MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

February 23, 2016
Denying a flurry of media reports to the contrary, the Armed Forces released a statement Monday declaring that a 4-year-old boy has not been sentenced to life in prison by a military court, but rather a 16-year-old boy of a similar name. On February 16, a military court sentenced 116 people to life in prison on nine counts, including the murder of three people in Fayoum during a January 3, 2014 protest, the attempted murder of six others, illegal arms possession, and vandalism. The name of Ahmed Mansour Qorani, 4, was included on the list of defendants. On Monday, the Armed Forces spokesperson claimed that media reports had confused the name of the young child with that of teenager Ahmed Mansour Qorani Sharara, who was sentenced in absentia. On February 20, however, the father of the 4-year-old said in a TV interview that security forces actually showed up at his home in January 2014 to arrest Ahmed, who was two at the time. When they realized he was a toddler, police reportedly arrested the father instead, detaining him for four months. Deputy Interior Minister for Public Relations, Abu Bakr Abdel Karim, offered a different explanation, saying that the child’s 51-year-old uncle Ahmed Qorani Ahmed Ali was the suspect implicated in the crime. [Mada Masr, DNE, CNN, 2/22/2016]


Press Syndicate calls on journalists to boycott parliament coverage after assault
Egypt’s Press Syndicate has called on journalists to boycott parliamentary coverage following the assault of a journalist during Monday’s session. The incident occurred after a verbal spat between MP and TV anchor Tawfik Okasha and Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel Aal over a request to address the chamber. Abdel Al expelled Okasha from the meeting hall on Monday after receiving the approval of MPs.‎ The incident occurred just hours after Okasha made media statements recommending early presidential elections and the removal of the government. As Okasha exited the parliament, MP Mahmoud Khamis assaulted a journalist in an attempt to prevent the media from interviewing the dismissed parliamentarian. Later, Khamis, a former police general, apologized to Al-Watan newspaper’s Mohamed Tarek and to fellow journalists. Despite his apology, media members boycotted coverage of Monday’s evening parliamentary session. The Press Syndicate has called on journalists to boycott media coverage of parliamentary sessions until the case is investigated. Egypt's parliament also summoned Okasha for questioning on Tuesday after forming a committee to investigate his confrontation with Abdel Aal. [DNE, Ahram Online, AMAY, 2/23/2016]

Also of Interest
  • We should not hold entire police authority accountable: Prime Minister | DNE
  • PM, interior minister discuss measures to improve relations between police, people | AMAY, Mada Masr
  • Nour Party says it will not form parliamentary coalition | Al-Monitor


Court rejects Judge Nagy Shehata recusal request; Mohamed Mahmoud commemoration protesters acquitted
The Giza Criminal Court rejected Tuesday a request for Judge Nagy Shehata to step down from the trial of members of the April 6 Youth Movement. The court also ordered the person who submitted the request to pay a fine of EGP 4,000. Sameh Samir, a lawyer for one of the defendants, told Daily News Egypt the court violated Article 157 of the hearings law, which states that the court should hold a hearing for requests demanding that an official renounce a position. “The court decided to reject the request without legal consideration, claiming the police could not transfer the defendants for security reasons,” he said. Samir will file a complaint to the Supreme Judicial Court and issue a plea regarding the illegality of the verdict issued against the defendants. A Cairo misdemeanor court, meanwhile, acquitted on Tuesday nine people on charges of illegal protesting and blocking traffic last November on the fourth anniversary of the deadly Mohamed Mahmoud clashes. Cairo prosecution referred the nine demonstrators to misdemeanor court after they were arrested on October bridge for illegal protesting. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/23/2016]

Egypt court orders release of Mohamed al-Zawahiri
A Cairo criminal court ordered the release of prominent Jihadist Mohamed al-Zawahiri on parole on Tuesday. According to Zawahiri's lawyer Adel Moawad, his client should be released soon since he is not detained in any other case. Zawahiri, the brother of current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was arrested in August 2013 on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. In October 2015, he was acquitted of operating a terrorist organization in what was dubbed the "Zawahiri cell" trial, which involved 17 other defendants, 10 of whom were sentenced to death for running a terrorist organization connected to Al-Qaeda. The prosecution has the right to appeal the court decision. [Ahram Online, 2/23/2016]

Judge detained during disciplinary board hearing
Prosecutors detained a judge Tuesday for four days pending investigation over alleged contempt of court during a disciplinary board hearing held for a number of judges. The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) ordered the arrest of Judge Amir Awad on Monday during a disciplinary board hearing in the case in which he and other judges are accused of signing a statement, dubbed the “Raba’a statement,” in support of former president Mohamed Morsi. Awad was arrested on Monday and faced prosecutors after he voiced his objection to the board’s decision to adjourn the hearing until the next day. He argued that he lives in the city of Mansoura, around 120 kilometres away from Cairo, where the hearing was held. Awad argued that the hearing’s postponement would cause him a logistical problem. [Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 2/23/2016]

