Top News: Egypt Pardons 100, Including Al Jazeera Journalists, Activists Sanaa Seif and Yara Sallam

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced on Wednesday the pardoning of 100 prisoners, including Al Jazeera’s television journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, and prominent activists, Sanaa Seif and Yara Sallam, who were charged with violating the protest law. The pardon also included Shura Council protesters Hany al-Gamal and Peter Youssef, and Alexandrian activist Omar Hazek, who was sentenced alongside Mahienour El-Massry, Youssef Shaaban, and Loay al-Ahwagy who recently had their appeal rejected. There was no news concerning the three activists. State-run news agency MENA said that the pardoned activists, among whom there were sixteen women, would be released Wednesday. The presidency is expected to pardon 358 others on Thursday. Amnesty International Egypt welcomed the decision via its Facebook page. The rights group said it “hoped that the decision stems from the authorities’ conviction of the innocence of those imprisoned and is not related to the Egyptian president’s upcoming visit to [the United States].” The pardons come ahead of Sisi’s visit to New York Thursday to attend the United Nations 70th General Assembly. The Canadian government also said it was pleased with Fahmy’s pardon, adding that it looks forward to his return to Canada. A day before the pardons were announced, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government will continue to press Egypt to pardon Australian journalist Peter Greste, and Fahmy and Mohamed. It is unclear if Greste was among those pardoned Wednesday. [Ahram OnlineDNEReutersAPAswat Masriya, 9/23/2015]


HEC issues media coverage rules; Court rules on medical fees lawsuit
Egypt’s High Elections Committee issued Tuesday criteria and standards to be followed by media and advertising agencies in their coverage of upcoming parliamentary elections. The committee said media coverage must be neutral and balanced, and should avoid material that could be seen as positive or negative propaganda towards a certain candidate. Journalists running are prohibited from presenting any TV or radio shows during the campaigning period. Television and radio stations are also obliged to provide equal broadcast time to parties and candidates to announce their ideas and campaign programs. The committee also said media coverage should not be used as a means of prejudicing or violating candidates’ private lives in a direct or indirect way, and it is not allowed to cover what would “shake the confidence of voters in the electoral process” or “disrupt national unity.” Restrictions also include a ban on the use of religious slogans or discrimination based on gender or race, a ban on using governmental buildings, institutions or transportation, houses of worship, schools and universities in campaigning, and paid advertisements in newscasts. Meanwhile the Administrative Court rejected a lawsuit demanding the annulation of the Health Ministry’s imposition of fees of medical examinations on candidates. It also rejected a lawsuit demanding the banning of Free Egyptian Party candidates from the elections. Mansoura Administrative Court, meanwhile, accepted an appeal by TV host Tawfik Okasha and former NDP leader Wahid Fouda on Tuesday, against the rejection of their candidacy applications. [Ahram Online, 9/22/2015]


April 6 founder detained, relatives unable to confirm whereabouts
The April 6 Youth Movement announced on Tuesday that its current leader, Amr Ali, was arrested by security forces earlier in the day. In a statement published on its official Facebook page, the political opposition movement stated that Ali was arrested by state security from his home in the Shebin al-Kom district of Menoufeya. The movement added that the reasons behind his arrest are unclear. In a later post, the group stated that all police stations in Menoufeya and National Security denied having Ali in custody.  “[This is] a crime of forced disappearance,” the statement said. In statements to Al-Ahram, Khaled Ismail, a member of the movement’s political office, said that Ali’s brother was the one who informed them of his arrest. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 9/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Court renews former agriculture minister detention fifteen days | DNE, AMAY


France says Egypt to buy Mistral warships after Russia deal scrapped
Egypt has agreed to buy two Mistral warships that France originally built for Russia before scrapping the sale over the Ukraine crisis, the French presidency said in a statement Wednesday. President Francois Hollande and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “have agreed on the principle and terms and conditions of Egypt’s acquisition of the two Mistral-class vessels,” the statement said. The sale comes after previous arms deals with France, including the recent partial delivery of twenty-four warplanes to Egypt in July. Additionally, Sisi and Hollande discussed over a phone call on September 22 the importance of “realizing peace” in the Middle East and its impact on the security and economic situation in the region. [Ahram Online, AFP, AP, DNE, SIS, Reuters, 9/23/2015]

Also of Interest

  • CBE governor, FEI representatives discuss industry problems | DNE
  • New initiative to merge informal, formal economies | DNE
  • Egypt’s stocks rise on foreign inflows | Ahram Online, Reuters
  • Egyptian pound steady at dollar sale, weaker at exchange bureaus | Reuters
  • Transport Ministry, Rwandan officials discuss Lake Victoria-Mediterranean link | SIS
  • Transport Minister meets China Communications Co. delegation | SIS


Land dispute escalates to attacks on Copts in Alexandria village
Coptic-owned homes and a church were attacked with rocks in an Alexandrian village Monday night, Copts Today website reported on Monday. After police forces allegedly killed a man on Sunday during a failed attempt to return land to its rightful Coptic owner, the bedouins of the village of Ola in the Amereya area in Alexandria attacked houses of Copts, according to the website’s report. This incident reportedly sparked a sectarian feud that remains ongoing in the absence of state interference. The priest of the church, Father Boctor, told the website that he pled with police forces to interfere and protect the church and the houses of Copts, but they never arrived. In the absence of coverage in mainstream media outlets two days after the tension started, a member of the Maspero Youth Union in Alexandria, Ramy Qashwa, gave an account of what happened to a program on Al-Horreya TV on Monday. [Mada Masr, 9/23/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Ministry of Electricity delays power outage in Upper Egypt cities until after Eid Al-Adha | Ahram Online
  • Painkiller Tramadol number one drug abused in Egypt says minister | Ahram Online
  • Search for Nefertiti inside Tutankhamun’s tomb approved | Ahram Online
  • Empty Cairo homes beyond reach of Egypt’s poor | AFP
  • Armed Forces, electoral candidates distribute meat ahead of Eid Al-Adha | Mada Masr


Egypt ends first stage of Sinai operation, announces second phase
Egypt’s army announced on Tuesday the end of the first stage of the Martyr’s Right operation, which resulted in the death of over 500 militants in North Sinai. The first stage, which took place over sixteen consecutive days, resulted in the “achievement of its primary objectives,” according to the spokesman, which included the destruction of terrorist hideouts and artillery storage facilities. The second phase of the operation was announced in the same statement, and will aim to provide both security and support to local Sinai residents. [Ahram Online, SIS, DNE, 9/23/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Naval troops foil attempt to smuggle five tons of marijuana near Hurghada coast | MENA
  • Navy intervenes to rescue twenty tourists from cruise boat in Hurghada | Egypt Independent


Egypt warns against selectively applying UN resolutions
Egypt warned against ignoring UN Security Council resolutions related to the Middle East, or being being selective in their application, according to an official statement. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry made these remarks in a meeting with Jeffrey Feltman, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on the sidelines of his current visit to New York ahead of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly on Sunday. He also expressed concern for the stalled dialogue between Libyan factions and their failure to form a national consensus government. [Aswat Masriya, 9/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Fifth Egyptian pilgrim announced dead in Mecca disaster | Ahram Online
  • Egypt, Eritrea discuss terror-combat efforts | SIS
  • Uganda supports Egypt for Security Council seat | SIS