Top News: Egyptian Injured in Paris Attacks Mistakenly Labeled a Suspect

Egypt’s Ambassador to France Ihab Badawi said that an Egyptian passport recovered following a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday belongs to Egyptian national Walid Abdel Razek. Several French and global media outlets reported that Syrian and Egyptian passports were found on the bodies of two suicide bombers involved in the attack at Stade de France, where Abdel Razek was attending a match on Friday night, prompting links to be drawn between the two. The Egyptian Ambassador confirmed that the media incorrectly portrayed him as a suspect in the bombings, while the Consul also said there are no reports of Egyptian attackers involved in the events. At least 129 people were killed, 352 were injured, and eighty remain in critical condition, as attackers shot at people at restaurants and bars, detonated bombs near France’s Stadium and opened fire on attendees in a packed concert hall.Two Egyptians, 28-year old Salah Emad al-Gebali and 30-year old Lamia Mondegeur, were reportedly among those killed in the attacks. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb condemned the attacks, while the Egyptian cabinet said the terrorist threat against France is similar to that Egypt is facing, reiterating the importance of unity to combat militancy. The Egyptian presidency also strongly condemned the attacks, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi telling French President Francois Hollande that they will not dissuade nations from combating terrorism and extremism. Meanwhile, the Giza pyramids were illuminated Sunday night with the colors of the French, Russian, and Lebanese flags, in solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks, the victims of twin suicide bombings in Beirut that left over forty dead, and with those who lost their lives in the crash of a Russian passenger airliner over Sinai two weeks ago. A candlelight vigil was also held. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, AMAY, Aswat Masriya, 11/16/2015]


Trial of Ahmed Naji and editor begins for writing sexually explicit text
The Bulaq Criminal Court has adjourned the trial of novelist Ahmed Naji and the chief editor of Akhbar al-Adab, Tarek al-Taher, to December 12, in order to give the defense more time to review the case files. Both faces charges of public indecency for publishing what prosecutors describe as a “sexually flagrant article” in the state-owned cultural newspaper Akhbar al-Adab last year. Defense lawyer Mahmoud Othman told Mada Masr, “Today’s session was a procedural session in which we requested adjournment so as to be able to access the case file and the referral to prosecution, as we have not been able to access them so far.” The defendants were not present in court on Saturday, but a number of witnesses for the prosecution and defense reportedly were. Naji told Mada Masr he was surprised that a case had been filed against him and that it was escalating. The defense witnesses include writer and journalist Mohamed Salmawy, former Minister of Culture Gaber Asfour, and novelist Sonallah Ibraham. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, DNE, 11/14/2015]

Egyptian militant Adel Habara, six others sentenced to death in retrial
The Giza Criminal Court, headed by Judge Motaz Khafagy sentenced militant Adel Habara to death on Saturday, alongside six others in a retrial for the killing of twenty-five soldiers in Rafah in North Sinai in August 2013. The seven were sentenced to death by hanging, while another three were sentenced to life in prison, twenty-two to fifteen years of high security prison and three were acquitted. The defendants had faced charges of committing terrorist acts and collaborating with al-Qaeda. Habara was previously sentenced to death in the case, but the Court of Cassation ordered a retrial in June 2015 after the defense team filed an appeal. The latest verdict can still be appealed as death sentences can be appealed twice in the Egyptian judicial system. [Aswat Masriya, AMAY, Cairo Post, 11/14/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Morsi to testify from prison cell in ‘Port Said prison clashes’ case | DNE
  • Lawsuit to strip Wael Ghoneim of Egyptian nationality | DNE, Aswat Masriya
  • Angolan activists in court over ‘nonviolent’ book | DNE
  • Court upholds pardoned activist Yara Sallam’s right to vote | Mada Masr
  • Last defendant in Port Said Stadium case sentenced to five years | Cairo Post
  • Lawyer’s Syndicate files lawsuit against five policemen for assaulting lawyers in Qalyubia | Cairo Post


