Top News: Egypt’s Sisi Issues Decree Widening Scope of Security Crackdown

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has signed off on an anti-terrorism law that gives authorities more sweeping powers to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to disrupting public order. The law’s ten articles focus on defining terrorist entities, listing such groups and bodies, and stipulating the legal processes for appealing these lists. 


Egypt’s Sisi issues decree widening scope of security crackdown
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has signed off on an anti-terrorism law that gives authorities more sweeping powers to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to disrupting public order. The law’s ten articles focus on defining terrorist entities, listing such groups and bodies, and stipulating the legal processes for appealing these lists. The law has been widely criticized since it was first drafted, with some claiming it restricts civil liberties. Following the final issuance of the decree, human rights activist and Egyptian Organization for Human Rights board member, Abdullah Khalil, criticized the law, arguing that the stated definition of terrorism contradicts international standards. Meanwhile, head of Arab Penal Reform organization, Mohamed Zari, said the law contradicts human and constitutional rights. [Reuters, Mada Masr, 2/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Parliamentary Elections Observatory issues report on violence related to elections | Egypt Independent


Mubarak-era figures Nazif, Adly acquitted of corruption
The Cairo Criminal Court acquitted on Tuesday former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly of charges related to wasting 92 million Egyptian pounds of public funds through irregularly procuring vehicle license plates. The defendants were accused of securing a deal with the German company UTSCH, which allowed it to export license plates for a total of 22 million euros, a rate that greatly exceeded what a tender process would have resulted in. Nazif allegedly violated the law by approving the deal with the German exporter, which, according to prosecutors, resulted in inordinate prices for the import of the plates. The verdict is the outcome of a retrial that began in July 2013. Adly was originally sentenced to five years in prison, while Nazif had received a suspended sentence of one year. Commenting on the verdict, the Strong Egypt party said Sisi’s regime represents the essence of counter-revolution, especially after the acquittal of Mubarak-era officials. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 2/24/2015]

Forty-five alleged Brotherhood members sentenced over violence charges
The terrorism circuit of the Zagazig Court sentenced on Monday forty-five defendants accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood to five years in prison. The prosecution referred the defendants to court over a set of charges including “joining a terrorist group, violating the protest law, inciting riots and violence and resisting authorities.” [Aswat Masriya, 2/23/2015]

Court turns down case to list Islamist groups as “terrorist” organizations
An urgent matters court in Alexandria turned down on Monday a case to list Egypt’s Salafist Front and al-Jama’a al-Islamiya as “terrorist” organizations for lack of jurisdiction, reported state news agency MENA. A lawyer had filed the lawsuit last September. He accused the Salafist Front of calling “on its members and incited citizens to take to the streets, carrying arms against the police and armed forces.” [Aswat Masriya, 2/23/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Ahmed Ezz appeals elimination from elections race |  Aswat Masriya
  • Court rejects claim demanding Mubarak’s deprivation of military decorations | Egypt Independent
  • Morsi’s ‘prison break’ trial adjourned to February 25 | DNE
  • Suspended student to sue Misr International University | DNE
  • Badie, 198 others’ military trial for Suez violence postponed | AFP, Aswat Masriya
  • Verdict date set in retrial of policemen for Abu Zaabal police van incident | Aswat Masriya
  • Trial of January 25 anniversary detainees postponed to March 3 | DNE, EGYNews (Arabic)


New Egyptian investment law to be issued beginning of March
According to Investment Minister Ashraf Salman, the new Egyptian investment law will be announced in the first week of March, prior to the Economic Summit which will be held in Sharm al-Sheikh. Salman added that negotiations and meetings for the new law are being held with all Egypt’s business sector entities, unlike any law issued in the country before. The new law is expected to state that all promotion activity will be under a separate administration within the Investment Authority. [DNE, 2/23/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Hike in tax on cigarettes will go to healthcare budget: Government spokesman | Ahram Online
  • Egypt invites 100 Italian companies to Economic Summit: Abdel Nour | DNE
  • Minister: Eight countries coming to EEDC, delayed elections would not affect conference | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt aims to halt gas imports in 2020 , says minister | Reuters
  • World largest container ship pays EGP6 million to cross Suez Canal | MENA
  • Egypt, Italy discuss opening credit to finance Egyptian projects | SIS


