Source: DAWN (Democracy for the Arab World Now)
By Muhammad Kamal
In December 2020, political and human rights activist Ghada Naguib became the first Egyptian citizen to be stripped of her nationality over her criticisms of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government and its human rights abuses. Naguib and her family now face an uncertain future in Turkey, where she has lived in exile since 2015. Like many Egyptians exiled in Turkey since Sisi’s 2013 coup, Naguib fears that the warming relationship between Sisi and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will result in less tolerance in Turkey for criticizing the Egyptian government and greater danger for political and human rights activists who have settled in the country.
Naguib and her husband, Egyptian opposition figure and prominent actor Hisham Abdullah, were forced out of Egypt in December 2015, after Egyptian security agencies threatened to frame Abdullah in a trumped-up terrorism case. They relocated to Turkey, joining the large Egyptian diaspora and many political exiles living in Istanbul.
As an activist, Naguib, now 50, looked forward to life in Turkey, where she would have a greater ability to speak freely and criticize the Sisi government for its repression at home. However, after she repeatedly criticized the Egyptian intelligence services, and specifically Lt. Col. Ahmad Shaaban, the intelligence officer who oversees the government’s handling of the media, Naguib again became a target for the Egyptian government. Naguib faced pressure to remain silent on these issues, and in December 2020, the Egyptian government made the extraordinary decision to revoke her nationality.
Egypt’s Official Gazette published the government’s decision on Dec. 24, 2020, which was signed by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly. Noting that Naguib lived abroad, the decision was based on Law No. 26 of 1975, which allows the government to revoke a citizen’s nationality without legal oversight or judicial review. The government’s decision falsely claimed that Naguib “was originally Syrian,” even though it also stated she was born in Cairo. Naguib’s mother was Egyptian and her father was Syrian, but Naguib only had an Egyptian passport and lived most of her life in Egypt. She has never visited Syria.