Top News: Azhar Chief: Opposing Rulers is not a Sin; Salafi Sheikh Issues Fatwa Permitting Killing of Protesters


Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb warned members of different Islamist groups against accusing their opponents of blasphemy on Wednesday. In a statement, al-Tayyeb said that al-Azhar, Egypt’s core Islamic institution, calls for agreement between different factions and warns against violence and attacking others’ religious beliefs.


Brotherhood’s FJP condemns violent protests over new Islamist governors

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has condemned violent protests in Gharbiya over the appointment of a new governor. Clashes in the Nile Delta governorate on Tuesday between supporters and opponents of Governor Ahmed al-Beili, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, injured 26, according to the health ministry. "The violence on Tuesday reveals the plots being hatched by a helpless opposition allying with former regime figures that are designed to drag the country into unrest," the FJP said on Wednesday. The party accused the anti-government Rebel campaign and the National Salvation Front (NSF) of working together with hired thugs to ignite violence across several governorates. Meanwhile, the FJP in Kafr al-Sheikh blamed ‘feloul’ for the clashes in Desouq. [Ahram Online, Watan (Arabic), 6/19/2013]

PM warns of catastrophe if Morsi ousted
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said on Wednesday that if demonstrators toppled President Mohamed Morsi on June 30, it could precipitate a political catastrophe in Egypt. If Morsi is toppled, his successor would also be toppled and the whole boat would sink, Qandil claimed. “Change comes through elections,” the prime minister added. “Elect a new parliament to face the president if you want.” The prime minister said he objected to protests against newly appointed governors across Egypt. [Egypt Independent, 6/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
Morsi meets Ministers of Defense, Interior, Intelligence Service Chief | SIS
Egypt’s al-Jama’a al-Islamiya denies involvement in 1997 Luxor massacre | Ahram Online
ElBaradei calls on people to ‘embrace’ former NDP members | Shorouk (Arabic)


Constitutional experts discuss Tamarod
Constitutional experts and law professors took part in a roundtable discussion on Wednesday to discuss the legal ramifications of Tamarod movement and its constitutionality. The roundtable event was organized by a recently launched political movement called the Movement to Defend the Republic. The discussion was moderated by the movement’s leader and former Supreme Constitutional Court Judge Tahani al-Gebali. Hafez Abu Seda, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said that holding a referendum to decide if Morsi should remain president is not possible. “A referendum would mean the president is challenging the signatures gathered.” Experts at the roundtable agreed that the Tamarod signatures enable the people to invalidate the constitution, calling it a “second wave to the 25 January Revolution.” [DNE, 6/19/2013]

Mubarak PM Nazif to be freed, IGA orders son of Sorour detained
An Egyptian court ordered the release of former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif on Thursday, because of a limit on pretrial detention in a corruption case for which he had been held since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The court accepted an appeal lodged by Nazif, who was prime minister from 2004 until Mubarak replaced him during the uprising in January 2011. While he still faces retrial in the case, he will be the highest profile Mubarak-era official to be freed in recent months. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Illicit Gains Authority has ordered that the son of Fathi Sorour, the former People’s Assembly Speaker under Hosni Mubarak, be detained for 15 days pending an investigation on charges of illegal profiteering. [Reuters, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram Online, 6/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
Supreme Judicial Council agrees to lift Ahmed al-Zind’s immunity | Shorouk (Arabic)
Egyptian sexual harasser sentenced to three months in absentia | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
Judges pass on appeal in Mubarak trial | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic)


Egypt’s current account deficit narrows after trade, tourism boost

Egypt’s current account deficit narrowed in July-March, supported by stronger tourism revenues and a shrinking trade deficit, data showed on Wednesday. The current account deficit shrank in the nine months to end-March to $3.9 billion compared to $7.1bn in the nine months to March 2012, the central bank said in a statement. Offering slight respite to an economy hurt by dwindling foreign currency reserves, the first three quarters of the fiscal year saw tourism revenue rise to $8.08bn, up 14 percent on a year earlier. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inched up to $1.4bn from $1.2bn in the first nine months of the last fiscal year. This was mainly a result of a contraction in net investment outflows in the oil sector, which stood at $607.5 million, down from $2.1bn. [Reuters, 6/19/2013]

Muslim Brotherhood: Response to auditor report on EU money to Egypt
Dr. Mohamed Gouda, spokesman for the Economic Commission for Freedom and Justice Party, denied what was raised in the report of the European Commission by auditors, who reported that the EU has failed to verify that the aid provided to Egypt at about one billion euros have been used effectively in making the government led by Islamists address the problem of corruption and human rights abuses. He confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood had received a loan rather than money that was injected directly into the State budget. [ONA (Arabic), 6/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
Report: Egypt loses 20.3 million EGP annually due to child malnutrition | ONA (Arabic)
Egypt’s largest steel producer obtains LE2.8 bn loan from local banks | Ahram Online
Head of the stock exchange: No intention to close the stock market on June 30 | ONA (Arabic)


