Top News: Court to Rule on July 2 in Lawsuit Calling for Facebook to Be Blocked in Egypt

The State Council’s administrative court will look into a lawsuit calling for blocking Facebook services in Egypt on July 2. The lawsuit argues that Facebook is used to spread immorality, rumors, and falsified news detrimental to the state. The lawsuit adds that due to ease with which anyone creates an account, it’s possible to create pages falsely representing state agencies, such as Egypt’s General Intelligence and the Supreme Council for Armed Forces, or public figures. In response to the lawsuit, the State Litigation Authority said that using Facebook is a constitutional right granted to all Egyptians. The authority added that Saudi Arabia, which applies sharia law, has not blocked the website. As a result, blocking the website will bring about strife, and would be deemed an assault on freedom. The authority added that it will be technically impossible to block the website. [AMAY (Arabic), 5/3/2015]


Confusion at State Council surrounding pro-Mubarak family report
Confusion prevailed in the State Council Monday due to a report stating former President Hosni Mubarak, his wife, sons, and grandchildren are entitled to all privileges granted by the state to former presidents and their families. The report was originally attributed to the general assembly of the Fatwa and Legislation departments of the State Council, which later denied the news. The media center, which is responsible for publishing the rulings and reports issued by courts of the State Council, issued a statement denying the news, before circulating another one confirming it. The statement said the Office of the President requested information on whether Mubarak and his family were entitled to privileges. In related news, Former CIA director Michael Morell disclosed in his upcoming book, new details about the January 25 revolution. In excerpts published by the Washington Post on Monday, Morell reveals he was a conduit for communications between the administration of US President Barack Obama and then Egyptian intelligence chief General Omar Suleiman. Morrell added he received a call from the former CIA director saying Suleiman was looking for guidance from the United States.  The CIA believed that Suleiman was looking for guidance from the United States on how to survive the revolution, and perhaps even maneuvering to succeed Mubarak, the book says. One of the messages sent to Suleiman urged him to push Mubarak to deliver a resignation speech and appoint a transitional council, as part of a last-ditch effort to achieve a peaceful transition of power, Morell says. [Egypt Independent, 5/5/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s election laws leave political parties further polarized | Ahram Online
  • Wafd Party to discuss regulations amendments Tuesday | Egypt Independent
  • Mahlab says Fayoum road will pass through Macarius Monastery | Egypt Independent
  • Sisi meets consultative council of scientists, experts | SIS
  • Mahlab denies upcoming ministerial reshuffle | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Diplomatic reshuffle including thirty-six new ambassadors to be announced soon | Shorouk (Arabic)


Judicial officials suspected of antiquities smuggling
Egypt’s general prosecutor Hisham Barakat on Monday ordered a media gag on a case in which senior officials are accused of involvement in the illegal trade of antiquities. Barakat explained that all news published about the case would “negatively affect” investigations. “The prosecution urges all media to report accurate information,” read a statement from the prosecution, which also stated that all citizens are guaranteed equality before the law. News reports, including the state’s official media, had published Sunday stories detailing the arrests of two brothers who are senior prosecution officers, on accusations of looting antiquities, with the collaboration of some police officers. [Ahram Online, DNE, 5/4/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Police set fake checkpoint to rob driver in New Cairo | Ahram Online
  • More ‘terrorist cells’ face trials | DNE
  • Three people imprisoned for fifteen days in Suez | DNE
  • Policeman sentenced to one year for storming prosecution office in Sohag | Shorouk (Arabic)


IMF says Egypt economic policies starting to pay off
Egypt’s economic policy reforms are starting to pay off and growth is strengthening although the country still faces a difficult situation, a senior official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. The Fund had held “good discussions” with Egyptian officials in Washington last month and plans to send a technical assistance team to Cairo in early June. Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, said the Egyptian government had not requested an IMF loan, but reiterated that the Fund is ready to provide assistance if asked. [Reuters, 5/5/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Arabs discuss customs cooperation agreement in Riyadh | Egypt Independent
  • HSBC says Egyptian business activity steadier in April after three-month contraction | Reuters
  • Egypt’s GASC seeks wheat for June shipment | Egypt Independent
  • Minister says Egypt to attract 20 percent more tourists this year | Reuters
  • EGP100 million Saudi donation to support small and medium-sized enterprises | Egypt Independent
  • Two foreign companies will help Egypt face summer energy crisis | Aswat Masriya
  • 65 percent of new Suez Canal dredging completed | Egypt Independent


