An Egyptian activist hoped dual citizenship would save him. It hasn’t so far.
In Cairo, Mohamed Ali, 36, has not only lost his Egyptian passport, but his Egyptian ID and employer’s visa as well.
Like many Egyptians, Ali was born in Gaza, a strip of land located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sinai Peninsula. He first went to school in northern Israel. His family fled to Egypt in 1948.
In a country that prides itself on religious tolerance, Ali says he is now viewed as an American “because I was born on American soil.”
When he was 16, Ali took a job as an assistant at Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. During his 12-year tenure, he wrote a column about the country that he called “Under the Sand.”
In the 1990s, he became a political activist. After the 2004 election, he took a job at the Supreme Council of Antiquities and has been its director for about a decade. As director, he says, he has been part of a systematic effort to silence those who criticise the regime.
“I don’t want to lose my citizenship,” he says from his office in Cairo, adding that his “American passport” is “very important” to him.
“I am being denied my human rights, I am being made a political prisoner.” — Mohamed Ali, Egypt activist
In his column, Ali denounced a recent decision to make it easier for tourists to enter some of Egypt’s most important sites, including the Great Pyramids of Giza. He described it as “unjust and against the principles of the Arab revolutions.”
Some 20 years later, Ali has not written what he could have.
“I have always found that to write against the regime, it’s very dangerous, because they kill journalists. But you live in fear, you try to live in silence, you work very hard to be able to write your opinions without having too many problems,