Will withdrawing Egyptian nationality eliminate terrorism?

Will the draft legislation concerning the withdrawal of Egyptian nationality from citizens accused of terrorism help Egypt to strengthen its identity and wipe out terrorism? I strongly doubt it. Besides, I am not certain whether this piece of legislation is constitutional. The Egyptian State has been adopting polarizing notions whereby it defines its supporters as ‘true Egyptians’ and accords lower statuses to all remaining citizens; it labels its opponents as ‘the evil people’ and is currently attempting to withdraw Egyptian nationality from suspected terrorists. In parallel with these developments, terrorism is on the rise in Egypt.

“They are not Egyptians” is how the Egyptian State defines ‘Political Islamists’ in Egypt, who a few years ago won almost three-quarters of the seats in the Egyptian Parliament, as well as the Presidency. Those who claim that Political Islamists are no longer popular in Egypt are hiding their heads in the sand. Furthermore, exercising excessive aggressiveness towards people who are mentally disturbed pushes them into a position where they have nothing to lose and, inevitably, to target the Egyptian state as their principal enemy. Political Islamists are, sadly, part of the Egyptian constituency – a reprehensible part that we must reform, not alienate.

Political Islamists constitute a complicated challenge that we are, unfortunately, not on the right track to tackle. Political Islamists draw strength from being vulnerable; thus, the more the Egyptian State applies a repressive policy towards them, the more united they become and the more they are prone to exact revenge by committing terrorist attacks, all the while presenting their actions under the label of Islam (that they certainly misinterpret). Political Islamists work on radicalizing Egypt – and the Egyptian State is simply, and probably unintentionally, advancing their mission, giving rise to more extremism and terrorism.

The Egyptian State often adopts impractical and shortsighted means to resolve its challenges, tending to cut out everyone who doesn’t agree with its policies. We will not solve problems that originate in Egypt by attempting to export our challenges to other nations or to blame them for ours faults. We can’t only work on digesting the ‘good apples’ and disposing of the ‘bad’ ones, especially when we are planting unhealthy seeds that will certainly yield rotten crops, which could end up occupying most of the dining table.

Egypt is going through the fundamental dilemma of defending its identity, backing all political forces that don’t support the ruling regime into a corner in the process. The prospect of losing their Egyptian nationality is not threatening to people who are committed to murdering innocent citizens and who know full well that they will be prosecuted eventually. Regrettably, Political Islamists believe that they owe allegiance to a ‘Muslim nation’ that they are fighting to establish, not to our country; thus, the card that we are proposing to threaten them with is of absolutely no consequence to them.

Nationality should not be subject to either incentives or penalties! It is the only privilege that citizens are granted at birth, and it should not be used as a tool to strengthen national identity. We need to expend more effort on defining the core values of Islam (peace, tolerance and forgiveness), and to be more tolerant in dealing with these misguided citizens in order to turn them into peaceful citizens once again. That said, any citizen convicted of a crime must be penalized – without being stripped of his nationality.

Egypt needs to apply a clear policy of punishing all citizens who engage in illegal activities, from simple misdemeanors to terrorism (by far the most grievous crime that can be committed); proportional punishment is therefore imperative. We must reconcile potential suspects and misguided citizens to the concept of true citizenship and the obligations attached to it. The withdrawal of nationality, on the contrary, is paramount to sending a message that anyone who commits, or is suspected of committing, a crime no longer belongs to our nation; it would simply serve to enhance terrorism.

 

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