CAIRO (MEMO) – Egyptian pro-government anchor Ahmed Moussa has announced on his program that Cairo has asked Doha to deport 220 members of the Egyptian opposition who he calls “terrorists”.
The news comes amid talks between Cairo and Doha after years of hostility following the 2017 blockade on Qatar, which Egypt backed.
In January, Egypt and Qatar agreed to resume diplomatic ties.
Last week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani where they agreed on “intensifying joint consultation and coordination” on bilateral ties between the two countries.
Al-Sisi has received an invitation to visit Qatar, the first since he led a 2013 military coup in Egypt.
Ongoing talks have stoked fears among the Egyptian opposition abroad who believe they will be sent back to Cairo as the countries they seek refuge in a move closer to Egypt.
A rapprochement between Turkey and Egypt has whipped up similar fears particularly among young Egyptian opposition members in Istanbul that they will be sent home where they face lengthy prison terms, torture and the death penalty.
“Soon [Turkish President] Erdogan will invite Sisi to visit Turkey so the opposition there must search for a new place of refuge,” said Moussa in his program.
Since Al-Sisi’s rise to power in 2013 the space for political opposition has shrunk drastically. There is widespread censorship on the press and protests are banned.
Thousands of members of the opposition have fled abroad to avoid becoming one of Egypt’s 60,000 political prisoners, victims of enforced disappearance or extrajudicial execution.
Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Malaysia, Bahrain, and Sudan have all deported members of the Egyptian opposition back to Egypt.
In 2018, Spain deported Dr. Alaa Mohamed Said back to Egypt where he was detained in Tora Prison, a notorious maximum-security prison in Cairo where the systematic brutal treatment of inmates has earned it the nickname the Scorpion.