Egyptian exiles fear deportation amidst Turkey-Egypt reapproachment

Egyptians living in political exile in Turkey fear that they may be deported to Egypt as the two continue their reapproachment process, the pro-AKP Middle East Eye (MEE) reported on Monday. 

MEE interviewed several members of the Egyptian exile community in Turkey and found that feelings of apprehension and anxiety are setting in as they watch Ankara pursue warmer ties with Cairo. The outlet said that a mix of opposition politicians, activist and journalists are among the thirty three thousand Egyptians who have moved to Turkey to seek refuge after the 2013 military coup that brough Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power. 

Since Sisi seized power, relations with Turkey sharply deteriorated. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a strong supporter of his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Morsi, who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a political kinsmen of Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

However, after the Turkish intervention in neighbouring Libya nearly brought the two to the verge of war, Turkey extended an olive branch to Egypt and insisted it was looking to ease tensions with it. Since then, Turkey has pushed anti-Sisi television stations operating in Istanbul to tone down their rhetoric against his government. A number of prominent media personalities who are critical of Egypt were themselves forced to shut down their shows, according to Al-Arabiya. 

Egypt has welcomed these moves as indicative of Turkey’s interest in mending ties, but the exile community fears their safety is of a lesser concern to Ankara if it furthers its reapproachment drive.

“I believe that the value of the youth isn't as valuable as the economic or strategic benefits Turkey can gain from the reconciliation,” one exile who gave their name as Amr told MEE.

Many of the Egyptians in Turkey do not have Turkish citizenship and they have been stymied by the Egyptian government whenever they attempt to acquire basic paperwork or renew their passports. MEE reports that a number of these exiles are looking for ways to leave Turkey because of their limited legal status and for fear that they will be handed over to Sisi’s Egypt.
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