Top News: At Least 22 Killed in Football Violence; Retrial Date Set for Al Jazeera Defendants

At least twenty-two fans were killed in violence between security forces and Zamalek supporters according to Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat. The club’s hardcore Ultras White Knights (UWK) fan group claimed the number of victims is twenty-eight, while on Monday morning, east Cairo prosecution contradicted Barakat, saying the death toll was nineteen.


More parties announce boycott of elections as candidate registration begins
The Salafi Watan Party, liberal Dostour Party, and the Socialist Popular Alliance Party have declared that they will boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are expected to take place next March. The Watan Party, a former member of the Anti-Coup Alliance, said its decision to boycott was due to the suspension of the 2013 constitution, and the “annihilation of the democratic path.” The Dostour Party cited “unfavorable circumstances,” among them the current political climate, and the fact that Egyptian President Adel-Fattah al-Sisi had not released a number of detained youths as promised. Egypt’s Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) decided to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections after a list of its demands, put forth following the killing of member Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, was not met. Meanwhile, the High Elections Commission began on Sunday receiving requests by candidates running for parliamentary elections. Documents will be received daily for ten days until February 17. Ahmed Ezz, steel tycoon and former spokesperson for Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, applied on Sunday for candidacy in the elections, and according to his lawyer, his application has been accepted. Clashes erupted between rival candidates and their followers in several governorates, among them Sohag and Gharbiya. [DNE, 2/8/2015]

Sisi defends protest law, Raba’a dispersal
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi defended the wide-criticized protest law and the dispersal of the Raba’a al-Adaweya and Nahda sit-ins demanding the reinstatement of former president Mohamed Morsi, whom he ousted in 2013. Sisi denied that Morsi’s ouster had caused the death of hundreds and the detention of thousands others. He argued that the number of deaths that have occurred since Morsi’s removal is low, compared to the death toll in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya over the past ten years noting that Egypt’s population is equal to those four countries combined. Commenting on the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins, Sisi stressed that the number of deaths could have been tens of times higher if the protesters had been left to encounter the people. Adding that “We had offered protesters to disband the sit-in peacefully many times.” [MENA, 2/8/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Shafiq coordinates for parliamentary elections from UAE | Egypt Independent
  • Seventeen new Egyptian provincial governors sworn-in; only three from military | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Filmmaker Khaled Youssef submits his election candidacy application | Egypt Independent
  • Sisi issued 263 decrees in six months: Study | Egypt Independent
  • Infographic: Egypt’s Game of Seats | DNE


Egypt sets February 12 retrial date for jailed Al Jazeera journalists
The first retrial session for two Al Jazeera journalists will be held on February 12, judicial sources said on Sunday. Following the announcement, the family one of the journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, issued a statement saying the retrial represents their “worst nightmare.” Canadian authorities also expressed their concern over the announcement. “Canada is deeply concerned with the announcement that a retrial date has been set despite assurances that Mr. Fahmy would be released along with his colleague, Peter Greste,” said Lynne Yelich, minister of state for consular affairs. She also called for his immediate release. Many believed Fahmy, who recently gave up his Egyptian citizenship, would be deported like Australian Peter Greste. The wife of Baher Mohamed, the second Al Jazeera journalist, said he will not give up his Egyptian nationality in an attempt to be freed as he believes in the integrity of the Egyptian judiciary. Meanwhile, Amal Clooney, Fahmy’s lawyer in a letter addressed to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has requested a meeting to push for his release.  [Ahram Online, Reuters, AP, Mada Masr, 2/8/2015]

Mahienour al-Massry, nine others handed two-year sentences
A misdemeanor court in Alexandria sentenced ten people to two years in prison and fined each 5,000 Egyptian pounds (around $650) on Monday. The defendants, seven of whom were sentenced in absentia, were arrested in March 2013 when they staged a sit-in at the Raml Police Station after lawyers were reportedly assaulted inside as they attended investigations with three activists. Among the defendants are activist and human lawyer Mahienour al-Massry, lawyer Amr Abou al-Kheir and journalist Youssef Shaaban. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 2/9/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt court sentences three to death on Al-Qaeda espionage charges | Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
  • ‘Port Said Massacre’ retrial postponed to February 9 | DNE
  • Shura Council Trial postponed to February 12 for ‘security reasons’ | DNE
  • Court to rule on Mubarak-era Interior Minister in March | Aswat Masriya


