Egypt passes controversial law 'selling' nationality to foreigners for $400,000
Egypt's parliament has approved a controversial draft law allowing foreigners to buy the Egyptian nationality for almost $400,000, the state-run MENA news agency reported.
Lawmakers on Monday passed the bill granting foreign residents the right to obtain nationality by depositing 7 million Egyptian pounds ($390,000) in a local bank for a period of five years.
"As per the bill, the interior minister is entitled to grant the Egyptian nationality to foreigners who stay in Egypt with a deposit for at least five successive years," the report said.
Supporters of the law have argued that it will encourage investment in the ailing Egyptian economy, which has received multiple shocks caused by political instability and security issues.
The law, which will allow nationality to be obtained with $1,950,000, has set off a storm of criticism by legislators and on social media networks.
Opposition lawmaker Haitham al-Hariri accused authorities of permitting the "sale" the Egyptian nationality in a bid bring quick money into the country, local news website Masr al-Arabia reported.
Pro-government lawmaker Mustafa Bakri also rejected the bill saying that "the Egyptian citizenship is not for sale".
Many Egyptians took to social media sites, lashing out at the draft bill.
Parliament's speaker has responded to the criticism, saying that the "Egyptian nationality is dear and not for sale".
The move comes as Egypt presses ahead with a broader economic reform programme that has included slashing subsidies, imposing a value-added tax and a currency flotation.
The programme has was designed to meet demands by the International Monetary Fund for a $12 billion bailout loan secured by Cairo in 2016.
The tough austerity measures have dealt a heavy blow to poor and middle-class Egyptians.
Egypt's nationality is passed down to people born to an Egyptian parent or grandparent. Wives of Egyptians can apply to be granted the nationality.
The president can also bestow the nationality on foreigners who have done honourable services to the country.