Passport

Egypt: Marry an Israeli, lose your citizenship

Forget Iran slapping Israel with "political sanctions" — Egypt may launch a marital embargo against the Jewish state. On the heels of a restrictive 2005 fatwa, Egypt’s supreme administrative court has upheld a decision to revoke the citizenship of Egyptian men married to Israeli women. The children of those cross-national unions could be officially stripped ...

MAHMOUD ZAYAT/AFP/Getty Images
MAHMOUD ZAYAT/AFP/Getty Images

Forget Iran slapping Israel with "political sanctions" -- Egypt may launch a marital embargo against the Jewish state.

On the heels of a restrictive 2005 fatwa, Egypt's supreme administrative court has upheld a decision to revoke the citizenship of Egyptian men married to Israeli women. The children of those cross-national unions could be officially stripped of their Egyptian nationality, as well, in order to legally omit a generation of citizens that Nabil al-Wahsh, a lawyer in the case, describes as inherently "disloyal to Egypt and the Arab world." The ruling, if uniformly enforced, would reduce the country's citizenry by as many as 30,000 people.

The court stipulated that judgments be delivered on a case-by-case basis. "The court asks the ministry of interior to present all the marriages to the cabinet to examine," said supreme administrative court judge Mohammed al-Husseini. "Each case should be investigated separately and with consideration to personal freedoms and the nation's security." In more concrete terms, this means Egyptian men married to Arab Israeli women would probably be more likely to be allowed to maintain their residencies than those married to ethnically Israeli women.

Forget Iran slapping Israel with "political sanctions" — Egypt may launch a marital embargo against the Jewish state.

On the heels of a restrictive 2005 fatwa, Egypt’s supreme administrative court has upheld a decision to revoke the citizenship of Egyptian men married to Israeli women. The children of those cross-national unions could be officially stripped of their Egyptian nationality, as well, in order to legally omit a generation of citizens that Nabil al-Wahsh, a lawyer in the case, describes as inherently "disloyal to Egypt and the Arab world." The ruling, if uniformly enforced, would reduce the country’s citizenry by as many as 30,000 people.

The court stipulated that judgments be delivered on a case-by-case basis. "The court asks the ministry of interior to present all the marriages to the cabinet to examine," said supreme administrative court judge Mohammed al-Husseini. "Each case should be investigated separately and with consideration to personal freedoms and the nation’s security." In more concrete terms, this means Egyptian men married to Arab Israeli women would probably be more likely to be allowed to maintain their residencies than those married to ethnically Israeli women.

Though the decision compels the Interior Ministry to request that the cabinet consider enforcing the ruling, the Egyptian government will not necessarily annul any citizenships. Still, the extremity of the judgment illuminates a growing discrepancy between Egypt’s official stance towards its northeastern neighbor (Egypt being one of few Arab states that practices full diplomacy with Israel) and what seem to be — in the midst of the incendiary situation in the Gaza Strip — increasingly hostile sentiments towards Israel on the streets of the Arab world’s most populous country.

Sylvie Stein is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.

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