PM, Military announce plans to develop Sinai

President Mohamed Morsi approved EGP 4.4bn worth of investments in Sinai on Wednesday, according to Prime Minister Hisham Qandil. Qandil held a press conference at the presidential palace along with Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Amr Darrag to discuss their cabinet meeting with the president. Darrag said the plan included developing schools, waste water facilities and encouraging investments in both North and South Sinai governorates. Regarding security challenges facing Sinai, Qandil said that increased investments in the region will lead to greater security. The Armed Forces will be contributing to the implementation of the development, with Qandil pointing out that, as a result, local contractors will also benefit from the projects. [DNE, SIS, Ahram (Arabic), 6/19/2013]

Anti-Brotherhood protests continue across Egypt
Clashes have continued throughout several governorates in Egypt in response to the recent appointment of new governors by President Mohamed Morsi. Clashes erupted on Wednesday night outside a Muslim Brotherhood conference in Desouq city in Kafr al-Sheikh governorate leaving eleven injured, according to the Ministry of Health. Continued violence in Fayoum has left twenty-seven injured, and further clashes broke out in Mansoura, the capital city of Daqahliya as well as Kafr al-Sheikh. Fights erupted outside the Gharbiya governorate building on Tuesday afternoon between members of the Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of the newly appointed governor leaving twenty-six injured. Ibrahim Shoukry, an activist in Tanta reported that “clashes didn’t erupt until members from the Muslim Brotherhood detained ten girls from the protests inside the city council building.” [DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Shorouk (Arabic), 6/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
Contingency plan in place at Cairo Airport for June 30: Aviation minister | Ahram Online
Sisi: We are prepared to safeguard Egypt | SIS


Islamists form human chains around Luxor governor’s office

Supporters of Islamist parties in Luxor formed human chains on Wednesday in attempts to allow the newly-appointed governor of the province, Adel al-Khayat, to enter the governorate building despite protests taking place outside. Among the Islamist parties involved in the action are the Salafist-oriented Nour Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, and al-Jama’a al-Islamiya’s political wing, the Building and Development Party. Determined to stop al-Khayat from entering his office, up to 100 protesters blocked a road leading to the building with burning tires. [Ahram Online, Reuters, 6/19/2013]

Azhar chief: Opposing rulers is not a sin; Salafi sheikh issues fatwa permitting killing of protesters
Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb warned members of different Islamist groups against accusing their opponents of blasphemy on Wednesday. In a statement, al-Tayyeb said that al-Azhar, Egypt’s core Islamic institution, calls for agreement between different factions and warns against violence and attacking others’ religious beliefs. Al-Tayyeb criticized "false" religious fatwas by "incompetent" sheikhs who issued statements saying that those who oppose the ruler are "hypocrites and infidels" in the eyes of Islam. The statement added that peaceful protests against the president are permitted. Meanwhile, Sheikh Ashraf Abdel Moneim, a member of the Salafi Front’s Legitimate Body of Rights and Reformation, issued a fatwa saying that it is permissible to kill protesters taking part in anti-government protests on June 30. [Ahram Online, AP, SIS, AMAY (Arabic), 6/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
Jon Stewart in Cairo for Bassem Youssef’s al-Bernameg | Ahram Online
NCW announces launch of new radio show: Women and Islam | ONA (Arabic)
Alexandria University president suspends administration | DNE
June 30: Egypt’s Islamists wage war for presidential ‘legitimacy’ | Ahram Online
Maspero suspends radio presenter | DNE


Catherine Ashton talks Syria, Egypt

The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with President Mohamed Morsi, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel and other opposition leaders to discuss the Syrian crisis, the Ethiopian dam, June 30 protests, and European aid to Egypt. According to an EU press release, Ashton and Amr agreed on their support of the Geneva II meeting on Syria. She also expressed her concern at the prospect of violence during upcoming protests in her meeting with the NSF. Hard-line Islamist group al-Jama’a al-Islamiya released a statement expressing suspicion at the timing of Ashton’s visit. The group denounced Ashton’s meetings with Egyptian opposition figures in the current "tense" timing and described them as “intervening” in Egyptian affairs. High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy, Michael Mann pointed out that EU aid to Egypt conditional on developments on the ground, and that there was concern about the economic situation. [DNE, Ahram Online, Shorouk (Arabic), Aswat Masriya, 6/20/2013]

Sabbahi meets British ambassador
Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi assured the British ambassador to Cairo James Watt that planned protests on June 30 would be peaceful in a meeting on Tuesday held at opposition group Popular Current’s headquarters. He said political movements participating in June 30 are committed to avoiding being drawn into any violent confrontations, but stated that the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates are threatening to use violence against the June 30 protesters. [DNE, 6/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
FM Amr’s Ethiopia visit lifted tensions: Egyptian diplomat | Ahram Online, Shorouk (Arabic)
Nile can be a source of bilateral cooperation: Ethiopian minister | Ahram Online
Cabinet meets over Ethiopia’s controversial Dam | SIS
Egypt development needs ‘specialists not Islamists’: UNFPA Cairo | Ahram Online

Photo: EgyPresidency

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