The first Egyptian law defining who was an Egyptian citizen was issued by the Egyptian Government on May 26, 1926. According to this nationality code, a person born in Egypt of a ‘foreign’ father, (who himself was also born in Egypt), was entitled to Egyptian nationality only if the foreign father “belonged racially to the majority of the population of the country whose language is Arabic or whose religion is Islam.” The racial and language requirements were drafted into the code to redefine the Jews of Egypt as foreigners in their own country. The vast majority of Egyptian Jews while having been citizens of the previously ruling Ottoman Empire, were prohibited from acquiring Egyptian nationality with this law. Later, during the fifties, having failed to become ‘Egyptian,’ this law served as the official pretext for expelling many Jews from Egypt.

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