Top News: Egypt’s Sisi Pardons 165 Detained Youth on Occasion of Ramadan

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has pardoned 165 prisoners, including minors, convicted of breaching the 2013 protest law, according to a presidential statement. The pardons came on the occasion of the month of Ramadan, due to begin tomorrow, state television reported. Sisi signed the pardon decree Wednesday morning to allow the prisoners to join their families on the first day of Ramadan. The issuance of the decree coincides with a call from relatives of some imprisoned youth to stage a protest outside the Ittihadiya presidential palace on June 12. [Ahram OnlineAswat MasriyaCairo Post, 6/17/2015]


Government amends Sinai Development Law
The cabinet on Tuesday approved a presidential decree amending the Sinai Development Law, aimed at “avoiding legal disputes with investors,” according to cabinet spokesperson Hossam al-Qawish. Qawish said the usufruct clause, which allows a person or party that confers the temporary right to use and derive income or benefit from someone else’s property, has been extended from thirty to fifty years, with a possibility of extension to seventy-five years. Ownership of property in Sinai will be restricted to Egyptian individuals of Egyptian parents and to companies completely owned by Egyptians. In the case of a foreign investor who has acquired land under the previous legislation dies, his heirs should transfer ownership to an Egyptian within six months, while retaining the usufruct rights. The government would then buy the land for the same price after six months. For Egyptians of dual nationality, their heirs are allowed to own property, even if they are dual nationals as well. [Egypt Independent, 6/17/2015]

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  • With Morsi death sentence, Muslim Brotherhood dream of an Islamist Egypt fades | Reuters


Disappeared detainee allegedly found in Al-Qanater Prison
Sixteen days after her disappearance, photojournalist Esraa al-Taweel was seen in an al-Qanater Prison detention cell by Zeinab Mohamed, Freedom for the Brave campaign said Tuesday. Tawil was reported missing on June 1, along with her two friends, Sohaib Saad and Omar Mohamed, all of whom were having dinner in the neighborhood of Maadi. According to Mohamed’s story, Taweel was wearing the same outfit as the day she disappeared when she was sighted at the prison. “She seemed to be doing well, but when I tried to approach her, the policewomen surrounding her refused to let us talk,” Mohamed said. She alleged that the prosecution had not yet questioned Taweel, nor had any official charges been filed against her. The Interior Ministry has yet to officially announce the reason behind Taweel’s arrest, and according to her family, and has refused to officially disclose her location. [DNE, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 6/17/2015]

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  • State Security ban retrial adjourned to August 4 | DNE
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  • Egyptian militants pledge allegiance to ISIS during Cairo trial | Ahram Online


Egypt to adopt law regulating Suez Canal investment this week
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will decide legislation organizing and governing investment in the Suez Canal zone this week, said Hani Sarie Eldin, head of Sarie Eldin & Partners’ advisory law firm. Sarie Eldin said the Law of Economic Zones of a Special Nature, which will organize investments in the zone, will exempt projects that direct their production to exports from customs. It will also affect other projects’ exemptions from tax on sales. Sarie Eldin explained that the law will convert the Suez Canal Axis into an economic zone with a single-window system that has the authority to grant investors licenses. Investment projects in the Suez Canal area will be subject to an income tax of approximately 22.5 percent. [DNE, 6/16/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s non-oil exports fall by 20 percent in first 5 months of 2015 | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt to increase cash subsidy programs in new budget | Ahram Online
  • Egypt, France 2014 trade exchange valued at $2.6 million | DNE
  • Arabian Cement launches social startup program in Suez | Cairo Post
  • Sisi agrees to settle farmers’ problems | SIS
  • Complaints by tourists in 2014 | Egypt Independent


Brotherhood calls for Friday protest, following Morsi’s upheld death sentence
The Muslim Brotherhood has called for mass demonstrations on Friday to protest against the court ruling that upheld death sentences for former President Mohamed Morsi and other top Brotherhood figures on Tuesday and to protest ongoing police brutality. In a statement on its official Facebook page, the Muslim Brotherhood described the Morsi trial as a “sham” and criticized the judges for describing it as being “for the 25 January revolution” that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The statement lambasted the judges who issued the sentences and the mufti who approved them for violating human rights in the name of law and religion. It accused them of turning a blind eye to the torture, kidnappings, and forced disappearances carried out by the Interior Ministry. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Mada Masr, 6/17/2015]  

