Top News: European Parliament Calls For Immediate Release of Irish Citizen in Egypt

The European Parliament has called for the immediate release of detained Egyptian-Irish citizen, Ibrahim Halawa, who may face the death penalty. “MEPs call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa, who has been detained for more than two years on charges of attending an illegal protest on August 16 and 17, 2013, while on a family holiday in Cairo,” the European Parliament said in a statement on Thursday. It also called for a dismissal of the possibility of issuing a death sentence against Halawa, who was a juvenile when he was arrested in 2013. The statement reiterated that Egypt should abide by the international conventions of child rights which prohibits sentencing minors to death. The statement also called for “The European External Action Service (EEAS), via the EU Delegation in Cairo, as well as EU member states, notably Ireland, (to) monitor all hearings in Halawa’s trial and that of his co-defendants and to continue providing him with their full legal, consular, and other forms of support.” [Egypt Independent, 12/18/2015]


Three alleged Brotherhood members sentenced to three years for protests
The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Thursday three alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood to three years in prison for inciting riots in Cairo’s district of Maadi in 2013. The court also sentenced four other defendants in absentia to five years in jail. The defendants faced numerous charges including illegal assembly, destroying public and private utilities, inciting violence, and harming national security in Maadi, following the deadly dispersal of pro- Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in August 2013. [Cairo Post, 12/18/2015]


World Bank approves $3 billion loan for Egypt
The World Bank has approved a $3 billion loan for Egypt, which will be disbursed over the next three years, International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr said Thursday. Nasr said the loan has a maturity of 35 years and carries an annual interest rate of 1.68 percent. She said the loan will help the government secure economic growth. The decision comes as the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors endorsed a new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) to support Egypt.“We are pleased to support the [Egypt’s] reform program of promoting fiscal consolidation, ensuring sustainable energy supply, and creating a supportive business environment for entrepreneurs,” World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti Asad Alam said. “This program is a central element of our CPF to promote policy and institutional reforms for inclusive growth.” The CPF for Egypt covers a five-year period from 2015 to 2019. Total World Bank Group financing, which includes financing from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation, will reach $8 billion during this period. Also on Thursday, Nasr signed a $500 million loan with the African Development Bank, the first tranche of a $1.5 billion loan that will be provided over three years for economic development and budget support. [Reuters, DNE, 12/17/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • Five water stations closed in Qena over oil spill in Nile | Ahram Online
  • CBE delays interest rate decision until December 24 | DNE, Reuters, Mada Masr
  • Finance Ministry announces strategy to manage public debt until 2018 | DNE
  • Egypt’s central bank to hold rate steady at FX auction | Reuters
  • China to offer $200 million grant to Egypt | SIS


Sixteen NGOs condemn violation of personal rights in the media
Over a dozen Egyptian rights groups have rallied against anchorman Ahmed Moussa for airing compromising photos purporting to show Khaled Youssef, a popular Egyptian movie director recently elected to parliament. Thursday’s statement by 16 local groups claims Moussa invaded Youssef’s privacy, and demanded authorities investigate the case. The organizations, including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Nadim Center, the Association for Free Thought and Expression, and several others, blamed the police and the public prosecution for not taking legal action against media outlets which display citizens’ personal photos, recordings, or videos, in violation of the law and constitution. Journalists have also endorsed a campaign demanding legal action be taken by the Press Syndicate against Moussa. Around 150 journalists signed a complaint letter calling for Moussa to be banned from appearing on TV. A Press Syndicate official said that the union board will decide on Saturday if Moussa will be summoned for investigations. Moussa on Monday aired photos of a man resembling Youssef shown in bed with partly obscured but apparently naked woman. He then challenged the director to publicly announce whether it is him in the photos. [Egypt Independent, AP, 12/18/2015]

Interior Ministry denies Amnesty report of teen raped by police
The Egyptian Interior Ministry denied on Wednesday a recent Amnesty International report that claimed a 14-year-old boy was raped and tortured by Egypt’s National Security agents during detention. The boy’s family reported to Amnesty that the teenager was “repeatedly tortured in custody in October, given electric shocks on his genitals and had a wooden stick repeatedly thrust into his anus as police forced him to confess to violating the protest law and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.” In response, the Interior Ministry released a statement on Wednesday saying “the boy was referred to the forensics authority following the prosecution’s order after a request was made by his lawyers, and it was determined in the report that the rape and torture allegations were untrue.” The statement added that police have “confirmed information” that the boy had participated in attacks with the banned group, which included torching police cars. [Ahram Online, 12/16/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Brotherhood calls for protests ahead of fifth anniversary of 2011 uprising | Cairo Post
  • Five new prisons opened since June 30, two under construction | AMAY
  • Former MB parliament speaker transferred to hospital | Egypt Independent
  • Communication Ministry suspends 6 million cell phone lines | AMAY
  • Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef might make comeback with US digital show | Ahram Online


Forces remotely detonate bomb planted on Alexandria corniche
In Alexandria, security forces responded Friday to reports of an an improvised explosive device placed on the corniche in the Ibrahimiya district. Security forces were able to remotely detonate the device, and no injuries were reported. Civil protection forces were deployed to the area after the device was safely disarmed, using bomb-sniffing dogs to comb the area for other devices. [Cairo Post, 12/18/2015]


Egypt welcomes UK Muslim Brotherhood review
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the British government’s Muslim Brotherhood review issued on Thursday in London, which stated that membership or links to the group should be considered a possible indicator of extremism, but that the group should not be banned. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Thursday released a statement saying the conclusion of the review makes it clear that the international community should support Egypt in confronting terrorism and extremist ideology. The report was originally commissioned in April 2014 by Prime Minister David Cameron to examine whether the group puts British national security at risk. In the statement, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said the review is an important step in combatting terrorism, adding, “We hope other countries will take similar steps to enhance counterterrorism efforts.” [Ahram Online, DNE, 12/18/2015]

Sudan’s Foreign Minister says agreement on Ethiopian dam could be reached by end of December
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told Egyptian state news Agency MENA that he believes an agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the controversial Ethiopian Renaissance dam could be reached in the upcoming round of talks set for December 27, 28. Ghandour said that the last tripartite meeting between the three countries over the dam last Friday and Saturday, achieved a number of positive results. Citing Sudanese officials, some Egyptian local media had reported that last weekend’s talks have ended in failure. The Sudanese FM said that the officials preferred not to reveal the results of the meeting to the media, expressing hopes that officials from the three countries reach a consensus on the issue. “Officials from the three countries agreed not to talk to the media about the accords reached during the last meeting as statements by officials in the media are sometimes taken out of context,” he said. Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid, meanwhile, told reporters on Thursday that the French and Dutch consultancy firms working on Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam were the reason no agreement was reached in the latest talks. He also stressed that Egypt hopes that the three countries will reach a consensus in the upcoming round of talks. In related news, Egyptian Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazi says Egypt still has concerns about the Cooperative Framework Agreement signed by a number of Nile Basin States, and will not sign the treaty in its current form. [Ahram Online, 12/18/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt welcomes Libyan unity deal signed in Morocco | Ahram Online
  • Drop in oil prices ‘will not deter’ KSA’s assistance to Egypt says ambassador | Aswat Masriya