The Egyptian Brotherhood’s dollar game

Many were angered when I stressed my belief that judges should rather starve than abandon their principles and I do not know how many more will be angered today when I say that nations should rather starve than abandon their values. Currently, we are being ruled by people who are stripping Egypt of its traditional role among nations as a country that has always provided shelter, guaranteed safety and given hope to those who have found all other doors closed.


I do not know anyone who will speak favorably about Ahmed Qadhaf al-Dam today, someone who may have held Libyan citizenship but was Egyptian when it came to his beliefs and loyalties not because his mother is Egyptian, but because this was a free and sincere choice he had made

Abdel Latif el-Menawy


Egypt has historically provided refuge to whoever sought it and among its first refugees was Jesus Christ, whose trip to Egypt with the Virgin Mary to escape the Romans, is considered one of the most prominent cases of political asylum in world history. I remember when I used to jokingly tell a former colleague of mine in London who was a British of Arab descent, “No matter what you do, you will end up claiming political asylum in Egypt.” I do not think I can continue telling this joke anymore now that the rulers of Egypt are starting to abandon what was once a time-honored political tradition.


News rulers, new rules!


The new rulers in Egypt and Libya have started implementing an agreement to turn over Libyans to Tripoli, a deal that tarnishes the image of Egypt as a country known throughout history to have provided protection to those who sought it. Two days ago security forces stormed the house of Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, a cousin of the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, in a shocking manner that defies logic and goes against our values.

A few weeks ago, reports were leaked about this agreement which stipulates that around 1,800 Libyans linked to the former Qaddafi regime and residing in Egypt will be turned over to Libyan authorities. On top of the list of wanted Libyans was Ahmed Qadhaf al-Dam, who facilitated relations and rapport between Egypt and Libya and took part in the October 1973 Arab War against Israel alongside Libyan troops. He had been invited to live in Egypt by former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

This questionable deal got Egypt’s rulers $3 billion and promises of job opportunities for Egyptians in Libya. A Washington-based research center revealed that this deal between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Libyan authorities was made in return for oil investment opportunities in Libya’s eastern provinces. Four months ago, I came to know about the start of negotiations for this deal and at the time the auction began at $500 million. I had never expected that the current leadership in Egypt would be willing to underrate Egypt’s value.

I do not know anyone who will speak favorably about Ahmed Qadhaf al-Dam today, someone who may have held Libyan citizenship but was Egyptian when it came to his beliefs and loyalties not because his mother is Egyptian, but because this was a free and sincere choice he had made. He has been a supporter of Egypt not only since the days of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak but even during the rule of the late Anwar Sadat. Throughout all these years, he was the reason why the relationship between the two countries remained intact even during times of conflict, which were plentiful. His keenness to protect the interests of poor Egyptian workers in Libya was at times stronger than that of Egyptian government officials.

I am not going to talk about particular humanitarian or political stances of his nor will I elaborate on the ways he supported Egypt against the Libyan regime on numerous occasions, something which cost him politically on the domestic front. Considering everything he has done for Egypt, it is sad and shameful that he was treated in such a manner especially since he had received several reassurances from the new rulers only days before the incident. It was a mistake on his part to trust their promises.


Refugee rights


As a matter of principle and as long as they did not engage in political activities, the relevant Egyptian authorities were expected to deny requests to turn him and other refugees over. Had a fair trial been held in Libya, the Egyptian judiciary could have looked into the matter and acted in accordance with its legal and constitutional rules. Yet, what happened was not only unprecedented in Egypt’s ancient and modern histories, but it ignored, once more, the rights of those who have always had Egypt’s best interests at heart.

I am not going to talk about international agreements that prohibit the turning in of refugees as it is enough to point out that the way in which the situation was handled undermines the respect Egypt had earned throughout human history as country that provides shelter to those who face persecution, something which is now being decimated at the hands of those who only care about their own interests and a few dollars.


Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of "Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak," a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy

Last Update: Friday, 22 March 2013 KSA 13:17 - GMT 10:17
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