An Uighur student, was arrested and handcuffed by Egyptian police and when they removed his blindfold he was surprised to see Chinese officials questioning him in custody.
He was picked up in broad daylight with friends, and taken to a Cairo police station where Chinese officials grilled him about what he was doing in Egypt.
Detained youngsters, those swept up in the three-day crackdown in the first week of July 2017, were students at Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s most prestigious educational institution.
“Egyptian policemen said ‘the Chinese government says that you are terrorists’. But we responded that we are only Al-Azhar students,” said a student.
Students caught up in the crackdown that Chinese officials used similar tactics in Egypt that have been practised in its “re-education” camps in China to divide the detained students.
The detained Uighurs were divided into three groups and given colour codes – red, green, or yellow – to determine if they would be deported, released, or questioned further.
China is one of Egypt’s biggest investors, pouring money into massive infrastructure projects such as the construction of a new administrative capital east of Cairo. Trade between the two countries reached a record high of $13.8 billion last year.
Just three weeks before the raid, Egypt and China signed a security memorandum focusing on “combatting terrorism”.