MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

February 19, 2016
Disgruntled Egyptians beat up a policeman, blocked roads, and surrounded the local security headquarters late Thursday night after the officer killed 24-year-old taxi driver Mohamed Sayed in a dispute. Egypt's Interior Ministry said in a statement that the killing followed an argument over the sergeant's fare for his ride in Cairo's Darb al-Ahmar district. In the course of the dispute, the officer shot and killed the driver. The Cairo Security Directorate said in a statement that the policemen killed Sayed by mistake. A second Interior Ministry statement said the policeman fired a round from his pistol in order to control the crowd, but he hit the victim in the head. The statement added that angry relatives and friends of the victim beat the policeman, leaving him with severe injuries, including fractures and internal bleeding. The injured policeman was taken to hospital ahead of investigations into the incident. Egypt’s state-run news agency said he was arrested. Videos posted by Al-Masry Al-Youm showed tearful residents displaying bloodstained sections of cardboard and saying the officer had verbally insulted the driver and when the latter objected, the policeman shot the driver in the head. Interior Ministry Spokesman Major General Abu Bakr Abdel Karim, meanwhile, said any policeman who violates the law will be prosecuted. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the Interior Minister on Friday to make accountable any policeman who attacks citizens and to submit proposals to parliament to achieve this goal, the presidency said. [AP, Mada Masr, DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 2/19/2016]


Cabinet program session at Egyptian parliament may be delayed says minister
The parliamentary session in which members of parliament will hear the cabinet's program may not take place this month as previously planned, Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Magdy al-Agaty said Thursday. Agaty said that the session, which was expected to take place by the end of February, might be adjourned as the parliament's by-laws had yet to be approved. "I informed Prime Minister Sherif Ismail of the issue and he did not object," Agaty added. The parliament will reportedly discuss its internal bylaws from February 21 to 24, once a parliamentary committee finalizes the draft. Parliamentary members have objected to several articles, including one that allows parties to form a parliamentary committee only if it has at least five members in parliament. There are also objections to an article stipulating that a parliamentary coalition must include at least 120 MPs. [Ahram Online, SIS, 2/19/2016]


State Council stays neutral in Egyptian Student Union saga

The State Council declined to offer its opinion on Wednesday concerning the Higher Education Ministry’s decision to void the results of the Egyptian Student Union (ESU) elections that took place in December. Higher Education Minister Ashraf al-Shihy nullified the poll results in December, citing a legal loophole in the elections process that effectively unseated the elected leaders of student unions at public universities. Student leaders alleged the ministry voided the results because a pro-revolution current within the student movement that supports academic freedoms and university independence had won. Shihy denied the claims and referred the issue to the State Council’s Legislation and Jurisprudence Committee to rule on the disagreement. The State Council, however, explained Wednesday that it has no authority to offer its opinion in a matter that has already been referred to court. Judicial sources told the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper that an appeal against the ministry’s decision was filed before the Administrative Court. [Mada Masr, 2/18/2016]


Nadeem Center challenges possible shutdown
In recent weeks, imported commodities in Egypt have been in short supply as a dollar shortage affects state importers’ ability to secure regular supplies. This has affected tens of millions of Egyptians who rely on state subsidies provided as credits on smartcards. Supply Minister Khaled Hanafi said Thursday that stocks at state food companies are being replenished with dozens of products and will be available to smartcard-holders in March. Cooking oil in particular has been impacted by the foreign exchange shortage. Egypt's state importers canceled three cooking oil tenders in the last three months after not receiving enough offers or because prices were too high. Traders say they now have to factor in the cost of expected delay. "You are talking millions of dollars here. These delays are costly," said one trader. "They make you feel like a beggar when you chase your money, not answering calls, not responding." A lack of clarity on rice policy has also caused confusion in the market. Egypt issued a rice import tender last month only to cancel it again. Grocers say there is not enough rice in state stores. Hanafi said 2,000 tonnes of rice and 2,500 tonnes of oil are being supplied daily to replenish stocks. [Reuters, 2/18/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Egypt to double underground metro ticket price | Ahram Online
  • Experts say devaluation would support Egypt’s economy | DNE
  • Egypt's banks record EGP 8.2 billion increase in deposits in November | DNE
  • Egypt seeks to open talks with Libya on oil import | Libya Monitor (subscription)
  • Egypt's wheat mess is deja vu for traders after Jordan woes | Bloomberg
  • Egypt’s tourism revenues in December 2015 drop 52 percent | Cairo Post


