Top News: Egypt’s Judicial Council Approves Draft Anti-Terror Law

Egypt’s highest judicial authority, the Supreme Judicial Council, on Sunday approved a draft anti-terror law that will impose harsher punishments on those convicted of terrorism charges. The cabinet last week approved the draft legislation which it said would provide “swift and just deterrence” against terrorism and dry up the sources of terrorism funding. Under an article in the new terrorism law, journalists face at least two years in jail if they publish figures that contradict those that state institutions such as the army release. The press syndicate has said the new anti-terror law will trample on press freedoms and enable authorities to censor media. The syndicate called on the government to reconsider Article 33, which stipulates the minimum two-year sentence. Article 33 of the bill violates the constitution as it sets a punishment of imprisonment for journalists and restricts their right to access information from different sources and places. Another article in the new law will toughen the penalty imposed on those who attack power, natural gas or petroleum plants to reach the death penalty if the attack results in death.  [The GuardianEgypt IndependentCairo PostDNE, 7/5/2015]

Sisi to ratify Egypt’s new parliamentary election laws
After a long delay, Egypt’s cabinet has endorsed four laws necessary for holding the country’s long-awaited parliamentary elections. Minister of Parliamentary Elections and Transitional Justice Ibrahim al-Heneidy told parliamentary reporters that the laws are expected to be ratified by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the next few days, the last step before preparations can officially begin. Heneidy said the first three laws regulate the workings of the House of the Representatives, the exercise of political rights, and the division of electoral constituencies. Heneidy indicated that the fourth law is a legislative amendment of the law regulating the performance of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC). Heneidy said the cabinet’s approval of the electoral constituencies law (Law 202/2014) in particular finally opens the door for parliamentary elections to be held as early as September. [Ahram Online, 7/6/2015]

Egypt court sentences TV host, channel owner to jail over publishing false news
A Cairo Misdemeanor Court on Thursday sentenced a TV host, a satellite channel owner and a news producer to six months in jail over broadcasting false news, a judicial source said. The convicted include Magdy al-Galad, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned al-Watan newspaper and TV host on satellite TV channel CBC Extra, station owner Mohamed al-Amin and a writer for the show, Wael Saad. The case was brought by an official of the country’s Central Auditing Agency, who accused the three staffers of the talk show of publishing false reports and disclosing the agency’s secrets over an episode involving reports about the squandering of public funds. The sentences are appealable. None of the convicted, who were also fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately$1,300) each, have been arrested. [Ahram Online, 7/6/2015]

Court rejects dissolution of Nour Party over religious orientations
The Supreme Administrative Court on Sunday upheld an earlier verdict in which it turned down a petition demanding the dissolution of the Salafi-led Nour Party, citing its religious background that allegedly violates the political parties law. The Parties Court, which has recently been formed and is part of the High Administrative Court, ruled the inadmissibility of the complaint. This was due to the fact that the only person allowed by law to directly demand a party’s dissolution before the high court is the head of the state’s political parties commission. The court ordered the referral of the case to a lower degree administrative court, and a judicial source told Daily News Egypt that the latter court will similarly deem the case admissible. [Egypt Independent, DNE, 7/5/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Trial of 213 Sinai State members’ postponed | DNE
  • Ali Omran named interim Prosecutor General | Egypt Independent
  • Court to rule on Mubarak’s appeal in telecommunications case on October 24 | DNE
  • Assassinated Prosecutor General’s case referred to State Security prosecutors | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt court upholds sentence against belly dancer Safinaz for insulting flag | Ahram Online
  • Two arrested on charges of creating websites inciting violence | DNE
  • Students detained fifteen days for managing ‘anti-security’ social media pages | DNE
  • ‘Terrorist cell’ members sentenced to death, life by Giza Criminal Court | DNE
  • Final verdict for SPAP and witnesses to Sabbagh killing September 26 | DNE
  • Twenty-three Brotherhood supporters jailed over violence at Media Production City | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya    

