Fleeing the country sounded like the only safe option for millions of Syrians who believed that they could find a safe haven in neighboring countries like Egypt and Iran. However, with the Iran army siding with the Syrian government and Egypt targeting Syrian refugees after the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, things are starting to look bleak for the Syrians who fled their homeland, only to get targeted again in a foreign country, with no home and no family to support them.
The first sign of disturbance occurred right after Mohamed MOrsi was ousted from his post in July this year. Almost immediately, the Egyptian army started rounding up Syrian refugees, including those who had been living in the country for several years and those who had just arrived there. And the fact that most of the Syrians who were detained by Egyptian officials had a strategic yellow card that offers them protection in the name of the U.N. Refugee Agency, was either overlooked or completely ignored by the officials who detained them.
Many believe that the Syrians are being targetedas part of a larger operation aimed at criminalizing the Muslim Brotherhood that supports Mohamed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood has always shown its support for Syrian and Ghazan refugees. And this has led to many people believing the Syrians would side with the Muslim Brotherhood to fight against the military backed regime, and in favor of Mohamed Morsi. And with the media praising all kinds of anti-Brotherhood campaigns, life has become increasingly difficult for the Syrians living in Egypt.
Although this kind of anti-minority and anti-Brotherhood protests and campaigns are not new in Egypt, the rate at which hate crimes have increased over the past few weeks is startling. What is more startling is the fact that most of these crimes were against Syrian refugees. While some were subjected to physical violence, others had to lose their property and businesses to vandals overnight.
Following these incidents, security has been tightened all over Egypt. However, these acts of violence and repressions against Syrians continue to occur in and around the country. Although initial reports maintain that the number of Syrians who have been arrested since July this year is 160, Egypt’s biggest refugee-serving organization, the Tadamon Council, places this number at 500. And that, the organization says, only accounts for Syrians who have been arrested in cities like Alexandria and Cairo. The organization fears that many more Syrians could have been arrested in small cities and town outside the major cities. And since the Tadamon Council can only track those refugees who have registered with the UN, they do not have an exact count of the number of Syrians who have been arrested in the country following Morsi’s ouster.
The situation seems to be turning bleaker for the Syrians as Egypt plans to return to a Mubarak style security state, with the constitution ceasing to perform, the arrests of several political leaders and the shutdown of several media outlets. All these factors could increase the intensity and frequency of the attacks against Syrian refugees in the country. Reports also suggest that the military backed regime could enforce policies that could literally force the Syrians to leave the country altogether.