Nadeem Center challenges possible shutdown
The Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture filed a request Thursday to the Health Ministry to halt the shutdown decision, according to the center’s Director, Magda Adly. In the event that the request is not addressed, the center will appeal the decision in front of the State Council. The NGO also confirmed Thursday that it has not yet been closed and that a visit to the Ministry of Health is planned on Sunday. Adly said that the shutdown requires an official inspection in addition to a written report detailing the alleged violations. The law allows for 30 days in order to eliminate the violations, she added. [Aswat Masriya, 2/18/2016]

Facebook admin arrested for 'insulting Egyptian women' in TV remarks
Egypt's security forces arrested the administrator of a Facebook page on Thursday on charges of “insulting Egyptian women” during a television appearance in December. Taymour al-Sobky created controversy when he appeared on a CBC talk show opining about infidelity among married women. In response to a question about the main marital problems that he receives questions about on his page, Sobky said that women cheat on their husbands, who forgive them, but then decide to leave. "Thirty percent of women have a readiness for immorality... but cannot find someone to encourage them," he said. Sobky claimed that women in the the Upper Egyptian governorates of Assiut, Minya, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, and Aswan were likely to be unfaithful because of arranged marriages and local men working abroad. The Prosecutor General issued an arrest warrant for Sobky on Tuesday after receiving complaints against his statements. Although it has been over two months since the show aired, in recent days, Sobky's statements have circulated on social media, and have been highlighted by Upper Egyptian parliamentarians who decried them as insulting to local women. The Chamber of Audio-Visual Media, a self-regulating media body, decided earlier this week to suspend the talk show for 15 days pending investigations by the chamber's technical legal committee into the insults. [Ahram Online, 2/18/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Cairo taxi drivers organize new protest against Uber and Careem | Ahram Online
  • Sisi, officials pay tribute to Boutros-Ghali | DNE, AP
  • Doctors face smear campaign in lead-up to nationwide protests | Mada Masr
  • Rights groups decry treatment of doctor imprisoned for protesting | Mada Masr
  • Preaching convoy to spread ‘moderation’ in South Sinai | Cairo Post


Sinai State publishes photos of beheading of 'army spies'
The Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State group claims it has beheaded two men in Sinai for "spying" for the Egyptian army, posting photos online of the killings. The photos were circulated on Twitter accounts affiliated with the Sinai State, formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, late on Thursday. The claims were reported by the US-based monitor SITE Intelligence Group. In the captions accompanying the photos, one of the men, named as Walid Ahmed Amer, is described as "a spy for the army intelligence" and the second man, Mostafa Zeraa Salmi, as "a spy for the army." [Ahram Online, 2/19/2016]


Italy awaits Egyptian report on Regeni case
Amid the Egyptian Ministry of Interior’s continued denial of media reports suggesting the involvement of security agencies in the death of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, the Italian team of investigators in the case awaits finalized analytic reports by the Egyptian Interior Ministry. Interior Ministry Spokesperson Abu Bakr Abdul Karim assured that the Italian delegation present in Cairo would receive full assistance and cooperation from its Egyptian counterpart. Egypt’s sluggish response has in turn triggered major debate on the local level. Students from the American University in Cairo (AUC), where Regeni was a visiting scholar, rallied on Wednesday, holding posters condemning the practices of the state security apparatus. Skepticism abounds as to whether the Egyptian authorities will provide Italy with “satisfactory” results. [DNE, 2/18/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Russian plane crash investigation extended to end of April | Cairo Post
  • Egypt hosts African business forum to boost private sector engagement in continent | Ahram Online
  • Al-Azhar's top cleric to visit Indonesia for first time | Ahram Online
  • Egypt, S. Korea review agreements to be signed during Sisi’s Seoul visit | SIS