Top News: Egypt Issues Scathing Statement on US State Department Human Rights Report

The US Department of State issued its 2014 Human Rights Report on Thursday. The Egypt report identifies the country’s most significant human rights issues as “excessive use of force by security forces, including unlawful killings and torture; the suppression of civil liberties, including societal and government restrictions on freedoms of expression and the press and the freedom of peaceful assembly and association; and limitations on due process in trials.” Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement issued on Friday, expressed its rejection of the report. The Foreign Ministry statement said that, despite acknowledging terror attacks in Egypt, the report was rife with exaggerations and lies. The Foreign Ministry said that the statement relied on NGOs that lack credibility and are known for their biased stance against the Egyptian government. The report also did not give enough attention to government efforts to improve the human rights situation, working conditions, women’s rights, and the fight against corruption, the statement added. The Foreign Ministry also rejected criticisms of the judiciary, saying that it rejects interference in its internal affairs and that the report reflected a lack of knowledge on the underlying principles of the Egyptian judicial system. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by telephone on Thursday with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to discuss holding a “strategic dialogue” between the two countries on July 28-29, Sisi’s office has said. The president welcomed that, saying he “expected the results to enrich the strategic relations between the two countries in different fields,” a statement said. Kerry was also keen to discuss new ideas with Sisi “to push peace efforts in the Middle East.” He stressed “the pivotal role of Egypt in the Middle East and its deep expertise regarding the efforts to settle” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [POMED, AP, SIS, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 6/26/2015]


Egyptian Foreign Minister says Brotherhood is source of extremist ideology
The Muslim Brotherhood group has created a “jihadist ideology” now utilized by all extremist groups worldwide, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Friday. In comments to the state news agency MENA, Shoukry urged the international community to combat all terrorist groups, not only the Islamic State (ISIS). “Egypt calls for a comprehensive terrorism-combating operation that targets all terrorist organizations whether the Islamic State, [Nigeria’s Boko Haram] or [Syria’s Al-Qaeda branch] the Nusra Front or any other group,” Shoukry said on the sidelines of a ministerial conference in Beirut. “These groups should be dealt with equally firmly and with the same determination of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State,” he said. [Ahram Online, 6/26/2015]

High Elections Committee approves electoral law amendments in principle
The High Elections Committee (HEC) has approved in principle to amendments to electoral draft laws, Minister of Transitional Justice Ibrahim al-Heneidy said on Thursday. Heneidy added, however, that the committee has yet to decide whether some of the constituencies will be merged. Recommendations made by the State Council to create one or two constituencies in certain areas will be implemented, with the exception of two areas. According to Heniedy, the HEC cited a lack of geographical borders as the reason for their decision. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), SIS, Shorouk (Arabic), 6/26/2015]

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  • Tagammu Party head says party will not form alliance with Nour Party; Welcomes immunization of parliament | Shorouk (Arabic)


Morsi Qatar espionage trial postponed to June 27
The Cairo Criminal Court has postponed a trial in which ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and ten others are charged with leaking classified documents to Qatar to June 27. Morsi is accused of providing state and security secrets to Qatar and news network Al Jazeera, in order to harm Egypt’s military, political, diplomatic, economic and national interests. This is the fourth trial against Morsi since his ouster. He has already been sentenced to twenty years in the Presidential Palace case, to death in the prison break case, and to life in jail over alleged leaks to foreign powers including Hamas and Hezbollah. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 6/25/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Judge Ahmed Gamaleddin appointed head of cassation court | SIS
  • Zakaria Azmy graft trial postponed to August 22 | EGYNews (Arabic)


Egypt’s Banque Misr in talks with banks for dollar loan
Banque Misr, Egypt’s second largest state lender, has invited banks to pitch for arranger roles on a potential dollar-denominated syndicated loan, banking sources said on Thursday. National Bank of Egypt, the biggest state-owned bank, is already in the process of arranging a $390 million thirty-seven month syndicated loan. Sources said it was looking for a three year loan and had sought feedback from banks by the end of June. Banque Misr is close to finalizing which banks will arrange the loan, hoping to complete the deal this year. Sources added that the lender is expected to raise around $300 million. [Reuters, 6/25/2015]