Dozens of Egyptians celebrate Mubarak’s 87th birthday
Dozens celebrated the 87th birthday of deposed autocratic president Hosni Mubarak outside a military hospital in Cairo’s upper-class district of Maadi on Monday. From a window, Mubarak waved to some supporters, who sang, danced and held up his photo outside the hospital, disrupting traffic. Security forces held minimum presence in the area. The celebrations come days before an expected May 9 verdict in his retrial on corruption charges. [Ahram Online, AP, 5/4/2015]

Government seeks rights groups’ eradication say NGOs
Twenty Egyptian human rights organizations issued a joint statement Monday condemning “aggressive actions by the Egyptian government against civil society, which seeks the NGOs’ eradication.” High profile human rights organizations, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), the Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, Nazra for Feminist Studies, the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and others, criticized the “falsity of the government’s claim to support civil society,” and legislations it uses to stifle the work of civil society. The statement strongly criticized the “repressive” Law 84/2002 NGOs law, saying it is being applied to “suppress” civil society. The NGOs’ statement also highlighted the reopening of investigations in cases related to the receipt of foreign funds, saying this is aimed at “eliminating remaining civil society organizations.” [DNE, 5/4/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Internet use booming in Egypt as crackdown on print media, TV worsens | Mada Masr
  • Photojournalist Ziada walks free after last week’s acquittal | DNE
  • New campaign supports 35-square-meter studios for the youth | Egypt Independent
  • Government websites: urgent overhaul required | Egypt Independent


IED explodes in al-Azhar students’ Nasr City apartment
An improvised explosive device (IED) went off in an apartment in the Nasr City neighborhood, injuring two. The IED exploded in the apartment, rented by three al-Azhar University students, Tuesday in the east Cairo neighborhood. Two of the students were injured in the incident, and were transported to hospital. Police detained the third pending investigations, a ministry of interior statement read. According to preliminary investigations, the students, aged between 21 and 23 years old, are Muslim Brotherhood members. A source at Cairo Security Directorate said it was likely the students were planning an attack within the coming days. [DNE, Egypt Independent, 5/5/2015]

Video reveals policeman abusing detainee
A video revealing a plainclothes policeman mistreating a detained man has surfaced. In the video, the policeman had placed his foot on the man’s chest, in a public street. The policeman is heard arguing with bystanders before forcing the man to stand up. In a telephone interview on a current affairs program, 90 Minutes, which airs on the Mehwar satellite channel, Major General Abu Bakr Abdel Karim, the Assistant Minister of Interior for Media and Public Relations, condemned the man’s actions, saying that the video would be investigated. Abdel Karim added that Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar has issued directives to the police to find a balance between law enforcement and respect for freedoms.  [Shorouk (Arabic), 5/5/2015]

Also of Interest

  • In Egypt, militants attack security forces’ base in Sinai | AP


Egypt plays pivotal role in the region says German Foreign Minister
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that Egypt is a key partner in guaranteeing stability in the region at a Cairo press conference on Monday. The German Foreign Minister is currently in Egypt, where he has met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. Speaking about illegal immigration into Europe, especially from the Libyan coastline, the Foreign Minister said that Egypt urgently needed to protect and monitor its borders, adding that Germany provides technical assistance to Egypt to do so. Steinmeier also spoke of supporting Egypt’s economy, and Egyptian-German maritime cooperation. At the press conference, Shoukry said that Sisi would visit Germany this June. German newspaper Die Welt reported that Steinmeier also discussed the 2013 NGO trial in which Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation was ordered closed, and two of its German staff members sentenced in absentia. Steinmeier expressed hope that the issue would be resolved by the time Sisi visits Germany in June. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Die Welt, 5/4/2015]

Legal case suing UK over Palestine begins in Egyptian courts

A court case has begun in Egyptian courts to sue the UK for the Balfour Declaration and the subsequent suffering of the Palestinian people. On Monday, a South Cairo Court adjourned to May 18 a case submitted by the ‘Popular Palestinian Campaign to Sue the United Kingdom’, which hopes to “restore the right of the Palestinian people to their land, robbed from them in the infamous Balfour Declaration.” The case is directed against the British Prime Minister, but, after today’s ruling, Habet says the movement plans to include other countries including France, Germany, Italy, the United States, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, and the United Nations in the case. The lawsuit calls on the defendants to recognize their responsibility for the suffering and loss of the Palestinian people, and in this regard pay symbolic compensation to the Palestinian people of EGP 1 million. [DNE, 5/4/2015]

Also of Interest

  • EU commissioner meets Egypt’s Sisi over migration crisis | Ahram Online
  • Sisi to visit Moscow for WWII commemoration | DNE
  • Egypt to host Libyan tribal leaders at end of May | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Sisi urges more contacts with Africa, especially Nile Basin countries | SIS
  • Sisi says US and allies should support Egypt politically and economically | Shorouk (Arabic)