December 22, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 11028

Shocked And Dismayed By The Arrest And Detention Of Egyptian Female Activist Ghada Naguib In Turkey, Pro-Erdogan Egyptian Dissidents, Including Muslim Brotherhood Islamists, Appeal For Her Release

December 22, 2023
Egypt, Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 11028

The arrest of Ghada Naguib, an exiled Egyptian female activist known for her pro-Muslim Brotherhood stance, by Turkish authorities on October 2, 2023, rallied a global community of Egyptian dissidents, including prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures. Together, the dissidents appealed directly to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a longtime Islamist supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, for her immediate release. According to Naguib's husband, exiled Egyptian actor Hisham Abdullah, Turkish intelligence arrested his wife at their Istanbul residence in front of their children. He said his wife’s arrest was politically motivated. Abdallah also revealed that after her arrest, Naguib had been subsequently relocated to a deportation facility in the city of Malatya, in Turkey's Eastern Anatolia region.

This development has prompted human rights organizations to voice their concerns, urging the Turkish government to honor its commitment to upholding human rights. Meanwhile, opponents of Erdoğan and anti-democracy Islamists have seized the opportunity to mock the Muslim Brotherhood for their perceived trust in Erdoğan, equating his rule with that of other authoritarian, supposedly pro-American, leaders.

This report will shed light on the diverse range of reactions following the arrest and detention of Ghada Naguib. It will detail the speculations surrounding her arrest and the appeals made by prominent Islamist figures and organizations. Additionally, the report will explore potential strategies for the Turkish government to address the escalating challenges posed by dissidents whose presence within Turkish borders has become increasingly contentious.

According to a statement released in both Arabic and English by Naguib's family, which was published on her husband's X (formerly Twitter) account on October 5, 2023, the Turkish security forces that arrested her arrived in six vehicles, wearing plainclothes, and claimed they were arresting her due to her expired residency status. The statement further noted that, despite this claim of an expired residency permit, the security forces were aware that her permanent residency permit in Turkey was still valid and had not expired.

Furthermore, the statement described Naguib's arrest as "violent," and "escalated and carried out without any clear or explicit reason." It also mentioned that Naguib's arrest came "after nearly two years of continuous pressure and threats from the Turkish government to prevent Ghada from expressing her opinions, and after many failed attempts to force Ghada to become a bargaining chip for the intelligence services at the request of the Egyptian authorities."

Addressing President Erdogan and "those whom it may concern," the statement states: "We appreciate your efforts in pursuing the interests of your country, as we wish our own rulers did. However, we don't understand how this arrest of a woman in a country with institutions governed by laws that guarantee freedom of opinion for all, specifically with respect to women, serves your interests. Is this woman (a housewife with four children) really an obstacle to the interests of the largest country in the Middle East? We left our country to uphold and speak the truth, not expecting to have to conceal it in a Muslim country for fear of oppression. We incorrectly believed that Turkey's many experiences with military coups, injustice, and oppression in their own country would make it sympathetic to our cries for justice and democracy in Egypt."[1]

Shocked and dismayed by Naguib's arrest, Muslim Brotherhood figures and pro-Erdogan Islamist individuals and organizations, who have often praised Erdogan's leadership and his welcoming of Arab Islamists in Turkey, shared statements and posts expressing the hope that he would intervene to secure her release and return her home, reuniting her with her children.

For example, on October 5, 2023, Muhammad Al-Saghir, a Turkey-based member of the board of trustees of the Qatar-based and funded International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and a former MP in the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt, wrote about Naguib's arrest on his X (Twitter) account. He then stated, "We appeal to President Erdogan and the officials in the government to address this matter, as we have known them for their support of the oppressed and their generosity."[2]

On October 4, 2023, the Istanbul-based Egyptian Media Professionals Abroad released a statement addressed to President Erdogan, stating: "The Egyptian Media Professionals Abroad appeals to you for the immediate release of Egyptian political activist Ghada Naguib, the wife of the Egyptian opposition media figure and artist Hisham Abdullah. She was arrested by the police at her home the day before yesterday, October 2, 2023, without specifying the reason. Then she was transferred from one prison to another. She is a woman of stature who has not committed any criminal or political offense against your hospitable country. We acknowledge [your hospitality], with gratitude, and thank both the government and the people for their generosity towards exiled and migrant Egyptian politicians. The immediate release of Ms. Ghada Naguib will bring joy to free people around the world who love Turkey and regard you with love, respect, and appreciation."[3]

Ahmad Abd Al-Aziz is the president of Egyptian Media Professionals Abroad who served as part of the presidential team during the term in office of the late Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi. He posted a statement on his X (Twitter) account on October 5, 2023 expressing his optimism and trust in President Erdogan, asserting that he believed that Naguib would soon be released. Abd Al-Aziz stated, "We have confidence in the integrity and justice of the Turkish judiciary, and we trust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan @rterdogan_ar and his government's commitment in the dignity and freedom of every person residing on Turkish soil, whether they are in opposition or support, guests or citizens. We are all confident that Ms. Ghada Naguib @Ghadanajeb will regain her freedom as long as she has not violated Turkish laws."[4]

In a similar vein, Ahmad Ibrahim Abd Al-Rahman, the Turkey-based Secretary-General of the Egyptian Media Professionals Abroad, and an employee of the Erdogan-supporting Al-Jazeera Network, commended Erdogan for championing the cause of oppressed individuals and urged him to release Naguib. On October 5, 2023, he posted the following on his X (Twitter) account: "We call on President #Erdogan @RTErdogan and the Turkish government, to whom we have entrusted the support of the oppressed and standing by their side, to immediately release her and ensure her safe return home. Turkey has never been a supporter of oppressors or dictators. Over the past 10 years, we have encountered nothing but goodness, hospitality, and love from this country."[5]

Naguib's arrest has been condemned by human rights organizations, which urged Turkey to respect its obligations under international law and warned against prioritizing its geopolitical interests over human rights.

