Cairo: Egyptians have turned to social media to express solidarity for Syrian refugees living in Egypt after a lawyer questioned sources of their enterprises in the country.
The hashtag “Syrians are welcome in Egypt” has trended over the past few days in response to a legal complaint lodged by lawyer Samir Sabry with Egypt’s chief prosecutor calling for monitoring Syrians’ investment he estimated at 23 billion dollars in the country.
Sabry, who has a reputation for suing Islamists and loyalists, said that Syrians have largely invested in real estate developments, factories, restaurants and coffee shops in Egypt.
“You are shocked by the prevalent pattern in the exaggerated consumerism and extravagance of many Syrians,” the Egyptian lawyer was quoted as saying in the complaint.
“Following up their behaviour in restaurants, cafes, clubs and shopping places, one cannot believe that they are the same people of Syria, which is suffering from ravages of havoc, devastation, killing and displacement,” he added.
The lawyer hinted that some Syrian entrepreneurs in Egypt could have financed “terrorism” in their home country.
There has been yet no legal action on the complaint.
Sabry’s suggestion has triggered massive online support for Syrians.
“We love you, Syria. We are happy by the Syrians here Egypt. It is our pleasure living with you in the same country,” tweeted an Egyptian woman named Doha Hatem.
Echoing the sentiment, an Egyptian man named Awad Sharqawi posted: “Egypt is beautiful by having you, our Syrian brothers. May God keep us together.”
Egyptian celebrities have also come out, expressing support for Syrians.
“We were one country before. And whatever happens, we’ll remain one country,” commented famous Egyptian actor Mohammad Heneidi.
Egypt and Syria had a short-lived merger in 1958.
Thousands of Syrians flocked to Egypt after the eruption of a civil war at home in 2011. Many of them have launched successful businesses and set up a large community in the Cairo suburb of October 6 City.
The UN refugee agency says around 130,000 Syrians are registered in Egypt. However, Egyptian estimates put the figure at about 300,000.
Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi has repeatedly said that all refugees in Egypt are treated “like Egyptian citizens”.