Top News: Egypt to Require Pre-obtained Visas for Foreigners; 380 NGOs Dissolved in 2015

Egypt is tightening rules for visas by requiring individual visitors to obtain them at embassies instead of on arrival at Egyptian airports, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.


Parliamentary election procedures to begin from scratch says State Council
A Tuesday court decision has reset the procedural timetable for the expected parliamentary elections and instructed the High Electoral Commission (HEC) to start from scratch. Following the government’s decision to suspend the elections, the State Council-affiliated Administrative Court cancelled all measures undertaken by the HEC ahead of the elections, including the elections date starting March 21. According to state-run MENA, the court decision obligates the HEC to refund the 3,000 Egyptian pounds insurance fees paid by candidates who registered for the elections and update the voter database. Official spokesperson Omar Marwan called on citizens to revise changed addresses or legal statuses regarding the right to vote. [DNE, 3/18/2015]

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Egyptian TV host sentenced to two years for insulting politician
Egyptian television host Ahmed Moussa has been sentenced to two years in jail and a fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds for insulting former chief of the Democratic Front party and writer Osama al-Ghazali Harb. The Cairo Misdemeanors Court acquitted Mohamed Aboul-Einen, the owner of the Sada al-Balad TV channel that broadcasts Moussa’s daily show. Harb had filed a lawsuit last October against Moussa after the latter insinuated that the former was giving information to officials at the American embassy and that he had established the party through illegitimate methods. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 3/17/2015]

Egypt to try policeman over killing injured suspect
A Giza prosecutor referred a policeman to trial on Wednesday for killing a detainee held in hospital last month. The policeman was charged with murder and is scheduled to face criminal court. He reportedly admitted to the crime. The detainee, arrested for allegedly planting an explosive device in Giza’s Warraq district, was held at hospital after sustaining injuries during his arrest. The ministry of interior had said in a statement on February 1 that the detainee, whom it identified as a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, provoked and insulted the policeman who was assigned to guard him, prompting the latter to shoot him dead. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 3/18/2015]

Ultras leader arrested, referred to court
Said Moshagheb, a leading figure in the Zamalek Ultras, was arrested Monday and referred to criminal court on charges of attempting to murder club head, Mortada Mansour in October last year. Moshageb is accused of storming into the club’s headquarters and damaging private property. He is to be investigated by the prosecution Tuesday, and is set to stand trial next Saturday. After his arrest, the group published a statement saying that arrests will not “intimidate them,” vowing to retaliate. The Ultras strongly deny the accusations. However, Mansour used his claim to submit a legal complaint to have Egypt’s Ultras movement listed as a terrorist group and banned. [DNE, 3/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt accused of cover up over police killing of unarmed protester | The Guardian
  • Egyptian policeman charged over protest shooting captured on film | Reuters
  • Egypt court sentences two in “Zawahri cell” trial to prison for insulting prosecution | Aswat Masriya
  • Activist sentenced to six months in prison for ‘inciting workers to strike’ | DNE
  • First retrial session in Abu Za’abal officers’ case | DNE
  • Seven January 22 protesters remain free, eleven in detention pending investigations | DNE
  • ‘Operations Room’ death sentences a political verdict, says defense lawyer | DNE


Egyptian firm to buy $1.2 billion of natural gas from Israel’s Tamar field
A group of private customers in Egypt have agreed to buy at least $1.2 billion of natural gas from Israel’s offshore Tamar field via an old pipeline built to send gas to Israel. The Tamar partners said on Wednesday they signed a seven-year deal with Dolphinus Holdings that calls for a minimum 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to be sold in the first three years. One energy source in Israel, however, said the total export amount in the deal could be more than three times higher, depending on demand in Egypt. The supplies will pass through an underwater pipeline constructed nearly a decade ago by East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), the company that oversaw a now-defunct Egyptian-Israeli natural gas deal. [Reuters, 3/18/2015]

