A Syrian young man and his Egyptian wife seek refuge among the Arab capitals
- Mohamed Hamida
- BBC – Cairo
An Egyptian woman in her twenties, carrying a sleeping toddler on her shoulder while pushing a stroller with three suitcases in front of her, entered Cairo airport early in the morning.
She was a bit confused as she tried to put the bags on the inspection belt, before she was given a helping hand. After the normal inspection procedure, Fatima went to the passport officer, where she handed him and her son’s Egyptian passports, which she kissed and turned to face the officer so he could see them before stamping them to leave. for Beirut.
The sun began to caress the eyes of the little boy Mahmoud while he was on the bus going to the plane, and he began to look with his eyes to see many people standing next to him on the bus, while his mother soothed him and spoke to him in a gentle tone about an upcoming meeting with his father in Beirut.
Fatima asked us to take some pictures on the plane, saying, “I want Mahmoud to share with us the memories of the family meeting after parting.”
At the exit of Beirut’s Rafic Hariri Airport, a thin young man in his twenties stood waving longingly until he began hugging and kissing his young child and his Egyptian wife.
This is the first time Mahmoud has seen his father since he was born last August, and the first time the pair have met in about 6 months.
A few days later, while on my way to the center of Beirut, where the houses are scattered on the mountain, I got out of the taxi in the part next to the famous Hamra street and entered an old house, where I was greeted at the door by Husam, the husband.
Fatima stood and welcomed the BBC team carrying her little Mahmud, and her husband’s family assigned them a room in a modest house.
I was sitting on the sofa in the middle of the hall, which has a window overlooking the mosque in Beirut, talking to my family.
In his clear Arabic accent, the young man asked me, “Will you help us solve our problem, sir?” I laughed and said, “Maybe.”
A love story no matter what
Fatima recounted, saying: “We intended to get married after a month in Egypt before embarking on a journey that has not stopped until now.” Then she looked up at the ceiling and ended her conversation with a shy smile to tell us how she met her husband in the city of Al-Rehab, east of Cairo, where there was mutual admiration from the first meeting.
Fatima added that getting her family’s approval for the marriage wasn’t easy after that, especially since her mother was very worried about her marrying a Syrian refugee. The mother said: “Would you marry a Syrian? This is the beginning of a path that is not easy, my daughter.”
The approval came after Fatima’s father, a pediatrician, blessed the marriage, and the journey to complete the marriage procedures began amidst the joy of the two young people.
An employee at the Egyptian Ministry of Justice looked at the papers and asked Hossam: Where is the valid residence?
Hossam told him that he had entered the country days before the March 2020 Corona shutdown and had forgotten to renew his stay in the middle of work.
The employee said he only had to prove his residency in Egypt, either in an apartment or a property, through a documented rental agreement, before he was granted residency after marrying an Egyptian woman, but the landlord refused to give him a documented agreement stating the rent of the apartment, out of fear from paying higher taxes.
Hossam turned to a Syrian lawyer residing in Egypt, who provided him with a contract documented with the seal of the Egyptian state. After that, it became clear that the contract was forged, so the young man entered a terrifying spiral, but the Egyptian Prosecutor’s Office released him and returned to the police station in order to complete the release procedure, which did not happen, but started immediately. The procedure of deporting the young man from Egypt after taking the opinion of the security services.
Fatima’s mother saw that this could be a sign from God not to consummate the marriage and told her, “Our Lord does not want to consummate the marriage. There is no share, my daughter.”
But Fatima got into her car and set off on a long journey, during which she visited the embassies of many Arab countries, in an attempt to obtain a visa for Hussam to enter, to end his detention with the Egyptian police, and to prevent him from being deported to his country, Syria. , for fear of problems.
After several days of searching, Fatima was unable to obtain a visa for any of the Arab countries, as it was not easy to obtain an entry visa for a citizen of Syria.
Fatima contacted Hussam’s refugee family in Lebanon, and his brother was able to obtain a visa for him to travel to Erbil, northern Iraq, as they could not bring him to Lebanon at the time due to late payment fines he had to pay during his previous of residence in Lebanon.
Every day of his detention in a police station in Egypt, a young Egyptian woman ate and drank to check on Hossam and see him.
After long days in prison, he was deported to Erbil, and the young Syrian man immediately started looking for a job, and since he is in the business of repairing mobile phones, he quickly found a job.
Fatima said: “He was deported to Erbil after we finished preparing the apartment and buying the furniture. Everything was ready, even the wedding (marriage). We set a date for it, but things developed dramatically and yet I insisted on at the end of the road.”
long distance marriage
Hussam says that he could not go to Syria because of the fear of conscription, which has been going on for eight years, and that he was a refugee in Lebanon and then in Egypt, with the immediate danger that his life would be threatened at any moment if the army joined.
Hussam looked at the ground and continued: “I have sent the powers of attorney that came to me from Fatima and her father in Cairo to a lawyer appointed by me, in order to complete the marriage procedures in Syria while I am still in Iraq. ”
The marriage was concluded on paper. After that, the husband sent the papers to his wife Fatima in Egypt, and immediately entrusted him with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and obtained a documented marriage voucher, which she sent to Hussam in Erbil, to start the procedure to bring his wife. .
The authorities of the Kurdistan region of Iraq refused to bring the woman to Erbil, and Hussam went to the Egyptian embassy in Erbil and got a visa because he was married to an Egyptian woman.
At the Cairo airport, Hossam stood in front of the passport officer in joy at entering Egypt, but he was detained again at the airport, after the authorities refused to let him into the country, and he was returned to Erbil after staying at the airport for three consecutive days, to start a new chapter in the lives of two young men.
The search for the Arab capital
“We heard gunfire at night and we didn’t feel completely safe, even though we were welcome there in Benghazi. It’s a beautiful country, but you were cut off from your community, your friends and your family, and you planted yourself in a country that needs time, him and irrigation to make it grow there.”
Hussam and Fatima spent six months in the only Arab city that accepted them, Benghazi in Libya.
Hussam says: “I searched a lot in several embassies, but I was not able to get married or meet Fatima in any of the Arab countries.”
Fatima added: “I didn’t hesitate for a moment to join my husband in Benghazi after he found a job and furnished an apartment, but we were going out and we were afraid, because weapons are widespread there, even though the city is quite stable.”
With a serious smile, Fatima said, “One day, we were going to a neighborhood near us to meet with a lawyer to file a case until we return to Cairo, and we heard the sounds of gunfire, and it turned out that he got into a car between two a team of armed men, who shot live bullets at each other. It was a very scary and difficult day.”
And he adds: “It didn’t take me long to stay there for more than six months, after the pregnancy began to weigh on my shoulders. I returned to my mother in Egypt last April. To revive our son Mahmoud.”
To the new Arab capital
Hussam said he fears for the family living in Benghazi. He decided to return to Beirut after the reason for the ban on entering the country was removed.
Fatima and her husband assess in one of the rooms of the house where the Hussam refugee family lives in Lebanon. She said in confident language, “If he goes to Kuala Lumpur, I will go with him. I left my job in Egypt, my apartment, my family and my friends and I came here confident of a happy life with my husband despite the difficulties, but I hope that we will return to Egypt.”
She added: “Life here in Lebanon is hard and expensive. The economic crisis is putting pressure on people, and wages are not great.”
Hossam looked at me and then said, “I still hope. Egypt is a beautiful country in spite of everything I have seen in it. It hosted me and millions of my countrymen and we lived among it as citizens. Now I hope that my wife and I we can give back to our work, our lives and our apartment in Cairo.”