Nine Muslim Brotherhood leaders were killed by police on Wednesday, with conflicting reports on the conditions of their death.The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Brotherhood leader Abdel Fattah Ibrahim was leading a meeting, held in Cairo’s October 6 suburb, to discuss “plots” to carry out “terrorist” attacks. The police said they were shot at upon approaching the meeting point, adding that they responded with fire killing Ibrahim and eight others. The deceased also include Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Nasser al-Hafi, the deputy director of investigation in Giza, Magdi Abdelaal said earlier on Wednesday. Two of the nine men had been sentenced to death in absentia, while Ibrahim was a defendant in seven trials. Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed Montaser, on the other hand, said the leaders who were killed were “unarmed,” adding that the reports on clashes with security forces are “lies.” The spokesman added that the meeting took place in an apartment and that they were discussing supporting the “orphans of martyrs.” A statement posted on a Brotherhood website said the killings mark the beginning of a new phase in which there will be no limit on those who will be oppressed. The statement added that such a violent act only proves that “Egypt has become a country of outlawed gangs.” The statement said, “The Muslim Brotherhood denounces murder and violence,” adding that it holds President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi responsible for the incident. A statement published in English called on Egyptians to “rise in revolt.” [Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, DNE, Mada Masr, Cairo Post, 7/2/2015]

Egyptian cabinet approves stricter anti-terrorism law, avoids emergency measures
Egypt’s cabinet approved in a plenary meeting Wednesday a number of legislative amendments aimed at countering a new wave of terrorism, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Transitional Justice Ibrahim al-Heneidy said. He said the new fifty-five article anti-terrorism law was discussed intensely in a three-hour cabinet meeting Wednesday. The cabinet said in a statement that the law would provide “quick and just deterrence” against terrorism. Heneidy also said that the new law removes the need for “extraordinary or emergency measures to stand up to terrorism.” The law allows the prosecution to extend pretrial detention periods and gives prosecutors powers to issue orders to tap and record private conversations and messages and to record what happens in private spaces, online or on the phone in the context of an investigation of a terrorism crime. Further details can be found here. The new anti-terrorism law will be referred to the State Council and the Higher Council for Judges for revision, and then sent to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for his approval. Human rights lawyers groups have expressed concern over the law, saying it will impact judicial independence. [Ahram Online, Reuters, 7/1/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Former head of State Security Court: Investment law amendment unconstitutional | Egypt Independent


Egyptian police arrests twenty claiming responsibility for top prosecutor’s assassination
Twenty people have been arrested by security forces on Wednesday over accusations they are behind the Facebook page dubbed The Popular Resistance which claimed responsibility for the assassination of Egypt’s Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat on Monday. The administrators of the pages were reportedly located in different places in Cairo and Giza. Some “criminal research units” affiliated with the ministry of interior are chasing others over the same accusations. Units from the National Security Agency are also raiding some alleged terrorist-linked hotbeds in Cairo’s outskirts following Barakat’s assassination near his home in the upscale district of Heliopolis. In related news, Egypt’s public prosecution issued on Thursday a gag order prohibiting media outlets from covering updates on the case until investigation into Barakat’s death is concluded. Media outlets would only be allowed to cover prosecution’s statements on the case, as per the order issued by the prosecutor general’s office. [Ahram Online, 7/2/2015]

Egypt’s Justice Minister denies cancellation of judicial leave
Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend has denied the cancellation of annual judicial leave this year, state news agency MENA reported. In a statement on Tuesday evening, Hamdy Abdel Tawab of the technical office of the Justice Minister, stated that the minister is “keen to achieve justice and will submit proposals to the council of ministers in order to proceed faster on delayed cases.” [Ahram Online, 7/1/2015]

