Top News: Egypt Orders Arrest of Men over ‘Gay Marriage’ Video; Forensics Release Test Results

Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat ordered Saturday nine men suspected of participating in an alleged same-sex wedding party to be held in preventative detention and examined by the forensics department


Egypt president says no magic bullet for power problems after major blackout
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi prepared Egyptians on Saturday for more blackouts after lights went out across much of the country this week, saying it would take time and cost the cash-strapped state $12 billion to upgrade the decrepit power grid. In a candid television address on Saturday, Sisi said the dilapidated state of Egypt’s power grid was the result of years of underinvestment and admitted there was no instant solution. “Have we developed our electricity production to meet our needs? Made stations to meet our needs? This did not happen because the financing required is large,” Sisi said. “We must understand that matter cannot at all be resolved and remedied overnight.” [Reuters, Ahram Online, AP, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 9/6/2014]

Ministry of Endowments warns against politically-affiliated religious NGOs
The Ministry of Religious Endowments said on Saturday that the presence of religious NGOs with a political agenda is considered a threat to the stability of the country. In a statement the ministry said that the country is currently suffering from “the exploitation of religion for the purposes of political and electoral interests.”  The ministry asserted that Al-Azhar is the only religious institution which is constitutionally responsible for Islamic affairs in the country, including Friday sermons, religious lessons in mosques, and “advocating a moderate Islamic rhetoric.” The ministry also advised that NGOs should focus on social, development and humanitarian fields. [DNE, 9/6/2014]

Also of Interest:
Popular Current collects signatures to form party | DNE
Sisi denies offering Egyptian land to Palestinians | Aswat Masriya
Almost 5 million refugees in Egypt: Sisi | Aswat Masriya
Egypt’s Sisi forms advisory council of experts | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr


Morsi and aides referred to trial on charges of spying for Qatar
The general prosecutor referred Saturday ousted president Mohamed Morsi and nine others to criminal court on new charges of endangering national security by leaking state secrets and sensitive documents to Qatar. The General Prosecution released a statement detailing the accusations. Morsi is accused together with several others, among them the head of his presidential office, Ahmed Abdel Atty, and his personal secretary, Amin al-Serafy, of leaking documents of national security importance to Qatari intelligence through the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel. According to the charges, the documents included information about the armed forces, the Egyptian General Intelligence, Egyptian Military Intelligence, the National Security Sector, and Administrative Control Authority. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, The Guardian, Reuters, 9/6/2014]

Egypt orders arrest of men over ‘gay marriage’ video; Forensics release test results
Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat ordered Saturday nine men suspected of participating in an alleged same-sex wedding party to be held in preventative detention and examined by the forensics department. In a Saturday statement, Barakat said the suspects, who featured in a video showing two males celebrating their marriage on a boat, will be charged with “inciting debauchery.” A statement from the prosecutor’s office said the suspects are also accused of broadcasting footage that “violates public decency,” ordering them detained for four days and urging investigators to refer them to trial swiftly “to protect social values and mete out justice.” Hisham Abdel Hamid, spokesman of the forensic department said Monday that, based on the results of medical tests, nine men suspected of participating in an alleged same-sex wedding party are “not homosexuals.” [DNE, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Ahram Online, 9/8/2014]

Also of Interest:
Legal complaint filed against Egyptian TV presenters for ‘inciting overthrow of government’ | Ahram Online
Court postpones Muslim Brotherhood leaders’ trial over inciting violence | Aswat Masriya
Maximum wage set for Supreme Constitutional Court staff | Aswat Masriya


Egypt to hold donor conference in February – planning minister
Egypt will hold an economic summit in February to attract foreign investment in an economy battered by years of political turmoil. The unemployment rate in Egypt is 13.4 percent, up from 9 percent in 2010, and 60 percent of youth are unemployed. Officials forecast economic growth at just 3.2 percent in the fiscal year that began July 1, well below levels needed to create enough jobs for a rapidly growing population and ease widespread poverty. A successful conference might enable the government to push through reforms needed to reach agreement with the IMF, and an IMF deal could then improve confidence among foreign investors. [Reuters, 9/8/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt to launch fight against corruption in two weeks: Committee | Ahram Online
US dollar prices down as turnout for Suez Canal certificates soars | Egypt Independent
Egyptian pound steady on official market, up on black market | Reuters
Foreign investment in Egypt doubles to over $6 billion in 2013-14 | Reuters
Egypt’s foreign reserves up in August to $16.836 billion – central bank | Reuters


