While the phenomenon of Egyptians leaving their homeland in search for work abroad has been ongoing for decades, a new trend has emerged since 2011, namely thousands have expatriated for political reasons. Some have left based on a general sense that the political climate has become hazardous for them, while others left because of specific fears due to court convictions, lawsuits, loss of employment, attacks in the media, or direct physical threats related to their political, journalistic, or civil society activities. In contrast to waves of politically motivated Egyptian migration into exile in the 1950s–1970s, migrants now have highly diverse identities, motives, destinations, and experiences in exile. While specific data are hard to locate, post-2011 Egyptian exiles generally appear to be greater in numbers, younger, and enjoying higher educational attainment than those of the past. One reason for this diversity is that far more groups are at serious risk in Egypt—Islamists as well as Christians, liberals as well as leftists, artists as well as businesspeople, prominent intellectuals as well as underground activists—compared to the past, when fewer groups faced political or social persecution at any given time.
Amr Hamzawy is a Senior Research Scholar at CDDRL. He studied political science and developmental studies in Cairo, The Hague, and Berlin. He was previously an associate professor of political science at Cairo University and a professor of public policy at the American University in Cairo. Between 2016 and 2017, he served as a senior fellow in the Middle East program and the Democracy and Rule of Law program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC.
His research and teaching interests as well as his academic publications focus on democratization processes in Egypt, tensions between freedom and repression in the Egyptian public space, political movements and civil society in Egypt, contemporary debates in Arab political thought, and human rights and governance in the Arab world. He is currently writing a new book on contemporary Egyptian politics, titled Egypt’s New Authoritarianism.
Hamzawy is a former member of the People’s Assembly after being elected in the first Parliamentary elections in Egypt after the January 25, 2011 revolution. He is also a former member of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights. Hamzawy contributes a weekly op-ed to the Egyptian independent newspaper al-Shorouk and a weekly op-ed to the London based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi.