Top News: Egypt’s Judges Club Head Appointed New Justice Minister

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday named a controversial senior judge known for his deep hostility toward the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood as justice minister.  Ahmed al-Zend was a key player in a conflict in 2013 between the judiciary and Islamist parties over proposed changes to the judicial powers law. The amendments, which were not passed, would have seen the retirement age of judges reduced from 70 to 60, effectively forcing a quarter of Egypt’s serving 13,000 judges into early retirement. Zend is also known for strongly advocating the controversial right to appoint the sons of judges within the judiciary. “The sons of judges will continue to be appointed annually,” the state-run Al-Ahram quoted Zend as saying. “No power in Egypt will stop this holy crawl toward its judiciary.” In a speech from last year posted on YouTube, Zend denounced Egypt’s 2011 uprising, saying it allowed the Brotherhood to seize power. [Ahram Online, DNE , Egypt Independent, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 5/20/2015]


Endowments ministry preachers to be forced into retirement if they protest
The endowments ministry has circulated a press release to all of its departments in various governorates threatening to force any employee or imam into early retirement if he protests or stages a sit-in inside the ministry’s headquarters. The release was attached to a judicial ruling giving the ministry the right to impose these measures if protests are carried out at its headquarters. “Whoever objects to the decision should file a lawsuit,” said Head of the Religious Sector of the Endowments Ministry Mohamed Abdel Razeq. Head of the preachers, Mohamed al-Bastawisy, expressed the union’s rejection of the decision, adding that the Endowments Minister issued the decision so that no one could ask for his dismissal or denounce his policies. “No one has the right to force a public official into early retirement and the Constitution guarantees the right for anyone to demonstrate,” he said. “The endowments’ imams will not accept the gagging policy because we are fed up,” said Bastawisy. [Egypt Independent, 5/20/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s opposition urges Sisi to priorities their proposed election reforms | Ahram Online
  • Egypt Post studies implementing workers’ innovative ideas | DNE
  • Egypt antiquities ministry responds to accusations of Alexandria excavation site ‘destruction’ | Ahram Online


State defense says case banning controversial religious TV show is misdirected
Egypt’s State Lawsuit Authority has called for the rejection of a case filed with Egypt’s Administrative Court to ban a controversial TV show about Islam. On April 1, Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb filed a complaint calling for Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Investment Minister Ashraf Salman to stop broadcasting Islam al-Beheiry’s TV program and to ban him from appearing in the media, over accusations of “twisting Islam.” The State Lawsuit Authority, the legal entity responsible for defending the state, has submitted a legal memorandum to the Administrative Court, saying that the complaint is filed against “irrelevant entities,” as the Investment Minister and Prime Minister do not control broadcasting. The General Authority for Investment and Free Zones, the sole entity responsible for giving broadcasting permits, and Egyptian satellite broadcasting company Nile SAT, have the power to stop the broadcasting of a program or a satellite TV channel, the memorandum stated. [Ahram Online, 5/20/2015]

Egyptian editor arrested over ‘false reporting’ released on bail
A Cairo court ordered on Tuesday the release of an editor-in-chief on 10,000 Egyptian pounds bail pending investigations, a day after his arrest for “publishing false news.” Chief Editor of al-Bayan newspaper Ibrahim Aref was transferred to Dokki police station in Giza to be discharged. Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat issued an arrest warrant Monday for Aref for “publishing false news that can endanger general security, terrorize people and harm public interest,” state media reported. It followed the publication on the paper’s website of an article alleging that six prosecutors had been killed on the Cairo-Suez road last Friday (May 15). Aref, who denied knowing about the article, said he was on vacation when it was published. [Ahram Online, DNE, 5/20/2015]

Egypt court schedules defense hearing after prisoners executed
An administrative court has set June second as the date to hear defense lawyers file a case to stop the execution of six defendants who were hung on Sunday in the ‘Arab Sharkas’ case. A lawyer had filed the case in front of the administrative court, claiming that the presidential decision to approve the death sentences was unconstitutional, Al-Ahram website reported. The hearing was adjourned in November 2014. [Ahram Online, 5/20/2015]

Also of Interest


Egypt opens new power plant as peak energy season approaches
Egypt has opened a 750 megawatt power plant in the northern outskirts of Cairo as the country tries to stave off power cuts that have plagued Egyptian lives and businesses in the summer months of the last few years. The $500 million plant in Qalyubia is part of the state’s 2012-2017 plan to provide environmentally friendly electricity. In addition to investing in new plants, Egypt has secured a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal and signed LNG import agreements with Russia and Algeria. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said there is no intention to raise fuel prices after a new smart card system is introduced. [Reuters, 5/19/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Minister says Sisi will sign law privatizing electricity within days | Egypt Independent , SIS
  • 243 percent increase in World Bank support to Egypt | DNE
  • Moody’s upgrades CR assessments for five Egyptian banks | DNE
  • 1,000 projects approved under government’s youth employment initiative |DNE
  • EGX plans lowering listing fees | DNE
  • Oil price will break $70 barrier next winter: Expert | DNE
  • Dollar exchange rate forces increased automotive prices | DNE  
  • Ferry carrying metro cars arrives in Alexandria | Egypt Independent
  • Dubai Developer Emaar to float stake in its Egypt division | AP, Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt sets tourism target for 2020 | Al-Monitor


