Top News: Egyptian Religious Authority Says Brotherhood Seeks to Legitimize Violence

Dar al-Ifta, Egypt’s major authority on religious edicts, said the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group has sought to “legitimize violence” after a document affiliated to the group urged what Dar al-Ifta called “terrorist acts” and the killing of police and military personnel. A monitoring unit of Dar al-Ifta made the comments on Monday two days after a document was released online, allegedly by the Brotherhood’s legislative committee. The document claims to summarize a months-long study into “revolutionary work” endorsed by the Brotherhood’s leadership. The document asserts it is a “religious duty” to put up “all forms of resistance” against the authorities, to fight back against the “coup-organizers” – referring to the 2013 ouster of then president Mohamed Morsi. The document calls for “perpetrators only” to be targeted, and for innocents to be left alone so that the “revolutionaries are not accused of violence.” On Sunday, a Dar al-Ifta sub-body which monitors jihadist and extremist edicts said the document sanctions the killing of police, military and judiciary personnel, and incites “terrorist operations” in Sinai, where the army is battling an Islamist insurgency. [Ahram Online, 8/24/2015]

Political parties ‘buying popular candidates’ ahead of parliamentary elections report alleges
Political parties are ‘buying popular candidates’ as a means of ensuring success in the upcoming parliamentary elections, a new study by the Regional Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS) alleged. The study suggested that this action comes after the parties failed to garner public support in the years following the January 25 revolution. The Free Egyptians Party (FEP) and Wafd Party, the two largest political parties, with the exception of the Nour Party, topped the RCSS’ list of eight political parties “purchasing” candidates. However, Wafd Party’s spokesperson Bahgat al-Hossamy says the claims of “paying off candidates” are untrue. “First, the party’s financial status does not allow it to pay extra costs. Secondly, everybody knows the Wafd Party regardless of supporting or opposing it,” he said. Emad Raouf, a member of FEP’s political bureau, also denied the allegations. He explained that the party conducted polls to find candidates that the general public supported. “This is how we were able to identify ‘local stars’ with whom we negotiate joint interests, not pay off,” Raouf said. He added that it was “illogical to buy candidates, because this way we cannot guarantee their loyalty to our party once in parliament.”  [DNE, 8/25/2015]

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Egyptian court issues preliminary death sentences to two Morsi supporters
A Giza criminal court, presided over by Judge Mohamed Nagy Shehata, issued a preliminary death sentence to two activists supporting Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi in what is known the Ultras Rabaawy trial on Monday. The court referred its decision to the country’s Grand Mufti, the state’s senior Muslim cleric, for a consultative review as required by Egyptian law. Although the Grand Mufti’s opinion is non-binding, Egyptian judges have traditionally aligned their final rulings to the Mufti’s recommendations. The court’s final verdict is scheduled for October 3. The defendants, along with three others, are accused of torching the administrative prosecution building in Cairo and a mobile phone network communication tower in October 6 City. Ultras Rabaawy is a pro-Morsi youth group which employs the tactics of hardcore Egyptian football fan groups known as Ultras in their protests and rallies. [Ahram Online, 8/24/2015]

Christian charged with insulting religion, harming national unity for distributing bibles
A Coptic Christian arrested for handing out copies of the bible has had his detention extended for the second time and a new charge added to his case. Ishaq Medhat was reportedly arrested whilst in possession of nine copies of the Bible at the Mall of Arabia in October 6 City. Medhat, 35, is originally from Beni Obeid in Minya, and is a church custodian. His detention was extended for a second 15-day period on Monday. According to Coptic activist and journalist Nader Shoukry, Medhat was initially charged with inciting sectarian strife and harming national unity, and has since been charged with insulting religion. [DNE, 8/24/2015]

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  • ‘T-shirt detainee’ Mahmoud Hussein’s detention renewed | DNE

Egypt’s central bank approves CIB-Citigroup deal
Egypt’s Commercial International Bank (CIB) said on Tuesday it had received central bank approval to buy Citigroup’s retail business in the country. The purchase includes about $140 million of Citigroup’s assets, $190 million worth of deposits, and nearly 100,000 accounts, CIB said in June when the deal was announced. The deal will add 80,000 credit card holders to CIB’s existing 240,000 and will expand the bank’s consumer lending business by 10 percent. Citigroup said last October that it was pulling out of consumer banking in eleven markets, including Egypt, to cut costs. CIB Chairman Hisham Ezz al-Arab said in June that he expects that the “integration of Citi’s staff into the CIB family will be seamless and add significant value to our clients and shareholders.” [Reuters, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 8/25/2015]

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  • Egyptian stock market on rebound, main index up 2.09 percent | Aswat Masriya
  • Trade deficit up 29 percent in May | Mada Masr