Egypt’s Central Bank Governor says pound depreciation not worrying
Egyptian Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez sought to calm local market nerves on Sunday following a surprise 2.5 percent weakening of the Egyptian pound against the US dollar. The central bank allowed the currency to depreciate by 20 piasters in its official foreign exchange auctions on Thursday and Sunday, driving it to its lowest level against the dollar since auctions began in 2012. However, in a television interview on Sunday, Ramez said the pound’s fall should not alarm anyone. The central bank set a cutoff rate of 7.73 Egyptian pounds per dollar in an auction that sold $39.6 million on Sunday, compared to a previous low of 7.63 on Thursday. Before that, the pound had held at 7.53 since February. [Reuters, 7/6/2015]

Egypt debt to foreign oil companies at $3.5 billion
Egypt’s debts to foreign oil companies stood at $3.5 billion dollars at the end of June, a 6.1 percent increase from March, an official at state-owned Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) said on Sunday. The country’s payments to oil and gas companies have been delayed by economic instability since 2011. Egypt’s oil ministry said in March that it aimed to fully repay its debts to energy companies by mid-2016, about a year later than previously indicated. [Reuters, 7/5/2015]

Also of Interest
Egyptian pound devaluation could improve trade competitiveness, limits parallel market | Ahram Online
Report: Govt reduces energy subsidies by 40 percent | Egypt Independent  
Egypt’s currency drops to new low against the dollar | AP, Aswat Masriya  
Minister: New laws to meet economic development needs | SIS
Egypt fights for Mubarak’s millions | Al-Monitor
Common market between Africa, Egypt not in the offing | Al-Monitor

Alleged official document stipulates terrorism terminologies for Egypt-based journalists
Some Cairo-based foreign correspondents widely shared Sunday through their social media accounts an alleged official document that defines different terrorism-linked terminologies. A foreign correspondent in Cairo, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Ahram Online that many foreign journalists received the document Saturday during a presser held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The document stipulated that the foreign correspondents should not use terminology that is “religiously based or faith oriented, carry in its fold negative connotations that are largely based on heinous stereotypes and ill-informed predispositions.” The document listed several terms “not to be used in describing terrorist groups,” with a brief definition of each, such as: Islamists, Islamic groups, jihadists, jihadis, shiekhs, emirs, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State, fundamentalists, puritans and literalists. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 7/6/2015]

Three journalists remain in detention pending investigations
Three of twelve journalists arrested outside the Zeinhom morgue on Wednesday were re-detained on Friday for fifteen-days, a member of Journalists Against Torture said. The journalists were rearrested pending investigations into a newly filed police report. The journalists are Al-Shaab reporter Hamdy al-Zaeem, freelance reporter Sherif Ashraf, and Al-Tahrir reporter Mohamed Adly. Police arrested them on Wednesday whilst covering the killings of nine Muslim Brotherhood leaders at the Forensic Authority. They were released on Thursday, only to be re-arrested Friday evening. They are facing charges of working for Al Jazeera and belonging to a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, the Journalists against Torture movement registered in June thirty-nine cases of violations against journalists, which occurred while they were performing their duties, with ten cases in the first week, twelve in the second, eight in the third and nine in the fourth. In its report, the movement said the violations included cases of assault, arrest and confiscated equipment. The report said thirty of the cases were related to the Interior Ministry, six to other government agencies and officials, and three to civilians. [DNE, 7/4/2015]

Egyptian NGO accuses authorities of persecution after brief arrest of members
The Egyptian Commissioner for Rights and Freedom (ECRF) has denounced what it says is its persecution after Egyptian security forces arrested four of its employees on Saturday as they were conducting a field survey in the Khosous neighborhood of the Qalyubia province. Authorities charged them with “collecting information without permission” and “working for unknown organizations,” ECRF said. They were released a few hours after being arrested, after appearing before the prosecution. The four workers–two engineers, a lawyer and a researcher–were doing a survey on the housing situation and working on a plan to develop the neighborhood, with the participation of the residents, to be presented to the concerned authorities in order to develop the slums. The organization said it submitted a registration request to the Ministry of Social Solidarity in January 2015 and has not received feedback. [Egypt Independent, Cairo Post, Mada Masr, 7/6/2015]  