S&P revises Egypt’s outlook, suggests Gulf support could falter
Standard and Poor’s (S&P) on Friday revised its outlook on Egypt from positive to stable and affirmed its ‘B-/B’ long and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings. The ratings agency said its decision was based on the expectation that Egypt’s economic recovery will remain gradual amid persistent external imbalances and reduced financial support from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. “The stable outlook reflects our expectation that Egypt will largely remain politically stable, its economy will continue to progressively grow in the face of important macroeconomic headwinds, and that fiscal deficits will improve but remain at high levels,” S&P analysts said. “The economic recovery is supported by improved political conditions, a recovery in construction, manufacturing, services, and tourism.” However, S&P said that fiscal pressure on Gulf countries could affect support for Egypt, particularly in terms of grants. S&P said Egypt’s economic recovery depends primarily on maintaining security and sociopolitical stability and addressing structural shortcomings in the energy and foreign exchange markets. [CPI Financial, Bloomberg, Aswat Masriya, 11/15/2015]

Egypt turns to Iraq to ease energy needs
Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding on Sunday to receive crude oil and natural gas from Iraq, said Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum Tarek al-Molla. A statement from the ministry said the agreement is part of a deal in which Iraq will supply Egypt and with surpluses of crude oil and natural gas. The agreement will also study how best to export Iraqi crude oil to Egypt and Jordan through a pipeline connecting the Iraqi city of Haditha to the Jordanian port of Aqaba. Molla added that increased domestic energy production in coming years could allow Egypt to re-export Iraqi oil as part of a larger plan to become an energy export hub. “We’re hoping that [from] 2020 to 2022 we will be able to become self-sufficient and decrease importing so that Egypt becomes a regional energy hub,” he said. [Reuters, Shafaq News, 11/15/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s unemployment rate falls to 12.8 percent in Q3 | Ahram Online, Reuters
  • Egypt’s GASC to announce first meat tender, winner of poultry tender | Reuters
  • Egyptian pound steady at official auction, stronger on parallel market | Reuters
  • Egypt’s stocks closed Sunday in red on Paris bloody attacks | Ahram Online
  • Dubai’s Arabtec plans to build 13,000 homes in Egypt | Reuters
  • Egypt signs agreements for grants worth $2.25 million with AfDB | DNE
  • Volume of US-Egypt trade exchange hit $7.9 billion in 2014 | DNE


Alexandria officials arrested over corrupt water pumps deal
The public funds prosecution in Alexandria said Friday three sanitary drainage officials were arrested for purchasing invalid water pumps worth EGP30 million for a local sewage plant. The suspected officials from the Housing Ministry’s Water and Sanitary Drainage Authority had been tasked with upgrading a drainage facility in Alexandria’s Siouf district. The seven water pumps, which do not meet specifications of the sewage stations, were not installed or replaced according to the public funds prosecution. According to the investigations, this led many areas in West Alexandria to flood during the heavy rains that hit the governorate in the past two weeks. Egypt’s government admitted that the failure in servicing people in the aftermath of heavy rainstorms in October was partially due to the delay in implementing a EGP68 million upgrade scheme for the Siouf plant. Unstable weather once again hit Egypt on Monday and is expected to last until the end of the week, with Alexandria and Beheira among the areas most affected. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, meanwhile, met Sunday with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, and the ministers of irrigation and housing to discuss the damaged caused by recent flooding in Egypt. He allocated EGP1 billion from the Tahya Masr presidential fund and another EGP1 billion from the public budget to drainage projects to address the issue. [AMAY, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 11/15/2015]

Press Syndicate denounces dawn arrests of journalists
The Freedoms Committee of the Press Syndicate denounced the arrests of journalists Abdel Rahman Mohamed Abdel Rahman and Sobhy Shoaib, after they were detained from their homes on Sunday in dawn raids. The committee called for an investigation into the methods of Abdel Rahman’s arrest and the accountability of those responsible. Abdel Rahman, a journalist with the National Company for Distribution and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of privately owned newspaper, al-Mesryoon, has been detained fifteen days pending investigations. Shoaib, on the other hand, was released on the same day of his arrest. Meanwhile, an official from the Press Syndicate was hospitalized Thursday after entering a fifth day of hunger strike staged to protest the layoff of his colleagues. Karem Mahmoud, head of the syndicate’s Legislations Committee and Chief Editor of independent paper al-Tahrir, was hospitalized Thursday after entering a fifth day of hunger strike staged to protest the layoff of his colleagues. Mahmoud began his strike last Sunday to protest “unjust” financial settlements offered by al-Tahrir’s owners to his colleagues who were dismissed after the board’s decision in August to halt the paper’s print edition citing financial hardships. [DNE, AMAY, 11/16/2015]

