Top News: Hunger-striking Prisoner Mohamed Soltan Gives Up Egyptian Citizenship, is Deported to US

Egyptian authorities freed an Egyptian American on Saturday who was sentenced to life in prison and had been on hunger strike for over a year, forcing him to renounce his Egyptian citizenship as a precondition of his release. Egyptian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief journalists, said Soltan boarded a flight for Frankfurt, Germany, early Saturday en route to the United States, using a US passport. In a statement, Soltan’s family thanked those who helped work for his release, saying that the US government had made extensive efforts to secure his return home. Halim Hanish, one of Soltan’s lawyer, said his release was per a presidential decree issued last November that allows deportation of foreign defendants and convicts “whenever the [state’s] supreme interest necessitates so.”  [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, The Guardian, 5/30/2015]


Demolition starts on defunct NDP headquarters
Demolition of a building belonging to the now defunct National Democratic Party, which dominated Egyptian politics under toppled President Hosni Mubarak, started on Sunday. The chief contractor said on Saturday that demolition is due to be completed in three months and the land will be turned into a public park afterwards. In April, Egypt’s cabinet tasked the Cairo governorate with demolishing the building. The deputy governor was cited by state-run newspaper Al-Ahram as saying that the building was handed over to the the Armed Forces Engineering Authority but added the governorate is following up on the demolition since demolition licenses are subject to regulations. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 5/31/2015]

Muslim Brotherhood supports call for retribution
A call endorsed by thousands, justifying the killing of politicians, judges, security officers, and media personnel, has been supported in an official statement by the Muslim Brotherhood. A statement by 150 Islamic scholars from around the Muslim world published on the website Egypt Call [Neda’a al-Kenana], called Egypt’s leadership a “killer criminal group that turned against people’s will and choice.” The statement released Wednesday received endorsements by Islamic institutions, and the website has seen almost 350,000 signatures of support until Sunday. The Muslim Brotherhood responded to the call, saying they appreciate and value it. The Brotherhood added that the “revolutionary option” is a strategic option that the group will not turn its back on. Meanwhile the Istiqlal Party, affiliated with the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, called in a statement on Thursday, for “a civil disobedience as a way to bring down the coup.” [DNE, 5/31/2015]

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  • Bill on immigration, Egyptians abroad finalized – Minister | SIS
  • Tagammu Party says current election law could bring back Islamists | Egypt Independent


Egypt court sentences TV presenter to five years for blasphemy
An Egyptian misdemeanors court late Saturday sentenced TV presenter Islam al-Beheiry to five years in jail on charges of “blasphemy” over a controversial show he presents about Islam. The case was filed by lawyer Mohamed Abdel Salam. The head of the Old Cairo prosecution, Tamer al-Araby said Beheiry has the right to appeal the verdict, adding that the show host has not taken any procedures towards the appeal yet. Beheiry faces two other trials for the same charge, one of which was filed before the Administrative Court by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s foremost religious institution. His show was suspended in April following a request by Al-Azhar. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 5/31/2015]

