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Syrians in Egypt fear new restrictions signal worse to come

Many Egyptians believe their government and its supporters are behind the latest xenophobic campaign targeting Syrian refugees in the country, including attacks on their businesses.
Syrian refugee Adel Bazmawi, 21, a co-founder and coach of the Syrian Sports Academy, works at a restaurant in Egypt's second city of Alexandria on January 4, 2018.
The academy is squeezed into just 30 square metres (320 square feet), in a modestly equipped hall at the bottom of a residential building in the Alexandria neighbourhood. The academy's founders began the project in 2016 with just 3,000 Egyptian pounds (about $430 at the time).
 / AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI        (Photo credit should read KHALED
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The closure of a popular Syrian-owned restaurant in the east Alexandria neighborhood of Asafra over what an employee in the Alexandria governor's office claimed to be "health code violations" has renewed fears among Syrians of tighter restrictions on their businesses in Egypt. It has also sparked a new wave of hostility toward Syrian refugees, raising concerns about their personal safety in a country that has largely been accommodating to them.

In mid-August, security forces sealed the doors of the Bride of Damascus (Aroos Dimashq) after a resident in the same building filed a lawsuit against its owner, complaining that gas cylinders in the restaurant's ground-floor kitchen posed an imminent danger to the building's occupants and to the neighborhood in general. The complainant's elderly mother had earlier appealed to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to take punitive measures against the restaurant owner and posted a video on Twitter showing the Syrian man dismissing her objections and telling her to "get me a man to talk to."

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