Eighteen Egyptians who were arrested in Kuwait for illegal assembly have been deported and met by family and friends in Cairo.
The Egyptians were all working legally in Kuwait, or were the sons and daughters of expatriate workers. Their crime was gathering last week for the Hijri New Year. When police arrived, they saw political banners and t-shirts showing support for the Egyptian Al-Dostour Party and Popular Current. The groups have gone out of their way to say that the gathering was not political in nature, but the Kuwaiti authorities were not listening.
Many of those arrested were organisers for the two Egyptian political groups. They were collecting party memberships and raising awareness of Egyptian politics, but say they were in no way involved with domestic Kuwaiti politics, or involved in politics of any kind at the time of the New Year gathering.
Earlier in the week Ahmed Al-Hawaly, member of Al-Dostour, was still optimistic an agreement could be reached. “I think matters are on the way to getting resolved, there is a good chance they will be back at their jobs in Kuwait. We are still working on it. We’re having talks with our colleagues in Kuwait.”
Al-Hawaly said that there are many sympathetic contacts in the Kuwaiti government and among lawyers in the Gulf nation. “We are in touch with a lot of people who are high up the chain. We’re trying our best to ease the situation.”
However, the efforts fell through.
“All those detained are now back in Cairo,” said Yahya Ahmed of the Popular Current.
Al-Hawaly confirmed “all offers have failed and they are back in Egypt.”
The Popular Current said they are going to appeal to the Egyptian government to compensate those who were deported. Heba Yassin, also with the Popular Current, said, “Tomorrow [Wednesday] we will meet with President Morsy and his legal advisor to discuss the issue. Tonight [Tuesday] Hamdeen Sabahi [leader of the Popular Current] will meet with the president in the evening.”
Al-Dostour party on the other hand will not lobby the government and instead will try to compensate their members through the party. Their first objective is to get local jobs for the engineers, accountants, and others who lost their jobs in Kuwait.
A question mark hangs over Egyptians living abroad, particularly in the autocratic Gulf countries. Morsy recently laid the groundwork for an advisory council to liaise with Egyptians abroad, and Al-Dostour has made clear their desire to reengage expats in domestic Egyptian politics.
“I don’t think we’re going to have an official presence any longer,” said Al-Hawaly. “We still want to maintain a connection with Egyptians working in Kuwait. But for the time being, we do not want to compromise their jobs and lives.” He worried about the likelihood that the crackdown will spread to other countries, saying, “We’ll try to minimise communication and not have organised groups on the ground.”