Top News: Egypt Cabinet Passes New Terrorism Law to Presidency

The Egyptian government has approved a new terrorism law and sent it to the presidency for ratification. The bill had been in discussion for months following the spread of militant attacks against Egyptian army and police forces.

Egyptian cabinet passes new terrorism law to presidency
The Egyptian government has approved a new terrorism law and sent it to the presidency for ratification. The bill had been in discussion for months following the spread of militant attacks against Egyptian army and police forces. Egypt’s State Council revised the law and sent it back to the cabinet earlier on Thursday. The Council’s amendments included toughening the punishment of the perpetrators of any crimes of terrorism to death, and included provisions that facilitated the task of officers to enforce the law and do their jobs, a judicial source said. The cabinet is in the process of approving two counter-terrorism bills that some say could severely erode civil liberties in Egypt. The first would amend certain provisions in the penal code’s definition of terrorism, while the second would govern counter-terrorism procedures. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 4/4/2014]

Heikal says Sisi is ‘ideal’ president for Egypt
Prominent Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal said on Thursday that presidential hopeful and former military chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is the “ideal man” to take on the presidency. Heikal, a confidant of several Egyptian leaders, including former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, is still an influential figure on Egypt’s political scene. In an interview with Egyptian private television channel CBC, Heikal said that former defense minister al-Sisi didn’t need a presidential program or campaign platform, and that he only needed to present himself as the man who can “overcome the current crisis.” Heikal said that Sisi’s military background was necessary to deal with Egypt’s current circumstances, adding that the military is the only entity capable of facing challenges. Heikal added that he respects politician Hamdeen Sabbahi, who has said he also plans to run in the upcoming election, but that Egypt’s next stage will be highly dependent on the military forces, and thus the orders to the military should be “issued convincingly”, something he said Sabbahi would be unable to do. [Ahram Online, 4/4/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • FJP denies links to activist who calls for armed resistance | Egypt Independent
  • 232,000 citizens file forms to support presidential hopefuls so far | Egypt Independent
  • Sabbahi takes medical tests required for presidential running | Aswat Masriya
  • Sabbahi campaign sways police assaulted members in Kafr al-Sheikh | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Tourism ministry submits suggestions to presidential institutions concerning law against harassment | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


Key witness absent in a Brotherhood trial
Defense lawyers in one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s trials on Thursday denounced the absence of a key witness, whose written testimony was read out loud by the prosecution, according to judicial sources. The defense team of the four defendants – including Brotherhood leader Mohamed al-Beltagi and Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazi – protested that the witness, who the prosecution said had travelled to Kuwait, did not attend the hearing. They asked for more details about his whereabouts, arguing that the witness’s physical presence and testimony was essential to the case. The judge ignored their pleas and continued with the proceedings. The four defendants stand trial on charges of torturing two policemen at the main protest camp for ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in front of Raba’a al-Adaweya Mosque in east Cairo. [Ahram Online, 4/4/2014]


Egypt’s gov’t to issue EGP 20 billion t-bonds to reimburse pension funds as of Jan. 2015
Egypt’s finance ministry has approved the repayment of EGP 20 billion ($2.8 billion), the remainder of the treasury’s debt to two Egyptian insurance funds – one for public employees and the other for those working in the private sector. The repayment will be in form of three bonds over a three-year period with an interest rate of 9 percent. The first bond will be issued in January 2015. [Ahram Online, 4/3/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • US to establish investments at $120 million in Egypt | Egypt Independent
  • Coal imports approval confirmed | Mada Masr
  • Stock market loses 26 billion EGP in biggest weekly loss since the June revolution | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


Families of detainees hold silent protest in downtown Cairo
Dozens of activists, including prominent leftist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, held a protest on Thursday near downtown Cairo to call for the release of political detainees and demand fair investigations and trials. Organized by “Freedom for the Brave” – a grassroots movement aiming for the release of political detainees in Egypt – the protest drew the families and friends of those who had been arrested in recent months – mostly on charges of organizing illegal protests, related to a law issued last year which bans all demonstrations not pre-approved by the police. The protesters on Thursday formed human chains outside of Cairo Opera House, where they raised pictures of the detained and those facing trials, including prominent activists Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma, who played a large part in the January 2011 uprising and have been in jail since November. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, 4/4/2014]

Police disperse Brotherhood rally in Giza; Arrest eight for demonstrating without license
Egyptian security forces used tear gas to disperse a rally being held by Mohamed Morsi’s supporters on Friday in Giza. The rally began shortly after Friday prayers when worshippers gathered on Haram street and blocked traffic in front of a hospital while chanting slogans against the military. Responding to calls from the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy for demonstrations Friday, security forces were mobilized across Cairo and Giza. Egyptian police also arrested eight Brotherhood members on charges of organizing a protest without a license. [Ahram Online, AMAY (Arabic), Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 4/4/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Independent trade syndicates union join with workers sit-in in French company in Suez | Shorouk (Arabic)


Policeman shot dead in northern Sinai
Gunmen shot and killed a policeman Thursday in the restive Sinai Peninsula, the latest in a series of attacks on police and army personnel, a security source told the Al-Ahram Arabic news website. The source said suspected militants forced a central security conscript out of a car near the border town of Rafah, shot him and fled. The policeman was on his way to vacation in his hometown away from the training center when he was attacked. Attacks on security forces and installations in the Sinai, Nile Delta cities and the capital have been on the rise since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July. [Ahram Online, 4/3/2014]


British investigation to consult Brotherhood leaders
A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister David Cameron told Ahram Online that British authorities will consult with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood during their investigation of the Islamist group. She added that the Brotherhood has the right to be listened to. However, she didn’t elaborate as to how the review team will consult the group’s leadership. The review is expected to be completed by July. The spokeswoman confirmed that the review has no legal or judicial aspect and also has nothing to do with the annual assessment carried out by British anti-terrorism authorities. Meanwhile, a Brotherhood spokesman expressed confidence that the investigation will not alter the group’s status in Britain. “We as Muslim Brothers are committed to laws and therefore we do not expect that to happen. The British government has strong security devices and knows our peaceful activities in detail since we came here forty years ago,” Ibrahim Mounir told Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper on Friday. In related news a judicial source in Egypt said that justice ministry will form three committees to prepare and submit official reports on the Brotherhood and the ban on its activities to British officials conducting the investigation. [Ahram Online, 4/3/2014}

Egypt deports man lobbying against mass death sentences
Egyptian authorities deported a rights campaigner hours after he flew in to deliver a petition against death sentences imposed on 529 supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, the man and security officials said on Friday. Wissam Tarif, a Lebanese citizen from the international group Avaaz, was hoping to hand over the appeal at a meeting with the grand mufti, Egypt’s top religious authority who reviews all death sentences. Tarif said he flew into Cairo from Beirut on Tuesday with a Lebanese Muslim cleric. “I landed at Cairo airport and I wasn’t allowed in. My name popped up on the computer and they took me to the deportation room where I was interrogated by political security,” he added. Tarif said he was barred from leaving the airport to attend the meeting and authorities briefly seized his computer. Security officials at Cairo airport said Tarif arrived on Tuesday afternoon and was deported eleven hours later after his name appeared on a watch list. [Reuters, 4/3/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Secretary Kerry lessens Brotherhood’s role: The youth started demonstrations in Tahrir in 2011 not the Brotherhood | AMAY (Arabic)
  • Dubai’s Dahi Khalfan: Qatar dismantles Arab nation, Egypt needs Sisi for president | Egypt Independent