Egyptian activist Mahienour al-Masry sentenced to fifteen months in prison; Twenty-nine sentenced for 2013 anti-Morsi protest  
An Alexandria appeals court sentenced award winning lawyer Mahienour al-Masry and two other people to one year and three months in prison on Sunday. Lawyer Abdelrahman al-Gohary, who is on the defense team told Aswat Masriya that this ruling is final and will be executed. The only room left for appealing the sentence is before the Court of Cassation but this will take place in parallel to serving the sentence. In February, a court sentenced Masry and the other defendants to two years in prison and fined each 5,000 Egyptian pounds (around $650). Today’s sentence was a ruling on the appeal to that verdict. The people on trial say a police officer assaulted a lawyer outside a police station. In solidarity, a group of lawyers and activists went to the station demanding an apology and were reportedly arrested and charged then. However, the prosecution said the defendants “assaulted security forces and attempted to storm” the police station. Fifteen lawyers based in Cairo and Alexandria announced a sit-in on Saturday at a Lawyer’s Syndicate building in Alexandria’s Raml Station neighborhood, in solidarity Masry. Meanwhile, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced on Monday twenty-two defendants to ten years’ maximum security prison in absentia for taking part in a protest during the tenure of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Another seven juveniles were sentenced to five years in prison and five more years under observation. [Ahram Online , DNE, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 6/1/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptian court adjourns Al Jazeera journalists trial to Thursday | Reuters
  • Committee rejects second petition by footballer Abou-Treika to unfreeze assets | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr
  • Punishing thousands by pre-trial detention legalized: ANHRI | DNE
  • Egypt continues to defend courts despite ongoing criticisms | DNE
  • The new Civil Servants Law jeopardizes workers’ rights: twenty-one unions, syndicates | Ahram Online
  • Egypt court postpones verdict in Port Said stadium massacre retrial | Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent
  • Ajnad Misr trial ‘halted’ | DNE
  • Surprise reconciliation between Mortada Mansour and Tarek al-Awady | DNE
  • Court places judicial guardianship over Pharmacists’ Syndicate | DNE
  • Trial of Yasmine al-Nersh over insulting policeman adjourned to August 1 | Egypt Independent
  • Lawsuit labeling Qatar, Turkey pro-terrorism supporters adjourned to July 27 | Egypt Independent


World Bank to grant $600 million to Egyptian SMEs
The World Bank announced that it will provide $600 million to fund small and micro-enterprises in Egypt. Sahar Nasr, a lead financial economist in Bank’s Finance and Private Sector Development Department, said the funds will contribute to projects executed with Egypt’s Social Fund for Development (SFD) and will aim to create jobs and control the unemployment rate among youth.  Nasr added that the project will also work to encourage financial institutions to support small and micro-enterprises. Meanwhile, the SFD said its funding for small and micro-enterprises reached about $235 million at the end of May. [DNE, 5/30/2015]

Armed Forces issues statement on development projects over past two years
The Armed Forces revealed its contribution to a wide range of development and housing projects during the past two and a half years, and the development of facilities and services, villages and poor regions, as well as contributing to the development of leisure and sports facilities. According to a statement issued on Sunday, the Armed Forces created social housing projects in three governorates with a total 7,104 housing units, implemented the first phase of 150,000 housing units in New Cairo, 6th of October City, Shorouk City, New Damietta, Obour, Badr, Sadat, and Tenth of Ramadan cities, as well as a housing project in Luxor with total 408 housing units. The Armed Forces also developed seventy-eight poor villages, and is under way to completing a project funded by the United Arab Emirates of 50,016 housing units in seventeen governorates, according to the statement. The statement said that the Engineering Authority and the National Contracting Co., affiliated with the Armed Forces implement thirteen projects for the Antiquities Ministry, twenty for the Ministry of Local Development, and eighteen for the Finance Ministry. [Egypt Independent, 6/1/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt money supply up 16.5 percent | Reuters
  • Government to establish tourist, commercial, and logistics center in Alexandria Port | DNE
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  • Egypt buys 5 million tonnes of local wheat, above target | Reuters
  • Egypt bourse to move to next-day settlement soon – chairman | Reuters
  • Egypt signs $2 billion deal with Italian Eni for exploration – Petroleum Ministry | Aswat Masriya
  • Newspaper: Banks assisting Ahmed Ezz’s indebted companies | Egypt Independent
  • Regulatory authority conducts crackdown on mobile company branches | Egypt Independent