Government should strictly define ‘security reasons’: AFTE
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) demanded Tuesday that the Minister of Interior clearly define the term “security reasons”, frequently cited by security forces to postpone trial sessions. The Minister of Interior should also mention the different reasons for not allowing defendants out on bail, the association added. AFTE also said that citing “security reasons” is similar to the laws of preventive custody, which allow the prosecution investigators to keep the defendants under detention pending investigations. This, the association said, can hinder the chances of a fair trial, if the defendant is tried while being held in detention. [DNE, 2/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Farmers protest, calling on Sisi to put local people over big profit | DNE
  • Telecom Egypt spreads awareness of safer Internet usage to children | Egypt Independent
  • Most notable activists jailed over violating law regulating protests | Egypt Independent
  • Regional ring road construction diverts for famous businessman | Egypt Independent
  • Morsi’s son: Facebook hacked, denies father’s death | Egypt Independent


Interior Minister urges using machine guns against protesters in new leaks
An audio recording broadcast by Al-Jazeera is said to reveal Egypt’s interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, discussing the use of automatic weapons against protesters. “Use all that is permitted under the law. I think you all understand and you all studied the law. Whatever is permitted by the law, use it without hesitation, any slight hesitation,” says the voice in the tape, “from water to the machine guns.” According to Al-Jazeera, the recording comes from a discussion of the ministry’s preparations for a day of mass demonstrations announced by Islamists in November 2014. Asked about the apparent leak, an official at the interior ministry in Cairo denied hearing about the issue. Islamist political organization, the Salafi Front criticized the leaks, saying the leaks prove the regime is waging “a war against Islam in Egypt and the region.” [DNE, The Guardian, 2/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Security bans Assem Abdel Maged’s family from travel | MENA
  • Security forces disperse Brotherhood demonstration at Al-Azhar University | AMAY (Arabic)
  • Interior minister inspects joint police, army checkpoints in North Sinai | SIS


Egypt denies reports by Amnesty of seven civilians killed in Libya airstrikes
Egypt has rejected a report by Amnesty International that said seven civilians were killed in airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Libya. London-based Amnesty said in a report “new eyewitness testimonies… indicate that the Egyptian Air Force failed to take the necessary precautions in carrying out [the] attack.” Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Atty said in a Tuesday statement that the targets were “carefully chosen” and that reports of civilian deaths “are mistaken and not true.” He said the airstrikes targeted training camps and weapon caches of the extremist group – which released a video of the beheadings of twenty Coptic Christians last week. [AP, DNE, 2/24/2015]

US expresses concern over activists’ prison sentences
International and local entities condemned a Monday court verdict sentencing prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah to five years in prison and twenty-four others from three to fifteen years for unlicenced protesting amongst other charges. The US administration voiced concerns over Monday’s verdict. “The United States is deeply troubled by the new harsh sentences,” Secretary of State Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at a press briefing. Psaki also said: “We urge defendants to pursue all legal avenues to contest this verdict, including the right to appeal.” Locally, the verdict was condemned by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and The Arab Organization for Human Rights. Meanwhile, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry criticized the “comments from some countries and international organizations on Egyptian judicial rulings,” according to a statement from the ministry’s spokesman. [DNE, 2/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Official says 2,713 Egyptians returned from Libya in 24 hours | EGYNews (Arabic)
  • 14,806 Egyptians return from Libya: Salloum Port Official | DNE, Ahram Online, MENA
  • Russia backs draft Security Council resolution on Libya, says Egyptian foreign minister | Ahram Online
  • Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia receive offers for Nile dam studies | Ahram Online
  • Hamas leader does not rule out Egyptian strikes on Gaza | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt to host Arab League summit on March 28 to 29 | AFP
  • Shoukry begins international tour to strengthen foreign relations | DNE
  • Sisi meets Mali’s defense minister to discuss Libya, counterterrorism |Shorouk (Arabic)