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Turkey revokes citizenship of Muslim Brotherhood leader after Erdoğan’s visit to Egypt: report

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Turkey has revoked the citizenship of Mahmoud Hussein, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s İstanbul faction, following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent visit to Egypt, the Al Arabiya news website reported, citing sources privy to the matter.

The Turkish government has thus significantly changed its stance towards the organization.

Sources told Al Arabiya that Hussein was informed of the revocation of his citizenship in recent days. The exact reasons for this drastic measure were not communicated to Hussein, prompting him to seek legal advice to understand the reason.

This development comes on the heels Erdoğan’s landmark visit to Egypt.

Mahmoud Hussein

President Erdoğan has abandoned his years of harsh criticism and extended an olive branch to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, marking a significant turning point in diplomatic relations between Turkey and Egypt.

Erdoğan, who once labeled Sisi a “murderer, oppressor and putschist” for his role in the 2013 military coup that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power in Egypt, called Sisi “my brother” during his visit to Cairo after an 11-year hiatus.

This diplomatic U-turn comes after a decade of strained relations following the coup, which Erdoğa vehemently opposed. The coup, which overthrew then-president Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and ally of Erdoğan, had caused a deep rift between Ankara and Cairo. Erdoğan’s government had strongly supported the Muslim Brotherhood and was often at odds with the Egyptian government’s crackdown on the organization.

The decision to revoke Hussein’s Turkish citizenship appears to be part of Turkey’s broader efforts to realign its foreign policy and smooth the waters with Egypt.

Turkey’s rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, countries that regard the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, has occurred in parallel with restrictions on the Islamist group’s freedom of movement and ability to operate in the country. Turkey called on Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated TV stations to limit their critical coverage of el-Sisi and shut down at least one of the stations during Erdoğan’s visit to Jeddah last year.

Turkey refused to renew the residence permits of members or people linked to the group to persuade them to leave the country, reportedly arrested some of the leaders and is considering deporting many others at the request of the Egyptian president, perhaps to a third country.

Following Erdoğan’s visit, there was a noticeable exodus of Brotherhood members from Turkey, including media workers, members of the Hasm movement — an armed wing of the Brotherhood — and academics who previously worked at Turkish universities, according to the Al Arabiya report.

Ankara has been trying to repair its broken relations with el-Sisi since 2020.

The first signs of a thaw came in May 2021, when a Turkish delegation visited Egypt to discuss a possible normalization.

In November 2022 Erdoğan and el-Sisi shook hands in Qatar, which the Egyptian presidency heralded as a new beginning in their relations.

After Turkey was hit by two devastating earthquakes in February 2023, the two heads of state spoke on the phone.

The normalization of relations was completed by the mutual appointment of ambassadors in July.

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