MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

January 26, 2016
Writer Fatima Naoot was sentenced on Tuesday to three years in prison and fined EGP20,000 after being found guilty of contempt of religion, the second public figure to receive a jail term in less than a month for charges related to blasphemy. The jail sentence is effective immediately, meaning the ex-parliamentary candidate is set to be arrested and incarcerated. Naoot, however, will be able to lodge an appeal from behind bars. Naoot faced trial after expressing personal views regarding the slaughter rituals during the Muslim Eid al-Adha. In a post on her social media page back in October 2014, Naoot criticized “animal slaughter” in reference to the religious tradition of sacrificing sheep, and wrote “Happy massacre, everybody.” She was convicted according to Article 98 of the Penal Code on religious contempt. Naoot previously said her referral to court was the “price paid by the bearers of the torches of enlightenment in every age.” She expressed her “full respect” for the judiciary and for the prosecution and hopes to be acquitted of the charges. [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/26/2016]


FJP spokesperson disagrees with judicial announcements on Brotherhood activities
Foreign Committee Spokesman of the dissolved Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Abdel Mawgood al-Dardiry, reportedly denied the legitimacy of the claims made by the committee to freeze Muslim Brotherhood assets on Sunday. “The committee is not specialized and we do not acknowledge its results. We highly question the veracity of what was announced, two years from the burning of the Guidance Bureau,” he said. According to Dardiry, the committee aimed to distort the image of the Brotherhood ahead of the January 25 anniversary, on which the Brotherhood called on people to protest. He further highlighted that the committee has not substantiated any of the corruption charges leveled against Brotherhood members. [DNE, 1/26/2016]

Also of Interest
  • ESDP blames security apparatus for conditions “worse than before revolution” | DNE
  • No clashes or violence on Monday morning, life more or less normal across Egypt says cabinet | Ahram Online


Talk show host Entisar acquitted of immorality charges
Actress Entisar was acquitted of immorality charges by the Nasr City Criminal Court on Sunday. The same court also dismissed charges against Tarek Nour, the owner of the satellite channel that airs her talk show, Nafsana. Lawyer Hany Gad filed the charges against the two defendants after an October 6 episode of Nafsana in which Entisar praised a young man who said he exercises patience and self-control by watching pornography. In the same episode, Entisar admitted that she herself watches erotica, while also claiming that 70 percent of Egyptian men watch porn. The trial began on December 3 and ended with the acquittal on Sunday. According to state-owned newspaper, Akhbar al-Youm, Gad will appeal the decision. [Mada Masr, 1/25/2016]

Also of Interest:
  • Two municipality officials referred to trial over Kafr al-Sheikh boat crisis | DNE, AMAY


Egypt raises cap on forex deposits for imports of essential goods
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said Tuesday it would raise its cap on foreign currency deposits to $250,000 a month for imports of food, capital machinery, manufacturing components, and medicines. Last February, the CBE imposed capital controls and limited dollar-denominated deposits to $50,000 a month to crack down on the black market exchange. However, the move meant many importers could no longer get enough foreign currency to pay for foreign goods, which piled up at ports. The CBE said in a statement that the $50,000 a month cap would remain in place for ordinary deposits not used for imports of the list of "essential goods." [Reuters, 1/26/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Egypt's stock exchange wavers after oil falls again | Aswat Masriya
  • $500 million delivered to Egypt January 7 says African Development Bank official | Cairo Post
  • Central Bank of Egypt’s policies to reduce car imports in 2016 | DNE
  • Egypt, Russia to sign MoU to establish industrial zone in Suez Gulf area | Ahram Online
  • $60 million from IFAD for supporting agriculture sector | SIS


At least 150 people arrested nationwide on January 25 anniversary
Media reports suggest that at least 150 protesters were arrested across the country on Monday as Egypt marked the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising. No official numbers have been released. More arrests in the lead up to the anniversary were also reported. According to Al Masry Al Youm, the administrator of the Revolutionary Socialists Facebook page was arrested on charges of instigating violence by calling for protests on January 25. The paper claimed that the administrator, 24-year-old Mohamed Essam, was actually a member of the banned April 6 Youth Movement. On Monday, prosecutors extended his detention for another 15 days pending criminal investigations, according to Akhbar al-Youm. On Sunday, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported police arrested 78 Muslim Brotherhood members in Giza as part of their security crackdown in the lead-up to the revolution anniversary. Meanwhile, the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms documented 37 arrests in seven governorates on Monday. In related news, prominent Egyptian activist, Sanaa Seif, staged Monday a single-person demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Seif, who hails from a family known for leftist activism, stood in Tahrir while wearing a shirt with the words "It is still the January revolution." She was sentenced to three years in jail for illegal protest in 2014 but was released in September 2015 after receiving a presidential pardon. [Mada Masr, 1/26/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Egypt actors' syndicate suspends actor for distributing condom balloons to police | Ahram Online
  • Off the street: How 5th anniversary of Egypt's 2011 revolution was commemorated | Ahram Online
  • January 25: Yet another militarized response to dissenting protest | DNE
  • Wael Ghonim calls for continuing revolution through Facebook | AMAY
  • Polishing policemen's shoes for free in Tahrir Square | Aswat Masriya
  • The wives of Egyptian political detainees on Uprising anniversary | Aswat Masriya


