Top News: FJP Secretary General, Leading Member Detained

Egypt’s state-run news agency says security forces arrested the secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, and another high-ranking Brotherhood member. The news agency says on Monday Hussein Ibrahim, the dissolved party’s secretary general and al-Refei Hassan were hiding in the western Mediterranean province of Marsa Matrouh on Egypt’s north coast. It says they confessed to trying to reach Libya. An arrest warrant had been issued for Ibrahim accusing him of inciting violence in the wake of the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, a security source said. [DNE, AP, Cairo Post, 10/27/2015]


Egypt’s polls open for first stage of parliamentary election run-offs
Egypt opened its polling stations to voters Tuesday at 9 am for the run-offs of the first stage of parliamentary elections. The polls will remain open until 9 pm and will reopen Wednesday morning for the second day of run-offs. Nearly 10,000 Egyptians abroad voted in the runoff of the parliamentary elections, which started Monday and continues Tuesday, where Egyptian ambassadors noted “weak” participation. The Administrative Court in Qena rejected all appeals against the results of the first round of voting on Monday morning, referring thirty-three of the appeals to the State Commissioners Authority for a legal opinion on the validity of the appeal. In Fayoum, the Administrative Court rejected fourteen appeals by eight losing candidates. Meanwhile, Salah Salam of the National Council for Human Rights, has called on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to postpone parliamentary elections in the Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah constituencies in light of the deteriorating security situation in North Sinai, pointing to the assassination of Mostafa Abdel Rahman, the Nour Party candidate in Arish. [Ahram Online, AMAY, SIS, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Cairo Post, AP, DNE, 10/27/2015]

Borhami warns of consequences of Nour Party’s withdrawal from political scene
Yasser Borhamy, Vice President of the Salafi Call, attacked political scientist Moataz Abdel Fattah and Islamic thinker Nageh Ibrahim, after they called on the Nour Party and the Salafi Call to move away from political work and restrict their activities to religious preaching. Borhami said the Nour Party’s survival is in the interest of the country and the religious youth. He added that the real problem is the millions of religious youth who are being demanded to give up all their political and security rights. He emphasised that this would lead to despair among the youth, which would culminate in an upsurge among those youth after a generation or two. He referred to the Muslim Brotherhood youth, saying they did not give up politics in 1965, despite what they suffered, noting that this resulted in social backlash in 2013. [DNE, 10/27/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Resignations become norm under Sisi | AMAY
  • Sisi issues decree amending oil exploration | SIS


Beheira court upholds dismissal of ten students over army insult
The Administrative Court in Beheira upheld a decision by the chairman of al-Azhar University on Monday to dismiss ten students found guilty of insulting the Egyptian military. The university had accused the students of “insulting the army with impolite speech,” which it considered an “instigation of violence” but did not explain the circumstances in which the insults were made. In its ruling, the court said that presidents of universities will be obliged to suspend anyone who insults the Egyptian army. The ruling said that youth were the main element in the two revolutions in Egypt, adding that their energy was utilized “by a counter-revolution” at universities, particularly al-Azhar University. “Universities, instead of becoming a lighthouse, turned to a battle zone,” the court said. [AMAY, Cairo Post, 10/26/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt court to hear Ayman Nour’s passport renewal appeal | Ahram Online
  • Personal status law victims to appeal to Sisi | AMAY
  • Top Egypt court lifts travel ban on preacher Mohamed Jibril | Aswat Masriya
  • Six Cairo University students detained for ‘planning to disrupt runoff’ | Cairo Post


Egypt Central Bank seen keeping key rates on hold
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is expected to hold interest rates on Thursday as it balances the need to control inflation with its efforts to stimulate the economy. The decision comes one week after the announcement that CBE Governor Hisham Ramez will be replaced by senior banker Tarek Amer next month. Inflation in Egypt slowed for three consecutive months from June but accelerated again in September. Five economists surveyed all said they expect the CBE’s monetary policy committee to keep rates on hold during their meeting on Thursday. “Inflationary pressures gained pace in September due to rising prices of vegetables, probably leaving the central bank less inclined to increase interest rates, although overall inflation remains largely tame as reflected in the low level of core inflation,” said EFG Hermes Economist Mohamed Abu Basha. “We also believe the recent announcement of the change in governor of the central bank is likely to warrant a stable policy rate before the new governor assumes office later in November,” he added. [Reuters, 10/27/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Prime Minister restructures GAFI board of directors | SIS
  • Ministerial economic group approves 2 Chinese, UAE projects | SIS
  • Egypt’s trade deficit rises 39 percent to $4.4 billion in July | Ahram Online


Interior Ministry responsible for journalist’s disappearance says Egypt’s journalists’ syndicate
Egypt’s Journalists’ Syndicate filed a report on Sunday holding the Interior Ministry responsible for the disappearance of journalist Mahmoud Mostafa Saad, a syndicate statement read. Saad, a journalist working for private TV channel al-Nahar, was travelling on Friday to London on a student visa when he called his wife telling her he was being detained at Cairo Airport for unknown reasons. Saad has not been heard from since the phone call to his wife. The Interior Ministry denies having any knowledge of his whereabouts. This is the second such report from the Journalists’ Syndicate this week. On Saturday, the syndicate filed a report to the general prosecution holding security forces responsible for the disappearance of Hisham Gafaar and Hossam al-Din al-Sayed. In its report, the syndicate said security forces stormed the houses of the two journalists on Wednesday and Thursday, detaining them in an unknown location without giving them access to a lawyer. The syndicate demanded that the charges against the two journalists be announced, as well as the date they would be referred to the prosecution for questioning so that a representative of the syndicate could be present during the investigation. [Ahram Online, 10/26/2015]

