Christians in Egypt threatened with deportation
On Thursday last week, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) warned that a Yemeni Christian is in immediate and severe danger due to his impending deportation by the Egyptian government.
The Yemeni Christian Abdul-Baqi Saeed Abdo recently announced his conversion to Christianity on social media, recounting how it took place in 2013 before he fled from Yemen to Egypt. After the conversion of him and his family, Abdo had suffered the murder of his wife and his own attempted murder. Fortunately, he survived and acquired an asylum application registration card from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2015. He also received a card from the UNHCR in 2020, which he still possesses.
EIPR has sounded the alarm that, despite the danger facing Abdo in Yemen and his possession of an asylum card from the UNHCR, the Egyptian government is threatening him with deportation. Authorities arrested Abdo on December 15, 2021, soon after he announced his conversion to Christianity on social media. They searched his home, seizing three laptops, and charged him with “joining a terrorist group with knowledge of its purposes, and contempt of the Islamic religion.” He currently sits in pretrial detention awaiting the adjudication of his Supreme State Security case.
EIPR highlighted that should the Egyptian government choose to deport Abdo, it would be in violation of international law. Egypt is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocol which prohibits the forcible expulsion or return of refugees.
States are not allowed to “expel or return a refugee in any way to the borders of the regions where his life and freedom would be threatened because of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinions.” Should the Egyptian government deport Abdo to Yemen, they would very clearly be violating this principle of “non-refoulement.” If Abdo is sent back to Yemen, he will face the same threat to his life that he did eight years ago simply because he is Christian.