600 students expelled, 1,000 arrested over past academic year says Democracy Index
Independent observatory Democracy Index said in its report on student movements in 2014/2015 that 807 protests took place over the past academic year across all Egyptian universities, with Cairo University topping the list. The latest figure marks a significant decrease compared to the previous year, which witnessed 3,000 protests. The report noted that 600 student expulsions and 1,000 arrests had also taken place nationwide. Despite the decrease, the report did not credit the universities or security forces with the change. Mohab Saeed, a lawyer at the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) who works on providing legal assistance to students said, “The rate of expelling students decreased, because the pace of events accompanied with violent acts has become much slower.” However, some new security measures were implemented in Cairo University over the past year in order to prevent student protests and violence. [DNE, 8/25/2015]

Zamalek fans remain in Tunisia as club chief demands their arrest
Hardcore fans of the Zamalek Sports Club football team have still not returned from Tunisia following an international game there last Sunday. It is believed the delay in their return is out of fear over calls by the club’s president to arrest them upon their arrival in the country, airport sources said. Mortada Mansour accused members of the Ultras White Knights (UWK) of insulting him, as well as Egyptian authorities, during the African Confederation Cup game on Sunday against Club Sportif Sfaxien. In a television interview, Mansour said the fans would be arrested upon their arrival at Cairo International Airport, adding that al-Hayat’s sports reporter, Mohib Abdel Hady, was the one who tipped him off about the names of the people who had insulted him. “He informed me about the fans who attended the game and the offensive slogans against Egypt’s police and army. I now have their names and all are wanted,” Mansour said. Mansour added that all the names had been handed over to airport security forces who would be waiting for their arrival. [Egypt Independent, 8/25/2015]  

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  • Nationwide campaigns boycott local meat | Egypt Independent
  • Doctors’ Syndicate finalizes bill on medical liability of doctors | Egypt Independent
  • Minister:  Illiteracy in Cairo 20 percent | Egypt Independent  
  • Post-2011 economic turmoil helped improve Egypt’s air quality, says study | Mada Masr
  • Anti-harassment campaign stirs controversy in Egypt | Al-Monitor

NCHR inspects Damanhour women’s prison in Beheira
Overcrowded rooms, medical negligence, and inadequate meals were among the violations observed by the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) delegation during its visit to the Damanhour women’s prison in the Beheira governorate on Sunday. The delegation inspected the prison wards, the incubators ward, the prison’s hospital, as well as the cafeteria, library, handicrafts exhibition and exercising areas. Based on its meeting with several prisoners, the delegation documented several violations. There were a number of cases in which inmates required medical treatment, but it could not be provided in the prison’s hospital. Furthermore, there was a complaint regarding the lack of lawyers available for prisoners who could not afford to hire a lawyer themselves. The members of the delegation also noted their recognition of good treatment from the prison administration, and the provision of resources necessary for children such as food and medicine, and nearby places for childcare. The prisoners also acknowledged the measures taken by the prison to ease the effects of the recent heat wave that occurred in the past few weeks. The NCHR called on the cabinet and the Supreme Council of Universities to provide places in university-affiliated hospitals for prisoners that need critical care, especially those detained in Damanhour Prison. [DNE, 8/25/2015]

Detainee dies in Fayoum police station
An alleged member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ahmed Hamed died Sunday morning at the Fayoum police station’s detention facility. His family claims he was tortured, a claim security officers deny Hamed’s family said that upon hearing the news of the death, they headed to the police station, but officers did not allow them in. The body then was transferred to the hospital. They accused the police of torturing him due to his affiliation with the Brotherhood, and said that he was being tortured since he was “kidnapped” last week. The family received the body, only after they signed permission for burial. The ministry of interior, however, said Hamed died due to high body temperature inside the detention room at the police station. It added that Hamed was arrested on charges of “making bombs to use in terrorist operations.” The ministry also said that he suffered from a number of diseases, and his health deteriorated in the detention center, adding that he died upon reaching the hospital. [DNE, 8/25/2015]

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Egypt’s Sisi to visit with Russia’s Putin for third time on Tuesday
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will start his third visit to Russia since becoming a head of state. His three-day visit will start on Tuesday, the Egyptian presidency announced. According to the Egyptian presidency, Sisi will begin with a visit to the Russian Parliament and a meeting with its chairman Sergey Naryshkin. Sisi will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday according to the Kremlin official website where they will discuss “all aspects of bilateral relations, including prospects of further strengthening trade and economic cooperation.” The visit will also witness the announcement of new political, economic and military agreements between the two countries, including an agreement over the construction of at least two nuclear power stations in Dabaa. Russian Tomsk State University (TSU) and the Russian University in Cairo also signed Monday a joint training program for Egyptian students to work in the atomic energy field. According to the program, the students will be trained in Egyptian universities during the first three years, then in Tomsk for two and a half years. Meanwhile, the ministry of trade and industry said Monday that Egyptian-Russian trade exchange rose by 86 percent reaching $5.4 billion in 2014. Russian exports to Egypt increased by 22.3 percent last year, according, with wheat and petroleum topping imported products from Russia. [Ahram Online, 8/25/2015]

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