As pound stabilizes, CBE moves against the black market
The Egyptian pound held steady at 7.53 to the dollar Sunday for the fourth auction in a row, after losing 5.5 percent of its value since the beginning of the year. After holding steady at 7.14 to the dollar from May to January, Egypt’s central bank allowed the pound to slide at every auction from January 18 to February 2. While holding the pound steady, the bank is taking aggressive moves to kill the currency black market. Last week, Central Bank Governor Hesham Ramez set limits on dollar deposits to local banks. Under the new rules, individuals and companies are allowed to deposit a maximum of US$10,000 per day, up to US$50,000 per month. By limiting deposits, the CBE prevents large sums of black market cash from being used for legal import procedures. [Mada Masr, 2/8/2015]

Also of Interest

  • EBRD provides ADES with $28 million loan | DNE
  • Tourism drops from bomb blasts and Russian ruble decline | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt to issue unified investment law by end of February | The Cairo Post
  • Egypt’s PMI fell in January | Al Ahram Weekly


At least twenty-two Zamalek fans killed in clashes with Egyptian police
At least twenty-two fans were killed in violence between security forces and Zamalek supporters according to Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat. The club’s hardcore Ultras White Knights (UWK) fan group claimed the number of victims is twenty-eight, while on Monday morning, east Cairo prosecution contradicted Barakat, saying the death toll was nineteen. According to the ministry of interior, large numbers of Zamalek fans attempted to storm the stadium without tickets, ahead of a game between Zamalek and Enppi. The ministry added that security forces responded by trying to prevent assaults on stadium facilities. UWK disputed the ministry’s account, saying they were tear-gassed as many fans scrambled to get in, with a “tiny metal fence surrounded by barbed wire being the only gate opened for us.” The group issued a statement Sunday night describing what happened as a “plotted massacre.” Ahmed Sourab, Nasr City’s top prosecutor said initial investigations revealed that a stampede among Ultras White Knights was the cause of the deaths which occurred. Interior Ministry Spokesperson Hany Abdel Latif and Cabinet Spokesperson Hossam Qaweesh also both said that the security apparatus was not responsible for the incident. Egypt’s presidency issued a statement emphasizing the importance of completing the investigations to uncover the circumstances and determining the culprits. Mortada Mansour, the head of the Zamalek team claimed police did not open fire on fans, and that Sunday’s violence was “orchestrated” to foil upcoming parliamentary elections. While the match went on, despite the violence, Egypt’s cabinet decided on Sunday night to suspend the Egyptian Premier League indefinitely. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, AP, 2/9/2015]

Imprisoned photojournalist sends world SOS message
The detained photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zied, also known as Shawkan, who was arrested in August 2013 has described in an open letter his 550 days of imprisonment as “without logic, without trial, and without law. Just charges on paper.” He also pointed to hypocrisy of the Egyptian government’s treatment of Egyptian journalists as opposed to foreign ones. “I will send my condolences to myself and to all my fellow Egyptian journalists who do not own another passport or have a big organization to stand with them,” he wrote referring to the the recent release of Australian Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste. Shawkan’s letter comes as researchers debate the number of journalists detained. In December, a journalist from the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Misr Alan channel, released a list of the names of seventy-four journalists that are currently detained on charges relating to their profession. However, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists asserts there are only eleven journalists currently in prison, while the Arab Network of Human Rights Information states that sixty journalists are in custody. [DNE, 2/7/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Low turnout in pro-army Friday marches near Tahrir | DNE
  • Four new cases found to be positive with bird flu in Egypt | Ahram Online
  • Police disperse pro-Morsi protests in Matareya and Alexandria | Ahram Online
  • Students begin semester with protests | DNE
  • Seeking unity, Egypt flies the flag in symbolic Tahrir | Egypt Independent