Egypt’s NCHR says 2,600 killed since Morsi’s ouster
At least 2,600 people have been killed in violence in the 18 months after the military overthrew Egypt’s president in 2013, nearly half of them supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the head of a state-sanctioned rights body has said. Mohammed Fayeq, head of the National Council for Human Rights, said on Sunday that the dead included 700 policemen and 1,800 civilians were killed, including 1,250 Muslim Brotherhood members. In addition to the deaths caused by violence, at least eighty detainees died in custody in prisons and police stations in the same period, the report said. It cited health and living conditions and “extreme over crowdedness” as the reasons for the deaths. Occupancy inside police stations reached 400 percent and 160 percent in prisons, the report stated, citing the Interior Ministry. “It is true that there is nothing to prove that any of them died as a result of torture but there is nothing to prove otherwise,” it read. [Ahram Online, AP, Aswat Masriya, The Guardian, 5/31/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Foreign Ministry renews, registers 16 NGOs to work in Egypt in 2015 | Egypt Independent
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  • Special Report: Egypt deploys scholars to teach moderate Islam, but skepticism abounds | Reuters
  • Health ministry awards 400 nurses on International Nursing Day | DNE
  • Borg al-Arab-Alexandria train operates starting Monday | Egypt Independent
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  • At least six killed, three injured in Assiut building collapse | Ahram Online
  • Police disperse pro-Brotherhood protests in Giza, Helwan | Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent
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 Coptic families forcibly displaced after Beni Suef attacks
A village in Beni Suef has witnessed religious conflict over the past week, following the alleged insulting of Islam by a Coptic man on Facebook, allegations denied by the accused. Ayman Youssef Tawfiq, from the village of Kafr al-Darwish in al-Fashn, around 100km south of Cairo, was accused of posting cartoons that are offensive to the Prophet Mohamed online. Youssef is reportedly illiterate. In what followed, Coptic homes in the village were allegedly attacked with rocks and Molotov cocktails, leading to numerous fires in houses and the destruction of a car. After days of conflict, meetings were held in the village, but the outcome was the forcible displacement of Youssef and four of his relatives’ families. Despite the meeting, a further 10 homes were reported by Coptic sources as having been burned in ongoing attacks. Host Youssef al-Husseiny showcased the story during his program on OnTV Channel Sunday evening, displaying the damage left in the wake of the attacks. [DNE, Egypt Independent, 6/1/2015]

Also of Interest


Saudi, Egypt downplay reports of discord over Syria
Egypt and Saudi Arabia sought Sunday to downplay reports of discord among the close allies over Syria during a visit of the Saudi Foreign Minister to Cairo. “There is no disagreement,” he told reporters. “In Syria, we are all seeking to remove Bashar Assad from power after he lost his legitimacy, and we are all seeking to restore peace and stability in Syria. We are seeking to protect the government and military institutions in Syria to be able to deal with the challenges after the Assad regime.” This is Adel al-Jubair’s first visit to Cairo since his appointment as Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister in April. He appeared with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry at a joint press conference in Cairo, where much of the focus was on Yemen. The two stressed concordance between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the situation in Syria and Yemen, saying that there is convergence of views towards dealing with the crisis there. Diplomatic sources said Jubair will also meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for general discussions over regional and bilateral issues. [AP, Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 6/1/2015]

Egypt closes border with Gaza after three-day opening
Egypt closed its border crossing with Gaza after a three-day opening period that saw the passage of at least 1,413 Palestinians to their homes in Gaza. The Rafah Crossing was initially scheduled to open for two days. However, Egyptian authorities extended the opening by one day to allow the passage of stranded Palestinians to Gaza. Over 3,000 tons of construction materials were also allowed entry to Gaza, in addition to 100 wheelchairs for the disabled. According to Khalil Shaheed, the director of the economic and social rights unit at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, life in Gaza becomes “almost completely” paralyzed when the crossing is closed. This was the first time authorities had opened the crossing since March 10, he added. [Ahram Online , Egypt Independent, DNE, 6/1/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Sisi to meet with Chinese official, New Zealand foreign minister | Ahram Online
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  • Al-Ahram conference discusses Egypt-South Korean economic cooperation | Ahram Online
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  • Joint Arab Force towards implementation | Ahram Online  
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