Also of Interest
  • One policeman out of nine referred to trial over assaulting Matariya doctors | Cairo Post


Egypt cuts economic growth forecast
Egypt has lowered its economic growth forecast for the current fiscal year to 4 to 4.25, down from 5 percent, Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian said. The downward growth revision was attributed to a decline in tourism following the downing of a Russian plane in October. “Tourism is one of the major sectors, not just as a driver of growth and one of the biggest sources of current-account receipts but because it has a higher multiplier impact on other” industries, Dimian said. Speaking on assistance from Gulf countries, Dimian said Gulf aid has shifted from grants to investments. While they still give Egypt credit facilities for oil products, “what we are focusing on now is how to foster direct investments from the Gulf states,” he said. Dimian added that the government plans to proceed with its economic reform program, which involves reforming the state budget and tackling a foreign currency shortage. He said the government hopes to tap the international bond market before the end of the fiscal year in June, market conditions permitting. [Bloomberg, Ahram Online, 2/22/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Egypt pound reaches record lows amid a dollar shortage | AP
  • Egypt's Central Bank launches EGP 5 billion program for medium size enterprises | Ahram Online
  • Egypt's central bank widens exemptions on import restrictions | Ahram Online
  • Time running out for EU wheat exports after lost Egyptian sales | Ahram Online
  • Egypt's bourse rises at closing | Aswat Masriya
  • World Bank says Egyptians' electricity consumption 'much higher' than low income countries' requirement | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt's Midor signs $1.2 billion loan agreement | Reuters
  • IFAD to reclaim one-fifth of Sisi’s 1.5 million feddan project | Cairo Post


Al-Mesryoon’s deputy chief editor walks free
Al-Mesryoon independent newspaper’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Abdel Rahman Mohamed, was released Sunday from prison, following a decision issued by prosecution authorities last week. Mohamed was walked free nearly five days after the prosecution ordered his release, and after spending more than three months in jail, according to Al-Bedaiah website. Mohamed was arrested in Qalyubia in November 2015, in a security raid on his house, in which his laptop was confiscated. He was accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Mesryoon’s Executive Editor-in-Chief had denied allegations of Mohamed’s connection to any political or religious organization, previously telling Daily News Egypt that Mohamed was a specialist in the field of political Islam, but that he is not known for any political or religious activities. [DNE, 2/23/2016]

Three dead in Egypt’s Alexandria bridge collapse
Three people died after their car fell into a conduit following a bridge collapse in the Borj al-Arab district in Alexandria in the early hours of Tuesday. The accident left up to five others injured. The bodies of the victims were recovered from the water and transported along with the injured to Borj al-Arab Hospital. According to state-run news Ahram Online, an investigation into the incident is underway. [Ahram Online, Cairo Post, 2/23/2016]

Also of Interest
  • ‘Anti-torture t-shirt detainee’ Mahmoud Hussein in ‘urgent need’ of surgery says brother | DNE
  • El Nadeem will continue to publicise reports through social media: Aida Seif El-Dawla | DNE
  • Reporters Without Borders decries persecution of journalists under Sisi | Mada Masr
  • Major cultural publishes blank cover in solidarity with Naji | Ahram Online
  • Dozens protest ban on niqab at Cairo University | Mada Masr


Policeman shoots colleague dead for mocking him on Facebook
A police corporal was arrested late on Monday on charges of shooting his colleague dead after a fight between the pair, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Wael al-Shabrawy allegedly shot his colleague dead on Monday because the latter “used to frequently mock him in his Facebook comments, telling him he was not funny,” according to investigators. Medical examiners said the victim sustained two shots to the stomach. The Interior Ministry’s statement said the officer argued with his colleague in the restroom of al-Zohour police station before shooting him dead. Police detectives also revealed Shabrawi was sacked from the police service in 2007 for “frequent violations” before being recalled after the 2011 uprising. [AMAY, 2/23/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Landmine kills two Antiquities Ministry employees in Ismailia, robbers kill two more in Minya | Mada Masr
  • Civilian death toll from Arish roadside bomb rises to two | Cairo Post


Egypt welcomes US-Russia cessation of hostilities in Syria
Egypt's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the "cessation of hostilities" agreed upon by the United States and Russia is an important step to facilitate delivery of UN humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and is necessary to reach a political settlement. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement that the agreement is necessary in order to "end violence and provide a suitable environment for a political solution under the auspices of the UN, in order to reach a full agreement for a ceasefire." He added that the coming period requires the commitment of all parties to enforce the agreement and uphold the interest of the Syrian people. Abu Zeid also highlighted the importance of continuing to combat “terrorist groups” in Syria. “The last hours witnessed intensive talks between Egypt and the US and Russian sides to coordinate the implementation of the statement on the cessation of hostilities,” he said. [Ahram Online, SIS, Cairo Post, 2/23/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Egypt 'strongly condemns' Syria attacks that killed 180 people | Ahram Online
  • Rights court slams Italy in Egyptian cleric's CIA-led abduction | AP