Top News: Egypt Arrests Three Under New Terrorism Law

Egyptian police have arrested, under a new anti-terrorism law, three individuals who are accused of spreading Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) propaganda through Facebook. A security campaign targeted the houses of a veterinary physician and two students in a center in Sohag, according to a statement from the Sohag security directorate. The prosecution ordered their detention for fifteen days pending investigation. Authorities found a laptop with videos released by ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq in possession of the three detainees, the statement read. They are accused of embracing the “jihadist” ideology and attempting to spread it among citizens and through the use of Facebook. [Ahram OnlineDNEAPAswat Masriya, 8/24/2015]


Minister: New parliament to issue laws on building churches, transitional justice
Minister of Transitional Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ibrahim Heneidi said Saturday that the Constitution requires the House of Representatives to issue certain laws in its first session. These laws, he said, include laws regulating the building and renovation of churches, and other laws relating to transitional justice. The parliament will also amend existing laws to conform to the Constitution including the laws regulating the House of Representatives elections and those regarding political rights, he added. [Egypt Independent, 8/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Campaign advocates disbanding of religiously-oriented parties | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt elections committee to announce new poll timetable this month | Ahram Online
  • 768 foreign reporters permitted to cover Egypt parliamentary elections | Cairo Post
  • Political parties face internal problems | Egypt Independent
  • Khaled Dawoud resigns as Dostour Party spokesperson | DNE
  • Egypt’s Dostour chief resignation accepted by supreme body | Egypt Independent
  • Egyptian authorities to pay EGP5,000 to families affected by Cairo state security bombing | Ahram Online, DNE  
  • Minister says new local administrative law fights corruption | Egypt Independent

Court sentences Brotherhood leaders Badie, Hegazi, and Beltagi to life in prison
The Port Said Criminal Court sentenced Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, Senior Brotherhood leader Mohamed al-Beltagy, Islamist cleric Safwat Hegazy, and sixteen others to life imprisonment for storming the Arab Police Station in Port Said. Badie, together with 190 other defendants, were accused of encouraging violence and murder in the port city in August 2013. Twenty-eight defendants were sentenced to ten years in prison and sixty-eight acquitted. Another seventy-six were given life sentences in absentia. Saturday’s sentencing related to an attack on a police station in the city of Port Said in 2013 in which five people were killed. Charges ranged from murder and inciting violence to stealing weapons and destruction of public and private property. Meanwhile, eight Brotherhood members were sentenced to twenty years maximum security prison on Monday, in a separate trial where they were accused of complicity in violence in Qaliubiya that took place in July 2013. They were also ordered to pay a fine of 2,000 Egyptian pounds (around $255), each. The defendants include Mohsen Radi, a journalist and former Member of Parliament, who was arrested in September 2013. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 8/24/2015]  

Ten-year prison term for one, five acquitted in a Port Said Stadium massacre retrial
Port Said Criminal Court sentenced Sunday one defendant to ten years in prison and acquitted five others in the retrial of seven defendants in the 2012 Port Said Stadium massacre case. Seventy-three defendants, including nine police officers, were charged in the killing of seventy-four Ahly Football Club fans during a game in Port Said city in February 2012 between Ahly and Masry. The court upheld a death sentence for another defendant after he failed to show up in court. The retrial was ordered after seven defendants sentenced in absentia to death turned themselves in to authorities. In June, Port Said’s criminal court ruled on the case, sentencing eleven to death, acquitting twenty-one and handing the remaining defendants prison terms varying from fifteen to five years. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 8/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Court rejects detained journalist Youssef Shabaan’s legal challenge for release | Ahram Online
  • Court postpones ‘storming of Helwan police station’ case to September 29 | DNE

Egypt stock market falls to lowest level in almost two years
Egypt’s stock market fell to its lowest level in almost two years on Sunday. The 5.43 percent drop came after a steady fall last week amid an overall global slowdown. “It’s a global sell-off; there’s lack of foreign investments, given the macroeconomic headwinds,” said Amr Elalfy, global head of research at Mubasher Financial Services. He added that while there were “great hopes and expectations” following Egypt’s economic development conference in March, “people are realizing now that most of them have not yet materialized and that these reforms take time.” He also cited the delay in the formation of the parliament as contributing to doubt surrounding Egypt’s monetary policies, in addition to what foreign investors see as an overvaluation of Egypt’s currency. [AP, 8/23/2015]

