercial licences to Syrians and be provided with a statement listing “the names of the Syrians”.

The decision was made after Syrians became successful entrepreneurs in Egypt over a short period of time despite “financially suffering when they first arrived,” according to the circular.

It also accuses them of collaborating with Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood to achieve this success.

Shortly after the 2013 coup , Egypt outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood and accuses anyone – Christians, critics of the group, businessmen it has fallen out of favour with – of belonging to it.

“There are some reports indicating that Qatar finances the Syrians residing in Egypt,” said the circular, “from shopkeepers, through members of the Muslim Brotherhood, with the aim of forming a new economic entity for the group, enabling it to participate in financing its (banned) activities inside and outside the borders. The Egyptian state.”

READ: Egypt arrests mother, 50 relatives of Islam the Australian

Officially, there are some half a million Syrians in Egypt but the figure is believed to be a lot higher.

Conditions for Syrian refugees are worsening under the current government. Whilst their access to education and medical care was free under the late Morsi administration, it is becoming more limited.

Syrian refugees in Egypt have faced hostility from all directions, with some Egyptians accusing them of dominating business and rolling out accusations levelled against immigrant communities across the world – stealing locals’ jobs.

The state-run media is hostile and many have been arbitrarily imprisoned and deported, meaning racist attacks have also risen.

Egyptian authorities have raided their shops and closed them down in response to complaints.

Among some sectors of society Syrians have been praised for the thriving restaurants, cafes and barbers they have successfully established.

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AfricaEgyptMiddle EastNewsSyria
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