Top News: Leading Egypt Activist Ahmed Douma Sentenced to Life

An Egyptian court sentenced 230 people, including Ahmed Douma, a leading secular activist behind the country’s 2011 uprising, to life in prison after finding them guilty on Wednesday of taking part in the “Cabinet Clashes” between protesters and security forces.


Strong Egypt to boycott parliamentary elections
The Strong Egypt party, headed by Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, announced on Wednesday its decision to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections due to be held in March. The party cited the absence of a democratic competitive environment, a lack of confidence in the judicial system, a repressive security apparatus, and a regression in public and private freedoms in Egypt, as among the reasons for its decision. The Popular Current, previously headed by Hamdeen Sabbahi, also announced its decision to boycott the elections is final. Youssry Hamed, Vice President of the Salafi Watan Party, said that the party has not made a final decision regarding participation in the elections Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Elections Observatory affiliated with the joint international-local mission has already received reports citing multiple electoral violations in 232 electoral constituencies, including early campaigning and bribes. In related news, the High Electoral Committee announced its decision to extend the period during which international civil society organizations can apply to monitor elections. The HEC has also said that parliamentary candidates must conduct medical examinations. [DNE, Shorouk (Arabic), 2/4/2015]

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596 foreign correspondents apply to cover parliamentary elections | SIS


Leading Egypt activist Ahmed Douma sentenced to life
An Egyptian court sentenced 230 people, including Ahmed Douma, a leading secular activist behind the country’s 2011 uprising, to life in prison after finding them guilty on Wednesday of taking part in the “Cabinet Clashes” between protesters and security forces. Douma smiled and applauded the verdict, prompting the judge to threaten with sentencing him to “three more years in prison.” All defendants were also ordered to pay a 17 million Egyptian-pound fine for vandalism.  Thirty-nine other defendants, all minors, were sentenced to ten years in prison. Douma, however, was the only defendant present in court, with the rest tried in absentia. Douma is already serving a three-year-sentence for breaking a draconian law regulating protests as well as a three-year sentence issued by the same judge for contempt of court. Osama al-Mahdy, one of the lawyers representing Douma, said that they will appeal the verdict as soon as its details are released. [AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, DNE, Ahram Online, 2/4/2015]

Also of Interest
Baher Mohamed’s lawyer demands his release | DNE
HRW urges probe into torture of Morsi-era minister’s adviser | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr
Court allows challenges to elections law at Supreme Constitutional Court | Egypt Independent
Five mass death sentences for the Brotherhood from Nasser to Sisi | Egypt Independent
Trial of Badie, 190 others on charges of storming Borg al-Arab police station begins  | EGYNews (Arabic)


Gulf states to give Egypt $10 billion in deposits
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will reportedly give Egypt $10 billion in deposits before Egypt holds an investment conference in March. Egypt hopes the investment conference in the resort of Sharm al-Sheikh will generate ventures worth billions of dollars, helping to boost its economy, which has just started to recover. During a meeting held by Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab with the Egyptian community in Kuwait, Egyptian central bank governor Hisham Ramez thanked the Kuwaiti authorities for their support but added, “The Egyptian economy will not depend on aid.” [Reuters, 2/3/2015]

Also of Interest
Ministry: Egypt’s budget deficit increases 47 percent in first half of 2014/15 | Egypt Independent
Egyptian pound holds steady at central bank auction | Reuters
Egypt’s central bank governor sees currency black market ending “soon” | Reuters
Suez canal sets discount for LNG carrier transit toll at 25 percent, down from 35 percent | Reuters
Sisi reviews Suez Canal development project | SIS
Egypt’s market at highest in six and a half years on Pound devaluation | Ahram Online
Egypt seeks $696 million investment in tourism projects | Trade Arabia
Egypt to sign Gazprom LNG deal this week: State gas company | Reuters


