Court ruling strips Egyptian men married to Israelis of their nationality

Published: 21/May/2009
Source: Daily News Egypt

By Sarah Carr

CAIRO: Cairo’s Administrative Court held Tuesday that Egyptian men married to Israeli nationals should be stripped of Egyptian citizenship on “national security grounds”.

The ruling obliges the interior minister to “put forward for consideration to the cabinet a demand that all Egyptian men married to Israeli women be stripped of Egyptian nationality”, according to the MENA news agency.

“Egyptian nationality is a valuable attribute and an unequaled honor which grants individuals rights of citizenship, and the right to take part in the administration of the nation’s public affairs, the ruling, as quoted by MENA, reads.

“[Egyptian nationality] demands complete and deep loyalty to this nation. The [Egyptian] Constitution concerns itself with the Egyptian family whose members enjoy Egyptian nationality and whose loyalty, without exception, is to the nation.”

The ruling discusses the “negative phenomenon” of migrant Egyptian workers marrying Israelis in order to obtain residency rights.

It describes this as a threat to both the society’s “principles and values” and “national security” because the offspring of such unions are accorded Israeli nationality under Israeli law and Israeli law allows dual citizens to be conscripted into the Israeli army.

Because nationality is automatically granted to the children of Egyptian nationals, Egyptian men married to Israelis must be stripped of Egyptian citizenship, the ruling says.

According to the ruling, this is because their children may not otherwise be stripped of nationality, according to the provisions of Article 16 of Egypt s 1975 Nationality Law.

Article 16 of the Nationality Law describes seven cases in which Egyptian citizens may be denaturalized.

Paragraph 7 of the article states that an individual may be stripped of Egyptian nationality “if at any time he has been characterized by Zionism.

Secretary General of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights Hafez Abu Saeda said that this provision in no way justifies the ruling.

“The ruling cannot be justified according to Article 16 of the nationality law because the ruling makes no reference to Zionism, and instead applies across the board to any Egyptian married to an Israeli national, including Arabs with Israeli nationality”, explained Abu Saeda, who is also member of the National Council for Human Rights.

Abu Saeda called the ruling “discriminatory”.

“This ruling is unconstitutional and violates United Nations (UN) treaties ratified by Egypt because it is discriminatory. UN instruments are all based on the principle of non-discrimination and here we have a ruling which singles out a particular group of people for different treatment.”

“All Egyptian nationals and their children have the right to Egyptian nationality without discrimination. This ruling is discriminatory and violates principles of citizenship.”

Abu Saeda added that he hopes the ruling will be appealed.

The case was brought by private lawyer Nabih El-Wahsh, who has instigated a number of controversial legal cases including a demand that writer Nawal El-Saadawi be separated from her husband on the grounds that she is an apostate and therefore cannot remain married to a Muslim.

While Egypt has diplomatic ties and trade relations with Israel, many Egyptians remain opposed to normalization with Israel.

El-Wahsh is quoted as saying by the El-Dawa newspaper that the marriage of Egyptian men to Israeli women is an infringement of both “the constitution and sharia law, especially in the light of the continuing Israeli attacks on Arab peoples and the threat [posed by Israel] to the Arab and Islamic nation.”

Commenting on the case, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) Hossam Bahgat said that while EIPR are “concerned” by the ruling, it doesn’t change the status quo.

“Although we have yet to read the court’s ruling we find the decision puzzling. The official Gazette frequently prints decrees by the minister of interior revoking the Egyptian nationality of citizens who obtain Israeli citizenship, presumably through marriage”, Bahgat said.

“These decrees are always based on these citizens failure to inform the government of their new status as dual nationals as required by the law. To that effect, the ruling doesn t change the status quo.”

Under Article 10 of the Egyptian Nationality Law Egyptian nationals must obtain permission from the Interior Minister before acquiring a foreign nationality, or declare their wish to retain Egyptian nationality within a year of acquiring foreign citizenship.

“We are still concerned about some of the ruling s language that was printed in some newspapers, where the court appears to be justifying the deprivation of nationality based on political grounds”, Bahgat said.

“Israel’s violations of Palestinians rights are heinous, but should in no way strip an Egyptian of his/her nationality.”

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Themes: Loss and Deprivation of Nationality
Regions: Egypt
Year: 2009