By Hend Kortam
Researcher and lecturer Atef Botros, who has been based at a German university for years, was not allowed into Egypt on Friday, sources at the airport told Aswat Masriya.
Botros arrived at Cairo International Airport on Friday using a German passport, according to the sources, who added that Botros’s name was on a “no fly list”. Upon his arrival, he was informed that his name was on the list and requested to present any paperwork to prove that he is Egyptian, which he failed to do, the sources said.
Later, Botros said he had been ‘banned from entering Egypt’.
But amid a general obscurity on why Botros was unable to enter the country, the news of his deportation has been receiving criticism on social media.
Researcher at the Free University of Berlin, Taqadum Al-Khatib praised Botros, in a message he posted on Twitter. “So far, I have not met an Egyptian living abroad like Atef, a lover of his country who works for it in silence, with sincerity,” he said.
Khatib, who described Botros as a brother and a friend to him, said when you see his dedication to loving Egypt and his self denial, “you know that you are before a great man…”
Since 2007, PhD holder Botros has been teaching and researching Arabic in the Philipps-Universität of Marburg, focusing on modern Arabic literature and intellectual history. Prior to that, he was awarded the Heinrich Böll Stiftung scholarship and completed his Masters in Düsseldorf, Germany in 2000.
Botros is also the founder of the Berlin-based Mayadin al-Tahrir, which describes itself as a “network for political education and liberal art in Egypt.”
On Nov. 1, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it has documented at least 32 cases in which Egyptian “airport security officers confiscated the passport of political activists and workers in nongovernmental groups.”
In the damning report, the watchdog criticised the ” restrictive and intimidating measures” that Egyptian security agencies are using to “unlawfully” prevent “scores from travelling outside” Egypt.
HRW’s deputy MENA director Nadim Houry said “Egyptian authorities have jailed thousands of dissidents in the past two years and are now turning the country’s own borders into de facto prison walls.”
Article 62 of the Egyptian constitution states that “no citizen may be prevented from leaving the state territory, placed under house arrest or prevented from residing in a certain place except by a reasoned judicial order for a specified period of time and in the cases as defined by the law.”
But recently there have been numerous high profile cases of people being stopped at the airport, including journalist Mahmoud Mostafa who was arrested at the airport in October as he was going to board a flight to London on a student visa to pursue studies in the United Kingdom.
Earlier this month, Egyptian poet and novelist Omar Hazek was prevented from travelling to the Netherlands while he was on his way to attend the Writers Unlimited festival, where he was set to receive the Oxfam Novib/PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression in a ceremony.
In December, another Egyptian was stopped at the airport in a case that has garnered local and international attention. Scholar and journalist Ismail Alexandrani was arrested at Egypt’s Hurghada airport upon his return from Berlin, where he was speaking at a conference titled “Deconstructing Islamist Terrorism in Egypt,” organised by the German Council on Foreign Relations.
This content is from Aswat Masriya, edited by Egyptian Streets