Shura MPs, foreign ministry spar over Egyptians detained in UAE

Ahram Online , Tuesday 18 Jun 2013

FJP MP lambasts foreign ministry's performance regarding Egyptians detained in UAE; foreign ministry spokesman blasts 'irresponsible' criticisms

Members of the constitutional assembly attend a session at the Shura Council building in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

Egypt's foreign ministry on Tuesday voiced its "dissatisfaction" with statements made by Shura Council MP Abd El-Rahman Salem regarding the way it had dealt with the issue of Egyptians detained in the UAE, foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abd El-Ati said Tuesday.

In a Monday session of the Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt's parliament, temporarily endowed with legislative powers), Salem – a deputy for the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – attacked the ministry's performance in dealing with the issue of Egyptians detained by UAE authorities.

Salem eventually stormed out of the session, which was convened by the council's committee for Arab and foreign affairs, after Deputy Foreign Minister Ali El-Esheiry asserted that Egyptians languishing in UAE jails were being "well-treated."

The Shura Council MP also accused the ministry of using its embassies abroad to spy on Egyptian expatriates.

Ministry spokesman Abd El-Ati, for his part, said that the foreign ministry would "not allow these accusations to go unchallenged." He went on to call upon the Shura Council to take legal steps to prevent such "irresponsible" statements from recurring.

Other MPs also criticised the ministry, including Saad El-Din Emara, who asked: "How would the UAE have dealt with the case if the detainees in question were American nationals rather than Egyptians?"

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry said it was "proud" of Egypt's friendly relations with the UAE, stressing that it was "closely following" the issue of detained Egyptians with a view to securing their rights.

In January, the UAE arrested 11 Egyptians thought to have ties with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. They face charges of collecting "sensitive information" and having links to UAE nationals detained on suspicions of plotting against the country's national security.

In February, President Mohamed Morsi dispatched top officials to negotiate the release of Egyptian prisoners in the UAE and try to ease tensions between Cairo and Abu Dhabi.

In April, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan ordered the release of 103 Egyptians detained in the UAE.

On Monday, during a Shura Council debate on Arab relations, FJP MP Essam El-Erian warned that Egypt had "lost patience" with the issue of Egyptians being detained in the UAE, Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website reported.

Addressing El-Esheiry, El-Erian declared: "Tell [the UAE] that nuclear Iran is coming...The Persians are coming, not the Egyptians, and you will become slaves of the Persians."

FJP head Saad El-Katatni, for his part, stressed that El-Erian's comments did not represent the party's official position. 

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