Do Egyptians married to Israeli women stand to lose their Egyptian citizenship?

Published: 15/Dec/2011
Source: Watani (Cairo)

Mervat Ayoub

It should come as no surprise that, with the Camp David Peace Accord in effect, Egyptians go to Israel for business or pleasure. Once there, young men may marry Israeli women, have children, and more often than not settle down in Israel. But with such a strong tide in Egypt against the normalisation of relations with Israel before some peace agreement is reached with the Palestinians—in fact normalisation with Israel is almost taboo—the issue of Egyptians married to Israelis has become a hotly contested one.

No legal backing

Earlier this year Nabeeh al-Wahsh, a lawyer, filed a case against the government, demanding that Egyptian men married to Israeli women, who number an estimated 30,000 according to official statistics, should be stripped of their Egyptian citizenship. When the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) last May ruled in favour of their denaturalisation, the Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit and the Interior Minister Habib al-Adly contested the ruling. Human rights activists supported the move and branded the SAC ruling as political. The ruling had no legal backing, they claimed, especially that Egyptian law allows dual citizenship and does not ban Egyptians from marrying individuals of other nationalities. But those who supported the ruling fear that Egyptian-Israeli marriages would open the door wide for Israeli infiltration into Egypt, a crime in the eyes of those who denounce normalisation.

Mr Wahsh referred to previous court rulings that banned individuals with dual citizenship from running for Parliament, on grounds that their loyalty to Egypt is marred. Furthermore, “Should we accept that Egyptian-Israeli children would one day crowd our children out of leadership posts in Egypt?” he questioned. He said marriage of Egyptians to Israeli women went against all forms of sharia (Islamic law).

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Themes: Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, Gender, Loss and Deprivation of Nationality
Regions: Egypt
Year: 2011