Top News: Endowments Ministry Instructs Imams to Prohibit Participation in January 25 Protests

The Religious Endowments Ministry distributed a leaflet to mosques on Monday instructing imams to prohibit participation in January 25 protests during Friday sermons. The leaflet quoted a fatwa issued by Dar al-Iftaa that says protesting on that day violates Islam and is forbidden in accordance with Islamic teachings. The leaflet said the call for protests on January 25 aimed to bring about “sabotage, murder, and destruction in the country.” The fatwa also described calls for protests as a desire to “get Egyptians implicated in violence and terrorism to serve the enemies of the homeland.” According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Endowments Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa instructed Endowments departments nationwide to provide the names of imams who do not abide by the instructions, so that they are blacklisted by the ministry and deprived of a EGP10,000 bonus disbursed to imams at the end of January. [AMAY, 1/5/2016]


Doctors’ Syndicate criticizes new health insurance bill
The Doctors’ Syndicate criticized the new health insurance bill drafted by the Ministry of Health, saying that it had dangerous implications for the medical field in Egypt. In statements to Al-Ahram on Saturday, Syndicate Undersecretary Mona Mina slammed the bill, saying it was submitted by the ministry after many requests by the syndicate to discuss the draft law. Mina said that the bill was very vague regarding the nature of the newly proposed health insurance system. She also raised concerns that the bill does not specify exact procedures for hospitals, medical units, and clinics to enroll in the medical insurance service, nor does it mention the fate of public hospitals that do not enroll in the service. The Doctors’ Syndicate also expressed concern that, with the decline in the quality of service in the public health sector, public hospitals and clinics would be excluded from the health insurance system, especially if the government does not work toward raising the quality of services in those hospitals. [Ahram Online, 1/4/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Pro-Sisi bloc to name its nominee for speaker of Egypt’s parliament Tuesday | Ahram Online


Cairo court hands prison sentences to 11 Azhar University students
Cairo Criminal Court sentenced four al-Azhar students to five years in prison, six students to three years, and one student to a year in prison on Tuesday. The defendants were also collectively fined a total of EGP 2,160,000.  Public prosecutors charged the defendants with gathering with the purpose of deliberate destruction of public and private property, threatening public officials, and the use of force. The defendants will serve their terms in maximum security prisons. [Aswat Masriya, 1/5/2016]

Former judge Khodeiry appeals for early release from prison
Former judge Mahmoud al-Khodeiry filed an appeal Tuesday calling for his early release from prison after serving half his sentence. The 75-year-old, who was sentenced to three years in October 2014 on charges of torture, asked for the release on account of his age. He added that it is customary for elderly inmates who served half their prison sentences to be pardoned on national and religious anniversaries. He also stated that he had previously submitted a request to the Interior Ministry for his conditional release, but received no response, in violation of the law. [Ahram Online, 1/5/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptian court to rule in ‘annulment of protest law’ case in February | Aswat Masriya
  • Court postpones Issa’s trial for insulting parliamentary candidate to 23 January | DNE
  • GUC appeal verdict to be announced on January 10 | DNE
  • Custody extended for pro-Brotherhood politicians over incitement | AMAY
  • Trial of doctor arrested for protesting postponed | Mada Masr
  • Militant Habara sentenced to 10 years for resisting authorities | Cairo Post
  • Prosecution refers 73 to military court on charges of belonging to Sinai State | Cairo Post


Saudi Arabia to support Egypt with $3 billion of loans, grants
Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide Egypt with more than $3 billion in loans and grants to support the country’s economy. The kingdom will loan Egypt $1.5 billion to develop the Sinai peninsula and $1.2 billion to finance Egypt’s oil purchases, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said. Egypt will also receive a $500 million grant to buy Saudi exports and product. Nasr said the loans will be signed on Tuesday. Last month, Saudi Arabia promised to invest $8 billion in Egypt through its public and sovereign funds. Nasr urged Saudi Arabia to expedite investment in energy, housing, and tourism. Also in December, Egypt announced it was negotiating $1.5 billion in loans for development in the Sinai with the Kuwait Fund for Development, the Abu Dhabi Fund, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, and the Islamic Development Fund. Nasr’s comments came as she arrived in Riyadh to chair the third meeting of the Egyptian-Saudi Coordination Council. [Bloomberg, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 1/4/2016] 