NGOs criticize amendments on using coal
A group of eight non-governmental organizations criticized the amendments of the environment law made by the environment ministry in April. The amendments stated that coal will be used on a large scale, and without stating a definitive number on the industries in which it will be used. In a Monday statement, the NGOs demanded limiting the use of coal, amending the local regulations of its use, bringing it in line with European standards, and never allowing the use of coal in residential areas. The eight organizations include the Egyptians against Coal initiative, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. [DNE, 5/20/2015]

April 6 plans June protests
The April 6 Youth Movement has made protest plans for June 6.  The exact action to be taken will “remain a surprise,” spokesperson Amal Sharaf said on Tuesday. Sharaf said the movement created this event because “things continue to go from bad to worse.” She added that injustice has “exceeded its limits,” especially with the news of mass death sentences, executions, and increases in military trials “especially in governorates outside Cairo.” Sharaf also referenced authorities’ “broken promises”, after authorities previously stated they would release political prisoners that include Ahmed Maher, a co-founder of the movement. [DNE, 5/19/2015]

Also of Interest


NGO says twenty students died on campus in two years
A human rights organization has announced that 20 university students have died on campus during clashes with security since 2013. The Association for the Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said 18 students loyal to former president Mohamed Morsi died in the 2013/2014 academic year, with two more dying in 2014/2015. The organization said the last case was that of Anas al-Mahdy, a Cairo University student who died Saturday from a brain hemorrhage he sustained in clashes with security in April. According to AFTE, Mahdy had been in a twenty-seven day coma after campus security assaulted pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters with clubs. [Egypt Independent, 5/20/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s interior ministry sets up special cells for disabled prisoners | Ahram Online
  • Prisoner faces death in Mansoura police station relatives say |DNE
  • Security forces kill suspect in shooting incident which left two policemen killed – state agency | Aswat Masriya
  • Two militants killed in armed attack in Sheikh Zuweid | Egypt Independent


German Parliament rescinds invitation to meet with Sisi in June, cites human rights concerns
Head of the German Parliament Norbert Lammert canceled a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi scheduled for early June due to concerns regarding “the human rights situation in Egypt,” German newspaper Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday. In a statement issued by the German Parliament, Lammert criticized the current political situation in Egypt. The statement said that “since no efforts seem to have been made toward maintaining the peace in Egypt or towards democratic development,” he “sees no basis for a conversation with the Egyptian president.” Egypt’s foreign ministry denied Tuesday that it had requested a meeting between Lammert Sisi, when he visits Germany in June. A spokesperson at the Federal Press Office in Berlin said Wednesday, as reported by German news agency DPA, that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s invitation to Sisi to visit Germany in June “remains.” [Mada Masr, 5/19/2015]

Egypt’s justice ministry rejects foreign comments on Morsi death sentence

Egypt’s justice ministry strongly rejected comments made by foreign governments that criticized the court decision to sentence ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and 105 other defendants to death, a statement released by the ministry read on Tuesday. “The ministry stresses that comments by foreign countries concerning the judiciary decision has violated all international conventions which respect sovereignty and noninterference in the internal affairs of another country,” the statement read. “While all Egyptian institutions were committed to not commenting on the court ruling, the ministry believes that it has to face the attack on the Egyptian judiciary by announcing its total independence and that it abides by all international judicial standards,” the statement highlighted. In an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said, “Egypt has never objected to sentences issued by courts of other countries, even though we sometimes had reservations that we kept to ourselves.” The Free Egyptians Party also accused the United States of assaulting Egyptian sovereignty in reference to the statement issued by the US State Department on the sentences. Meanwhile, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemned on Monday the execution of six men a day after the Morsi verdict was issued. According to the ICJ, the military proceedings in the “Arab Sharkas” case in which these young men were executed, violated their right to a fair trial by “a competent, independent and impartial tribunal.” [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 5/20/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Sisi to meet US Central Command chief in Cairo | Cairo Post
  • Egypt deports 47 Sudanese undocumented migrants | Egypt Independent, Cairo Post
  • Labor leaders: Egypt could return to ILO’s blacklist | Egypt Independent  
  • Al-Azhar makes international call to help Myanmar’s Muslim migrants | Egypt Independent , SIS
  • Indian renewable energy delegation concludes visit to Cairo | Egypt Independent
  • UN envoy: Egypt is important player for settling Yemeni crisis | SIS
  • Over 200 Egyptians return home from Libya via Tunisia | SIS
  • Sisi in Jordan Thursday for economic forum | Egypt Independent