Civilian shot dead at Sinai security checkpoint
Security forces shot dead a civilian at a security checkpoint in North Sinai’s Sheikh Zuweid late Friday. Police sources told Aswat Masriya they have instructions to shoot any citizen who refuses to adhere to security personnel’s instructions. At least four people were also injured when security forces shot them on Saturday for breaking a night-time curfew in place in the northern Sinai Peninsula for over three months. Meanwhile, hours after twenty-seven militants were killed in a North Sinai raid, security forces shot and killed another twenty. [Aswat Masriya, 2/8/2015]

Five killed in Sinai, Minya, Alexandria attacks
A sixteen-year-old girl was killed and four civilians injured when an improvised explosive device detonated late Friday in Alexandria. In a separate incident in Minya, three policemen were killed on Saturday in an exchange of fire with suspected criminals, the interior ministry said. Meanwhile, two people were injured, and five shops were shattered in separate bomb explosions across Helwan on Sunday. Five consecutive minor explosions hit near a KFC restaurant, a school and a bank in Helwan district early Sunday. No one has claimed responsibility for the explosions. Two other bombs were detected on Sunday morning, leaving no casualties. A bomb also exploded in front of the Sheikh Zayed youth centre in 6th of October City. In Ismailia, bomb squads defused three devices that were left inside three schools across the area of Qantara Gharb in Ismailia. A recent report shows that IED bombings have surged by 50 percent from last week. Finally, unidentified assailants shot dead a North Sinai resident they had earlier kidnapped under the pretext that he was “cooperating with security apparatuses,” security and tribal sources said on Monday.  [Aswat Masriya, 2/8/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt police arrest thirty-five on terror accusations | Ahram Online
  • Four suspects arrested in North Sinai | DNE


Putin visits Egypt in bid to expand influence
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Egypt on Monday as Moscow looks to expand its reach in the country at a time when Cairo-Washington and Russia-Western ties remain frayed. His two-day trip will be Putin’s first in a decade to Egypt and comes after a 2011 popular uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak, who the Russian leader met in his visit in 2005. Putin is a key non-Arab backer of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and officials say Putin’s trip is intended to strengthen ties between the two countries. Putin is due to arrive in Egypt late Monday but a Russian military delegation arrived earlier today and was received by Egyptian military officials. [The Guardian, AFP, 2/9/2015]

News leaks allege government’s ‘dissatisfaction’ with Gulf countries
Leaks allegedly reveal that top government officials are dissatisfied with financial support from the GCC countries. The leak, aired by pro-Morsi satellite channel Mekamelin, allegedly features then-Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaking to his former head of office Abbas Kamel and Egyptian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy. Helmy can be heard telling the two that relations between Egypt and other countries should be based on personal interests. Helmy also claimed that Egypt is a “hungry country with worsening conditions,” while other GCC countries are well off. He allegedly described Gulf countries as “not real states.” In the same leak, Helmy can be heard telling media advisor to late Saudi King Abdullah Fahd al-Askar that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is meeting and will issue a decree announcing that Sisi will run for presidency. On Monday, President Sisi called leaders of Gulf states to reassure them of strong Egyptian-Gulf ties. [DNE, 2/9/2015]

Also of Interest

  • French defense minister confirms Rafale talks with Egypt: TV | Reuters
  • Egypt concerned over Yemen situation | DNE
  • Egypt condemns Boko Haram’s killings in Cameroon, Niger | DNE
  • Twelve arrested at Egypt-Libya border | DNE
  • Shoukry meets Kerry, discusses ‘confronting terrorism’ | DNE
  • Criminal court sentences Syrian citizen to life imprisonment on terrorism charges | DNE
  • Libyan delegation arrives in Cairo to discuss military cooperation | Egypt Independent
  • Ezz Eddin al-Qassam Brigades shows solidarity with Egyptian army in video | Anadolu Agency
  • Egypt’s foreign minister discusses “terrorism” and region with French defense minister | Aswat Masriya