Egypt’s central bank lets pound weaken by 1.3 percent
Egypt’s central bank let the Egyptian pound depreciate for the first time in five months on Thursday, a move analysts said would please international investors. The bank said it sold $38.8 million at a cutoff price of 7.63 pounds per dollar at a regular auction, sending the currency to its weakest level since auctions began in December 2012. Letting the pound weaken in a controlled manner again after doing so over a few weeks earlier this year could boost exports and attract further investment, analysts said. At the same time, a weaker currency could raise Egypt’s large bill for imports, which many Egyptians rely on for fuel and food staples.[Reuters, 7/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Wheat import reduced by 30.3 percent in 2015 | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt tourist arrivals rise 9 percent in the first half of 2015 | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt approves state budget for new fiscal year – finance ministry | Aswat Masriya
  • Sisi reviews 2015/2016 budget with PM, Finance Minister | SIS

Countermeasures to threats should respect rights, rule of law say rights groups
The Monday assassination of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat represents a turning point, and the official response should be different from its previous efforts, according to a joint statement by Egyptian NGOs on Tuesday. The NGOs added that “the official response should not stick to the same methods that have led to the current impasse…and the only way to break this vicious cycle of extremism and violence is to adopt political solutions by means of open, inclusive dialogue.” Several Egyptian NGOs condemned Barakat’s assassination, asserting that this was the latest in a series of attempts that “explicitly and systematically” target judges and legal professionals over the past months. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, and the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, amongst others, called for opening an independent and public investigation into the incident without resorting to “exceptional measures that usually fail at bringing the real perpetrators to justice.” The joint statement confirmed that further trampling on civil and political rights and freedoms by security forces would not serve as a viable solution for addressing threats. [DNE, 7/1/2015]

Also of Interest


Fresh airstrike kills twenty-three Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis militants in North Sinai
Egyptian security forces shelled early Thursday areas of North Sinai’s Rafah, killing twenty-three suspected militants, hours after deadly attacks and clashes left dozens killed, military sources said. The sources said those killed had taken part in Wednesday’s fighting in which 100 militants and seventeen soldiers, including four officers, were killed, according to the army spokesman. Earlier figures quoted by the media had placed the death toll at sixty-four soldiers, ninety militants, and four civilians. Wednesday’s attacks were the deadliest militant attacks Egypt has seen since 1973. A newspaper close to the Egyptian government says the ISIS-linked Sinai State, previously, known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, who attacked troops in the Sinai Peninsula used sophisticated weaponry, including Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles. Major General Hisham al-Halaby who teaches at the National Defense College of the Nasser Military Academy, says that within security institutions — including the military — there is a belief that the militant operation was planned by foreign intelligence agencies. Meanwhile, Egypt’s military spokesman said on Wednesday the situation in North Sinai was “100 percent under control.” [Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, AP, The Guardian, 7/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Power towers sabotaged in Cairo, Mounifeya, Qalyubiya | Egypt Independent  
  • The Latest: Bank Guard Shot Dead in Egypt | AP
  • Security tightened in Suez | SIS
  • Copts flee North Sinai | Al-Monitor

International community condemns deadly terrorist attacks in Sinai
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned late on Wednesday a series of coordinated terrorist assaults in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that killed dozens earlier in the day, asserting his solidarity with Egypt in its battle against terrorism. “The United Nations stands firm with the people of Egypt in their fight against terrorism,” Ban said in a statement by his press office. John Kirby, the spokesperson of the US State Department, also condemned the Islamist militant attacks. “The United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist attacks in Egypt’s North Sinai Governorate, in which dozens of Egyptian soldiers were killed and others wounded. We express our sincere condolences to the victims, their families, and the government and the people of Egypt,” Kirby said in a press briefing. He added that perpetrators of “these cowardly crimes” must be brought to justice, asserting the readiness of Washington to remain “steadfast in its support of the Egyptian Government’s efforts to combat terrorism in Egypt.” In a press statement by the Qatari foreign ministry, Doha said that such “criminal acts” seeks to “destabilize Egypt’s security, adding that they “violate all religious and humanitarian principles.” Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered his condolences to the Egyptian state and people after meeting the Egyptian Ambassador to Palestine in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Abbas condemned the “terrorist attacks that attempt to harm Egypt and undermine its important role in the Middle East.” Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA reported. The Kuwaiti government also joined in the support of the Egyptian government, expressing Kuwait’s willingness to provide Cairo with all the tools it needs to combat these “criminal acts,” Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) said. [Ahram Online, 7/2/2015]

Also of Interest