Top News: Ministry of Social Solidarity to Investigate Alleged Shia NGOs

The ministry of social solidarity announced the formation of a committee tasked with investigating NGOs that allegedly practice or promote Shia rituals. The head of the central administration of the NGOs within the ministry, Khaled Sultan said the committee was formed upon a decree from Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly. He said that in the event that NGOs are discovered to be promoting or practicing Shia Islam, “Either its board will be dissolved or the whole NGO will be dissolved after hearing the opinion of the NGO’s Federation.” While, the Egyptian penal code does not criminalize Shia practices, the NGO law of 2002 prohibits the establishment of unions or federations for religious purposes. There is no official data of the numbers of Shia Egyptians, but reports estimate that they range between 800,000 to about 2 million. [Cairo Post, 5/6/2015]

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Prosecutor General denies investigation of former interior minister over journalist death
Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat has denied reports published Tuesday that claimed an investigation was approved by his office against former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim over a journalist’s death. Local media had reported that Barakat’s office was to look into charges of criminal responsibility against Ibrahim for the death of journalist Mayada Ashraf in 2014. The reports claimed the decision was in response to a petition by 150 Press Syndicate members which calls for an investigation of the Ministry of Interior’s responsibility for Ashraf’s death. Ashraf, working for al-Dostour, was fatally shot in March 2014 while covering clashes between security forces and pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters. The results of investigations into her death revealed the involvement of forty-eight persons allegedly belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, over killing her and two others. Ashraf’s father and a number of journalists filed a lawsuit accusing former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim of her death. Eyewitnesses, including a fellow journalist, maintain that Ashraf was shot whilst running away from gunfire coming from the direction of police. [DNE, Cairo Post, 5/6/2015]

Removal of cotton subsidies trial postponed
A Cairo Administrative Court adjourned Tuesday the removal of the cotton subsidies case to June 16. The lawsuit demands the cancellation of the government’s decision to remove cotton cultivation subsidies. Lawyer Samir Sabry said the decision will harm the cotton and textile industry in Egypt and that it is an unfair measure against farmers. Last January, the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation Adel al-Beltagy announced that the state will not offer any form of subsidies for cotton farmers or spindles during the next season. Beltagy pointed out that long staple cotton cultivation is very expensive, and that there is no demand for it domestically or internationally. [DNE, 5/5/2015]

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Egypt’s foreign reserves jump by over $5 billion in April
Egypt’s foreign currency reserves rose to $20.5 billion at the end of April from $15.3 billion the previous month, the central bank said on Wednesday. Egypt received $6 billion in deposits last month from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, which have provided billions of dollars in aid since the Egyptian army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Reserves stood at about $36 billion before the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak. [Reuters, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 5/6/2015]

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  • Electricity minister promises Egypt will not witness power crisis similar to last summer | Aswat Masriya
  • Inbound tourism to Egypt up by 10.6 percent in March | Aswat Masriya


Egypt calls for blocking “extremist” channels, websites
Egypt on Tuesday called for blocking TV channels and websites that incite extremism at a Cairo meeting on combating the ideology of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), a militant group that controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Foreign countries whose Muslim citizens join ISIS should rethink their integration policies, foreign minister aide Ambassador Abdel-Rahman Salah said at the meeting, which was attended by representatives from twenty-one countries. [Ahram Online, 5/6/2015]

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  • Labor groups demand return of suspended Mahallah workers | DNE
  • NGO: Road accidents are leading cause of death for 15-19 year olds in Egypt | Mada Masr
  • Mass resignations among EgyptAir pilots over new financial regulation | Cairo Post


Policeman killed in Damietta police raid
A police conscript was killed early Wednesday in clashes between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood supporters in a village in coastal Damietta, medical and security sources said. Clashes also left six injured, including a police officer and five civilians who were transferred to hospital, the sources added. Security forces arrested twelve individuals following the clashes, said Damietta Security Director Hassan al-Bardeesi. Dozens of Muslim Brotherhood supporters staged a protest in the city of Damietta late Tuesday, a statement from the governorate’s security headquarters read. The protest soon evolved into clashes with security forces, which left twenty-two injured. Police arrested on Wednesday a suspect in the shooting death of the police conscript. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 5/6/2015]

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Sisi, US congressional delegation discuss aid
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Monday with a US congressional delegation headed by Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Devin Nunes (R-CA). The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Intelligence Chief Khalid Fawzy and US Ambassador in Cairo Stephen Beecroft. During the meeting, Sisi and the delegation discussed US aid to Egypt and the situation in the Middle East. Nunes said he was pleased with the release of military aid to Egypt, according to an Egyptian foreign ministry statement. He added that a substantial number of US Congress members show a greater understanding of Egypt’s point-of-view, and are interested in enhancing strategic relations with Egypt. He also said that they are looking to assist Egypt in overcoming the challenges it faces, as well as enhancing cooperation to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East. Delegation members expressed their understanding of the nature of Egypt’s challenges, adding that the measures Egypt has adopted reflect a true will to overcome them and realize the aspirations of the Egyptian people for a better future, the statement said. Sisi said that it is important for friendly countries, particularly the US, to support Egypt politically and economically, and back its efforts to stimulate development and enhance security. [DNE, 5/5/2015]

Egypt, Spain sign MOU for military cooperation
Egypt’s Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi and his Spanish counterpart Pedro de Morenés signed a memorandum of understanding on military cooperation on Tuesday in Cairo, according to Egyptian military spokesperson Mohamed Samir. The memorandum included the “exchange of experience” and “joint training” between both countries, according to a statement posted on Samir’s Facebook page. A number of officials, including Egyptian army chief of staff Mahmoud Hegazy, attended the Tuesday meeting. The agreement, which has been pending since 2003, regulates cooperation between the two states in the field of security and combating crime. The agreement outlines the launching of a joint committee, which will meet biannually, to follow up on the latest developments of the cooperation in science and technology, defense, education, training, healthcare and military regulations. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 5/5/2015]

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