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Egypt to require pre-obtained visas for foreigners of any nationality
Egypt is tightening rules for visas by requiring individual visitors to obtain them at embassies instead of on arrival at Egyptian airports, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. “The system remains unchanged for tourist groups which can obtain visas at airports, but individuals have to get a prior visa from embassies,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Atty said. “This is an act of state sovereignty,” Abdel Atty told Ahram Online. “Every country has the right to protect its borders.” According to Reuters, security sources said one of the reasons for the change in visa rules was to put stronger controls on visits by Western human rights activists who have been highly critical of Egypt’s tough crackdown on Islamists and liberal activists. The same decision was taken in September 2011 but the government suspended it after three days due to a public outcry and accusations that it will be a big blow to Egypt’s tourism industry. The changes will take effect on May 15. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Mada Masr, 3/17/2015]

Ministry of social solidarity dissolves 380 NGOs in 2015
Egypt’s Social Solidarity Minister ordered on Wednesday the dissolution of ninety-nine nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in eight governorates in implementation of a court ban on the Muslim Brotherhood. An urgent matters court banned the Brotherhood in September 2013 and established a committee to manage its funds. Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Wali said that the dissolution order was issued based on decisions made by the committee. She added that the assets of the dissolved NGOs will be allocated to a fund for NGOs and civil society organizations. Wali dissolved 169 NGOs on February 23, and 112 more on March 1 in implementation of the court ruling, bringing the number of NGOs dissolved in 2015 so far to 380. [Aswat Masriya, 3/18/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptian Premier League to resume after stadium disaster suspension | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Students protest “unjust executions”: SAC | DNE
  • Rights groups condemn Egypt’s ongoing detention of refugees | Mada Masr


Dead civilians are found ‘daily’ says North Sinai resident
Three civilians were found shot dead on Monday in Sheikh Zuweid, an incident which a North Sinai resident has described as a “daily occurrence” in statements to Daily News Egypt Tuesday. The resident confirmed that another five bodies were found shot dead in al-Arish last Thursday.  Meanwhile, unknown assailants late on Tuesday shot dead an on-duty police officer, Karim Hendawy, and wounded a policeman in Marsa Matrouh. Attackers opened fire after being stopped for check while police were inspecting a corpse found in the al-Alameen area. Five civilians were also injured by three blasts in Fayoum city in Upper Egypt on Wednesday. All improvised bombs exploded in the same area near Ahmed Shawqy Street. Those injured were soon transported to the Fayoum general hospital.  On Monday evening, a bomb was dismantled in a garage in Fayoum, resulting in no injuries. Another exploded in the vicinity of the Fayoum Governor’s residence, state-run news agency MENA reported. [DNE, 3/18/2015]

Over 100 arrested Monday for belonging to Muslim Brotherhood
The interior ministry arrested on Monday 136 people on charges of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and of attempting to hinder the Economic Summit in Sharm al-Sheikh. Security forces arrested sixty-five who allegedly participated in riots. Fifteen others were arrested in Alexandria governorate for allegedly being Brotherhood members and three from the Daqaliya governorate. The statement added they arrested a school teacher from Sohag, who created a page on Facebook called “Hazm” (decisiveness). The teacher reportedly confessed to establishing the page according to orders received from Ahmed al-Araby, a leading Brotherhood figure. [DNE, 3/18/2015]


Egypt Foreign Minister calls for international ‘commitment’ against ISIS
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has called for international “commitment” to combat the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in Libya. In an interview on Monday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Shoukry said the threat to Egypt from ISIS in Libya was substantial. “I think we have to be true to our commitments as an international community in this fight.” Amanpour asked whether Cairo would definitely implement the new capital city project recently announced. “It certainly will,” Shoukry replied, describing it as a national project. Shoukry said, “It is the hope of the government that it will be implemented within a very short time frame, at least the nucleus of the new capital city.” Finally, Amanpour asked Shoukry to expand on a recent quote from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi rejecting western perceptions of the democratic process in Egypt. Shoukry said Egyptians are the ones who can evaluate the progress of democracy in their own country. “The current democratic process is forged by the will of the Egyptian people. They determine to what extent, and they are the ones who judge the application of democratic principles.” [Ahram Online, 3/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt is ‘highly sensitive’ to any project to hold Nile water: Irrigation minister | Ahram Online
  • Sisi reviews Ethiopia dam agreement with top government officials | DNE
  • Egypt, Croatia hold bilateral talks on regional issues, cooperation | DNE
  • Egypt, Jordan discuss trilateral projects in petrol and natural gas with Iraq | Aswat Masriya
  • Sisi meets UNGA chief | SIS