Embassies and consulates play important roles in supporting the expatriates of their countries and providing services to them, but many Egyptians struggle when dealing with some of the 162 diplomatic missions in various countries of the world, especially since the military coup in the summer of 2013, when thousands of opponents fled the country to join To about 13 million Egyptians expatriate.
Contrary to the talk of some opponents about consulates intransigence in completing their necessary transactions, the increase in the value of service fees and consular transactions in the middle of last month sparked criticism from Egyptians who left their countries and exiled in search of a livelihood or a better life.
Among the most important countries that Sisi’s opponents have visited in recent years are Turkey, Malaysia and Sudan, in addition to some European Union countries, such as Britain, France and Germany to a lesser extent.
The fee increase raises the stock exchange
In the middle of last month, the Egyptian embassies and consulates announced a change in the value of fees for providing services and consular transactions, such as obtaining official papers, documenting them, or otherwise, to reach in some countries more than 110% compared to previous prices.
Egyptians expressed their discontent with the increases in consular transactions abroad, and the founder of the World Federation of Egyptian Citizens Abroad, Bahjat Al-Obeidi, said that it was an unjustified increase.
Al-Obeidi, a supporter of the Egyptian regime, asserted that “whoever determines the fees for consular transactions does not have a true picture, neither about the status and condition of Egyptians abroad, nor about the value of these fees for documents in countries of residence.”
In an article entitled “On the List of Consular Transaction Fees”, Al-Obeidi added that “if it was, as some rumor, to collect foreign currency for Egypt, it would have been more appropriate to provide this currency than to reduce the number of workers in embassies and consulates and their large salaries.”
The Egyptian here Ahmed also expressed her dissatisfaction with the high prices in the Egyptian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, stressing that the prices of extracting agencies increased by more than 110%, as the price of the power of attorney increased from 180 Turkish liras to 390 liras at once.
In her interview with Al-Jazeera Net, she added that the fees for attestation of Egyptian documents rose at the same rate, such as birth and marriage documents and academic certificates, but the embassy considers the double-sided paper as two transactions, meaning that the citizen has to pay the price of attestation doubled.
Egyptian citizen Gamal Ezzat – in a comment on the page of the Consulate of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Kuwait – called for a logical justification for the increase that took place, and asked, “In light of the Corona crisis and the bad conditions of Egyptians, do you need to increase fees and develop consular services?”
Duaa Imam indicated discontent among Egyptians in Italy after the announcement of the prices for obtaining official documents from the Egyptian consulate, which increased for the second time in two years from 150 euros to 180 to 275 euros for passport renewal, without any kind of distinguished services accompanied by that.
Opponents without rights
And in the Turkish city of Istanbul, we met Hassan – a young Egyptian who has been studying engineering in Turkey since 2016 – and he lost his passport at the end of 2018, and when he applied to obtain a passport instead of a lost one, he waited for more than 6 months, claiming that no response had been received from Cairo on his request, The consulate informed him that the only option was to issue a temporary travel document that would enable him to return to Egypt.
The situation in Rome did not differ much, as the young Egyptian Mustafa Nagy said that he had lost his passport, and the Egyptian consulate refused to obtain a replacement for a lost one, despite the completion of all the required documents.
Nagy added, in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net, that he waited more than 3 months, and called repeatedly on the consulate’s phones, but once his name was known, the phone would be closed without explaining the reason.
He continued, “I went to the consulate, and there I met the employee, and at that time he informed me that the Egyptian authorities had refused to obtain a new passport on the grounds that I opposed the regime and that court rulings had been issued against me.”
A similar experience was that the young Imam Ahmed went through with the Egyptian embassy in Berlin, where his passport was about to expire, so he applied to renew it, and waited more than two months without a response.
Imam added, “I went directly to the embassy to inquire about the reason, but I received a response stating that the passport was not renewed because I was a political opponent.”
The Al-Jazeera Net correspondent listened to more than 8 cases whose owners spoke of the Egyptian authorities ’refusal to renew passports or complete consular transactions, given that they were opposed to the regime.
Under the light
Not only did Egyptian embassies and consulates obstruct and oppose Egyptians abroad, but another role emerged for them, which is monitoring.
Political activist Sawsan Gharib confirmed that the Egyptian embassies in several countries – including the United States – were chasing the opposition and trying to harass them through individuals accredited by the Egyptian embassy in Washington to spy on activists.
In her interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Gharib indicated that security forces of the embassy – who are members of the Egyptian intelligence – tracked down the opponents, threatened them, monitored and distorted them, and submitted false reports about them to the American authorities, but the Federal Security kept them with their dissatisfaction with these actions.
Attempt to detain
In a remarkable recent incident, the Egyptian youth Amr Hashad accused the Egyptian consulate in Istanbul of trying to detain him inside and seize his passport.
Hashad confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that a friend abroad had filmed the incident while he was presenting his passport to the security employee, and when the consulate security threatened to use the video to submit a report to the Turkish authorities, the security threw his passport abroad.
On the other hand, Ahmed Kamal – a young Egyptian residing in Istanbul – published his testimony regarding the good treatment of the Egyptian Consulate with him, through his Facebook account.
On several occasions, the Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Affairs Abroad, Nabila Makram, reiterates the ministry’s constant communication with Egyptians residing outside the country through its legitimate channels on social media, the ministry’s website, the hotline and e-mail to receive complaints.
Commenting on the increase in consular transaction fees abroad, Ambassador Abdullah Al-Ashaal, a former assistant to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, affirmed that the successive increases in services are related to the Egyptian government’s eagerness to collect money from home and abroad.
And on the intransigence of the Egyptian embassies with the opposition, Al-Ashaal explained that Egypt since 1952 has become the property of the ruler, and the Egyptian people have turned into subjects and not citizens, as the military government owns and governs.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, Al-Ashaal added that the Egyptian embassies abroad are now working to serve the interests of the ruler, stressing that what is happening against opponents abroad is illegal.