Al Jazeera used trial of journalists to wage war against Egypt, says Fahmy
Al Jazeera has paid “millions of dollars” on the trial of its journalists in Egypt to “wage a war” against the country, former Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy claimed in a Tuesday interview with Al-Youm channel. Fahmy, the former Al Jazeera International Bureau Chief in Cairo, his Egyptian colleague Baher Mohamed, and Australian journalist Peter Greste were charged with belonging to a “terrorist organization” (Muslim Brotherhood), threatening national security, and broadcasting false news. Fahmy was forced to renounce his Egyptian citizenship in order to benefit from Sisi’s November 2014 decree on deporting convicted and on-remand foreigners. However, he is determined to reclaim his Egyptian citizenship, emphasizing that many of his family members have served in the police, military, and judiciary. [Cairo Post, 6/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • ‘I Saw Harassment’ gets positive response from male citizens in awareness campaign | DNE
  • Activists to urge for prisoners’ release outside presidential palace | Egypt Independent
  • Minister says the poor build homes without any help from state | Egypt Independent
  • Daily radio series about human rights during Ramadan | Egypt Independent, Cairo Post
  • Residents surround the office of Belqas mayor to protest against water shortage | Egypt Independent


Bomb in Sinai kills police officer
A police officer was killed and three conscripts were injured in a double blast which targeted a police armored vehicle in North Sinai’s al-Arish city early Wednesday, police sources said. The explosion damaged a number of houses and set a shop ablaze, the sources said. Sources and eyewitnesses said extremists planted the bomb on Assiut Street in al-Arish and remotely exploded it while an armored vehicle was passing, killing the policeman and wounding three recruits. The injured were taken to the hospital for treatment. [Egypt Independent, AP, Aswat Masriya, Cairo Post, 6/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt army says foiled attack, killed seven terrorist suspects | Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters  
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  • Alleged ISIS member arrested in Daqahliyah | DNE
  • Policeman injured in Fayoum police station attack | Egypt Independent


International condemnations of Brotherhood death sentences
The death sentences served to Egypt’s ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and five others for escaping prison in 2011 is a “worrying development,” the European Union (EU) said late Tuesday. The White House echoed these concerns saying it was “deeply troubled by the politically motivated sentences.” Human Rights Watch called on the Egyptian government to stop executions. Death sentences served to political opponents in Egypt harm the state’s “security and stability” and block the road to reconciliation, Qatar said in a statement, while expressing its “deep concern” regarding the Cairo Criminal Court’s decision. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also called for a repeal of the sentence. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the court’s decision has no basis in law and is politicized. Meanwhile, the Egyptian UN delegate Ambassador Amr Ramadan stressed Egypt’s respect for human rights and defended its death penalty. However, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern that “such verdicts, handed down after mass trials, may well have a negative impact on the prospects for long-term stability in Egypt.” [Ahram Online, AFP, Reuters, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 6/17/2015]

Egypt extends opening of Rafah crossing
Egypt will open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza in both directions until Friday, upon instructions from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, state news reported on Tuesday. The decision comes after a similar two-day extension through Tuesday and Wednesday. Egypt had decided to open the Rafah crossing for three days on Saturday to allow Palestinians to move in both directions for the first time in three months. This is the first time the border will be opened for seven consecutive days since the ouster of ex-President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The extension came “in solidarity with the Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip” and to “ease their suffering as per the agreed upon mechanisms,” reported MENA. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 6/16/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • HRW: Egypt should halt 2002 Law on Associations immediately | DNE, Egypt Independent
  • Gerry Adams writes to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over long-detained Irish teenager | DNE
  • Egypt denies it blocked Houthi delegation’s UN flight to Geneva | DNE
  • EU, WFP officials visit schools in Beni Suef within joint project to end child labor | Egypt Independent
  • Amnesty recalls Egyptian detainee in anti-torture day | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt deports forty-seven illegal Sudanese immigrants | Egypt Independent, Cairo Post
  • Protests over Egyptian fishermen’s detention in Sudan | Egypt Independent