More activists, detainees join hunger strike
Families and friends of detained and imprisoned activists said on Sunday that they will gradually begin a hunger strike in solidarity with detainees. In a press conference in downtown Cairo, political activist Zizo Abdo said the gradual hunger strike will take place inside prisons and detentions as well as outside of them by their supporters. According to Abdo, sixty-six political detainees and prisoners have already entered a hunger strike in response to “an authority constantly oppressing the youth.” At least eight activists from the ‘We are fed up’ movement joined the wave of hunger strikes, while seven of those convicted in the infamous Shura Council case announced an open-ended hunger strike and sit-in at the National Council for Human Rights Sunday. Twenty-five detained Al-Azhar students also announced Sunday they would start an open-ended hunger strike to demand their release. [Ahram Online, 9/7/2014]

Almost a dozen journalists killed in Egypt since 2011 uprising: Rights watchdog
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said that eleven journalists, including a Briton and an American, have been killed throughout three years of political tumult since the 2011 popular revolt. “Most of those responsible for killing those journalists haven’t been brought to justice yet,” the ANHRI report said, announcing the release of a booklet entitled “The Journalism Martyrs in Egypt and Escaping Justice.” ANHRI holds the government responsible; not only for the deaths of journalists, but for inciting violence against journalists and failing to impose harsh punishments on those who have targeted them. The group also called for legislation against attacks on journalists by security forces and training by media companies for their staff on operating in conflict zones. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 9/7/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s Illiteracy rates increase in 2013: CAPMAS report | Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
Thirty-one arrested in Friday protests | DNE
Police disperse Friday pro-Brotherhood protests in Alexandria | Aswat Masriya
Cairo University steps-up ‘security measures’ | DNE
PM and Al-Azhar staff discuss security for new school year | Mada Masr


Eleven injured in security vehicle blast in Sinai
Two police officers and nine conscripts were injured when an explosion targeted a security vehicle in North Sinai’s Arish on Monday, a source at the interior ministry said. The explosive device went off remotely, the source said. Egypt’s interior ministry denied that a police officer was killed in the blast. Security forces intensified their presence in the north of the Sinai peninsula in anticipation of a major governorate-wide raid on militant hideouts, local sources told Ahram Online on Friday. Meanwhile, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi condemned on Saturday the killing of Egyptian security forces in North Sinai, vowing that they will continue to confront militancy in the volatile peninsula. [Aswat Masriya, 9/8/2014]

Dead police conscript ‘was beaten’: Egypt’s forensic authority
The body of a police conscript who died at a training camp in North Sinai shows signs of bruising, the forensic medical authority revealed on Saturday. Ahmed Khalil, a conscript at the Karim Helal police camp, was said to have been beaten to death by his officer after a disagreement during morning training. The interior ministry, however, denied these allegations, saying Khalil died of exhaustion during training. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 9/7/2014]

Islamic State guides Egyptian militants, expanding its influence
The Islamic State has been coaching Egypt’s most dangerous militant group, Reuters reported on Friday.  A senior commander from the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis said the militant group has provided instructions on how to operate more effectively. “They teach us how to carry out operations. We communicate through the internet,” the commander, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters. “They don’t give us weapons or fighters. But they teach us how to create secret cells, consisting of five people. Only one person has contact with other cells.” [Reuters, 9/5/2014]

Also of Interest:
Arabs to team with US against Islamic State: MENA | Ahram Online
Head of Sunni Islam’s Al-Azhar says IS are ‘criminals’ | Ahram Online
Man impersonating Mahlab arrested | DNE
Egypt re-assesses anti-militant tactics as Sinai militants change strategies | Ahram Online


Sisi meets Palestinian president, Saudi FM in Cairo
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi met Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and Prince Khaled Bin Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s chief of intelligence. In Sisi’s meeting with Abbas, the president reaffirmed the continued importance for Egypt of the Palestinian cause. In his meeting with Prince Saud, Sisi discussed the threat posed by extremist groups in Iraq and Syria. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 9/7/2014]

Also of Interest:
Arab foreign ministers discuss regional issues in Cairo | DNE
Water minister to visit Ethiopia mid-September | DNE
ISIS must be ‘uprooted’: Endowments ministry | DNE
Egypt seeks help in disarming Libyan militias | Al-Monitor