Top News: Cabinet Approves Draft Bill Criminalizing Possession of ‘Terrorist Symbols’

The Egyptian cabinet approved on Wednesday a draft bill that punishes the possession and distribution of so-called “terrorist” symbols. The draft bill, which adds a new article to the existing criminal code, was proposed to the cabinet by the presidency. Violators could face a fine ranging from EGP10,000 to EGP30,000, as well as jail time. A decision specifying which signs or drawings would be considered symbols of terrorist entities will be issued later. The draft bill also imposes the same penalties on those who knowingly or unknowingly abet violators, whether the prohibited materials were prepared for distribution or put on display.  The law also criminalizes those who possess any means/equipment of print, recording, and broadcasting used to disseminate any material deemed “terrorist” by the authorities. Quoting Brigadier General Mohamed Nour al-Din, from the Interior Ministry, the privately-owned Sada al-Balad news portal reported that “this is a positive step” even though “it was issued late.” General Nour al-Din added that, when enforced, this law would be specifically outlaw the use of symbols employed by the Muslim Brotherhood and the April 6 Youth Movement. [Ahram Online, AMAY, Mada Masr, 1/14/2016]


Protest law not among laws reviewed by parliamentary committees
The Secretary of the Legislative Committee in the Egypt’s new parliament said on Thursday that all laws issued by then interim president Adly Mansour, including the Protest Law, will neither be presented nor discussed by the various committees. Only laws issued after the constitution was passed in 2014 will be reviewed. Constitutional expert Shawky al-Sayed explains that Mansour’s 2013 Constitutional Declaration delegated legislative power to the president of the country in coordination with the prime minister. “There was no mention of the parliament in it, unlike in the constitution where it was clearly mentioned,” Sayed said. Among the approximately 50 laws that will not be reviewed as a result are the amendment to the criminal procedural code, the decree granting ministers the power to contract projects without putting them out to tender in certain cases, and another facilitating reconciliation between those embroiled in tax disputes and the Taxation Authority. The Economic Committee reportedly approved all laws passed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi relating to the economy. The Legislative Committee also reportedly approved the Anti-Terror Law, while some MPs in the committee objected to the Illicit Gains Law. The Manpower Committee is said to have rejected the Civil Service Law. In two weeks, once the task is complete, new heads and deputy heads of committees will be elected and the number of committees will increase. According to Deputy Prime Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Refaat al-Komsan, this will depend on the new code of conduct, which will be discussed and passed by MPs. “In the new code, internal committees could increase from 19 to 25 committees,” he said. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 1/14/2016]

Egyptian minister expects municipal elections to be held within a year
Municipal elections are expected to be held within a year after a draft local administration law is discussed in the parliament, Egypt’s Local Development Minister said in a press conference Wednesday. Ahmed Zaki Badr added that the bill is currently being “updated” to be on par with the constitution with regards to “decentralization.” In the next municipal elections, representation of women, youth, workers, and farmers will be ensured, Badr added, according to a press release. The minister also said that a bill is being drafted to change the categorization of construction violations from a misdemeanor a to felony as a deterrent to these violations. [Aswat Masriya, 1/13/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s cabinet could present program to parliament by end of Jan, says Prime Minister | Ahram Online
  • Sisi approves amendments to Egypt-WB healthcare cooperation project | SIS
  • MP statement on female MPs immodest clothing stirs anger | AMAY


Prosecution refers three officials from Egyptian museum to trial
The Administrative Prosecution referred three officials at the Egyptian museum Wednesday to trial over charges of negligence, according to a statement by the prosecution. The defendants were accused of negligence in the maintenance of lab equipment. The defendants include the Executive Director of the Center for Archaeological Conservation of the museum, the Head of the Engineering Committee, and the Director of the Museum Storehouse. According to the prosecution’s statement, the Executive Director of the Center for Archaeological Conservation was accused of giving the approval for the repair of an electron microscope, worth EGP 11 million, outside the museum without taking the required procedures to protect it. The Head of the Engineering Committee failed to take the needed actions to repair an EGP 9 million electron beam excitation, which is used in the electron microscope. In addition, the director of the museum’s storehouse failed to put the microscope and the electron beam excitation together at the museum’s storehouse. [DNE, 1/13/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Court to hear testimonies in former agriculture minister corruption case | Aswat Masriya


