Top News: Irish Delegation in Cairo to Discuss Wellbeing of Egyptian-Irish Teen

An Irish delegation headed by Chairman of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs Pat Breen, arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss the release of dual Egyptian-Irish citizen, Ibrahim Halawa. During his visit, Breen will meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and other high level officials. The deputy said in the statement that he will also meet with Halawa. Prior to his visit, Breen met Monday with Halawa’s family in Dublin, and said, “All Committee Members are united in our grave concern for the wellbeing of Ibrahim Halawa.” He also pointed out that August 17 marked Halawa’s “two year anniversary of Ibrahim’s imprisonment.” Halawa, who Amnesty International describes as a prisoner of conscience, was arrested for his alleged role in violence during protests on August 16 and 17, 2013 in Cairo’s Ramsis area. [Cairo Post, 8/18/2015]  

Egyptian photographer arrested for alleged Muslim Brotherhood ties released on bail
New Cairo prosecution released photographer Ahmed Ramadan on bail late Monday, after a former work colleague had instigated his arrest by telling the police he belonged to a terrorist organization. Ramadan, a photographer for the private Tahrir newspaper, was arrested at the Police Academy Court on Sunday and accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and entering the court without a permit. During his questioning, the photographer denied that he was a member of the Brotherhood and showed the prosecution that he had the necessary permits to enter the court. He was released on EGP5,000 bail and investigations into the accusation are still ongoing. Ramadan’s investigation comes after a fellow journalist, Amani al-Akhras, from al-Youm al-Saba newspaper reported him to security forces. The report was filed during a ‘Morsi espionage’ trial session after a personal dispute, according to witnesses. Akhras was banned from entering the syndicate by its board of directors. In addition, the al-Youm al-Saba editorial board launched an investigation into her action, according to the paper’s website. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 8/18/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Court resumes Morsi Qatar espionage trial on Tuesday | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


Preliminary estimates show 4.2 percent economic growth in Egypt
According to preliminary estimates, Egypt’s economy grew approximately 4.2 percent in the 2014/2015 fiscal year with positive indicators on unemployment and inflation, said Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab. Egypt is anticipating 5 percent economic growth during the current fiscal year. Mahlab said the government aims to overcome major economic challenges “through massive procedures to correct the economic track and achieve significant growth rates and development.” He referenced several mega-projects the government has undertaken, including the new Suez Canal and a housing project. [DNE, 8/18/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s new agricultural reclamation project boosted from 1 to 1.5 million feddans | Ahram Online
  • Egyptian unemployment eases to 12.7 percent in Q2 | Reuters, Mada Masr
  • Army starts construction of highway between East Port Said, Sokhna ports | Egypt Independent   

Families relocated in North Sinai to be assisted by government body
Families that have been relocated from their homes in North Sinai’s Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid towns will be granted assistance to provide for their “pressing” living needs, state news agency MENA reported on Monday.  The National Council for Women, a governmental body, has pledged EGP100,000 (around $12,263) to assist the families who are currently living in shelters in the desert, said council chairwoman, Mervat al-Talawy.  She said these families need “water, food, clothing, gas cylinders” and sources of lighting, without providing a figure on the number of families. Meanwhile, a committee from the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) committee visited al-Arish earlier last week to investigate the living conditions of Rafah residents who have been displaced as a result of the Gaza-Rafah bufferzone implemented by the armed forces. Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid residents, however, complained that the NCHR did not visit their towns, where citizens are suffering from a severe shortage of basic services. [Aswat Masriya, 8/17/2015]

Rights groups condemn anti-terror law
Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law was met with harsh criticism from international rights groups after being ratified by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Sunday night. “Egyptians are entering an Orwellian world in which only the government is allowed to say what is happening. Even in countries where freedom of information is highly restricted, laws rarely suppress pluralism so blatantly,” Reporters Without Borders secretary general Christophe Deloire said in a Monday press statement. In a separate statement, the International Commission of Jurists condemned the law as a ”repressive move that would erode the rule of law and brush aside fundamental legal and human rights guarantees.” The law is “inconsistent with, and in numerous ways violates, Egypt’s obligations under international law,” the ICJ said. Among these violated principles are the rights to life, liberty, privacy, fair trials and freedom from arbitrary detention, the group claimed. Said Benarbia, director of the ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa program, called on the government to comprehensively revise the law. [Mada Masr, 8/17/2015]