In a statement published on October 4, 2023, the British-based Arab Organization for Human Rights demanded that Turkey end "the arbitrary detention of the Egyptian activist Ghada Naguib and calls for her immediate release," stating that "Naguib's release would be a triumph for human rights, justice, and equality in Turkey, reflecting Turkey's commitment to international human rights standards, which it has consistently urged other countries to respect."[6]

U.S.-based Egyptian journalist and YouTuber Somayya Ganainy proposed that instead of arresting Egyptian opposition figures, the Turkish government should help those individuals obtain passports and relocate to a different country. Naguib’s Egyptian passport had been revoked. Ganainy pointed out that it is unethical to welcome dissidents into a country and then betray them later to serve geopolitical interests. She mentioned that she was betrayed when she lived in Qatar before relocating to the U.S. In a video published on her YouTube channel on October 2, 2023, Ganainy said: "As for Ghada, there is no evidence that she worked against the Turkish government. It is unreasonable that every country where we live, trust, respect, and are welcomed as opposition figures on its soil, would then turn against us after improving its relations with Egypt. I haven't spoken yet about what happened to me in Qatar, and justice has not been served yet, but I will seek justice."[7]

The London-based pro-Muslim Brotherhood journalist and YouTuber, Osama Gaweesh, vehemently condemned the Turkish government for arresting Ghada Naguib. In a video released on his YouTube channel on October 4, 2023, he stated: "The treatment of Ghada Naguib is nothing short of criminal. As I mentioned yesterday, it is an appalling act, and the Turkish authorities must release her immediately. This situation blatantly contradicts principles of human rights, respect for humanity, and the fundamental right to freedom of expression. While the Turkish government is free to manage its relationship with the Egyptian government in the best interests of its people, it should never involve detaining a woman in a facility designated for men. What's even more alarming is her detention without any formal charges. There is no place anywhere in the world where such treatment of Ghada Naguib would be tolerated. The manner in which this crime is being perpetrated and the inhumane treatment of individuals is utterly unacceptable, regardless of which government is responsible."[8]

Hizb ut-Tahrir-affiliated Danish Imam Mundhir Abdallah, who opposes the concept of nation-states and democracy while advocating for an Islamic state, used Naguib's arrest to criticize the Muslim Brotherhood for placing trust in Erdogan. Abdallah described Erdogan as a man "who has no religion, no covenant, and no honor."

In a post published on his X (Twitter) account on October 4, 2023, he wrote: "Erdogan has no religion, no covenant, and no honor... His thugs raid the home of Egyptian political activist Ghada Naguib, terrorize her children, and arrest her simply because of her opposition to the criminal El-Sissi! We have been warning people for many years not to succumb to any of the Sykes-Picot system's regimes. They have no religion, no covenant, and trusting them is naivety."[9]

Abdallah then responded to a comment on his post in which a user expressed confusion about why a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated regime like the Erdogan administration would arrest Egyptians who are pro-Muslim Brotherhood. Abdallah stated: "No, it's not a Muslim Brotherhood regime. The regime in Turkey is secular, established on the ruins of the Islamic system by the infidel Mustafa Kemal. The Justice and Development Party led by Erdogan is also secular. The fact is that Erdogan followed the same policy as America, just like El-Sissi. Their differences were merely a façade, and roles were distributed accordingly. Now, the natural relationship between the agents and those who pay the price, like the Brotherhood and their counterparts in political ignorance, is restored."

While Arabic-speaking Turkish intellectuals have mostly remained silent regarding the arrest of Naguib, the X (Twitter) account of Turkish political analyst Dr. Mehmet Canbekli featured a post on October 3, 2023, stating: "It is very disgraceful for two of the largest countries in the Middle East to negotiate at the expense of a female political activist." Dr. Canbekli has also urged the Turkish Ministry of Interior to issue a statement regarding the circumstances of the arrest and detention.[10]

According to Naguib’s husband, Turkish professor Bekir Berat Özipek also condemned the arrest of Naguib. On October 7, 2023, he wrote on his X (Twitter) account: "Political Professor Bekir Berat condemns the arrest of Ghada Naguib, which is without legal justification and conducted in an inhumane manner. He also rejects the notion that negotiations between Turkey and Egypt should come at the expense of a political activist."[11] He tagged a tweet written by Özipek in the Turkish language.

While Naguib has not yet been officially charged with any crime, some commentators have speculated about the reasons behind her arrest. Haytham Abokhalil, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is also a journalist and YouTuber, has denied allegations that Naguib is part of a terrorist organization or that she poses a threat to Turkey's national security. In a video posted on his channel on October 6, 2023, he stated, "This is nonsense. Perhaps Ghada Naguib used a strong tone in criticizing the Egyptian regime, and due to the improving relations between Egypt and Turkey, such a tone may have caused some sensitivity. This could potentially be the primary reason for her arrest, as I don't see any other justification for Ghada Naguib's detention."[12]


[1], October 5, 2023.

[2], October 5, 2023.

[3], October 4, 2023.

[4], October 5, 2023.

[5], October 5, 2023.

[6], October 4, 2023.

[7], October 2, 2023.

[8], October 4, 2023.

[9], October 4, 2023.

[10], October 3, 2023.

[11], October 7, 2023.

[12], October 6, 2023.

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