Creating new perspectives since 2009

Escaping the clutches of the homeland

January 11, 2022 at 3:55 pm

Egyptian-Palestinian political activist Ramy Shaath in Paris, France on 8 January 2022 [JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images]

The arrival of the political activist, the Egyptian of Palestinian origin, Ramy Shaath, to France, after he was deported from the Egyptian prisons, stripped of the nationality of the country in which he was born and lived, is an occasion to grieve and mourn the countries that have brutalised their people and gave in to their enemies.

I do not think that it is a happy occasion, worthy of congratulations and celebration in any way, as it perpetuates a new unfortunate and humiliating reality, in which every real opponent becomes an outcast, who does not deserve to be a citizen enjoying the nationality of his country. I fear that the incident of stripping Shaath of his citizenship in exchange for his freedom in exile sets a new precedent for thousands of similar cases in Egyptian prisons since 2013.

Immediately after the issuance of a statement from Ramy Shaath’s family about his departure from Egypt, stateless, heading to the Jordanian capital towards his final destination, France, to settle with his French wife, celebrations and congratulations began within Egyptian human rights and political circles, among those who see escaping from the clutches of power as an achievement and a victory. There are those who accompany their congratulations to him with a wish for the same fate for the many who are imprisoned.

Imagine if the regime adopted this approach and repeated Ramy Shaath’s experience with other prisoners of conscience who are of concern to governments that put pressure on the Egyptian regime, as Emmanuel Macron did with Shaath. What would be the fate of the Egyptian political elite, in light of this deliberate bulldozing of the Egyptian soil, so that no possibility remains for the opposition to sprout?

READ: Egypt to release of 15 female detainees from pretrial detention

This is evidenced by the fact that what used to be classified as crimes against humanity that warrant condemnation at the beginning of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s coup have now become diplomatic solutions and international understandings that recognise the authority’s right to revoke citizenship from its opponents. They are being received with applause and congratulations by opponents who have resigned themselves to powerlessness and helplessness, and no one is daring to confront it, even if with lawsuits against the transfer policy that is in violation of the successive Egyptian constitutions and international human rights covenants.

When Al-Sisi’s coup succeeded in the summer of 2013, his regime set out to burn, destroy, and exclude opponents in an excessive retaliatory reckless manner, not leaving an opportunity for the presence of the other voice. Egypt has been placed at the forefront of the list of countries that issue the most death sentences against opponents of the political system, and those who remain alive in prisons are not mentioned by anyone, nor are they present in any international understandings or deals to meet the needs of the Egyptian regime in terms of its tools of repression, in exchange for freeing some of the new hostages, wanted by name in Western circles.

Sisi's Prisons - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Egypt Sisi’s Prisons – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Even the voices that had managed to settle under the oppressive authority and were described as more prudent and less ferocious by the new regime were, after a short time, labelled as enemies or opponents or, at the very least, were accused of being a fifth column group that poses a danger to the new regime. These voices were liquidated, one by one, and persecuted until they settled in exile. There are many examples, perhaps the clearest of which is the case of Mohamed El-Baradei, former vice president of the government formed by the coup leader, and Issam Hajji, the scientific advisor to the head of that authority that was built on the ruins of the January revolution.

READ: Ex-Egypt lawmaker calls for releasing pretrial detainees 

Little by little, a state of acclimatisation to brutality developed, without any desire to resist, until we reached this state of complete misery. We have reached the point, as we prepare to mark the anniversary of the revolution of freedom and human dignity, of believing that escaping the clutches of the homeland is a happy occasion that deserves to be celebrated, not caring that the homeland has dug its claws in and uprooted out citizenship. The entire situation calls for pity, not congratulations on forced exile, to escape from the clutches of a homeland that is insatiable with blood.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 10 January 2022

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.