Kuwait deports El Baradei supporters for holding “illegal” rally

April 11, 2010
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Kuwait has deported several Egyptian supporters of potential presidential contender Mohammad El Baradei.

No official figure was given about the number of deportees, but according to Kuwaiti media, 17 to 21 Kuwait-based Egyptians were flown to Cairo after they sought to hold a meeting on Friday evening to announce the formation of an organization to support El Baradei, 67, in his bid to become the next president of Egypt.

MP Waleed Al Tabtabai said that the interior ministry should not take “extreme” measures against the Egyptians who supported El Baardei or called for political reforms.

“We cannot say that what they did was a violation of Kuwaiti laws, and therefore, they should not be detained or deported,” the MP said, according to a report in Kuwaiti daily Al Rai. “The deportation of these people could lead to their arrest by the Egyptian authorities and to the violation of their human rights. It could also morally and psychologically harm their families in Kuwait,” he said.

Around 30 people gathered on Friday evening for the launch of the campaign to call for political changes and endorse El Baradei.

However, Ali Al Almi, the secretary general of the Egyptian community in Kuwait, said that his countrymen had broken the law by holding an assembly without the permission of the local authorities.

“Whoever wants to support a political candidate should send messages of support, and not hold a public rally when the local laws do not allow it,” Al Watan reported him as saying.

In New York, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that “Kuwait’s State Security forces should stop arresting and deporting expatriate supporters of Egyptian opposition candidate Dr. Mohammad El Baradei.”

“Kuwait should immediately release all remaining Egyptian detainees and allow those deported to return to their homes in Kuwait,” HRW said.

Following the arrests of three Egyptian citizens on April 8, Kuwait security forces detained over half of approximately 30 people who met on April 9 and deported 21 Egyptians over a period of 48 hours, the watchdog said.

Shaikh Jaber Al Khalid Al Sabah, Kuwait’s interior minister, told HRW that those arrested and deported broke Kuwait’s laws on public gathering.

“They are visitors in Kuwait, and we look at them as visitors in Kuwait. When somebody breaks the law, he has to go back to his country,” he was quoted as saying.

Article 12 of Kuwait’s 1979 law concerning public gatherings prohibits non-citizens from participating in processions, demonstrations, or public gatherings in Kuwait.

News of the arrest and deportation sparked an intense debate among Kuwaitis and ranged from full endorsement of the government in its action against “non-Kuwaitis who wanted to import their problems and issues into the country” to a call to the authorities to exercise self-restraint and treat the whole issue as “a minor violation that warranted just a warning.”

More than 300,000 Egyptian citizens currently live and work in Kuwait.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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