Egypt lowers top tax rate and suspends capital gains tax
Egypt lowered the top tax rate and the threshold for companies and individuals in high income brackets on Sunday and suspended a 10 percent tax on capital gains in an attempt to attract investors and boost the economy. The changes come as a result of a presidential decree lowering the top tax rate on companies and individuals from 25 percent to 22.5 percent. The decree also suspended a 10 percent capital gains tax for two years as of August 2015. The highest income bracket to which the new 22.5 percent rate will apply went down from EGP250,000 ($31,948.88) to EGP200,000, the decree said. The decision increased the limit of income exempt from tax to EGP6,500. Income from EGP6,500 to EGP30,000 will be taxed 10 percent. Income from EGP30,000 to EGP45,000 will be taxed 15 percent. [Reuters, SIS, 8/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s trade deficit grows 28.7 percent in May | Ahram Online
  • Egypt company denies LNG imports via Jordan | AMAY/Reuters
  • Egypt aims to lower unemployment rate by 5 percent | Amwal Al Ghad
  • Army to contract out Suez desalination project | Egypt Independent
  • Poll: Egypt’s economic growth accelerates, but less than government hopes | Reuters
  • Orascom agrees to settle US pollution allegations | Mada Masr

Two independent newspapers censored over critical content
Two privately-owned Egyptian newspapers were reportedly censored over critical content on Saturday. An issue of the Al-Mesryoon newspaper was pulled from print on Saturday over critical content that featured an opinion piece criticizing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s religious reform rhetoric. It also contained a report on Sisi’s delayed visit to the UK, which it claimed is related to attempts to legally prosecute Sisi in the UK. An issue of Al-Sabah newspaper was also subject to censorship, this time over an opinion piece that criticized a party leader who is rumored to be close to the president. Al-Sabah was also informed by the Al-Ahram printing press of the objectionality of an opinion piece. The article described Mohamed Badran, head of the Mostaqbal Watan party, a relatively unknown newly established party, as a “spoilt child” of the president. Badran responded to the news in a statement, saying that he was not involved in stopping the issue from printing. The Press Syndicate’s freedom’s committee issued a statement Sunday, condemning “the phenomenon of pulling newspapers from print and interfering in content with elimination and change through unknown censorship authorities.” In a statement Sunday, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) also condemned the suspension of two newspapers’ print. [DNE, 8/24/2015]

Four individuals deported from Egypt over LGBT accusations in two months
At least five foreign nationals have been deported from Egypt since December over LGBT allegations, with four cases occurring within the past two months, according to research by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). In April, Egypt’s Administrative Court ruled to uphold the December deportation of a Libyan man on allegations that the individual was homosexual. The court ruling was interpreted by rights groups as setting a legal precedent, giving the ministry of interior the power to deport and ban homosexual foreigners from Egypt. Although not explicitly illegal under Egyptian law, individuals suspected of homosexuality are commonly prosecuted on charges of debauchery or undermining public morality. [DNE, 8/24/2015]

Labor unions prepare massive September protests over civil service law
Independent labor unions are preparing for massive protests on September 12, demanding the Civil Service law be abandoned after the government declared in March that reforms need to be made among the six million strong civilian workforce. While independent workers’ union rejected the law’s executive regulation released on Friday, the official Egyptian Trade Unions Federation said it contributes to the establishment of social justice as far as wages are concerned. Fatema Fouad, who heads an independent union of tax workers, said unions are adhering to plans for massive protests on September 12 at Fustat Park in Old Cairo. Several independent teachers’ unions also announced on Sunday their plans to participate in the protest. The HRDO Center to Support Digital Expression issued a statement Sunday objecting to the new law, saying it curtails the privileges of public employees. [Egypt Independent, 8/23/2015]