Footballer sacked for insulting the president
Egyptian Premier League club Wadi Degla terminated the contract of footballer Ahmed al-Merghany after he posted a status on Facebook calling President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a “failure.” Following the deadly attacks in Sinai this week, Merghany accused Sisi of failing to provide stability and security for the country. He wrote a public status to his over 24,000 followers, saying Sisi is responsible for “every drop of blood” spilled in Egypt. Merghany stated that, “You asked people for a mandate to fight terrorism and people flooded the streets [in response], even though this is supposed to be your job without a mandate.”  Meanwhile, a Nubian group said on Saturday it will file a lawsuit against Zamalek’s controversial chairman Mortada Mansour over what it deemed “racist remarks” about Merghany who is originally from the Upper Egyptian city of Aswan. During a phone-in with Dream TV on Tuesday, where Merghany was hosted, Mansour described him as a “bawab” (doorman) in an implicit reference to his dark skin.  [Mada Masr, 7/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt police arrest twenty accused of deadly Nile Delta bombing | Ahram Online
  • Thousands bid farewell to Sinai attack victims at funerals countrywide | Ahram Online
  • Egypt marks second anniversary of Islamist ouster with mourning | AP
  • Salafist party launches ‘Egypt stronger than terrorism’ campaign | Ahram Online
  • ‘Frankenstein’ Nefertiti statue removed after public outcry | Ahram Online
  • Al-Azhar: Caliphate rule is not an Islamic fundamental | Egypt Independent
  • Tourist Development Authority retrieves 90,500,000 square meters in Red Sea governorate | Egypt Independent
  • Amnesty International defends research against foreign ministry accusations of ‘lies’ | DNE

In military uniform, Egypt’s Sisi cheers on troops in North Sinai following terror attack
For the first time in his presidency, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi dressed in full military uniform to visit the troops in North Sinai, in his capacity as head of the Armed Forces. In a televised speech on Saturday afternoon, the President said, “I wore my military uniform out of respect and appreciation for the efforts of the Armed Forces.” He added that Egypt had foiled an attempt by ISIS to seize territory and set up an extremist state with its recent assault on the military in the troubled northeastern part of the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian armed forces released late Thursday a video report with testimonies from injured soldiers and officers about Wednesday’s attacks by Egypt’s ISIS affiliate, Sinai State. Detailed graphic representations were included in video clips showing the attack by the militant group on fifteen checkpoints. The Sinai State, also released a statement about Wednesday’s attacks, saying they were part of an ongoing operation. The statement detailed twenty attacks, adding that the militants were “forced…to retreat to save Muslim lives,” due to the army’s use of F16s. The military death toll from the Wednesday attack, meanwhile, has reached twenty-one, Health Minister Spokesperson Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar confirmed Saturday. The Armed Forces Spokesperson announced on Saturday that the Egyptian army’s offensive in North Sinai in the span of three days resulted in the death of 205 militants.  Egyptian warplanes killed twenty-five Islamist militants in North Sinai on Saturday, security sources said, while another sixty-three Islamist militants were killed and three alleged suspects were arrested in on Sunday. Six civilians were also killed Saturday in two separate IED blasts and a rocket attack, among them a child. According to a recent report by the NGO the Regional Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS), four “terrorist organizations” executed nearly thirty-two attacks in Egypt in the span of five days. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, AP, DNE, 7/6/2015]

One killed in Brotherhood protests on second anniversary of Morsi’s ouster
One person was killed in Cairo, as security forces dispersed minor protests held by supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo’s Maadi, Imbaba and Kerdasa districts on Friday, the second anniversary of the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Muslim Brotherhood supporters said interior ministry forces opened fire at the protest in Maadi. Cairo’s Head of Security Ossama Bedeir, on the other hand, said that the protestors had launched fireworks against security forces, prompting them to use tear gas to disperse them. One citizen and a conscript were also injured in Menoufiya during clashes between police and protesters on Friday. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 7/3/2015]