Egypt to allocate additional $32 million to boost security measures in tourist resorts
Egypt will strengthen security measures in tourist resorts Sharm al-Shiekh and Hurghada with an allocation of $32 million, Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou announced Thursday. Zaazou said the plan includes the purchase of the latest scanning and detection equipment, as well as increasing the number of security personnel in the resorts. He said additional CCTV systems will be introduced to better monitor security in hotels and resorts. Advisor to the Minister of Tourism Adla Ragab said Egypt’s tourism revenues are expected to decline by 18 percent in 2015. She said the Ministry is planning “to establish a national carrier to increase inbound tourism to Egypt and avoid the monopolization by tour operators.” [DNE, AP, 1/14/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s debt burden to see no relief as infusion of debt stimulus to spiral upward | DNE
  • Egypt’s bourse hits two year low as foreigners continue to dump shares | Ahram Online
  • November was Egypt’s worst month for tourism since 2013 | Mada Masr
  • Suez Canal revenues down 5.3 percent in 2015 | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt 6-month, 1-year T-bill yields rise at auction | Reuters


Eighteen Banha University employees expelled for alleged Brotherhood affiliation
A total of 18 Banha University’s employees were expelled after a court ruled that they belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, state news agency MENA reported Wednesday. The Legal Affairs Department of Banha University drafted a report on employees who received court sentences in 2015, which legally obliges their state-owned workplace to fire them, head of the university Ali Shams al-Din told MENA. Shams al-Din said the university does not treat people based on their identities or political affiliations, but rather “applies the law” when a court ruling is issued. [Cairo Post, 1/13/2016]

Also of Interest

  • No return to showbiz unless through Cairo says Bassem Youssef | AMAY
  • Poll shows 24 percent of Egyptians want parliament to prioritize unemployment | Cairo Post
  • Death toll in Sharqiya building collapse climbs to nine | Ahram Online


Egypt extends participation in Yemen conflict for up to one year
Egypt’s National Defense Council on Thursday extended the military’s participation in a Saudi-led operation in Yemen for up to one year, the presidency said in a statement. “The national defense council agreed to extend the participation of the required elements from the Egyptian armed forces in a combat operation outside the nation’s border to defend Egyptian and Arab national security,” the statement said. “This is for an extra year or until the end of the combat operations, whichever comes first.” [Reuters, 1/14/2016]

UK and Egypt military talks focus on partnership, terrorism, and regional issues
The UK and Egypt held the tenth round of military-to-military staff talks in Cairo on January 12-13, a UK embassy statement said. The talks focused on deepening military cooperation and tackling challenges to stability across the Middle East and North Africa. Rear Admiral Simon Ancona, Assistant Chief of Defense Staff led the visiting British delegation. Admiral Ancona said, “Egypt is a key strategic partner in a region of vital importance to the UK. These talks are crucial in helping us strengthen and deepen our partnership, so that we are equipped to confront and defeat those who want to spread extremism and violence in this region.” British Ambassador John Casson said that the UK stands with Egypt in the fight against extremism and terrorism–whether in Syria and Iraq or North Sinai. “And now that we have a political agreement in Libya, I look forward to the UK and Egypt working together in support of a new Libyan government that can lead the fight in defeating Daesh [ISIS] and restoring stability to the country.” [Cairo Post, 1/14/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Azhar condemns attacks on Sunni mosques in Baghdad | DNE
  • Egypt’s Foreign Minister concludes Berlin visit | Aswat Masriya
  • Russia insists on monitoring all security stages in Egyptian airports: Russian news agency | AMAY
  • Russian travel agencies expect tourists to return to Egypt before summer | AMAY