Egypt is moving to revoke the citizenship of a senior Hamas official in Gaza, a government official said on Sunday.
Major General Hussein al-Ridi, an assistant to the interior minister for immigration and citizenship issues, told Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya that a request to revoke the Egyptian citizenship of Mahmoud al-Zahar and 11 of his family members has been forwarded to the government for approval.
Al-Ridi explained that al-Zahar and his family belong to an organization which “works to weaken Egypt’s economic and social system,” a reference to the Hamas movement, which was branded a terror organization under Egyptian law in early March.
Eight thousand Palestinians won Egyptian citizenship during the one-year tenure of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, Al-Ridi added, including Al-Zahar, whose mother was Egyptian.
Special committees have been established in Egypt’s interior ministry to review all cases of Palestinians naturalized as Egyptians since May 2011, a number estimated at 24,000, he said. Palestinians who are found to belong to “a terror organization or a foreign army or military establishment” will have their citizenship revoked “immediately and without debate.”
On March 6, Egyptian independent daily Al-Youm A-Sabi’ reported that authorities are seeking to strip thousands of Palestinians residing in Egypt of their Egyptian citizenship.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, the Cairo-based deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, has denied rumors that he would be forced to leave Egypt following the ouster of Morsi in June 2013.