Egyptian rights organization files lawsuit to expel Human Rights Watch from country
A lawsuit demanding that Human Rights Watch (HRW) be expelled and banned from operating in Egypt was accepted on Sunday and is due to be heard before the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters on September 13. The case was filed by President Naguib Gibrael of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights (EUHR) on the basis that HRW has sided with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian state, following their ouster in 2013. Speaking with privately-owned newspaper Al-Watan on Sunday, Gibrael said,”HRW has adopted a policy of severe hostility towards Egypt while interfering in Egypt’s sovereignty and in the affairs of its judiciary, and supporting the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.” Gibrael did not mention reports that HRW has issued criticizing the human rights record of the Muslim Brotherhood. Gibrael said that HRW’s actions “pose an imminent threat to Egypt’s national security.” [Mada Masr, 8/24/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Democracy Index: Students staged 807 protests in 2014-2015 | Egypt Independent
  • First Egyptian VIP train to operate Monday | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s power consumption increased 5,000 megawatts during heatwave, says Minister | Ahram Online
  • Four die in Egypt’s Aswan due to continued heatwave | Ahram Online
  • Lawyer highlights situation of other detainees to survive his own imprisonment | DNE
  • New campaign urges Internet customers not to pay monthly bill | Egypt Independent
  • Al-Azhar professor says ‘Intellectuals’ should be excluded from religious reform debates | Egypt Independent
  • Cairo governorate makes security cameras mandatory in all shops | Ahram Online, Mada Masr  
  • Cairo shop owners resist obligatory security cameras | Egypt Independent
  • Antiquities minister urges Egyptians to donate to buy statue | AP
  • Giza follows Cairo’s footsteps, removes street vendors | Cairo Post

Two policemen killed, twenty-four wounded in bombing in Egypt’s Beheira
Two members of Egypt’s security forces have been killed and at least twenty-four others injured in a bombing that targeted their bus in Beheira. The early Monday blast struck a passing bus that was carrying the policemen to work posts in a village in the northern governorate. According to a statement on the Interior Ministry’s official Facebook page, the bus was heading to Rashid Police Station. It was not immediately clear if any civilians are among those wounded. The ministry’s post also stated that a bomb squad is currently combing the area for other explosive devices. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 8/24/2015]

Sharqiya policemen end two-day sit-in; Interior ministry accuses Brotherhood of instigation
Lower-ranking Sharqiya policemen demanding financial and occupational benefits ended their two-day sit-in after holding negotiations with interior ministry officials, Egypt’s state news agency reported on Monday. Dozens of low-ranking policemen in the Nile Delta governorate of Sharqiya had been staging an open-ended sit-in at the provincial security directorate in the town of Zagazig since Saturday, pledging to continue until their demands are met. Their demands include better financial and working conditions, improved health insurance, scheduled promotions, and the payment of delayed bonuses. State news agency MENA said that police personnel ended their sit-in late Sunday after “successful negotiations” with interior ministry officials. A provincial security official said that an agreement has been reached with the protesters to “leave and call off the sit-in and present their demands to the interior minister for a decision by September 5.” However, Yasser Farouk, Media Director at the Security Directorate, denied minutes earlier that the sit-in had ended, according to comments reported by MENA. The strike had escalated Sunday when dozens of police officers attempted to storm the security directorate, after the arrival of anti-riot troops from the Central Security Forces (CSF). Riot police attempted to disperse the protesters, firing tear gas, while the protesters threw stones and issued warning shots in the air. The attempted dispersal reportedly resulted in dozens of injuries. Before the sit-in disbanded, numerous solidarity statements from policemen’s association across the country were issued. Ministry of Interior Spokesperson Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim, however, said “police deputies pressuring the state by closing down the six police stations is unacceptable.” Abdel-Karim said “instigators and participants will be handled based on the law”, referring to the protesting personnel, accusing “Muslim Brotherhood elements” of fueling the strike. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 8/24/2015]

Also of Interest

Foreign Ministry launches English language blog
The foreign affairs ministry launched an English language blog on Sunday, saying it aims to communicate with the world on the situation in Egypt, as well as on the country’s foreign policy. Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a press statement that the blog comes as part of a strategy to boost communication with the world “especially in light of media defamation campaigns adopted by some Western media concerning political, economic and security situations in Egypt.” He said the blog represents “a platform for officials, academics and writers to engage in dialogue and exchange views regarding Egypt and its foreign policy.” He also added that the new service would respond to “inaccurate reports published by Western newspapers and organizations.” [Egypt Independent, 8/23/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • UN special envoy to Libya meets Foreign Minister Shoukry in Cairo | Ahram Online
  • Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia review consultants’ work on GERD | DNE
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  • 268 Egyptians return home from Libya via Salloum over past 24 hours | Egypt Independent