Also of Interest

  • Egypt to import 3 million barrels of crude oil per month from Kuwait | DNE
  • Credit Agricole, BNP Paribas to finance Egypt’s oil refinery expansion | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s foreign reserves rise slightly in December | Reuters, Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s new controls on imports stir controversy | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt’s budget deficit increases by 3.3 percent from July through October | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt shuns Qatari offer to renew dollar deposits | Egypt Independent


NCHR delegation inspects Aqrab prison
A delegation from the National Council for Human Rights, headed by George Ishaq, visited the heavily guarded Aqrab prison on Tuesday to inspect the health and living conditions of prisoners and to ensure the prison is conforming to international standards and domestic laws. The delegation will meet with prison officials and inspect a number of prison wards to investigate a number of complaints received by the families of prisoners. Ragia Omran, a lawyer and NCHR member, said that she was prevented from entering the prison this morning as part of the council’s delegation. Omran said that in cases where certain members of the delegation are prevented from entering, the visit may still go ahead, with prison authorities allowing those visitors who enter to speak with certain prisoners who have been selected for the task. “What is even worse is the threats made against those [inmates] in case they speak truthfully about the reality inside the prison,” she said. [AMAY, 1/5/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s Sisi tells head of Catholic Church Islam has nothing to do with terrorism | Ahram Online, DNE, SIS
  • Ahmed Nagy’s verdict is a victory for freedom of expression says AFTE | DNE
  • Strikes and labor protests hit state-owned companies | Mada Masr


Unidentified assailants kill policeman in Beni Suef
Unknown assailants on Tuesday killed a policeman in the governorate of Beni Suef, 100 km (62 miles) south of Cairo, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement. Two masked gunmen opened fire on Diab Abdel Latif, a 48-year-old National Security policeman while he was returning home. He later died in hospital. It was not immediately clear if the attack has criminal or political motivations. The ministry’s media spokesperson said that a civilian was also injured in the incident, receiving a gunshot wound to the shoulder. According to Al Masry al-Youm, the assailants were identified in security camera footage. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 1/5/2016]


Delegation in Ethiopia to voice Egypt’s Renaissance Dam concerns
A high-level Egyptian delegation will visit Addis Ababa on Tuesday to attend a meeting to discuss Egypt’s concerns related to the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, as per the Khartoum Document agreed on recently. Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed the Khartoum Document in late December, agreeing on a mechanism for resolving contested issues related to the dam, which is still under construction. [MENA, Aswat Masriya, 1/5/2016]

Military reportedly signs deal with Russia for 46 attack helicopters
Egypt’s Armed Forces reportedly signed a deal with the Russian Rosoboronexport armaments company for the sale and delivery of 46 attack helicopters. This arms export deal is said to complement its purchase of two French-made Mistral naval helicopter carriers last year. The London-based Flightglobal website reported Monday that the Egyptian Armed Forces is in the process of acquiring 46 Kamov Ka-52 attack helicopters to equip its new Mistral-class amphibious assault ships. According to Flightglobal, the Russian helicopters and French navy vessels are still several months away from delivery, stating that Egypt is likely to receive the two helicopters by mid-year, although no official time frame for delivery has been released., also reported that Egypt is due to receive its two Mistral ships in the first half of 2016. [Mada Masr, 1/5/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s FM to meet with Chinese deputy FM ahead of president’s visit to Egypt | Ahram Online
  • Tunisia’s Writers Union demands Egypt apologize for denying entry to researcher | Ahram Online
  • Dar al-Iftaa condemns China’s ‘racist’ measures against Muslims | AMAY