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HRW: Egypt must reverse decision to strip Ghada Najibe of citizenship

Political activist Ghada Najibe [Ghada Najibe/Facebook]
Political activist Ghada Najibe [Ghada Najibe/Facebook]

Human Rights Watch has called on the Egyptian government to reverse the decision it made in December to revoke the citizenship of political activist Ghada Najibe.

Parliament should amend abusive laws, said the rights watchdog, so they are in line with international human rights obligations.

Ghada played an active role in the 2011 revolution, continuing to protest after Hosni Mubarak stood down, ten years ago today.

In December 2011 she was captured by soldiers at a demonstration against the ruling SCAF party, who outstayed their welcome after promising to only be an interim government negotiating the transition of power.

One of the soldiers groped her and threatened to have a sex party with Ghada at the centre of it.

In 2015 Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, then minister of defence, sent a message through one of her husband's friends to say that the soldier who sexually abused Ghada would like to come with his commander and Al-Sisi himself to drink coffee with her and apologise.

Ghada refused and on 15 October 2015 she was warned that she could no longer be protected. An arrest warrant was issued on 9 December and one week later she left Egypt with her husband, the Egyptian actor and TV host Hisham Abdullah.

READ: Further violations against women in Egypt's Al-Qanater prison

A Giza criminal court sentenced Hisham and Ghada to five years in prison in absentia for the bogus charges of terrorism and disturbing state security. The charges were actually brought against them over their peaceful political activities.

Not long after the couple left, security forces arrested five of Hisham's nephews and forcibly disappeared them for two days, accusing them of joining and funding a terror organisation.

On Christmas Eve 2020, Egypt's Official Gazette published a government decision signed by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly to strip Ghada of her citizenship based on Law 26 of 1975 which has allowed authorities to strip Egyptians of their nationality without legal oversight or court review.

"It was Thursday, I woke up to a phone call from one of my friends, he said that I had been stripped of my citizenship," Ghada told MEMO.

"I stayed for about one hour, not speaking to anyone. I was shocked. Hisham told me to take it easy and not to be sad and then I cried a lot. Theoretically, it's not that easy, no one can strip my sense of belonging and love for my homeland, citizenship is not a matter of paper. But officially I don't have citizenship now."

The government decision stated that Ghada is originally Syrian, which is not true. She has a Syrian father but only an Egyptian passport and lived most of her life in Egypt.

"Not only did they revoke my nationality, but they also fabricated another issue, that I have Syrian nationality," she continues. "So I remain in a state of self-defence, that I am not Syrian and that I do not have a Syrian passport or any Syrian papers. I am Egyptian by birth, and I proved that with documents."

Since 2014 Al-Sisi's government has stripped hundreds of Egyptians of their nationality.

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AfricaEgyptHRWInternational OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsSyria
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