Issue of Sawt al-Umma magazine confiscated by authorities
An issue of weekly magazine Sawt al-Umma due for publication on August 13, and featuring headlines that appeared critical of the government, was confiscated and destroyed last week according to local rights group, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR). Hafez Abu Seada, EOHR head, condemned the confiscation calling it a violation of rights guaranteed by international conventions and provided for in the Constitution and the law. The organization said in a statement that the edition included headlines such as,The Mubarak Gang,To Hell With Egypt, The President’s Sorrows, State Land in Mohandessin Turned into Nightclubs, al-Zend’s Partner,  and Ashraf al-Araby Threatens Mahlab’s Throne. The statement quoted Editor-in-chief Abdel Halim Qandil as saying that these topics were merely social, adding that other editions containing articles about the new Suez Canal and business tycoon Ahmed Ezz had also been confiscated. [Egypt Independent, 8/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Conference held to counter ‘religious illiteracy and fundamentalism’ | DNE, Egypt Independent, Cairo Post
  • Fatwas issued by past scholars should be reconsidered says Al-Azhar | Cairo Post  
  • Civil Service Law protesters object to Sisi’s remarks | Egypt Independent
  • Evangelicals officially back draft unified law on personal status | Egypt Independent
  • Sixty-one female students were harassed by teachers in school | Egypt Independent  
  • Egypt’s banned Ultras soccer fans take to streets | AP
  • Egypt’s heatwave claims one life in Fayoum, increasing death toll to 104 | Ahram OnlineEgypt Independent

Police colonel dies from injuries sustained in bomb attack
A senior police officer died Monday due to injuries sustained in a August 10 bomb attack in front of the Heliopolis Court, state-run news agency MENA reported. Colonel Hisham Al-Azab, who was head of the Nozha traffic department in eastern Cairo, underwent two surgeries at Wadi al-Nil Hospital before passing away. Two other colleagues, including Major Ahmad Fikri and a police conscript, were also wounded in the attack. A military funeral is to be held on Tuesday for the late Colonel.  [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Cairo Post, 8/18/2015]

Interior Ministry denies NCHR permit to investigate prison
The Interior Ministry refused on Monday to issue permits to the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) to inspect conditions in the notorious maximum security prison al-Aqrab, which houses scores of political prisoners. NCHR Deputy President Abdel Ghaffar Shokr told Shorouk that the NCHR is seeking to investigate al-Aqrab because it has received “many complaints concerning the treatment of prisoners in al-Aqrab Prison and the deteriorating health standards and living conditions of inmates.” Shokr added that the NCHR also received many reports from families of prisoners in al-Aqrab, “regarding ill-treatment by the prison administration during their visits, as well as reductions in the duration of visits.” [Mada Masr, 8/18/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Bomb explodes in Assiut | DNE
  • Officer shot, critically injured in Fayoum | DNE

High alert issued along Egypt-Libya borders
A high-level alert was ordered Monday by Egyptian security forces at the Libyan-Egyptian border, after Libyan security forces based at the Musaid border crossing disappeared a few days ago. The reason for the disappearances is still unknown. Musaid, a major crossing between Libya and Egypt, is approximately 240 kilometers away from Egyptian governorate Marsa Matrouh and 150 kilometers from the Libyan city of Tobruk. Marsa Matrouh’s head of security, Hisham Lotfy, said that the Egyptian-Libyan border is completely secure, and Egyptian forces are prepared to face any attempted breach of the borders. Lotfy also said that the state of security in Libya does not pose a threat to Egypt, adding that the Egyptian army is capable of protecting the nation’s borders through cooperation with Egypt’s police forces. [Ahram Online, 8/18/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Renaissance Dam tripartite meetings to resume in Ethiopia | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, SIS
  • Egyptian leaders opened win-win cooperation with African nations | DNE
  • Abbas hails Egypt’s support to Palestinian cause | SIS
  • 474 stranded Palestinians cross Rafah border in both directions | Cairo Post