Three ‘Brotherhood' members killed in Beni Suef raid says Interior Ministry
Three alleged Muslim Brotherhood members were killed in Upper Egypt's governorate of Beni Suef after exchanging fire with security personnel, Egypt's Ministry of Interior said in a statement on Monday. "Following the ministry's efforts to pursue Brotherhood members involved in terrorist activities, security forces have killed three members who were implicated in the murder of four security officials in Beni Suef," the statement said. The ministry reported that forces exchanged fire with the three brotherhood members during the raid of the apartment, where the suspects were hiding. Meanwhile, Egyptian police also said in a statement Monday that explosives found during a Sunday raid on an apartment in Giza's Kerdasa were the same type used in a bomb that killed eight policemen and three civilians during another raid in Haram on Thursday. The Interior Ministry said the Kerdasa raid was conducted after authorities received a tip that the apartment was being used to store explosives.[Ahram Online, 1/26/2016]

No directives made for prisoner release on uprising anniversary says Interior Ministry
No directives have been made to release prisoners on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising and Police Day, the Interior Ministry said Monday, although the ministry said it would be ready to implement the decision once it receives the directive. The ministry’s Public Relations and Media Spokesman, Abu Bakr Abdel Karim, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that presidential pardons cover prisoners jailed for criminal offenses who had spent half of their terms. On January 12, the government's Official Gazette published President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's decision No. 1/2016, which involved the release of prisoners who had spent half of their prison terms by January 25. Meanwhile, according to Youm7, 40 prisoners were released Monday in Delta’s Beheira governorate per the presidential decree. [AMAY, 1/25/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Bomb squads detonate two IEDs in North Sinai | AMAY
  • Sadat metro station remains closed over security concerns | Cairo Post
  • Three injured in Sharqiya explosion on January 25 anniversary | Cairo Post


Egyptian troops head to Saudi Arabia for 'Thunder of the North' exercise
Several Egyptian military units headed to Saudi Arabia on Monday to take part in “Thunder of the North,” a joint military exercise involving "a number of Arab and Muslim states," according to Egypt's armed forces. The military units participating in the exercise include ground and air forces and special forces, in addition to air defense equipment.  According to an Egyptian Armed Forces statement, the military training exercise aims to raise the technical and combat standards of the units taking part in it. The Egyptian military's statement did not specify the number of countries participating in the exercise. According to the Saudi-owned London newspaper Al Hayat, Jordanian troops, as well as forces from Gulf Cooperation Council member states, will also take part in the exercises. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 1/26/2016]

Russia will add more security requirements to resume flights to Egypt
Russia’s Transport Ministry will prepare a report on its security checks at Egyptian airports this week, which will include extra requirements before flights return to Egyptian resorts after an almost three-month halt, Russian Sputnik agency reported. “A group of our experts has returned from Cairo. They are preparing a report to be reviewed by a special commission," Deputy Transport Minister Valery Okulov said Monday. "I think it may take a week," he added, referring to the anticipated review. According to the Russian Itar Tass agency, State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin told reporters on Monday that his country was keen on restoring tourism relations in Egypt. "We are, of course, interested in fully restoring economic relations, including tourism and flights between our countries," said Naryshkin. "However, this [resuming flights] will only be possible if full security of our citizens is guaranteed," the speaker noted. Naryshkin is slated to visit the Egyptian House of Representatives Tuesday, where he will hold talks with Egyptian Counterpart Ali Abdel-Aal, and other Egyptian parliamentarians. [Egypt Independent, 1/26/2016]

Also of Interest
  • 125,696 Egyptians have returned from Libya since ISIS beheading video | Ahram Online
  • FM participates in Arab FMs advisory meeting | SIS
  • Transparency International calls on EU to keep sanctions on Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Mubarak | TI
  • Egypt’s navy commander talks military cooperation in Paris | Cairo Post