Five Egyptians drown in Mediterranean Sea, three missing
Five Egyptian migrants drowned on Saturday and three others went missing after their boat capsized off Edko in the Beheira governorate. The boat carried thirteen Egyptians, attempting to immigrate illegally to Italy. Border guards rescued five people, recovered the bodies of the five who perished, and continue to look for the three remaining missing migrants. Eleven people implicated in the sinking of the boat have reportedly been arrested. [AMAY, 11/15/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Sisi orders establishment of ‘Bank of Knowledge’ | DNE, AMAY
  • State TV anchor Azza Al-Henawy to appeal her suspension | DNE
  • Public Transportation Authority drivers demand inclusion with Ministry of Transportation | DNE
  • Angered doctors demand healthcare reform after colleague dies from meningitis | Mada Masr
  • Islamic scholars, Endowments Minister in Luxor to discuss religious discourse, extremist thought | DNE
  • Health Minister outlines long-term strategy for development | DNE


Fifteen Sudanese migrants found ‘shot dead’ on Egypt-Israel border
Fifteen Sudanese migrants were found dead, and eight others were taken into custody in Egypt’s North Sinai governorate near the Israeli border on Sunday. The dead appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds, and there were conflicting reports whether the other eight were wounded. With no official statement published on the circumstances of their death, the incident is shrouded in confusion on how they were killed and who shot them. According to AP, the migrants were shot by Egyptian security forces as they fled toward the border after being ordered to stop during a gunfight between Egyptian forces and Bedouin smugglers. However, according to Daily News Egypt, Egyptian security sources reported that they were killed by unidentified suspects. Many migrants pass through Egypt on their way to Israel or elsewhere, Israel’s Interior Ministry claims there are over 45,000 African migrants in the country, most of whom are Sudanese and Eritrean refugees who have fled war and violence. [AFP, 11/16/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Unknown assailants gun down two people in Egypt’s North Sinai | Ahram Online
  • Ministry says groom arrested from wedding is terrorist suspect | AMAY


Russia says EgyptAir ban repercussion of air crash, Egypt surprised by decision
Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said on Saturday Russia’s decision to ban incoming flights by Egyptian state-owned airline EgyptAir, confirmed by Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation, was a direct repercussion of the Russian airliner crash in Egypt, RIA news agency reported. Sokolov’s comments were the first official link between the EgyptAir flight ban, and the MetroJet 9268 crash that killed 224 people, most of whom were Russian nationals, in Egypt two weeks ago. In response to the decision, EgyptAir CEO Sherif Fathy criticized the Russian aviation agency for banning flights over security concerns, calling the decision “surprising.” The ban, which began on Saturday, has caused many canceled flights, including tri-weekly flights between Cairo and Moscow. Egypt’s Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said on Friday that Egypt and Russia are actively communicating in an attempt to solve the “crisis” stemming from the flight ban, which does not currently have a set end-date. Additionally, British airlines will end their efforts to repatriate tourists from Sharm al-Sheikh on Tuesday, with a statement from the government saying that any who remain in the city after that date will have to fly back “at their own risk.” Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced during a meeting at the Group of twenty (G20) summit in Turkey that Russia was in the final stages of studying the crash debris in an effort to discover the cause of the crash. [Reuters. 11/14/2015]

US military aid for Egypt seen continuing despite rights concerns
The US Congress looks set to approve another $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt despite concerns expressed by some lawmakers over its crackdown on dissent while fighting religious militants. Egypt’s aid package is in focus because of growing unease among both Republicans and Democrats that the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is exploiting security concerns to crack down on dissent and arresting journalists. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee voiced his concern, saying “I worry when they arrest people for no good reason, when they have 40,000 or so people in prison and there’s clearly been an abridgement of various freedoms, such as the press and others.” However, McCain, like other influential government officials, views Egypt’s military as a reliable partner in a chaotic region. “Their military is good, a lot of it has to do with our support,” he said. Congressional aides told Reuters that Egypt’s 2016 package is expected to end up at about the same level as last year’s, with $1.3 billion in military aid and $150 million in economic assistance. Israel, an influential US ally, especially in Congress, has backed the assistance for Cairo since its peace deal with Egypt in 1979.  [Reuters, 11/16/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s Sisi meets delegation of Kenyan MPs | Ahram Online
  • Jordanian authorities arrest suspects in Egyptians’ stabbings | DNE