Egyptian doctors demand army say what happened to AIDS cure
Some two dozen demonstrators gathered at the Doctors’ Association in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday, demanding that the army release information about a promised cure for AIDS and hepatitis it has delayed since last year. The military’s engineering wing made the widely ridiculed claim that it had invented devices that could detect and cure the diseases, but last summer said it needed until the end of December to carry out further tests before releasing them to the public. “If it is working, they should say so. Otherwise they should apologize to the patients who have been waiting for this miracle cure for the past year,” said Mohammed Fattouh, a doctor and Association board member. “And in that case they must hold some people to account and make sure mistakes like this do not happen again.” The demonstrators, mostly doctors, stood on the steps of the association’s building in order to avoid arrest for unauthorized protest. [AP, 2/3/2015]

Also of Interest
New H5N1 case appears in Qena |Egypt Independent


Eight killed in Sinai security raids, multiple explosions
Eight alleged terrorists were killed, five injured, and an unknown number arrested during a security raid in al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid on Tuesday, according to security sources. Meanwhile, a bomb exploded on the outskirts of Rafah, targeting military vehicles. No casualties were reported. The gas pipeline in al-Arish exploded for the twenty-eighth time Monday night, while a bomb was successfully defused near the south of the city. All valves were closed to stop the fire at the pipeline, but the blast did not affect al-Arish’s natural gas supply. In Cairo, a bomb exploded in the vicinity of the Cairo International Book Fair, leaving no casualties. Ahmed Megahid, head of the General Egyptian Book Organization, clarified that the explosion took place two hours after the fair had closed for the day, and that it took place across the street from the fairgrounds. An improvised explosive device also exploded Tuesday near a branch of the defense ministry in Tayaran Street, Cairo, according to a resident in the area. No casualties have been reported. [Egypt Independent, 2/4/2015]

Also of Interest
Special Report: How Cairo is taking the fight to Sinai militants | Reuters
Ten “Brotherhood” members arrested in Giza for rioting | EGYNews (Arabic)


Egypt, US discuss regional security
Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi discussed regional security and “terrorism” with United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel over the phone on Tuesday evening. A readout of the phone call provided by the US Department of Defense said the top defense officials spoke to “exchange information about the security environment” in the region. “The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to continuing a strong security partnership between the United States and Egypt,” the readout stated. [Aswat Masriya, 2/3/2015]

Egyptian Embassy in US criticizes Washington Post over Sisi coverage
The Egyptian Embassy in the United States criticized a Washington Post editorial article calling it biased and insensitive with misguided views on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In a letter submitted by the embassy to the Washington Post on Tuesday, the Egyptian ambassador accused the newspaper of toeing the Muslim Brotherhood line. It added that the article promoted the “polished English of Muslim Brotherhood propagandists, while muting attention to that organization’s Arabic messages, which drive extreme Islamist rhetoric and call for bloodshed, martyrdom and terror.” The newspaper was also accused of allegedly absolving the Muslim Brotherhood of their crimes. [DNE, 2/4/2015]

Egypt summons Turkish diplomat over statement against judiciary
Egypt criticized on Wednesday the Turkish condemnation of the recent ratification of death sentences by an Egyptian court. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “would have been more useful for the Turkish Foreign Ministry to heed to internal affairs.” The Turkish ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement on Tuesday saying it “strongly condemns the decision to ratify the mass executions.” The ministry also summoned the Turkish charge d’affaires to protest the Turkish statements. [Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic), 2/4/2015]

Also of Interest
Egypt condemns killing of Jordanian pilot | Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Mada Masr
Leader of Egypt religious institution enraged by IS killing | AP, Ahram Online
Hamas accuses Egypt of firing at Palestinian side | DNE
Egypt urges EU not to deal with ‘terrorist’ Brotherhood entities | SIS
Australia’s premier thanks Egypt’s Sisi for deporting jailed journalist Greste | Ahram Online, AP, SIS
Egyptian UN peacekeepers killed in Ivory Coast accident: Army | Ahram Online, DNE
Shoukry meets UN diplomat to discuss Egypt’s seat in UN Security Council | DNE
Hamas condemns al-Qassam’s ‘terrorist’ designation | DNE
FM tells British envoy Sahel-Saharan terrorism is Brotherhood-inspired | Egypt Independent
Russia’s Putin to visit Egypt on February 9 to 10 | Reuters
Egypt hosts African environment summit in March | Egypt Independent
FM calls on North and Latin American states to support Egypt’s fight against terrorism | EGYNews (Arabic)