Timelines turn red in support of activist Alaa Abd El Fattah 
After midnight on Monday, social media users changed their profile pictures to images of activist Alaa Abd El Fattah, who on Tuesday marks one year in prison after he was sentenced on charges of breaking the Protest Law. They also used the hashtag “#FreeAlaa,” which trended globally. “Today Alaa completed a full year [in prison] and eight months before that intermittently,” Abd El Fattah’s sister Sanaa posted on Facebook, “Lend him your timeline for a day, let him be around today.” Abd El Fattah had previously been sentenced to a five year prison sentence in February along with Ahmed Abdel Rahman and twenty others in relation to a demonstration against military trials for civilians in front of the Shura Council in 2013. Many participated in the support for Abd El Fattah, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Bassem Youssef, a famous Egyptian comedian who tweeted, “One year in prison, and many others like him.” Abd El Fattah’s family also staged a protest outside the Presidential Palace on Tuesday morning in support of the imprisoned activist. Meanwhile, Amnesty International members protested in New Zealand on Monday in solidarity with Mahmoud Hussein, a high school student and his friend Islam Talaat, both of whom have been in police custody since January 2014 when they were arrested for wearing t-shirts bearing the slogan “Nation Without Torture.” Hussein, whose detention was recently renewed, has been detained without charge or trial for over 620 days. [Mada Masr, DNE, Egypt Independent, 10/27/2015

Rights lawyers say new prison law legalizes abuses 
Egyptian human rights lawyers said Monday that they are concerned new amendments to prison laws, which give administrators wider leeway for the use of force, could open the door to more violations in Egypt’s prisons. They added that some of the amendments were, however, positive. The new amendments and articles were issued in the official gazette on Sunday by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The main concern is that prison personnel are now allowed to use force against prisoners who resist orders based on laws or prison regulations, an amendment beyond the previously authorized use of force for self-defense and to prevent an escape attempt. Reda Marey, a rights lawyers with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said the amendment opens the door to physical punishment of prisoners for any sort of insubordination. “This might mean if the prison administration for example brought the prisoner food, and ordered him to eat it and he resisted, it allows them the use of force for the prisoner to obey the order. The phrasing is too vague,” he explained. In addition, the maximum time a prisoner can spend in solitary confinement has been increased from fifteen to thirty days. The lawyers highlighted positive changes including those that now allow prisoners to make paid phone calls and receive visitors twice a month, up from once a month. Despite the positive changes included in the amendments, the lawyers are calling for more changes, stating that “conditions in Egyptian prisons fall below international standards.”  [AP, 10/26/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Open-ended strike in Mahalla | DNE, Aswat Masriya
  • More textile workers join strike over absent bonus | AMAY
  • Cancellation of Essam Heggy’s lecture violation of academic freedoms says ANHRI | DNE
  • Media Production City takes Okasha’s Faraeen off air | Aswat Masriya
  • Families of eleven drowned fishermen to receive pensions | Cairo Post
  • Severe weather in Egypt brings floods, power cuts and casualties | Ahram Online
  • Armed forces absorbs Alexandria flood, drainage system still rundown | DNE
  • Alexandria historical mosques drowning in water | AMAY
  • Crisis management strategy must change, Sisi says after Alexandria floods | Aswat Masriya


One Egyptian, six foreigners coming from Libya detained for ‘belonging to ISIS’
The Giza Criminal Court reportedly ordered six foreigners and an Egyptian detained forty-five days pending investigations for allegedly belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). Egyptian Homeland Security received intelligence that the six individuals arrived in Egypt through the Salloum crossing on the border with Libya posing as tourists, according to the court’s report. During their time in Egypt the individuals allegedly documented “vital locations” to be later targeted. During their arrest, laptops, ISIS and Muslim Brotherhood slogans, a machine gun, ammunition, knives, electrical circuits, and large amounts of money in local and foreign currencies were found in the defendant’s’ possession, according to the report. The group has allegedly admitted to inciting citizens on social media to boycott the elections and to circulating videos and pictures to “stir panic in the country.” This arrest comes after ISIS claimed responsibility for a bomb that injured four individuals, including two policemen as they attempted to disarm it. [Cairo Post, 10/26/2015]


John McDonnell leads calls for UK to cancel Egyptian president’s visit
The shadow chancellor John McDonnell is leading calls for David Cameron to cancel an invitation to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to visit the British government on the grounds that he is a military dictator responsible for a “regime of terror.” McDonnell is one of fifty-five signatories to a letter urging the government to cancel the engagement, which could happen as early as next week. “No considerations of commerce or realpolitik can justify such an invitation,” the letter read. Cameron had previously been criticized for inviting Sisi despite widespread concern about the Egyptian government’s actions, especially toward human rights. The invitation was confirmed by the British government the day after an Egyptian court upheld the death sentence for ousted former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. The letter claims the invitation “violates the British values which the government claims to champion to welcome a ruler who has overthrown an elected government and instituted a regime of terror…” According to a government spokesperson, Sisi and Cameron plan to discuss cooperation on counterterrorism in the region and promoting stability in Libya. [The Guardian, 10/27/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Minister flies to Jordan after Egyptians die in fireworks explosion | AMAY
  • Sexwale heads to Egypt to seek African support | AP
  • Sisi arrives in UAE | SIS
  • Shoukry, UN envoy discuss formation of Libyan unity government | SIS