Ministry of Housing denies termination of Cairo Capital MoU
Ministry of Housing Spokesperson, Wafaa Bakry, has denied recent reports of unsuccessful negotiations with the Emirati financier responsible for building Egypt’s new capital. Negotiations around the Cairo Administrative Capital Project are still ongoing with the Mohamed Alabaar, Bakry said, adding that rumours the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been terminated are untrue. Meanwhile, the government issued instructions banning statements or media interviews on the new capital until an official decision has been issued about the funding of the project, according to informed sources. [DNE, 6/26/2015]

Also of Interest

  • FDI to Egypt rose 14 percent in 2014, slowed in North Africa | Ahram Online
  • Egypt seeks up to 175,000 tonnes of gasoline for August | Reuters
  • Egyptian property IPO Emaar Misr garners strong demand | WSJ
  • Red Sea Governorate targets tourism share increase to 50 percent by end of 2015 | DNE
  • $2.25bn cost of importing gas for FY 2015-2016 | DNE


Users boycott Egypt’s telecom companies
A group of mobile phone users protested against the high costs and low quality of Egyptian telecommunications companies’ services by turning off their phones between 5pm and 10pm on Thursday night.  Internet Revolution Egypt, a two-year old virtual movement against internet service providers, launched the calls for the boycott through a Facebook event. The group said in its invitation that the boycott aims to see mobile service providers “lose money” in protest over their “poor quality” and high prices. In a statement released on their page, the group claimed that the boycott was effective. Hossam Saleh, a business consultant and technology and internet expert, however said the protest will have no impact,. Saleh said that filing complaints with the state regulating authority about the poor quality of the service would have been a more efficient approach. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, 6/25/2015]

Egypt below war-torn Iraq in well-being rankings
Egypt ranks 129 among 145 countries covered by the 2014 Country Well-Being Rankings Report released by the Gallup Center on Wednesday, which places Panama at the top of the chart and Afghanistan at the bottom. According to the report, Egypt ranks below both Iraq and Yemen. In its assessment, the center relied on a number of factors, including the extent to which citizens feel motivated to seek their goals, how much they like where they live, and to what extent can they manage their economic life to reduce stress. [Egypt Independent, 6/25/2015]


Nine arrested in Cairo over online execution video
Security forces have arrested nine suspects for killing a man in Helwan and publishing a video of his execution online. The suspects are allegedly members of the pro-Mohamed Morsi ‘Revolutionary Punishment’ (Al-‘iqab al-thawri) militant group. They are currently being detained for four days pending investigation. Revolutionary Punishment emerged earlier this year, claiming responsibility for attacks on mobile phone shops and banks across the country, as well attacks against police officers. [Ahram Online, 6/25/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Improvised bomb explosion halts trains between Cairo and Alexandria, no injuries | Ahram Online
  • Fifteen mid-level Brotherhood leaders arrested | Ahram (Arabic)


Wikileaks cable reveals deal to exclude Saudi prince from Egypt smuggling probe
In May 2011, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal sent a note to the head of the Saudi Cabinet office to inform the king of attempts to end investigations into the smuggling of Egyptian fugitive businessman Hussein Salem’s assets with the aid of Saudi intelligence. This note is one of a number of classified documents obtained and published exclusively from Wikileaks by Mada Masr, as part of a recent release of thousands of confidential cables from the Saudi Foreign Ministry. The document reveals the role played by the Kingdom in influencing Egypt’s prosecution to end investigations into accusations against Prince Mansour bin Moqren bin Abdel Aziz, son of Prince Moqren, the head of the Saudi intelligence services, and his sister Princess Lamia, for allegedly helping Salem to smuggle assets from Egypt to Saudi Arabia in early 2011. [Mada Masr, 6/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt condemns attacks in France, Kuwait, Tunisia | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)