Security sources: Egypt arrests Brotherhood members for alleged Suez plot
Egyptian authorities have arrested thirteen members of the Muslim Brotherhood on suspicion of planting bombs around the Suez Canal to disrupt shipping, security sources said on Monday. The waterway is a vital source of hard currency for Egypt. The security sources said the men formed a thirteen member cell that included an employee at the Suez Canal Authority. Prosecutors ordered them detained for fifteen days and said they had planted bombs in areas including sanitation and electricity facilities as well as on beaches. [Reuters, 7/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • ‘Terrorism’ in Egypt part of global phenomenon: FM | Cairo Post
  • Interior Minister praises army, police courage in Sinai clashes | SIS
  • Government seeks global support in anti-terror efforts following deadly attacks Mada Masr
  • Assassination plot foiled, bombs target electric installations | DNE, Cairo Post
  • Bomb maker dies after accidentally detonating device in Egypt’s Menoufiya | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
  • Egypt’s Tahrir metro station reopens after brief ‘security’ closure | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Cairo Post
  • Four people die in hospital fire in Nile Delta | Ahram Online
  • Egyptian cargo ship sinks in Red Sea, thirty-seven rescued | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, DNE
  • Bomb explodes outside telecom company | DNE
  • Alleged Sinai State member arrested in Delta’s Daqahleya | Cairo Post
  • Nine arrested over killing three military cadets in Kafr al-Sheikh | Cairo Post
  • Police officers wear uniform embedded cameras for ‘performance evaluation’ | Cairo Post

Egypt’s ISIS affiliate claims rocket attack on Israel
The Islamic State jihadist group’s affiliate in Egypt, the Sinai State, claimed responsibility for a rocket attack from the Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel on Friday. “Three Grad rockets were fired at Jewish positions in occupied Palestine,” the group said in a statement on Twitter. It said the attack was in retaliation for Israel’s “recurring crimes,” including its alleged support for Egypt’s armed forces on Wednesday, when the jihadists attacked Egyptian army checkpoints in northern Sinai. No damage or casualties resulted. An Israeli general also accused members of Hamas in Gaza of providing support to the Sinai State. Major-General Yoav Mordechai, who oversees Israel’s civilian policy towards Gaza, named members of Hamas’s military wing he said were involved in training fighters of Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and smuggling wounded from Sinai into Gaza for treatment. Hamas on Friday dismissed the claim as “propaganda.” “The occupation’s (Israel) statements about Hamas helping IS are stupid accusations… and propaganda that aims to incite against Hamas,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, referring to the Islamic State group, whose fighters carried out the attacks.[Reuters, Aswat Masriya, AFP, AP, The Guardian, 7/3/2015]  

Egypt reportedly closes border crossing with Libya
Egyptian authorities have reportedly closed the Musaid-Salloum border crossing, the Libya Herald reported Sunday. According to Tobruk Municipal Council spokesman, Marwan Younis Bakr, the Egyptians closed it to Libyan travelers because of last week’s assassination of Egypt’s Prosecutor General and the current military operations in Sinai. “The Egyptian side have declared a state of emergency at the crossing and increased the number of military personnel there,” Bakr said, quoting an unnamed Egyptian military source. The closure is not believed to affect Egyptians returning home. Meanwhile, border guards arrested ninety-one individuals for attempting to illegally enter Libya through Egypt’s Western border near the border town of Salloum, state media reported Friday. [Libya Herald, 7/5/2015]

Also of Interest 

  • No accord in Renaissance Dam tripartite meetings, talks to resume in Sudan | Ahram Online
  • EgyptAir to send cargo flights to Chad | Egypt Independent  
  • Algerian Labor Minister denies additional conditions for Egyptian workers | Egypt Independent
  • Poland Advises Its Citizens Against Travel to Egypt | AP
  • Kuwaiti delegation in Cairo for Syrian refugee talks | SIS
  • Coastguards arrest twenty-six in Beheira before ‘illegal immigration’ to Italy | Cairo Post
  • Arab League calls for accelerating the formation of unified Arab forces | Cairo Post
  • Egyptians winning emigration approval up by 17.4 percent | Egypt Independent